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While i havnt been able to ride/race ive got too many questions going around my brain.
Anyway, why is it that two cyclists can be of similar weight, yet one could be a good climber, and one not. Is it just muscle fibre structure,or related to lactate threshold?

Reason i ask is i hover around the 62-64kg mark, yet know a few cyclists are about 65-66kg each,(albeit a level higher than i am, top 200 in Aus). I consider myself to be a hilly rider/climber, yet at least one of them says they basically cant climb that well.

Just trying to establish what area of riding im suited to. Is climbing a function of a whole package of who you are ie i am just suited to it because im not only reasonably light but have the whole physicaly package for it, or is it likely that i only climb well at a resonably well because of my weight, but when up to the top level will get pasted.
When i first started riding about 3 years ago i had an uncanny abilty to climb for an untrained cyclist, but was it it simly body weight, or ability?

Sorry guys lots to think about
 

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It is all about power to weight ratio for climbs, so it is the total package. Weight is important, but equally important in that equation is your ability to produce power over a sustained period of time. That brings in the "whole package" of what makes a good climber.

Now people could describe for hours on end the various factors that influence your ability to produce power over time. I'm not going to even try.
 

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DirtTurtle said:
Oh i hope i didnt open up a hornets nest. So climbing is pure power to weight, over a sustained period, and perhaps fluctuations ie attacks. Could it simply be natural ability, vo2?
It's a lot of things. Some of it can be knowing WHEN to attack, how to pace yourself, how to prioritize a given hill, etc. Some of it is simply practicing.
 

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DirtTurtle said:
Oh i hope i didnt open up a hornets nest. So climbing is pure power to weight, over a sustained period, and perhaps fluctuations ie attacks. Could it simply be natural ability, vo2?
For starters you need to recognize that humans have minds and that makes their actions a little different from things where pure scientific explaination is possible.

cripes, if you could explain physical talent 'on paper' so to speak Gretzky would have been average at best and Larry Bird would have outright sucked. I understand that pedaling a bike is a bit less nuanced than sports like hockey and hoops but the human element is far from removed.
 

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I would say there are a lot of factors that come into play with climbing ability, just as there are when it comes to sprinting and TT's.

Climbers tend to be longer limbed riders, which allows them to be seated a bit more toward the back of the bike. The longer limbs also tend to allow for more torque (and use of longer cranks) due to longer levers pushing on the cranks.

Also, some people can be good at climbing shallow grades, while other excel at steeper grades. I can generally hang with our faster climbers on grades up to about 4%-5%, but then fall like a rock when the grade of the climb goes up from there.

I put out a lot of power (390 watts for 20 minutes), but weigh 87.3kg. However I have shorter legs/femurs (6 feet tall and a 32.5" inseam) and use 170mm cranks which reduce the amount of torque I can put on the cranks when the grades pitch upward and the RPM's drop below a certian level.

Some of it is also pain tolerance, power to weight ratio, VO2 max ability, Muscle make up (fast twitch to slow twitch %) and just flat out desire.

Some of it is also specific training. If all you do is 2 x 20's, you will fall behind initially on a climb, but as long as you don't blow up will pick riders off as their power drops off. If all you do are 5 minute intervals, you will likely take off initially, but power may taper off later in a long climb...however you may be able to attack better during the climbs.

Lots and lots of variables to consider.
 

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As previously said, it's a combination of things. It's technique (pedaling in circles, relaxing, finding a rhythm, and pacing), and there's the mental thing (being able to ignore pain signals from legs, having the desire to push beyond a level that's comfortable) and then there's the power to weight thing and your physical ability to sustain power over extended periods of time. Get all of these right and you'll likely find yourself among the best climbers in your region.

Personally I suddenly found climbing a lot easier and therefore more enjoyable when I got the technique right. The improved technique led to a more positive mental attitude which in turn led to more frequent hill climbing sessions, which in turn improved my climbing ability, and so on.
 

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Ignoring the pain is a novel idea, but you can't ignore pacing yourself. You con't want to give it everything, then find out you've run out of gas half way up the climb.

As everyone notes, there are too many variables.
 

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spade2you said:
Ignoring the pain is a novel idea, but you can't ignore pacing yourself. You con't want to give it everything, then find out you've run out of gas half way up the climb.

As everyone notes, there are too many variables.
Thats a problem I find myself getting into a lot. I have trouble pacing myself.

I always want to go balls to the wall but find myself running out of steam before the apex.

I guess you should start out slow then go balls to the wall near the end, but that just goes against my brain....
 

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JacoStillLives said:
Thats a problem I find myself getting into a lot. I have trouble pacing myself.

I always want to go balls to the wall but find myself running out of steam before the apex.

I guess you should start out slow then go balls to the wall near the end, but that just goes against my brain....

A lot can depend on who you're climbing with (or against, depending on how you want to look at it). A lot also depends on how important the hill is and how close it is to the finish line. My climbing abilities are fairly useless when there's enough distance from the climb to the finish line that sprinters will be able to recover and do what they do best.

Nonetheless, it's important to leave enough gas in the tank to get over the hill. Many riders will get tired near the crest and won't have much to kick off over the top. You can negate a the distance you put between you and the next rider if you can't keep it hot.

There's plenty of strategy. If you're a great climber, you can let the decent climbers set the pace and punch it. You can also set a pace that blows up other riders, etc.
 
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Finding a rhythm is critical..........

in my case. With age, I've learned that if I find a rhythm early on and ride within myself, I can reel a lot of younger, fitter guys back in later in the climb. It's a hard lesson to learn, falling off the back and not immediately jumping on the pedals and blowing yourself up.

And phsyc wise, it seems to demean the young pups when you pedal past them a half hour after they're sure they left you for dead :thumbsup:

I'm stilll screwed on the short, steep stuff though, rhythm or not.
 

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I fond that when I climb at my tempo I can deal with long climbs vary well. It really is all about not blowing up and not going in to panic when you see riders ride away from you early. I usually know I can pull them back in when the climb is over 10 miles. The trick is saving enough energy to stand and put some power down when there are sections over 15%. Most of the time the guys that go early will drop off on the steeper parts if the climb. And then I just stay at my tempo and ride right past them.
 

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OK, going in a different direction here. I subscribe to the "you climb like the street you live on" theory of climbing. Well, at least the neighborhood.

My street is a fairly long, fairly low gradient climb. On roads like these (maybe up to 6%) I'm usually quite good. As long as I can keep the big chain ring turning over rapidly, I scoot right along. I have buddies who live on steeper roads, and they climb better on the steeps.

At least that's my theory. :idea:
 

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As others said, I think successful hill climbing has largely to do with decision making and pain threshold - two mental things. If you're climbing without knowing where your limits and abilities are, you could be set for a string of "bad moves". Of course, if you're unfamiliar with a climb, it's plain smart to get in a lighter gear to learn the way up, or use someone as a pace guide if you're comfortably hanging with them at the start.

As far as I see it, there's somewhat of a momentum game with climbing; "rhythm" was a key term mentioned. Shifting into more teeth on the cassette can make things just as miserable, but keep you at an even slower pace. Gravity is always against you, and so when climbing, there is no stopping for you. Can't coast, and lower cadences will hurt no matter what gear you're in.

Think more about your input than output, if that makes sense. You're going as fast as your body will let you, but you'll get faster as your mind can make you.
 

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In my experience, different climbs require diffrent approach. I would approach 1.5-2K climbs differently than 5-7K climbs. It is all about pace on BIG climbs, while pain tolerance and power are very important for smaller climbs. The tallest climb close to my house is 3.2K nonstop. I have adopted to this type of climbing. Last week I was doing a ride which had a 5+K nonstop climb then some breezer and then a 7K climb. I was thrashed.
 

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I recently started training for Colorado's Triple Bypass, and my training involves a LOT of climbing. While I'm still very slow on steep grades, by pacing myself I manage to make it all the way to the top of Mount Evans (highest paved road in N. America, over 14K feet), where most other cyclists never even make it to the tree line. In my case, the ability is 90% mental. The rest is choosing a pace that won't fatigue me too quickly. I'm worse off than most other riders, being a complete rookie, and only being weeks back on the bicycle following shoulder surgery, yet three weeks into my training, I had already managed to conquer Mount Evans. Just yesterday, I extended my climb from Idaho Springs, rather than from the base of the mountain, and I did fine.

When I first started climbs, the ability to succeed in them was almost entirely mental... the ability to ignore the pain and determination to make it to the top. Over time, my climbs have improved as my level of fitness and endurance has increased. Climbs that once seemed a challenge are now easy, which has led me to seek greater challenges. The ride yesterday was nearly ~30 miles uphill, without downhill sections to offer a break. Of course, the ride DOWN something like that was a blast! Being more maneuverable on my bike than cars, I was passing cars the entire way!
 
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