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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Been riding for the last month and a half pretty regularly (two or three times a week min. usually 20-30 mi. a shot). Definitely hooked and seeing improvements in my riding and endurance. My question is when climbing, when is it ok to just gut it out and mash up a hill rather than dropping a few gears and spinning your way up? What is the best method as far as building endurance, mashing or spinning?
 

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Endurance, probably spinning. Spinning seated is more efficient, but it's nice to mix it up sometimes (and get a good stretch) by mashing that last little bit over the top. It's just like lifting at the gym. Higher weight and less reps gives big muscles and lots of power. Lower weight and high reps gives toned muscles with endurance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the help. Looks like I need to try and get a litle more time to focus on the training part. I'm not going to race or anything but dont want to get dropped when and if I start doing group rides.
 

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You've only just started riding. Don't worry too much about it, just ride. At this stage, whatever gets you up the hill is fine. In fact it's good to try everything- mashing up in a huge gear, spinning in a low gear, everything in between.

Generally it's better to hammer up a short climb, standing, to maintain momentum. If it's longer than you can hammer up, you'll need to shift down. And for really long climbs you'll probably want to sit most of the time and get out of the saddle every once in a while for the steeper parts or to give your legs something different to do for a while.
 

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Don't worry too much about it for now. Studies have shown that most people ride the cadence that's natural for them...the body seems to self-select the proper cadence. But certainly experiment. Get a computer with a cadence counter, or simply count your pedal strokes for 10 seconds and multiply by 6.

If you really want to find out if you're a "masher" or a "spinner," you'd have to undergo some physiological testing. Tests can show you how efficiently your body operates at a given power output at different cadences.

For now just experiment and try to climb with stronger riders and learn from them. For example, in my 20 years of riding, I've seen very few "standing" climbers who are faster than seated climbers on any incline longer than 100 yards.
 

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How big is the hill? How steep? If I am riding rolling hills that climb 100 or 200 feet, then often, I'll keep the gear I'm in, stand up and push over the top. You mash for a minute or so, it's not a big deal. If you are doing an actual climb that is higher and longer, then you are better off dropping the gear and spinning more.
 

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team_sheepshead said:
Don't worry too much about it for now. Studies have shown that most people ride the cadence that's natural for them...the body seems to self-select the proper cadence. But certainly experiment. Get a computer with a cadence counter, or simply count your pedal strokes for 10 seconds and multiply by 6.

If you really want to find out if you're a "masher" or a "spinner," you'd have to undergo some physiological testing. Tests can show you how efficiently your body operates at a given power output at different cadences.

For now just experiment and try to climb with stronger riders and learn from them. For example, in my 20 years of riding, I've seen very few "standing" climbers who are faster than seated climbers on any incline longer than 100 yards.
I agree: sometimes I'll ride one of my regular routes and decide beforehand, just to mix things up, that this time I'll do a lot of standing. It's a bit of a different sort of workout, and it feels good, but at the end of the ride it almost never makes any difference, positive or negative, in my average speed for that route.
 

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Since you are just starting out I would not worry about it too much, just ride.

Later on you will have to decide if you are better off remaining seated or standing, or a combination of both. If you stand (for myself) you have to time it right, or be very strong. If I stand I can push a bigger gear, but when I sit down I have to drop a gear. So any speed I gained by standing will be lost when I sit down. And If I stand at the wrong moment I will eventually blow up. I ridden behind other riders and matched their speed while remaining seated. Weight is important, a few extra pounds of body weight has a big effect.

Probably what will happen is you will forget about your riding technique and do what is natural for you without thinking about it. I like to stand once and awhile to get the kinks out and stretch the lower back.

If you want to get scientific about it, it's about weight to power ratio.
 

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You'll find that standing out of the saddle is a great way to deliver some tremendous power, but it's not very efficient in the long haul. It takes a huge amount of energy, too. For me, even on a hill, it takes quite a bit of work to max-out my HR while sitting and spinning, but with only thirty seconds of out-of-the-saddle mashing I can drive it right to the max. It's great for maintaining momentum on small hills or blasting the final few yards off a larger one, but in the big picture it's not efficient.
 

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As a noob, you should be concentrating on your spin, on your cadence, and on fluidity. That's really all you should be thinking about. Mashing comes later. Just think about how many more pedal strokes you're employing over the course of a 50 mile training ride when you're climbing at 90rpm instead of 55. Not only do you better train your aerobic endurance, but you better learn to pedal circles.

Eventually, you'll want to start doing specific drills where you're not allowed to spin a hill. Whether seated or out of the saddle, you'll just find it hard to get up the thing at all if it's a long climb, and you're now trying to mash in your 19 or 21. But, combined with all the practice you had perfecting your spin, you'll see a lot of improvement in a relatively short period of time.

For out of the saddle climbing, rider weight means a lot. This is pretty random, non-scientific number, but riders that way 140lbs and less usually have a much easier time climbing out of the saddle for extended periods without fatiguing. I rarely see heavier riders having much success out of the saddle though. The Clydesdales, even in races, are usually seated.

At some point, if you want to become an efficient out of the saddle climber, then you're going to have to practice a lot, and not just for 30 seconds at a time. I have a 5 mile climb I do with an average gradient of 6% that I climb exclusively out of the saddle and in the big ring. It took me a long time to work up to this drill, but it made a big difference. After I started doing this drill regularly (once every other week usually), I found that in climby races, I was more comfortable coming out of the saddle for hard efforts and not having to worry about blowing up.



HevyHittr said:
Been riding for the last month and a half pretty regularly (two or three times a week min. usually 20-30 mi. a shot). Definitely hooked and seeing improvements in my riding and endurance. My question is when climbing, when is it ok to just gut it out and mash up a hill rather than dropping a few gears and spinning your way up? What is the best method as far as building endurance, mashing or spinning?
 

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if its a shorter hill, maybe even fairly steep, and if you have good speed going into it, just stand up and mash up it trying to keep as much speed up as possible. if its a longer hill, i usually slowly downshift till im not mashing and keeping a fairly high cadence. when climbing longer hills i usually sit for most of it but will upshift to gears and stand for half a minute or so a couple times
 

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I'm new too, but I've found that for particularly long hills (a mountain to be specific) where you just keep going up and up, it makes things easier to spin for a good long time, and when you feel yourself start to slow down, to shift 2-4 cogs higher and stand up. Use your arms a little bit to help push your weight up, and do it for a minute or two. Then when you sit back down, your legs feel relatively rested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the advice, its greatly appreciated. I guess for right now, I'll just do what feels best at the time, try and concentrate on my spin, and when the right hills present themselves, mash up and over for some change up. I definitely am more efficient spinning on the longer ones rather than trying to gut it out. When I've tried the latter, I've nearly crushed myself.
 
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