Uphill for beginners

Discussion in 'Mountain Bikes' started by HANTIEJ, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. HANTIEJ

    HANTIEJ New Member

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    Hi all you guys and girls,

    This is my first thread since I've just registered.
    I've recently started riding for the first time since high school, about 16 years ago. I can't believe how difficult it's been. The problem is that I'm a certified couch potato and terribly unfit. My husband bought me a beautiful mountain bike (Raleigh Nomad) but for now I'm sticking to the road until I'm fit enough for cross-country, as well as comfortable enough on the bike. At the moment I do about 3 km every evening.

    I have two problems. Firstly, I struggle terribly uphill. The hills I'm doing at the moment are not even very steep, but it's very difficult. I understand that there's no way I can get fit quickly and that I just have to keep on riding. The question is: My husband says that I should switch to a lower gear and just pedal faster. He can't understand that it's difficult to move my legs at all - let alone faster! Is he correct or will I build strength more quickly if I keep my gear the same (around 2 on the back wheels and 5 in front) and ride slower? Also, he says hills will be easier if I stand on the uphill. I've tried it, but the muscles above my knees are just not strong enough.

    Second problem - How do I improve my coordination and balance? When there are cars coming, I struggle to ride close to the sidewalk. Also, if I look behind me to see if there are cars coming before turning, I almost ride into the sidewalk. When I was growing up it was much easier. I could do wheelies and everything!

    I would really like to get these problems out of the way quickly. There are some exciting races I would like to do, but I know I'm not ready yet. And the first one is only a month away. It's only 10 km, but it's cross-country. Do you think I could be ready in time? :eek:

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Regards
    Hantie
     
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  2. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    Ride lots to develop,

    1) Power in your legs and cardiorespiratory reserve.
    2) Bike handling skills.

    Practice makes perfect. :)
     
  3. WKB

    WKB New Member

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    A few thoughts on your post.

    "At the moment I do about 3 km every evening."
    That sounds like a good start consistentcy is important.

    "The question is: My husband says that I should switch to a lower gear and just pedal faster. He can't understand that it's difficult to move my legs at all - let alone faster!"
    Your husband is right. If you switch to a lower gear, you can use the same power in your legs and pedal faster. You won't travel as far with each turn of the crank, but you'll find it much easier to move your legs.

    "How do I improve my coordination and balance? When there are cars coming, I struggle to ride close to the sidewalk. Also, if I look behind me to see if there are cars coming before turning, I almost ride into the sidewalk."
    It sounds like you are on multiple learning curves. You're trying to relearn how to ride a bike at the same time you try to get comfortable with riding in traffic. (At the same time you're trying to get used to the physical exertion). My suggestion is to simplify the learning curve by focusing on one thing at a time. Find a flat parking lot somewhere that has no traffic. Ride around in one gear, and go as slow as you can without falling over. You'll find it's harder to balance at slower speeds. Make up a course that has a lot of sharp curves. Go through it as many times as necessary to learn to balance the bike. If you can get comfortable balancing the bike on a flat surface, then I'd move to a hill on a street with little or no traffic. Get used to going up and down the gears as necessary. Eventually you'll be able to shift by feel. When you go uphill and your cadence slows a bit, you will automatically look for a lower gear and you'll be able to do it without thinking about it too much. Getting used to traffic takes a little longer, but I think it's easier when you feel comfortable balancing, turning, shifting and braking without traffic.

    "I would really like to get these problems out of the way quickly." -- I don't believe in learning things quickly, although it might happen. Riding a bike IS a lot of fun once you're comfortable with it.

    Good luck. Keefe.
     
  4. djk202020

    djk202020 New Member

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    Practice, practice practice. I only started about a year ago although I had been an athlete all my life I found it hard to learn how to handel a road bike. It takes some time to get use to how to control any new bike. I would go with some of the other suggestions that have been given becasue its what I did. Spend time in empty parking lots .. keep doing corners etc. find where your limits are it is much safe to find your limits in a controlled environment instead of out on the road. Get the bike down first then work on your fitness. You can try some squats or other leg exercises to help build up more muscle look up plyometrics on google. good luck
     
  5. j.r.hawkins

    j.r.hawkins New Member

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    Brilliant! You've made a start on the journey to better health, longer life, and above all MORE FUN!

    I agree with all the above. I started six months ago, with cleated pedals as well, and it took a little while to feel comfortable especially in traffic. I'm now comfortably riding 150km a week on a hilly route in Australia's busiest city, and with a little bit of help from here doing so comfortably.

    A few of thoughts come to mind.

    1) Don't ride close to the sidewalk. Motorists aren't looking there and are likely to do all brainless stuff very close to you because you don't register on their radar screen. Position yourself on the road like you would in your car when driving - it's where they're looking. You'll be a lot safer - a small amount of abuse from the ignorant is a small price to pay.

    2) Spin it up the hills. Don't be afraid to climb in low gears. Grinding up at a slow cadence puts undue pressure on your heart and definitely leads to knee problems. Lance Armstrong turns his cranks over at about 100-120 times a minute, so if it's OK for him there's no need for you to struggle in too tall a gear.

    3) Hasten slowly. If the effort makes you really huff and puff make sure you give yourself adequate rest between workout sessions - at least 48 hours initially. It's not just the exercise that improves your capacity, it's exercise PLUS recovery. They're a team. One without the other is no good.

    4) Gradually stretch your distance. Using the bike for small errands instead of the car is a great way to increase your capacity, and your skill.
     
  6. motorex259

    motorex259 New Member

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    try training yourself by going on the hills that are long to ride up there but slowly elevates to the top, then try to a little bit harder hill, then try a normal- overpass hill.
     
  7. stevecycles

    stevecycles New Member

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    First off, kudos to you for getting on the bike. I started riding about 10 months ago my first ride was 2 miles, I now do about 50 miles a week plus 1.5 hours on the trainer.

    The advice given is excellent. You mention you are out of shape. I was too, and still do not consider myself in shape, but about 300% better. Are you also overweight? I was, and despite 60 lbs + weight loss am still heavy. If you are heavy hills will be much tougher on you, and as you loose weight they will become easier. Think of a large truck trying to go up hill compared to a small light car. Just keep doing it, and you will reap the benefits!
     
  8. ride4him

    ride4him New Member

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    spin the pedals dont mash them. The more you ride you will find yourself using harder gears but it takes time. I started riding in the summer of 03 after smoking and drinking away my 20's. It took me about a full year of experimenting with different gear combos, positions to find what works for me, Be patient and keep riding the best advice I can give is to remember that your bike will go wherever your eyes are looking- so if your looking at the curb or sidewalk thats where the bike will go. Always look ahead and pick the path you want your bike to go and it will magically follow. As for the race in a month-Do It! there is nothing more fun than the thrill and excitment of being in a race although I havent done any moutain bike races -yet- I've done a few road races and finished everywhere from dead last to midpack but it's fun everytime just beware......it may be habit forming.
     
  9. Imanewbie

    Imanewbie New Member

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    Hi hantiej here is a Link to a very good site that has lots of info for beginners.

    Happy trails :)
     
  10. Japheth

    Japheth New Member

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    Just practice cross country, and then later you can race. A race not only requires fitness and skill, but a sort of wisdom necessary to plan the whole weekend of the race down to even the details as small as what type of paces to set throughout the whole event(to avoid embarrassing yourself in public) in order to not go too fast or too slow.

    Sincerely,

    Japheth
     
  11. oaks99

    oaks99 New Member

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    hi everyone i also am new here , just bought a hardrock port disc , really seems to be a nice bike , but i have not ridin since iwas a kid and now at 55 i've decided this will be the best way to get back into shape , i also know when i was akid we would stand up to go up hills now when i try my legs are not strong enough to support me i assume this will come in time . should i try flater terrain at first or keep trying to make it up the hills . :confused: look forward to seeing some of your comments . and wish me luck with my biking


    oak
     
  12. Rockslayer

    Rockslayer New Member

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    From what you have said I would suggest ride around gentle terrain and rolling hills and get to know your gears and switching between them on different terrains and know how each one varys in intensity. Theres nothing wrong with standing up riding up a hill if you have a single speed bmx as a kid. I assume that you have few speeds to play with on your new bike. try different things if you want to build up some endurance learn to spin comfortably and find a gear/s that you can maintain regular rpm at around 90rpm of course this will change as your fitness and strength improves. Standing going up shorter hills on higher gears is good too to build strength but if you pick on too big a hill your heart and legs may feel like they want to burst before you make it up. no rules just try different things to find what suits your level and style of riding.

    I don't believe in luck just have fun and enjoy your riding!
     
  13. oaks99

    oaks99 New Member

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    thanks rockslayer for your advice , :)


    oak
     
  14. zCat

    zCat New Member

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    For looking behind you, it comes exactly from what pretty much everyone has said: ride more. When I first, first got back into cycling about six months ago I found I couldn't do anything fun anymore. As I rode more and more, I could look behind me, go no-hands (dumb idea, but you have to practice so you can pump your arms when you cross finish lines, haha), etc etc...you just find yourself getting balance back.
     
  15. MtnBikeMettle

    MtnBikeMettle New Member

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    If you have access to a gym try leg extensions, leg press,and maybe some squats to get the power back in your legs. Try light weight at first to get accustomed to the exercise then gradually increase weight and/or reps. If you dont have a gym nearby try one-legged standing body raises, maybe ten per leg for 3 sets. Only lower yourself just enough until you feel comfortable that you can push yourself up for the recommended amount of reps. After that try two-legged whole body raises....I think they are called Hindu squats. Remember to stretch before you exercise!
     
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