Climbing – does this sound familiar?

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  • Climbing – does this sound familiar?
  • Yes, yes, yes and yes!

    Perhaps I should do some hill climbing practice!

    RealMan
    Member

    – knackered after about 5 minutes

    Pace yourself better.

    – I always drift up to the grannyring and usually stay there still knackered
    – frequent dismounting

    MTFU.

    Faceman
    Member

    I think the worst feeling is that I often see something super steep as basically unclimable but forget that on most occasions, super steep descents are always nearly doable with some committment.

    I love the challenge of climbs but everytime I do Boxhill or anything arond the Surrey Hills I feel completely shattered. Suppose I just need to keep practicing and build up some level of climbing fitness but I am wondering how long it takes.

    don simon
    Member

    Find a comfortable rhythm and stick with it, don't start the climb at full pelt. It's all about pacing yourself.
    Do the climb at a slower pace to find the gears that you can finish it with, and then build up the speed.
    Maybe your fitness isn't up there, other forms of training might help, I used to do intervals on climbs with the road bike.
    Try a singlespeed, you'll be surprised what you can climb.
    Relax, there's nothing worse than seeing someone gurning up a hill. πŸ˜‰

    Climbing is ace, fact.

    geetee1972
    Member

    I think you'll find that Mark Cavendish has a similar experience to you when the big tours go into the mountains.

    Faceman
    Member

    Don Simon,

    Like most cyclists I've read hundreds of climbing features etc, I'm fine with the pacing bit, it's just that on super steep climbs everything always goes pear shaped, I literally can't start properly and find it psychologically draining travelling along in my granny ring and not really making any progress.

    On moderate inclines I've improved a lot, but I still find climbing a cool test of skill and heart, but quite hard to get good at.

    timothius
    Member

    Sometimes I get distracted thinking about things when climbing and it's fine. Then I remember that I'm climbing and it gets far far harder :/

    mdb
    Member

    remember that alot of climbing is in the head. if you start negative then you have nowhere to go but down, or backwards. I have gone from hating climbs to actually "enjoying" them.

    TheBrick
    Member

    I remember in a old magazine seeing a article about some off road hill climb races. I know there are plenty of road ones about but are there any off rad ones still about?

    Faceman
    Member

    geetee1972

    I've got a road racing question you may be able to answer but has always bugged me. If Mark Cavendish wins around 4 stages of the tour de france, then why hasn't he won it?

    I always thought that sprinters get carried by their team all the way to the top of the field and the final sprint. Surely Cavendish won more stages than Contador and how does Cavendish struggle in the mountains and still make the final sprints?

    Faceman
    Member

    TheBrick

    Back in the early days when I used to buy MTB Pro, there used to be loads of hill climbing events in the states, I think Tim Gould (old school UK mtb legend) won quite a big hill climbing event. Would be cool to bring them back.

    RealMan
    Member

    Faceman, its total time over the whole tour. So you add all the times from all the stages together, the person with the least time wins. Contador will come a few seconds behind Cav in each flat stage (the ones Cav wins), but Cav will be 30 minutes + behind Contador on the mountain stages.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Subscriber

    Climbing is hoard work but rewarding

    I can ride steeper stuff on my new FS than on the hard tail it replaced.

    Getting the weight right forward on the seat helps with steering

    It helps to accpet that climbing is slow

    I just wish I was fitter and lighter

    Faceman
    Member

    RealMan

    Thanks for that, you've just finally shed some light on road racing and how it all works!

    rhys
    Member

    Don't feel that the granny ring is a sign of weakness. Just use it and spin faster. Use the gears when you want them not when you need them.

    MartinGT
    Member

    Dont go into the granny ring straight away of you can help it. Thats for when youre SERIOUSLY blowing out of your arse.

    Attack it at a slower pace
    Stay seated and try riding from your hips rather than swaying around, especially your upper body, this is justwasting energy.

    Getting your breathing right is a massive thing. If you control your breathing in shorter shallower breathes it will help you keep control and stop the bike from going everywhere.

    Oh and loose the backpack and beer gut too πŸ˜‰

    Faceman
    Member

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to get a few thoughts on mtb climbs, is it me or does anyone ever feel like they have reasonable fitness but for some reason on climbs feel that in actual fact they have no fitness?

    When I attack any climb the following symptoms occur

    – knackered after about 5 minutes
    – I always drift up to the grannyring and usually stay there still knackered
    – frequent dismounting
    – feeling of going backwards on really steep stuff, gravity is pulling me back but I'm pedalling my bike forwards.

    geetee1972
    Member

    Faceman – the question's been answered but the question is one that always stimulates debate. My dad always used to think that there was more value in winning the green jersey, awarded for the most consistent finisher over a big tour (there are three big ones, the TDF, the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro D'Italia), because that person couldn't just hide each day in the peleton; they always had to be up there at the finish to gain the points.

    It's possible to win the tour with just one day of really hard work (almost always in the mountains) and then sit and mark everyone else and simply follow their lead. Which isn't a zillion miles away from how Contador won it this year.

    Of course marking everyone else's attack still means you're putting in the effort, but you can't really be so passive with the green jersey; you have to be always at the front whenever there is stage that affords you that opportunity.

    For me the biggest irony is that the green jersey is designated these days as the 'sprinters' competition, but clearly the best sprinter of the last few years hasn't won it, so it begs the question, what is the green jersey really for if it's not the best sprinter and what does Cavendish need to do differently if he is going to win it (as he clearly stated he wanted to this year).

    mangatank
    Member

    Apart from the usual 'weight forward' stuff, my tip would be to spin the same RPM as you do on the flat. I know it's almost impossible to do that off road, but even trying means you're working efficiently. That way, if I'm faced with a series of climbs (Glentress Tower Climb or Sleepy Hollow for example) I use less steep climbing sections to 'rest' without loosing overall speed.

    The other thing to look at is weight. The average hydration pack is often 500g or more. Pop in a big pump, two inner tubes and a waterproof coat…don't forget your helmet's weight, too much water and a multitool full of bits you'll never use and you're already carrying over 2kg of equipment. Then there's the tyres. They can easily weigh in at 800/900g each.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Is there any actual problem with using the granny ring, other than pride / stubbornness? That's what it's there for, surely? Might as well take it off and save a few grams otherwise.

    Premier Icon senor j
    Subscriber

    ride your bike more.

    Premier Icon igm
    Subscriber

    Someone mentioned SS earlier – it improved my climbing. Front of the saddle for short and steep, standing for very short and steep (and grippy) or just for a rest, but on a long drawn out climb slide to the back of the saddle every so often at quite a low cadence. Watch the long climbs in the Alps (not Schleck and Contador – they are not human) and you'll see a lot of the generally strong riders doing that – I think because it uses slightly different muscles and just gives the other muscles a rest.

    PS I'm still rubbish 'cos I'm 16st – just not as rubbish as I was.

    NikNak7890
    Member

    It's a question that seems to regularly pop up, and the simple answer is climb more.
    How often are you climbing each week? A couple of times a weekend? Everyday?
    The best climbers, sprinters, time-triallers will add dedicated training systems into their regular week, for whatever they need to improve.
    So the next time you get to the top of a climb, turn around ride to the bottom, and do it all over again.

    Premier Icon gothandy
    Subscriber

    Don't feel that the granny ring is a sign of weakness. Just use it and spin faster. Use the gears when you want them not when you need them.

    +1 for this comment.

    The whole MTFU and stick in the middle ring thing is a bit lost on me. Go into the granny and then you get a gear choice. As Rhys says spin faster, especially as a bigger bloke (or on a big bike), spinning works much better than standing up and grinding out the hills (IMHO anyways).

    That said if traction is poor then sometimes I will leave it in a bigger gear and stand up and get the weight over the back so the back tyre really digs in.

    chriswilk
    Member

    take a trip to the Alps or Scotland and do some big mountian days. You soon learn the rhythm of climbing when it takes an hour or two.
    Use the technique of "engage low gear and disengage brain".

    mansonsoul
    Member

    I have a friend who's a masochist. He's a PE teacher, so it makes sense.

    Now, I've been riding with him for years and years. He has always been faster than me up the hills, still is. But, we both ride singlespeeds now, and rather than being 200m behind him on any climb, I'm maybe 2m behind him. I think the reason is that on a singlespeed, you can't go slow. If you do, you walk, and walking's rubbish, I'm not a rambler. So I beast it, get strong and go fast, and now I love climbs.

    The only problem is, I would quite like a full sus now and am terrified that I buy it, and, lacking the mental fortitude to just hammer the climbs like now, suddenly end up 200m behind my mate and winching slowly and pathetically up the hills!

    MrNutt
    Member

    first five minutes all good, then hell, then remember I have other gears, then fine, then hell, then fine, then its just "focus on cadence, making circles, making circles", then hammer off like a loon, repeat.

    Haze
    Member

    what is the green jersey really for if it's not the best sprinter and what does Cavendish need to do differently if he is going to win i

    I try to look at it as a points jersey, just that it's mostly sprinters that contest it due to it's nature.

    Cavendish could probably do with supplementing his stage wins with a few more intermediate points?

    Goes with the break in a couple of stages, takes some of the early intermediates before dropping back to the group.

    Easier said than done no doubt, pretty sure I remember Hushovd doing something similar once or twice…

    OP – get a singlespeed, will sort your changing out.

    cynic-al
    Member

    For the casual mtber, climbing is probably the only real test of fitness they experience.

    franki
    Member

    Don't have much of a problem with it tbh.
    I'm nowhere near as fit as I used to be, but I just climb slower – very rare that I have to get off. You just get used to it over the years, I guess.

    Premier Icon njee20
    Subscriber

    Find a comfortable rhythm and stick with it, don't start the climb at full pelt.

    That's very good advice, too many people start off too hard, so when it gets steeper or just on a long climb they're already at max and have nothing left to give. Start steady and maintain that pace.

    There's very few climbs on the Surrey Hills that are particularly steep, and those that are aren't long, so you should be able to comfortably just sit and spin on anything.

    Don't stop/get off either, just keep going, that counts for at the top too, keep riding over the top rather than stopping to analyse the climb and generally chew the fat with everyone around you.

    thomthumb
    Member

    stop getting off – doesn't matter what gear or how long it takes you RIDE to the top.

    once you can do that you can work on being in tougher gears. remember to spin no mash the pedals, and a little increase in speed just before tech/ steep bits will up your momentum. momentum is your friend.

    Keva
    Member

    That said if traction is poor then sometimes I will leave it in a bigger gear and stand up and get the weight over the back so the back tyre really digs in.

    ?? sorry but I don't understand how that can possibly work. That method is asking for a rear wheelspin. When traction is poor you need to drop down a gear or two, pedal enough to keep the bike moving but not so hard that the rear wheel spins and stay seated to keep weight on the back wheel for maximum grip.

    Kev

    Stay in the aerobic zone or lose your mind and blow up. If you lose your mind, you screw up your line and wobble or stall.

    I'd say start in an easier gear than you want but still just enough to apply pressure to climb over rocks and roots. But basically just spin and focus on steady breathing and looking ahead. As you run low on energy, slip lower still.

    As I've just removed all the gears from my bike, all this goes out the window πŸ™„

    chriswilk
    Member

    bly – so you are now on a scoot-along then…
    Sureley you still have ONE gear left?

    messiah
    Member

    As has been said – climbing is the real test, and where I live you have no choice but to test yourself every time you ride.

    When I started out my nemesis was a local hill which really hurt to get up and in the middle was change in gradiant at a junction. I used to be able to ride up to the junction and nearly die. So I stoped at the juntion for a rest. After I while I could ride to the junction and then stay on the bike doing little circles until my breathing and heart rate dropped to a point at which I could continue. After a while I was able to ride up the whole thing (now I struggle to see what the fuss was). Challenge yourself and only expect small progress, but you have to keep it up… two weeks off the bike and I feel rubbish the first time out… so I don't expect miracles on this ride… next time out will be back to business. If I've been off the bike a while I try to get a ride in on my own before I join the gang – saves frustration and blowing out my hoop.

    Pace yourself as has also been said.

    Another way to pace a climb is to go side by side with someone and chat… if you can barely hold a conversation then your working at a good pace that you should be able to sustain.

    Singlespeed is a good way to improve your mental strength as long as you already are physically strong, since you have no choice but to attack a climb – in the saddle or out… which to choose

    peachos
    Member

    That said if traction is poor then sometimes I will leave it in a bigger gear and stand up and get the weight over the back so the back tyre really digs in.

    ?? sorry but I don't understand how that can possibly work. That method is asking for a rear wheelspin. When traction is poor you need to drop down a gear or two, pedal enough to keep the bike moving but not so hard that the rear wheel spins and stay seated to keep weight on the back wheel for maximum grip.

    not necessarily. if it's really loose or wet a higher (harder) gear can improve traction where a lower one (easier) can make the rear wheel slip out. it's like driving on ice. also, being out of the saddle gives you loads more control over where your weight is compared to being in the saddle – far more manouverability compared to the 6 or so inches that you get whilst sitting.

    Premier Icon glenh
    Subscriber

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to get a few thoughts on mtb climbs, is it me or does anyone ever feel like they have reasonable fitness but for some reason on climbs feel that in actual fact they have no fitness?

    I think the first part of your statement is where the problem lies, and the second part may be accurate? πŸ˜†

    peachos
    Member

    the SS thing is something i'd definitely recommend too. i rode one as my only bike for a good while (before it started **** with my knees) and it really does help improve your ability to maintain high output levels. progression is really quick too – you'll be flying up stuff on your geared machine in no time.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    Dont go into the granny ring straight away of you can help it. Thats for when youre SERIOUSLY blowing out of your arse.

    Is there any actual problem with using the granny ring, other than pride / stubbornness?

    Once you overcome the second statement, then you can ignore the first. Far better to get into granny early and use the rear to change the gearing in little steps than run out of gears in the middle, and then graunch your way through broken chains, chainsuck, etc. as you attempt a front shift at almost stalling speed.

    The problem most riders seem to have with using granny is that they only use granny plus 2 or 3 lowest gears at the back, ie: the 'extra' gearing you can't get when using middle. No reason at all why you can't use granny + 6th which on a std sort of cassette will be approx equiv to middle + 3rd.

    If you aren't going to use it, then MTFU and take it off. Carrying it 'for emergencies' and then claiming to hardly ever use it shows weaker mental strength than admitting it's not the combination that counts, but how fast you're going.

    don simon
    Member

    (before it started **** with my knees)

    Try a different ratio?

    Faceman – Member

    Don Simon,

    Like most cyclists I've read hundreds of climbing features etc, I'm fine with the pacing bit, it's just that on super steep climbs everything always goes pear shaped, I literally can't start properly and find it psychologically draining travelling along in my granny ring and not really making any progress.

    On moderate inclines I've improved a lot, but I still find climbing a cool test of skill and head heart, but quite hard to get good at.

    In all the climbs I do I never use the granny and generally climb about 1,000-1,500m per ride. If the climbs are so steep you might be quicker/better off walking. I've seen elite rider walking up climbs I could ride, no prizes for being proud.
    I've heards pros say that they look at the summit when climbing! How depressing, I look a few meters in front of the wheel.
    If you know the hill you can or should learn to pace yourself, you've read the theory, now put it into practice.
    Letting people pass you in the first section of a climb can be difficult to learn, but breezing past them at the halfway point should motivate you. πŸ˜‰
    Corrected above, it's more to do with the head.

    anc
    Member

    Purposely ride hard/big hills regularly and enjoy it, by enjoy it I mean enjoy the challenge, mindset is everything. Do this and your fitness and technique with improve. Power to weight is a biggy, if your carrying any extra pounds lose them. Experience – that comes with the first point but the more experienced you are the better you can judge your power output and manage the climb. Climbing the bid stuff in the lakes you have to learn to take active recovery when the gradient lessens in order to get up the steeper more technical sections that send you anaerobic.

    Not a big fan of singlespeeds as a training tool as it stresses your joints too much and long term your heading for problems. Spinning is a better technique to master IMO.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Subscriber

    another one….

    if riding in a largish group of varying pace / ability, make sure you're near the front at the start of the climb. Then you can drift back during the climb, appearing to be sociable and exchanging words with everyone as you drop back until you then sit at the back 'encouraging' the stragglers. That way you'll be marked as a fast rider by the guys at the back, a good guy by the ones at the front, and actually you'll have been the slowest overall (started first, finished last)

    cynic-al
    Member

    Head down and keep pedalling is my technique. You'll make it to the top, just need to believe.

    Not a big fan of singlespeeds as a training tool as it stresses your joints too much and long term your heading for problems.

    Often spouted, never backed up!

    anc
    Member

    Often spouted, never backed up!

    Yawn………….. πŸ™„ That’s obviously why all the pros train on singlespeeds then init……..oh wait, what's that, they don't……Well there's a surprise. Al you'd better get in touch they're obviously missing a tick!! :mrgreen:

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