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I live in the Fox River Valley in Illinois, so the hills here aren't huge by any means...but in climbing them, I have 2 basic options as a newer rider: 1) drop a few gears and keep up my cadence; or, 2) hold a gear and slow down my cadence.

Is there a general rule as to which is a better practice?
 

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If the hills are long you pretty much need to drop a few gears and keep up cadence or you'll burn out before the top. If shorter you can grind up but over the course of a long ride with many hills that practice will eventually catch up with you.

It's definitely an art not a science. Try the search function and see what's been recommended (lots of threads on it) and from there it's a matter of trial and error until you get what works best for you.

Even for the same person better practice can vary quite a bit. For example if I'm on a big hill in the middle of a century I'll spin high cadance because energy preservation is a top priority. But if I'm in a shortish race I'll stand and/or turn some pretty big gears because speed is the top priority.
 

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The two methods work different body systems:

1.) High cadence works cardio
2.) Low cadence works muscles

You will need to build both systems.

Low cadence, seated climbs will help you with overall ability to generate power. This will help you push a big gear on the flats too. When doing low cadence, seated climbs you should target about 60 rpm. If you drop to 50 rpm downshift to an easier gear. Hard efforts at a real low cadence can hurt your knees.
 

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Lawfarm said:
I live in the Fox River Valley in Illinois, so the hills here aren't huge by any means...but in climbing them, I have 2 basic options as a newer rider: 1) drop a few gears and keep up my cadence; or, 2) hold a gear and slow down my cadence.

Is there a general rule as to which is a better practice?
Here are your real choices:
1. When climbing, drop to the appropriate gear(s) (based on fitness/ terrain) to maintain a cadence of around 70 or better, sparing your knees from undue stress so you can continue to ride pain free.

2. Hold the gear, slow down cadence and possibly cause undue stress (bettering the odds of injury) to your knees.

There are varying opinions on 'best practice', but IME our knees don't pay much attention to opinions, and you'll gain fitness/ strength with saddle time and climbing, not mashing up hills.
 

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u are saying: u have no hills u live on a flat ground . ? u need to practice, cadence n strength. do some low cadence intervalas 20 min 30 min low cadence 53 x 12. 11. and some days spin fast 100 rpm , to practice cadence. look for strong headwinds and go against them, for better performance. at least it works for me
 

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Another option

For short hills, you can stay in a relatively high gear, but stand, rather than sit and grind. Many of us switch positions frequently that way. Keeps things fresh.
 

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What PJ352 said!! :thumbsup:

Hills don't come easy to me (lugging around an extra 10--20-30 pounds), so I read every little bit of advice I can get my hands on, regarding hillclimbing- and I have never ever read of anyone recommending "big gears and mash" for hills.
 
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