Training and Gearing for a Hilly Century

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by gudujarlson, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    My first race of the year is a mass start 105 mile race on hilly dirt roads. The hills will be under 400 feet, but steep and frequent. I plan to ride a Trek X01 cyclocross bike with 46/38 x 12-27 gearing. Based on my experiences with similar courses, one thing that concerns me is that I won't be able to maintain my self-selected cadence on the hills in a 38x27. I don't think the Shimano 105 rear derailleur will take anything larger than a 27 and finding replacement front chainrings seems troublesome. So any case, I'm wondering if I should a) try harder to change the gearing, b) train a lot at low cadence or c) don't worry about it. Any thoughts?
     
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  2. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    It would help if we knew more about you and the course, but I am not your coach so take what I say with that in mind.

    Shimano makes a 12-30 cassette (under $50 last summer). The Shimano road deraileurs work well with it. (I mix and match parts and use a 16-30 but that is another issue. I have both a 105 and Ultegra Di2.) The 30 should increase your cadence by 10%.

    400' hills over 1km or 1 mile ==> 8-12% gradient

    71rpm - 7mph in 38/30 or 64rpm - 7mph in 38/27

    Each hill about 6-9 minutes of climbing at 200-300w.

    Details make a difference.
     
  3. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I don't know the gradients, but I know that on a similar course I was not able to maintain my self selected cadence with a 34/25 on my other bike. The hills in the Mississippi River valley in Minnesota/Wisconsin generally take 1-5 minutes to climb.
     
  4. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Here is last year's course.

    http://app.strava.com/activities/ragnarok-2012-6741837

    I didn't ride that, but I did ride this Gran Fondo with a 34/25 and wished I had something lower.

    http://app.strava.com/activities/10997311
     
  5. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Here are the quadrant analysis' for the hilly ride I did and a flat ride I did 1 week prior. You can see that the hilly ride has a lot more quadrant 2 work. There were many low-cadence out-of-the-saddle climbs where I wished I had a lower gear than a 34/25.What I am faced with in April is riding a even hillier ride with a higher lower gear: 38/27.

    Flat:
    [​IMG]

    Hilly:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    When in doubt, include a BAIL OUT gear ...

    BTW. Instead of fretting, why don't you consider adding TWO gears which are lower than you typically need?

    • that is, install one gear lower than normal + a "bail out" gear.

    To that end, why don't you simply swap the 50/34 to your CX frame (or, buy a new crankset) AND/OR install a 12-30 or 11-32 Cassette + a new (i.e., appropriately longer) chain + a longER cage rear derailleur if the 105 derailleur doesn't cut it?
     
  7. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Shimano states that the 105 rear derailleur of that year doesn't support anything larger than a 27, but I have heard of people making larger ones work by doing oddball things. I have a 12-28 sitting in a box that I might put on and try but a 38/28 isn't likely to allow me to ride seated at 95 rpm up all the hills. By swapping around all the parts I have, I could get down to 34/28, but it would probably involve some pain and frustration. I've never removed or installed a crank before. I'm also not sure if the 2 cranks are compatible with each other's bottom bracket. One is a Shimano 105 and the other is a Bontrager CX something.

    But ya, I could probably get to lower gears if put in the effort, but I guess my question is more like, "Have you ever been faced with this problem, gone to the trouble of changing up the gears, and found that you were more successful in the race because of it?" A related question is, "Is it less efficient to ride up hills out-of-the-saddle at low cadence?" I see pros do it all the time and I wonder why they don't just have their mechanics install lower gears.
     
  8. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    Actually the pros do have have the option for lower gears:

    http://www.sram.com/sram/road/technologies/wifli_tm

    Removing a crank is not much trouble at all. It does require the appropriate tool, but that's a small investment that will pay off many times its cost.

    You could do a straight up rear der swap and new cassette for about $100. This guy looks to be a good choice for only $50:

    http://www.jensonusa.com/Rear-Derailleurs/Shimano-Ultegra-6600-GS-Rear-Derailleur-OE

    Or you could just "borrow" parts from another bike that you are not planning on riding that day.
     
  9. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Pro racing is about doing your job. Sometimes doing your job leaves you with too little power for the gears you have and you suffer.

    Your self-selected cadence seems to be out of line with your gearing.

    ---

    Like many people who race or have raced I have a box of bike parts. I can build any cassette starting with an 11,12, 13, 14, 15, or 16 and ending with a 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, or 30. I have chain ring options from 34 and 39 up to 50 and 54.

    A 16-30 and 34-50 seems to be good enough for most of the riding I do alone.
     
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