Riding hills?

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Riding hills?

Postby louisiana29er » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:28 pm

I'm trying to get good enough to do the occasional race (Cat 3), I'm pretty fast through technical sections, but lose all of the speed once I hit the hills (6'3'' 250lbs former powerlifter) any input on how to get quicker riding uphill? My lighter friends tell me to spin quicker but turning these big legs fast doesn't get me up any faster. I've tried to power my way up the hills, but gas out the same as if I were peddling at 100rpm. Any input would be great, thanks :)
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby squire366 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:53 pm

Dude I feel your pain. I used to lift weights and played football so I am short and thick (5-9" and 249lbs as of this morning). When I first started riding my Deception I would stall about halfway up even a mildly steep hill. Now I can get up most short, steep climbs as well as longer climbs.

In fact I used to hate to see a climb coming and now I look at them as a challenge. My legs might be noodles by the time I reach the top but and I usually can't breathe but I give those climbs 110% and usually make it.

I think the main things are to make sure you are in the correct gear BEFORE you need it. Lower your chest down, move up on the saddle a little and start to power up the hill. I rarely stand up when taking a hill. I'm normally in the saddle in an attacking position and just own the climb.

I posted a great instructional video in the Riding Techniques section and dude covers climbing. The video is about 38 minutes long but well worth watching. I also saw a few other videos about climbing which were very good so you may want to check out YouTube.
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby wa_desert_rat » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:09 am

Squire is dead on about choosing your gear first.

But there is more to "spinning" than just moving your pedals around faster. If you're going to race then you probably should make the move to clipless pedals as these will give you a great advantage when spinning because you can get more of your leg muscles involved in the process.

When you spin you should learn to use your ankles more than you probably do. Especially at the bottom of the stroke your foot should be positioned so you can move your toes down and pull the pedal through that lower portion of the pedal stroke. Watch that clip that Squire posted and you'll see that he really emphasizes this. Near the bottom of the pedal stroke his heel is down and toe is up... as his foot moves backwards he brings his heel up (and toes down) so that his calf muscles add to the force of his opposite leg pushing down. Then he draws that pedal up on the backstroke as his opposite leg is pushing that pedal downwards.

This can be approximated even with platform pedals but not quite to the same extent.

Practice, practice practice. Climb every hill you can find.
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby squire366 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:11 am

wa_desert_rat wrote:Squire is dead on about choosing your gear first.

But there is more to "spinning" than just moving your pedals around faster. If you're going to race then you probably should make the move to clipless pedals as these will give you a great advantage when spinning because you can get more of your leg muscles involved in the process.

When you spin you should learn to use your ankles more than you probably do. Especially at the bottom of the stroke your foot should be positioned so you can move your toes down and pull the pedal through that lower portion of the pedal stroke. Watch that clip that Squire posted and you'll see that he really emphasizes this. Near the bottom of the pedal stroke his heel is down and toe is up... as his foot moves backwards he brings his heel up (and toes down) so that his calf muscles add to the force of his opposite leg pushing down. Then he draws that pedal up on the backstroke as his opposite leg is pushing that pedal downwards.

This can be approximated even with platform pedals but not quite to the same extent.

Practice, practice practice. Climb every hill you can find.


I meant to add one part but WDR said it first. You have to practice climbing to find what technique works best. Practicing climbing not only builds your technique but it increases the lung capacity and builds legs strength which are always good things especially for racing.
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby louisiana29er » Mon Aug 22, 2011 12:37 pm

Thanks y'all, I already have clipless pedals/shoes (GREAT upgrade compared to the cheap plastic pedals), I watched the clip and saw a few things I will try out, just sucks because I'm in a flat area without many hills and of course the guys I ride with (cat 1 and 2 riders) LOVE hills, thanks again
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby squire366 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:43 pm

LOL......... come to the Atlanta area and I'll show you some hills. I guess that's one reason why I have come to like climbing because damn near any trail I ride in the Atlanta area has a mixture of short, steep climbs and long climbs. Something I just can't avoid.

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Re: Riding hills?

Postby louisiana29er » Mon Aug 22, 2011 5:30 pm

We hit up Comite often, its a good mixture of tight technical single track with steep, short climbs, i handle it pretty well, but 2 weeks ago we hit Kincaid and those hill weren't steep but they were long, I suffered through all 14 miles of them, figured I'd toss it out there to see if anyone else experienced this and overcame it. I'm thinking of replicating the feeling of a hill by riding with a parachute attached to my waist, it helps with sprints so it may help with the hills...
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby squire366 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:51 pm

louisiana29er wrote:We hit up Comite often, its a good mixture of tight technical single track with steep, short climbs, i handle it pretty well, but 2 weeks ago we hit Kincaid and those hill weren't steep but they were long, I suffered through all 14 miles of them, figured I'd toss it out there to see if anyone else experienced this and overcame it. I'm thinking of replicating the feeling of a hill by riding with a parachute attached to my waist, it helps with sprints so it may help with the hills...


Not a bad idea.........OR you could find a long, moderate climb and shift up 1 or 2 gears higher than you normally would use. That should help build your stamina and leg strength. I noticed that when I first started riding my Deception I took damn near every hill in the "Granny Gear" being 1 in the back and the small ring up front. Now I can take many of the moderate climbs with the front ring in the middle and running in 2, 3 or 4 in the back. OH.......and the most important part of it is I stay in the saddle while climbing. I never stand up on the pedals.
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby louisiana29er » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:58 pm

just tough to get out to the hills often with school/work, not worried about leg strength I have plenty of that lol (700lbs raw squat, 550x10 reps was my best set ever), I'll search the area for moderate hills though I'm sure I can find one somewhere
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Re: Riding hills?

Postby squire366 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:24 pm

louisiana29er wrote:just tough to get out to the hills often with school/work, not worried about leg strength I have plenty of that lol (700lbs raw squat, 550x10 reps was my best set ever), I'll search the area for moderate hills though I'm sure I can find one somewhere


WOW........I never liked to squat but I know that's THE BEST way to build huge, strong legs and glutes. After I hurt my knee playing football and soccer I didn't trust doing heavy squats so I started doing more leg presses and even then I could only max out at about 450lbs.

Being a powerlifter maybe you can start a thread about using weights to build strength in the legs, arms, upper back and shoulders. Those seem to be the areas that are used to most to work a bike around singletrack.

I wish I had the time to hit the gym like I used to. Just a couple of months of heavy lifting and proper nutrition and I would be on SWOLE!!!!!!.................LOL
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