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  1. #1
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    Humbled by AZ riding

    Ive been riding again for a few months, after taking a 10 year brake. I moved here from the Chicago area ~4 years ago. Ive been riding exclusively at Usery/Pass Mt and Hawes and I just cant believe how bad I suck. I guess Im just not used to the sustained elevation changes (since southern Wisconsin had none).

    I rode from my house this weekend to the Hawes trailhead at the top of Hawes road. That climb up to where the Microwave tower trail drops in kicked my ass. I had to stop like 10 times so catch my breath and prevent myself from having a heart attack. I always have to stop on Cardiac hill twice for the same reason. Technically I have no problem with either but I have no endurance. Riding up the west side of Pass Mt from the horse staging area kicks my ass too.

    Its so frustrating and I dont feel like Im getting any better. I hate feeling like Im going to have a heart attack every .1 mile on these climbs.

  2. #2
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    Just hang in there. I moved to Prescott from the midwest and had a few years off the bike. I distinctly remember cresting a hill, throwing my bike down and laying on a rock trying to recover some semblance of normal breathing.

    Fast forward a few years, and that particular section of trail is just a slightly difficult footnote. I hardly think about it.

    The most important thing is to ride consistently a few times a week.
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    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1
    Ive been riding again for a few months, after taking a 10 year brake. I moved here from the Chicago area ~4 years ago. Ive been riding exclusively at Usery/Pass Mt and Hawes and I just cant believe how bad I suck. I guess Im just not used to the sustained elevation changes (since southern Wisconsin had none).

    I rode from my house this weekend to the Hawes trailhead at the top of Hawes road. That climb up to where the Microwave tower trail drops in kicked my ass. I had to stop like 10 times so catch my breath and prevent myself from having a heart attack. I always have to stop on Cardiac hill twice for the same reason. Technically I have no problem with either but I have no endurance. Riding up the west side of Pass Mt from the horse staging area kicks my ass too.

    Its so frustrating and I dont feel like Im getting any better. I hate feeling like Im going to have a heart attack every .1 mile on these climbs.
    Pass Mountain is one of my favorite trails because its not something we do every week and you get a little bit of everything...
    I have only been riding for about 8 months now and I cleaned cardiac hill for the first time about 2 months ago...I was in really bad shape but knew I could improve...so just keep climbing...

  4. #4
    PMP,TAN,LAUNDRY
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    I still vomit on certain climbs every once in awhile.
    Bender to AZDog: I'm not the best person to give advice on not riding!

  5. #5
    I love bike!
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    As others said just keep at it and try not to get frustrated and try and be consistent. One thing you should try is to take a mental note of a few sections that give you a difficult time (like cardiac hill) and then in about 6 months or so see how much you've progressed at those sections. I'll bet you'll be surprised.

  6. #6
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    The thing is I try to be very aware of my heart rate when I ride and try to maintain a reasonable pace. Im fine for a good portion of the climb keeping things slow and steady then all of a sudden its like my heart rate just shoots out of control. Even if I try to slow it down and focus on my breathing I only have about 30 sec and I have to stop. Once the HR gets back down (only takes 1 or 2 minutes tops) off I go again until I either finish the climb or it happens again. Im not sure why it suddenly spikes like that. Im assuming thats just me being out of shape.
    Last edited by Douger-1; 03-01-2010 at 12:30 PM.

  7. #7
    PMP,TAN,LAUNDRY
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    Being mentally aware of gearing and finding the balance between leg power(remaining) and lung power(remaining) is going to be your best friend.
    Bender to AZDog: I'm not the best person to give advice on not riding!

  8. #8
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    I bonked and fell asleep under a bush on the shoulder of Iron Springs Rd the first week I moved to Prescott from the midwest.

  9. #9
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    How old are you and do you have other health issues? Be very careful with a spiky heartbeat, man.

    I mean, it's normal to get gassed on climbs. I get punked on Cardiac, too, particularly on my SS. That said, there's a big difference between being gassed and having a spiked heartrate. Just the way you're describing what's happening hinks me up a little.

  10. #10
    Kathleen in AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1
    The thing is I try to be very aware of my heart rate when I ride and try to maintain a reasonable pace. Im fine for a good portion of the climb keeping things slow and steady then all of a sudden its like my heart rate just shoots out of control. Even if I try to slow it down and focus on my breathing I only have about 30 sec and I have to stop. Once the HR gets back down (only takes 1 or 2 minutes tops) off I go again until I either finish the climb or it happens again. Im not sure why it suddenly spikes like that. Im assuming thats just me being out of shape.
    Wow... that pic you have on your profile page of 4Peaks completely blanketed in snow is amazing!!

    A suddenly racing heart does not sound normal. Since you are starting up exercising after a period of inactivity, it might be best to get a general physical at your doc's office. Explain the racing heart thing. Could be you are just out of shape, but it could be something else. Everything the others have said is true, IF you have a healthy heart capable of doing cardiac hill (with training). For your own peace of mind, let a doc tell you if you are good to go with a training routine.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blatant
    How old are you and do you have other health issues? Be very careful with a spiky heartbeat, man.

    I mean, it's normal to get gassed on climbs. I get punked on Cardiac, too, particularly on my SS. That said, there's a big difference between being gassed and having a spiked heartrate. Just the way you're describing what's happening hinks me up a little.

    Blatant makes a good point. I moved here from Michigan last June where I almost never rode, Desert Classic whipped my butt in a similar fashion to yours, so I went in for a complete physical including a treadmill stress test. A clean bill of health, I'm 43, and 8 months later after much much riding, I am developing some endurance and climbing ability. Hang in there, it will come, just make sure you are healthy and not over doing it, to much anyway.

  12. #12
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    I moved here from Chicago about 5 years go too...
    Maybe you can get back into it by spinning a bit one some flat trails for a couple of weeks before hitting the big hills.

    Re: the heart thing. I had racing heart issues and it turned out to be a tachicardia (super ventricular) caused by an extra electrical node in my heart. they did a cath. procedure to remove the node and now I have no more racing heart issues. Chances are you do not have the same thing as me, but getting a doc to check it out is a good call.

  13. #13
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    Im 35 and had a full physical within the past year. Slightly elevated cholesterol but went back 3 months later for a follow up and I was good to go. Other than that no issues.
    Ive been back at riding for a couple months now (twice a week) and rode a 17mile or so loop Saturday from my house (apporx Brown/Ellsworth) to the Hawes trail head at the end of Hawes Rd. Did Hawes Loop Trail, to Saddle, to Twisted, to Wild Horse, to Usery Pass Rd and back home via Ellsworth. I was actually doing ok on the way up UseryPass and actually kept up with a small group of road riders.

    Needless to say I dont think Im terribly out of shape. Just seems like when I push it on the climbs my heartrate spikes after awhile.

  14. #14
    My other ride is your mom
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    learning how to rest on the bike, even in short doses, is important. That section was the first time I learned the value of not charging all the way through the climb. Some sections require it...others I dial back. Just keep after it.

  15. #15
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    What is the best way to climb up cardiac.. I seem to only be able to make it half way up to almost where it turns but either I just stall and fall over or cant get over the bumps..

  16. #16
    I am Doctor Remulak
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZHawesRider
    What is the best way to climb up cardiac.. I seem to only be able to make it half way up to almost where it turns but either I just stall and fall over or cant get over the bumps..
    Push harder on the pedals and lift your front wheel over the rocks.

  17. #17
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    its your lactate threshold being hit. We all have the same thing happen, we have just adapted over time for it to have a lesser effect. Yours may be around 140 beats per minute whereas Chongos is likely to be near 190BPM. Once you get to the point where you cannot clear the lactate fast enough, your heart rate climbs to try and deliver oxygen at a rapid rate but it cannot because the muscle is too fatigued. It is not a fun feeling, but it is what your body will need to be subjected to in order to adapt. however, you can do it with smaller more frequent bouts and get the same result. after a few years though you will have to hit the higher ranges to see a change. That being said, if your heart rate is going higher than 185 and you start to get a tingly feeling in your chest, arm, jaw or upper back, or a red rash on your neck or chest while gasping, there may be cause for further review. Have you had your BP taken within the last 6 months? Is your BMI greater than 30? Family history of heart attack, stroke or any cardiovascular disease? Are you on meds? Current infection? If you are healthy enough, strenuous exercise is not a problem.
    Build up the ability to last on the bike for >2 hours over a given distance, increase that distance over the same time, then increase duration slightly and repeat until you feel like that is sufficient (how long you typically ride). Cardiac hill is a beotch, but you will reach a point where it is nothing new and you will be amazed. Just keep at it and keep pushing. Check your resting heart rate in the am. Around 60 is normal, any higher than 70 is not so good, any lower than 40 not so good (until you have been at it for a while).If it stays the same or decreases you are on the right path. If your average keeps rising in the am you are overtraining. Make sure you ride more than once a week and try to make at least one ride that week a tough one, and next week make that one tougher etc.

    Rough shot in the dark, but this may give you a place to start, also check the XC training forum. Those guys make me sound like I graduated from ASU....Wait a sec....DOH! (I did)

  18. #18
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    Douger, depending on how much time you were off your bike during the move to AZ and your base of aerobic training prior to that, you probably need to start with building up the aerobic foundation over several weeks before expecting any real improvements in climbing, controlling HR, etc.. Easy to moderate spinning, on the road, spinner, flat trails, intervals, will help a lot over time. Road biking is THE best method for building the aerobic capacity, if that's an option for you. It takes approx 8-12 weeks of aerobic training to build a foundation for more advanced training. Skipping the foundation building phase and going wfo too soon doesn't work as well, especially approaching 40 or so.

    The advice given so far-- cardiac eval, climbing technique, gearing, spinning gears(not mashing) are good. You should also get a HR monitor to train with. A couple of books on training by Chris Carmichael and others are also a big help.

    I'm not an expert, just been doing this for about 25 years, reading the manuals, training, trail/error, racing mtb and road. Still a work in progress and going strong at 50. Training for that freakin' 12-mile climb at the Whiskey I'm hearing about. argh!

    Good luck with the riding progress!
    Rob

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pwrtrainer
    its your lactate threshold being hit. We all have the same thing happen, we have just adapted over time for it to have a lesser effect. Yours may be around 140 beats per minute whereas Chongos is likely to be near 190BPM. Once you get to the point where you cannot clear the lactate fast enough, your heart rate climbs to try and deliver oxygen at a rapid rate but it cannot because the muscle is too fatigued. It is not a fun feeling, but it is what your body will need to be subjected to in order to adapt. however, you can do it with smaller more frequent bouts and get the same result. after a few years though you will have to hit the higher ranges to see a change. That being said, if your heart rate is going higher than 185 and you start to get a tingly feeling in your chest, arm, jaw or upper back, or a red rash on your neck or chest while gasping, there may be cause for further review. Have you had your BP taken within the last 6 months? Is your BMI greater than 30? Family history of heart attack, stroke or any cardiovascular disease? Are you on meds? Current infection? If you are healthy enough, strenuous exercise is not a problem.
    Build up the ability to last on the bike for >2 hours over a given distance, increase that distance over the same time, then increase duration slightly and repeat until you feel like that is sufficient (how long you typically ride). Cardiac hill is a beotch, but you will reach a point where it is nothing new and you will be amazed. Just keep at it and keep pushing. Check your resting heart rate in the am. Around 60 is normal, any higher than 70 is not so good, any lower than 40 not so good (until you have been at it for a while).If it stays the same or decreases you are on the right path. If your average keeps rising in the am you are overtraining. Make sure you ride more than once a week and try to make at least one ride that week a tough one, and next week make that one tougher etc.

    Rough shot in the dark, but this may give you a place to start, also check the XC training forum. Those guys make me sound like I graduated from ASU....Wait a sec....DOH! (I did)
    Dam It sounds like you may know something bout this stuff. Then again we all know better what kind of education can you get from ASU .
    Heading to bootleg Friday Your more them welcome to tag along. I know how much you love the snow in Flag
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velokid1
    I bonked and fell asleep under a bush on the shoulder of Iron Springs Rd the first week I moved to Prescott from the midwest.
    I remember that day. You were beat to say the least.

    When I moved to Prescott from Alaska I was a giant, fat, lard bucket, tub of goo. My first road ride in January of that year was a whopping 7 miles. By summer I was raging at the races. Just be consistant and you'll go faster...not that it gets easier.

  21. #21
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    YMMV, but I arrived in Prescott pretty darn fit and still it took me a good 10-12 months to acclimate to the altitude. I had my ass handed to me on a weekly basis for a year. It was brutal.

  22. #22
    SamuraiBunnyGuy
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    and you hafta use those damn high altitude directions on the side of the box whenever you want to make cupcakes...

  23. #23
    JohnniO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douger-1
    Ive been riding again for a few months, after taking a 10 year brake. I moved here from the Chicago area ~4 years ago. Ive been riding exclusively at Usery/Pass Mt and Hawes and I just cant believe how bad I suck. I guess Im just not used to the sustained elevation changes (since southern Wisconsin had none).

    I rode from my house this weekend to the Hawes trailhead at the top of Hawes road. That climb up to where the Microwave tower trail drops in kicked my ass. I had to stop like 10 times so catch my breath and prevent myself from having a heart attack. I always have to stop on Cardiac hill twice for the same reason. Technically I have no problem with either but I have no endurance. Riding up the west side of Pass Mt from the horse staging area kicks my ass too.

    Its so frustrating and I dont feel like Im getting any better. I hate feeling like Im going to have a heart attack every .1 mile on these climbs.
    sounds like some slow sustained road climbs are in order. Do some repeats in Las Sendas, or up usery pass a couple times a week. That'll cure it.
    Happy riding

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnniO
    sounds like some slow sustained road climbs are in order. Do some repeats in Las Sendas, or up usery pass a couple times a week. That'll cure it.
    Happy riding
    I would have to agree with JohnniO's assessment. Doing sustained road climbs will help quite a bit. I would also recommend just getting out more and doing flat rides where you are pushing yourself where your heart rate is high enough that you can't talk in complete sentences without taking a breath but your not falling down, fainting, puking and your heart is trying to escape your chest like an Alien

    I ride a mix of Hawes, Usery, Desert Classic and San Tan (every other day) and that seems to be enough to keep my fitness where I'm not dying on the climbs. It even keeps me in good enough shape that when I go back to NorCal and do some of their longer sustained climbs. I found that consistency makes a huge difference.

    Oh... and get some Clif Shot Blocks (or something similar). Having energy to get up the hill is just as important as cardio fitness. When I'm all carbed up I can climb a ton better then when I'm not.

    PM me if you want to hook up for a morning ride during the week (don't worry I'm still slow).

  25. #25
    parenting for gnarness
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    Do something challenging but different when you need to recharge your mojo - hike, lift, run, etc.

    Hang on every word in this blog: chadfbrown.blogspot.com

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball

    Hang on every word in this blog: chadfbrown.blogspot.com
    Word.

  27. #27
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    Just buy a super light Trek or Cannondale, suddenly you'll be climbing much better!
    agmtb

  28. #28
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    what would that do?

    Quote Originally Posted by abegold
    Just buy a super light Trek or Cannondale, suddenly you'll be climbing much better!
    Im happy with my bike. I just think the rider needs to stop drinking so much beer and get his lazy butt into shape.
    Last edited by Douger-1; 03-04-2010 at 04:31 PM.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  29. #29
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    Don't think of it as "beer." Think of it as nature's perfect recovery drink.

  30. #30
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    I'll have to run that one past my wife.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  31. #31
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    There's probabely a pretty good reason they call it "cardiac hill" i envision plaques on the side of the trail corrisponding to the locations of the various heart attacks.

  32. #32
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    Im off to 4 peaks brewery.
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did." Mark Twain

  33. #33
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    I got a growler of 8th Street just last night. Hmmmm ...

  34. #34
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    beer == nectar of the mtb gods.. http://forums.mtbr.com/images/smilies/biggrin.gif

  35. #35
    Don't believe the Hype...
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    Quote Originally Posted by azdog
    I still vomit on certain climbs every once in awhile.

    lol...I've been known to overheat myself and hurl now and then too.
    Made with real bits of Panther, so you know it's good...

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  36. #36
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    it gets better. do some easy rides, heart rate in the 130s, build your base. dont do more than 2 really hard rides per week.

  37. #37
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    Which hill is cardiac hill? Is it just before the Saddleback turn off?

  38. #38
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    If you think it's hard now, wait till summer.
    agmtb

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