Selecting a hill for "hill repeats"....

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by BigRedSnackFoam, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. BigRedSnackFoam

    BigRedSnackFoam New Member

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    Hello all,

    I've done a search on hill repeats and didn't see anything addressing my question. I was wondering what make a hill a good hill for repeats? I've got many hills available in my area (western NY) but none of the local ones strike me as being very long, some of them can be pretty steep though. The longest one close to my house is maybe a half mile long but I haven't measured it. And that one isn't all that steep. (Wish I had some actual measurements to share!) Obviously longer is better but is doing repeats on a half mile, mild to moderate grade hill worth my time? (I'm still a relative novice so it probably will help me in the short term.)

    What makes a hill "worthy" of hill repeats?
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    We are not worthy..... :)

    Seriously it depends on what workout you're targeting and how long it takes you to get up the hill with your current fitness. IOW a newcomer to serious cycling should start by targeting SST/L4 work which calls for a hill that takes you at least 10 minutes to climb. If your hills aren't that long you can combine some hard fast riding on the flats leading up to the climb to get a longer interval. For someone with a strong aerobic core who's targeting top end aerobic fitness (VO2 max) a 3 to 8 minute hill at max effort is ideal. For folks who've taken both their L4 and L5 (FTP and VO2 max) fitness pretty far and who're moving into specific prerace fitness a hill that takes a minute to a minute and a half at full on pace can be useful for L6 or anaerobic tolerance work.

    I've just recently been able to get outside again and I'm going through this same hill selection process. The closest hill to town only takes about three minutes to climb and I'm only doing one day a week of L5 work right now so I get the most of this one on L4 days by starting my intervals a couple of miles before the hill. I settle into my L4 pace long before the hill but then try to maintain the same power output up the hill. It's actually a relief to hit the hill since it takes a lot less mental energy to maintain a hard pace on a hill than on the flats. For really long intervals I try to upshift and maintain the same power output on the flats above the hill but that's tougher.

    I worked a different hill this morning for a set of 15 minute repeats. It's good but has a flat section in the middle where my speed rises and unless I'm right on top of things and upshift quickly my power tends to drop right in the middle of my interval. I wish that hill was a bit longer, but the closest hill longer than fifteen minutes is Teton Pass and it's still got quite a bit of snow at the top, crazy drivers and the shoulders are an inch deep in sand this time of year. I'll wait a bit to do my long repeats there. So right now any L4 or SST work over 20 minutes long is on or mostly on the flats but I'm lucky enough to have some 10 to 15 minute climbs which are good for high end L4 and a few in the 3 to 5 minute range which are ideal for L5 work.

    So to answer your question, a good hill should be long enough for the workout you're targeting, be steady enough that your power doesn't drop a lot during the climb, be on a road safe enough that you won't get killed, and be close enough to home that you can get to it with a reasonable warmup.

    Hope that helps,
    -Dave
     
  3. Darkhorse85

    Darkhorse85 New Member

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    Go to www.gmap-pedometer.com and zoom in on your area. You can map routes and then click the 'Elevation: off small large' option in the left menu, and this will show you a graph below the actual map that displays the elevation changes, rate of change, and distance, etc. It's an excellent tool.

    Also, gmap-pedometer has a topography option to view the map of your area.

    All in all, i think it's the best way to pick a hill over a wide area. Then you can scout em out.
     
  4. AndROOb

    AndROOb New Member

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    I look for hills that have an even gradient so that it's easier to hold your desired intensity without changing gear or cadence. Then it must be long enough to ensure that the climb will take X minutes, at Y intensity.
    For example, if I'm looking for a hill to target anaerobic work capacity, it must be long enough to allow for climbing at a high intensity for up to 3 minutes.
    If you want to improve VO2max power, then you need something that'll take ~5 minutes, at slightly less intensity.
    Does that help?
     
  5. rmur17

    rmur17 New Member

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    Good & a very detailed answer :)

    We have plenty of hills here (very little pure flat) but most are too steep (10+ %) and short (<1 km) for L5 work. Before I had the PM, I figured I was getting plenty of Vo2max work but it turns out nearly all these hills take about 2.5 min max to climb.

    There are a couple of others in the 6-8min range but the pitch changes so much that they're not great either. OR they're involve a section of divided highway where it's impossible to turn quickly for repeats. :mad:

    We have some nice steady grades of ~3% and 12-20min that are fine for L4 work. Or a headwind works just as well. So L4 and 6 not much problem but there's no nice steady 4-6min safe climb which I'd rate perfect for L5.

    That all being said, I find it mentally much easier to maintain L5 (or higher) power on a decent grade. Just feels natural to me.
     
  6. BigRedSnackFoam

    BigRedSnackFoam New Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, that's exactly what I was looking for. It's not so much about the hill as it is the workout.
     
  7. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    IMHO Google earth maps is easier to use and it's a free download http://earth.google.com/

     
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