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The Trollinator
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I recently relocated from Michigan to Maryland (about 2 weeks ago, now).

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I've never been dropped from a training ride before in Michigan. Tonight not only did I set a new HRmax record (211, previous 209) I actually ended up turning around in the middle of a climb and heading back after about only 40 minutes. And this was the B group (Cat 3-4-5). There are a number of excuses that I could come up with for sucking, but we all know they're crap (heat, missed a month of training, blood glucose, etc.). I had no problems taking pulls in the flats and rollers, but the sustained climbs kill me.

What is the most effective way to train at climbing?
There are hills galore. Do I do a few hills quickly? Lots of hills at a slower pace? Consecutive hills repeats, or take a break in between. Steeper is better, or longer is better? Ellicott city has it all, so I can do any of this.

I can effectively ride all day. I get out of work at 3:30, and have no weekend obligations. What do I need to do to change from an elephant into a spider monkey.

I've found group rides in the area for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings, and Saturday, Sunday mornings. Being only my second week in the area, I've just tried the Wednesday ride today for the first time, and plan on doing the rest as the week comes along.

Michigan training ride:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/33969269

Current loop in MD:
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/34472844

Today's ride of suckitude. Clicked 'lap' shortly after turning around.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/34680410
 

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some kind of chemical propellant maybe.

read a lot - and experiment. their is a lot of good advise out there but not all bits of advise are going to work for you. hopefully you can get a couple of key pieces from folks around here- but what I do is just ride hills whenever I can. Speed while important to me at one point in time, isn't necessarily top of my list right now.
Remember to rest- watch nutrition and hydration. Listen to your body.
Set tiered, achievable targets which will allow you to progress weekly in order to keep moving forward with your goals.
Last but not least, as my bud and I used to say "if one wants to ride fast, one must ride fast".

Have fun
 

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Keep riding

zriggle said:
I recently relocated from Michigan to Maryland (about 2 weeks ago, now).
I've never been dropped from a training ride before in Michigan. Tonight not only did I set a new HRmax record (211, previous 209) I actually ended up turning around in the middle of a climb and heading back after about only 40 minutes. And this was the B group (Cat 3-4-5). There are a number of excuses that I could come up with for sucking, but we all know they're crap (heat, missed a month of training, blood glucose, etc.). I had no problems taking pulls in the flats and rollers, but the sustained climbs kill me.
Just go out and ride the hills and you'll adapt. My wife and I rode with a guy in the Adirondaks (we're from central - flat- Michigan) and he burnt us up climbing the hills. However, on the flats we could ride him off our back wheels. It's all about adaptation. Oh, and HTFU :)
 

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I live very close to your maryland route and I can tell you that Illchester hill is the toughest in the area and is a 22% grade at its steepest and 18% for good portion so if thats where you blew up I wouldn't be too ashamed.

True, there is little to no flat to be had around here but the only advice I can give is to ride the hills more. There are lots of good ones in the Patapsco valley to train on and you will likely soon learn to love them the way we have.

What cassette do you run? Standard or compact? You might want to adjust these things.

I run a standard 53x39 with an 11-25 cassette and it has the range I need to sit and spin just about everything around here.

Which group ride are you riding with?
 

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The Trollinator
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
MisterC said:
I live very close to your maryland route and I can tell you that Illchester hill is the toughest in the area and is a 22% grade at its steepest and 18% for good portion so if thats where you blew up I wouldn't be too ashamed.

True, there is little to no flat to be had around here but the only advice I can give is to ride the hills more. There are lots of good ones in the Patapsco valley to train on and you will likely soon learn to love them the way we have.

What cassette do you run? Standard or compact? You might want to adjust these things.

I run a standard 53x39 with an 11-25 cassette and it has the range I need to sit and spin just about everything around here.

Which group ride are you riding with?
53x39 and 12-25. I'm considering buying an 11-28, but I don't know that it will matter too much.

Not sure if it was that hill -- if you look at the Garmin trail, right where it is sharply up then back down is when I turned around. Looks like it was Lawyer's Hill Road, after about 4 minutes of climbing.
 

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XC mountain biking made me a very good climber (did nothing for flats)....if you can get a single speed that helps as well. MTB XC is all about climbing climbing climbing. I guarantee you will improve as you keep riding and attacking climbs....it's just a matter of time.
What I do is find the steepest climbs in the area and incorporate them into my ride.
 

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I am struggling with this as well. Not because of a change of scenery, but rather because of my weight. I have gotten better at climbing a bit by simply climbing as much as possible in my training rides, forcing myself to sit 'n spin as much as possible on the lower grade stuff and keeping a slower pace up the high grade stuff.

But I am still no where near spider monkey. Part of me knows that I never will be (I am a heavy guy) but I would like to be able to climb almost anything in my way.

Btw, I run a 53/39 and a 11-27. Also have an 11-23 on a lighter wheel (basically a "race" wheel).
 

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The Trollinator
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
ptfmb71 said:
XC mountain biking made me a very good climber (did nothing for flats)....if you can get a single speed that helps as well. MTB XC is all about climbing climbing climbing. I guarantee you will improve as you keep riding and attacking climbs....it's just a matter of time.
What I do is find the steepest climbs in the area and incorporate them into my ride.
Unfortunately, I have much more time than money!
 

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When it comes to attacking hills, here's some tips:

1. Pedal in circles, don't just mash down on the pedals. This helps distribute the load evenly among different muscle groups in the legs, which is even more important when climbing.
2. Find a comfortable rhythm, and stick with it.
3. When you get to a short steep bit, you can stay seated and grind it out, or shift up and get out of the saddle. This will decrease your cadence somewhat.
4. Relax your upper body (and your whole body for that matter) as much as possible. See 2.
 

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As said, keep riding the hill to conquer it in the first place - like it was a development of "base". Progressively add sprint intervals in the later portion of each climb when that base is built.

Trainer workouts may help out, as they can provide you with instant similar resistance (when set) to conduct simulated intervals.
 

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Instead of starting out with a comfortable gear and continually down shifting as it gets harder.....try starting out a little too easy and go to harder gears as you feel you can use them. It goes against instincts but it seems to work well for me.
Where that gets a little tricky is starting the climb in easy gears but not losing the momentum you brought into it prematurely. But after a while you figure it how to shift to keep the momentum but not need to mash when it wears off.
 

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You just need to put miles in on the hills. They hurt and stress in a very different way than even very fast flat riding.

As Kerry said above, you will adapt. I suck at hills too, but only because I dont get to ride them enough to build climbing technique and stamina (in Toronto).

Some basic tips:

Dont get caught in the wrong gear. Maintaining cadence is critical. Once you lose momentum, the speed youre traveling at is the new "baseline" you're trying to maintain. It is very difficult to accelerate on hills so dont give up any speed due to stupid gear choices.

Try to keep your accelerations for the flatter parts of the hills.

If it is a longer hill, stay seated longer.

If you're approaching a hill that will hurt and you're in a group, try to advance as much forward as you can prior to the hill. You need to maintain contact with the group at the top so you may need to get a head start. Ive been dropped on rides simply by being 30 feet behind the group at the top of the hill and having no gas to get back into the draft.

INTERVALS INTERVALS INTERVALS. Go out alone and do them. The more often you do them the sooner you will adapt.
 

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zriggle said:
53x39 and 12-25. I'm considering buying an 11-28, but I don't know that it will matter too much.

Not sure if it was that hill -- if you look at the Garmin trail, right where it is sharply up then back down is when I turned around. Looks like it was Lawyer's Hill Road, after about 4 minutes of climbing.
Lawyers is another tough hill. Bonnie Branch, Gun, Hilltop...there are several hills that climb out of the valley and they are all tough. Not sure where Lawyers falls, in terms of difficulty, with the rest, but its no slouch.

12-28 will certainly help. But hold on to your 12-25. You'll be wantign it back before you know it. :)
 

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Don't be afraid to switch to a compact. You can always switch back later. I can't possibly spin out an 50x11, but knowing that i have a 34x25 if i need it is of great comfort.

Oh yeah....practice more, and HTFU :) You'll develop some climbing legs before you know it!
 

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I don't look forward to hills because they are fun. I look forward to them because that is where I can separate myself from the group USUALLY...there will always be someone to challenge me though...

Riding lots of mtb and riding every darn hill I can find (road routes) even though I may not be in the mood has helped me over the years.

Don't just ride them...push yourself. More push = more gains next time around..

I like what someone said about relaxing the upper body and pedal in circles...don't just mash down.. Full circles will help "spread the wealth/pain" among your muscles.

Also...there is an aero advantage to staying seated for most of the climb if possible. I remember reading this a long time ago in a John Howard book...thinking "but I am only going like 5 miles per hour...how much does if matter??" Well, it does. Also, if you are climbing for a long long time, it all adds up...
 

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eddya said:
When it comes to attacking hills, here's some tips:

1. Pedal in circles, don't just mash down on the pedals. This helps distribute the load evenly among different muscle groups in the legs, which is even more important when climbing.
2. Find a comfortable rhythm, and stick with it.
3. When you get to a short steep bit, you can stay seated and grind it out, or shift up and get out of the saddle. This will decrease your cadence somewhat.
4. Relax your upper body (and your whole body for that matter) as much as possible. See 2.
These four, when combined, perfectly sum up what works for me. Bravo, great advice.
 

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rydbyk said:
I don't look forward to hills because they are fun. I look forward to them because that is where I can separate myself from the group USUALLY...there will always be someone to challenge me though...

Riding lots of mtb and riding every darn hill I can find (road routes) even though I may not be in the mood has helped me over the years.

Don't just ride them...push yourself. More push = more gains next time around..

I like what someone said about relaxing the upper body and pedal in circles...don't just mash down.. Full circles will help "spread the wealth/pain" among your muscles.

Also...there is an aero advantage to staying seated for most of the climb if possible. I remember reading this a long time ago in a John Howard book...thinking "but I am only going like 5 miles per hour...how much does if matter??" Well, it does. Also, if you are climbing for a long long time, it all adds up...
BINGO....riding MTB helped but really riding hills will make you better. If i am in a fast group I work harder to keep up....and I just can't wait for the hills so I can separate. It also helps I am 5-9 142lbs. I try and do at least one ride a week where I climb 5,000+ ft
 

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Not much of a climber

I was not much of a climber four years ago. My annual competitive event is Hillier Than Thou, a Century time trial (drafting permitted) with over 10k of vf. Therefore, I had to learn how to climb and in 2009 made my best time and finish. Here is how I plan to improve it in 2010:

Early in the season, which is a period that we are at the end of now, I focus on spinning up big hills and try to do no standing at all. That being said, on Saturday's ride where we started out with 11, there was only one guy with me at the end of the 200 vf climb toward the end of 60 miles. When the stronger riders show up, like in the Wednesday night world championships, I can't finish as many climbs as I would like with them.:mad2: But you need to ride with strong climbers to get strong.

Now, beginning Saturday, I will start to add volume (miles) and begin to attack the climbs standing up. I find that I get my best times on the climbs that I do regularly while standing. These climbs are 300-400vf and take well under ten minutes. Because there is so much climbing in Hillier Than Thou, I plan to spin up many of the early climbs. That being said, there are quite a few climbs in the race that you can't climb in the saddle without the dreaded front wheel levitation. Therefore, you have to develop that strength to climb steep grades standing up.

My program is to start to do hill repeats in June and ramp up my volume until a couple of weeks before the race in September (taper). You won't need a big hill but it should be steep with a significant section that has pitch, at some point, of more than 10% and an average pitch of about >=6%. In MD there should be hundreds of them. You can work your way up to a few thousand vf over time but just do it a couple of times to start out. Alternate spinning and standing and alternate hard attacks with easy ascents. I run through the cassette a bit to find the most efficient gear. Don't forget to make it a safe road with limited car traffic and a good, clean surface. It helps to have a good place to run out and turn around at the bottom. Stay safe between climbs. The best riders that I ride with don't rush the descents while training.

You should try this both spinning and standing and find out which is faster for you. I palp the 34x25 compact, too, and it gives you another option-a good thing.

You should also hit the trainer and spin class to do some high intensity standing. Those 40lbs flywheels are tough to push at max resistance. 'Only you control your own resistance', as they say.

Just a few (10?) miles of running per week should help you cut weight. I also will try to cut back on the ice cream and Double Stuff Oreos (go big or go home) soon. The bike does make a difference. My C-50 (not a light whip by any means-18lbs with seat bag) is much stiffer and a pound or two lighter than my Roubaix that I rode Saturday. But the engine matters more. It won't happen in a week but you can improve your climbing.
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
thegock said:
You won't need a big hill but it should be steep with a significant section that has pitch, at some point, of more than 10% and an average pitch of about >=6%. In MD there should be hundreds of them. You can work your way up to a few thousand vf over time but just do it a couple of times to start out.
My current daily ride takes me up several hills just like you describe. They're usually 8% for the main length, and up to 16% either at the beginning or end. Usually between 150-350vf per hill. On of the hills starts out at 14%, then ramps up to 20%, and then back "down to" 10% until you're just near the top (all according to MapMyRide, my brain isn't functioning at a high enough level to look down at the computer). I can't do this climb without stopping at the single flat spot in the middle, in a hairpin turn, although I've only done this hill twice. I've only come back down this hill once, because it scared the bejesus out of me.

The best riders that I ride with don't rush the descents while training.
If by "rush" you mean "ride them downhill without pedaling at 40-50 MPH" then I'm guilty. To much fun.

You should try this both spinning and standing and find out which is faster for you. I palp the 34x25 compact, too, and it gives you another option-a good thing.
I've been thinking about getting an 11-28, since it's only $50-70, and it'd be a PITA to find an octalink compact (do they even make them?).

You should also hit the trainer and spin class to do some high intensity standing. Those 40lbs flywheels are tough to push at max resistance. 'Only you control your own resistance', as they say.
I've got a Cyclops JetFluid Pro, although even with the 53-12 it's nothing like some of these hills. I might have to look into this. I find that if I am in control, I tend to go easier or cut out sooner. With a real hill (or city limit sprint), I have the mental of "just another few seconds".

Just a few (10?) miles of running per week should help you cut weight. I also will try to cut back on the ice cream and Double Stuff Oreos (go big or go home) soon.
I might have to look into the running. Does it really make that big of a difference weight-wise versus a few extra hours in the saddle?
 
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