What Gear On Hills?



JamesAA

New Member
Aug 10, 2013
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I used to think go as low as possible on steeper gradients, but I was fooling around on my ride earlier today and I feel like I'm more efficient in middle to even higher gears--the hill wasn't the steepest by any stretch of the imagination, however. Obviously on really steep ones I'd have to go low. But what about medium inclines? Do you opt to feel more lactic acid burn in the legs and go with a higher gear since there will be less strokes overall when tackling a given grade, or do you back off and go for more strokes/pedals yet less leg burn??

In general, what's the rule for gears with regards to inclines?
 

kopride

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May 17, 2006
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JamesAA said:
I used to think go as low as possible on steeper gradients, but I was fooling around on my ride earlier today and I feel like I'm more efficient in middle to even higher gears--the hill wasn't the steepest by any stretch of the imagination, however.  Obviously on really steep ones I'd have to go low.  But what about medium inclines?  Do you opt to feel more lactic acid burn in the legs and go with a higher gear since there will be less strokes overall when tackling a given grade, or do you back off and go for more strokes/pedals yet less leg burn?? In general, what's the rule for gears with regards to inclines?
I use a power meter and I can see where the power drops off in either too high or low a gear. For me, I want to be pushing 90 rpms or more for most of a longer hill. So even if you don't have a power meter, a smooth steady cadence above 85 should keep your legs out of a pure anaerobic state on a hill. If I come to grades of 5% or more! I start thinking about standing, and then you can bring the cadence down. On longer hills I find myself spinning at normal or even a slightly faster cadence most of the hill and then I up shift to stand on the sections where I run out of lower gears. IOW, I am standing in a 34 x 19 gear and spinning in 21 on a compact crank set. Hills are rhythm riding. If it's short and steep rise, then I may just power through and stand and crank at the end, if it's a 5 minute climb or more, you better be spinning most of that climb or you're going to run out of gas.
 

ira41

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Nov 1, 2012
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Originally Posted by JamesAA
I used to think go as low as possible on steeper gradients, but I was fooling around on my ride earlier today and I feel like I'm more efficient in middle to even higher gears--the hill wasn't the steepest by any stretch of the imagination, however. Obviously on really steep ones I'd have to go low. But what about medium inclines? Do you opt to feel more lactic acid burn in the legs and go with a higher gear since there will be less strokes overall when tackling a given grade, or do you back off and go for more strokes/pedals yet less leg burn??

In general, what's the rule for gears with regards to inclines?
I think the answer is dependent on the goal. I for example SUCK on climbs, so I try and hit hills around 75-80 cadence and hammer until my legs are on fire, occasionally I will also spin up at 90 but still in a gear to make my legs scream, I have been getting better training results attacking hills hard. However I was riding 100 mile charity deal last month that had quite a few climbs, that a spun up @90 in a gear that kept me under threshold, because I wanted to actually finish.