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  1. #1
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    My climbing ability sucks. Advice appreciated

    Just getting back into biking after a 5 year layoff and I'm having trouble with climbs.
    I'm ok on very short hills that last only a matter of seconds but when it requires sustained effort I give out after 2 minutes or so.
    Here is an example. The trailhead leading to a local trail starts with a 0.2 mile ascent which is deceptively steep. I'll warm up for 5 minutes in the parking lot and then start climbing in the lowest gear I have keeping a cadence above 65rpm per minute. I get within 100 yards of the top and I physically cannot go any further. I pull over for a timed minute and then get back on the bike and finish it up. Unfortunately the initial effort getting to the trail always causes premature fatigue and invariably robs me of the ability to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my ride.
    I do resistance training 3 times a week and ride 14 miles daily on the local greenway but don't seem to be making any headway after 2 months. Should I scrap the longer, easier daily ride and work on daily small climbs or increase my overall daily distance to increase endurance?
    Although I rode quite frequently several years ago, I always rode downhill so I am a complete newbie when it comes to trying to make it to the top.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
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    I'd say if your long distance abilty is good to concentrate more on interval type training. Were you push at 85% or closer to max for 3-10 minutes, than cruise for 3-10 and repeat for a total of 1 hour.
    Do your stamina, ie long distance no more than 1x a week and the rest either interval or straight up climbing. As you mentioned, if you push to hard you're either gonna feel like you're gonna puke or at least be wasted for the rest of your ride so learn where your threshold is and push a little harder and/or longer into it, and a little steeper each week.
    If your leg strength is lacking, some squats or other leg weight training can help also.
    A good diet will help also, but espeacially pre and post ride.
    Google lactic threshold training. It helped me tons, and "Lance" too.
    My .02
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  3. #3
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    The best thing you can do to improve something is do it more.
    Scrap the 14 mile greenway ride in exchange for a 3 mile climbing ride.
    When you start to see improvements, add a half mile a more to the ride.
    Gauge your efforts, and save some gas for the top of the climb. You'll feel a bigger sense of accomplishment once you start making it to the top without taking a break.
    Try to make your pedal stroke feel as effortless as possible....even if it means that you pedal so slowly you fear you may fall over.
    It never gets easier, you just go faster.........= )
    Try to dial back your efforts on the climbs a little....even if you are feeling strong.
    Even if that means going at a slower cadence.
    When you get to a flat section, do an easy recovery spin, even if you can go harder, save your energy for the upcoming steep sections.
    Just ride more, and you will see improvements.
    After a year, you'll be middle ringing it up the same climbs!!!
    Look, whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  4. #4
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    I ride up hills to get better at riding up hills, as well as strength training along with intervals 2 days a week.

  5. #5
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    Trails that start with a tough climb are tricky because you're not properly warmed up. 5 minutes warm-up doesn't really cut it, but nobody wants to spend 20+ min riding in circles in the parking lot. My suggestion would be to use your lowest gear (as you figured) and just ride very slow - forget your cadence. If you can't ride slow enough to keep from blowing up, well then I guess you just have to walk the first pitch.

    As for improving your fitness, just ride more and faster. Long, easy rides don't help all that much, you have to push yourself and get the intensity up. Practice on the specific climbs that you want to get better at. When they get easy, pick a bigger one

  6. #6
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    I was in the same boat. I just started 3-4 months ago after a 2 year fight with cancer. I also like pizza and steak way too much so I was significantly out of shape.

    Few tips given to me:

    1) Play with different gears ( I personally was too high, or too low and so I'd either run out of breath way too fast, or my legs would simply give out, Took some time for me to figure out what gear to be in on what degree incline, and as my legs have stregthened, its changed)

    2) Breathing, try pursing your lips and breathing out more slowly than normal, forces your lungs to use more oxygen and helpes prevent hypervenillation ( not sure when you say you give out if its legs or breathing or both)

    3) Local guys here ( high altitude UT) have me biking at least 6 hours/week uphill. So I end up biking 9-10/hrs minimum. I'm doing an 8 week 'training' 3 weeks where I push it really hard, increasing difficultly each week and then 1 week doing mellow, longer rides to build cardio a bit better for endurance, then week 4 will be as difficult as week 2 was, so gradually increasing difficulty/distance.

    4) Make sure your bike fits ( probably should've been 1) if you are sitting strangely, hunched, or don't have proper leg exstension it can def. wear you out prematurely, especially uphill.

    5) Change your diet if need be. Eating like crap = riding like crap from what I've seen. I'm on a big diet to lose weight, and just 5 lbs off has made a big difference, but simply eating better and you'll feel/ride better




    Anyways, this may be helpful, or you may know all of it already. But I've made more progress in the last month than I had the whole time previous to some of these basic changes and am doing whole trails that used to kill me after 20 minutes. Good luck, and most importantly have fun.

    I'm sure better riders will chime in as well.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the input fellas'!
    Looks like the daily greenway ride is gonna be put on the shelf in favor of interval training and climbing time. Truth be told, I hate climbing but here in SW Va. unless you start from the top and have a shuttle service, climbing is inevitable.
    As far as diet, I forgot to mention that I am running a caloric deficiency at the moment in an effort to drop some weight. I'm down 40 pounds which is nice but the lack of nutrients is evident in my ability to perform well. Is there an ideal meal that should be eaten pre ride? I usually eat a meal of complex carbs and protein an hour before I head out. Should I consider some faster acting carbs to give me that initial burst of energy?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    climbing is inevitable....

    the lack of nutrients is evident in my ability to perform well.
    I'm running a low calorie diet as well, for the same reason, but you shouldn't have a lack of actual nutrients in any diet, if that makes sense.

    I personally try not to eat much very soon before a ride because it always tries to come back up if I do.

    I'll usually just have a protien shake and a handfull of carrots or something for lunch and then head to the trail a few hours later. I'm hungry by the end, but then I have a grilled chicken breast and spinach salad or similar for dinner. I've lost 5 ;bs, but I've lost much more fat and gained muscle as well. But I am by no means a dietitian either.


    And yes, climbing is inevitable most places. I hated it at first. It still isn't my favorite, but I at least enjoy it now.

    Keeping with it, and practicing uphill like others have said as well will help.

    I went several months incredibly frustrated not making any progress and just recently have seen a huge improvement. You may just have a bit of a 'step' to overcome before you see much improvement

  9. #9
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    I should have rephrased that better LOL.
    Instead of lack of nutrients I should have said decreased caloric intake. In general, I think I manage my macro's pretty well but will admit I am a bit dumbfounded about proper pre ride nutritional support.
    I never feel like I'm gonna puke. My problem seems to be lactic acid buildup followed in short order by my heart feeling like its gonna blow up. No chest pain, just that feeling of not being able to pull in enough air to meet my body's need for O2.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    I usually eat a meal of complex carbs and protein an hour before I head out. Should I consider some faster acting carbs to give me that initial burst of energy?
    I read somewhere (Friels' book maybe?) that you shouldn't eat within an hour of riding. Reason being, the food (carbs in particular) will trigger an insulin spike which will depress your blood sugar. If you eat within an hour of riding, the low blood sugar will coincide with the start of your ride, and you have no energy. So you either have to eat well before the ride to let your insulin stabilize, or eat and ride immediately.

    I've been testing this practice this season and it seems to be working well for me. I start on an empty stomach and start sipping sports drink as soon as I hit the dirt.

    Also, I wouldn't get to crazy about intervals and such until you get a good fitness base built up. In my opinion, beginners are better off just riding lots and riding hard. Unless you are an elite athlete, there is no reason your "training" shouldn't also be fun rides. If you're not having fun, you'll probably lose interest or burn out.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    My problem seems to be lactic acid buildup followed in short order by my heart feeling like its gonna blow up. No chest pain, just that feeling of not being able to pull in enough air to meet my body's need for O2.
    Efforts like this definitely require a good long warm-up. Just take it easy in the first 20-30 minutes

  12. #12
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    if you are crapping out that close, it may also be mental. just keep at it, each time you may get a foot closer, love that, try for it. when you get the top you will do a rocky dance, and it will all be worth it. try doing it at the end next time, after your done, redo that hill all warmed up and exhausted. also, dont stop and wait, just keep going on foot pushing the bike, mentally that may help for next time.

    I definately think part of it is psyching yourself out for it and its all mental.

    though also, remember, big dogs take big breaths. gulp your air instead of fast shallow breaths, it will help keep rythm and keep your heart rate down, let that breathing and pedal rythm calm you, look far ahead, keep your balance (hardest part usually on tough climbs, you can GO super slow, but you cant balance) and keep at it. finally clearing that hill will feel so awsome, clearing it in the middle ring will feel better. never thought I would clear this one hill in anything but smallest gear, then I could clear it in the big ring after a long time trying. I did a dance, doesnt look as good in spandex as in old sweatclothes, but it feels as good.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    Just getting back into biking after a 5 year layoff and I'm having trouble with climbs.
    I'm ok on very short hills that last only a matter of seconds but when it requires sustained effort I give out after 2 minutes or so.
    Here is an example. The trailhead leading to a local trail starts with a 0.2 mile ascent which is deceptively steep. I'll warm up for 5 minutes in the parking lot and then start climbing in the lowest gear I have keeping a cadence above 65rpm per minute. I get within 100 yards of the top and I physically cannot go any further. I pull over for a timed minute and then get back on the bike and finish it up. Unfortunately the initial effort getting to the trail always causes premature fatigue and invariably robs me of the ability to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my ride.
    I do resistance training 3 times a week and ride 14 miles daily on the local greenway but don't seem to be making any headway after 2 months. Should I scrap the longer, easier daily ride and work on daily small climbs or increase my overall daily distance to increase endurance?
    Although I rode quite frequently several years ago, I always rode downhill so I am a complete newbie when it comes to trying to make it to the top.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Ride hiils slowly, ride hills quickly, ride long hills, ride steep hills, ride short hills, ride shallow hills....

    When you have ridden all the hills you can find....turn around and ride them all again.

    BTW you usually get pretty good at going downhills too.

  14. #14
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    I truly appreciate all the helpful hints and information!

    Dichotomous,
    I do believe you are partially correct regarding it being a somewhat mental challenge. I've asked myself "Am I really going to die if I go just a little further"? My mind listens to my heart and screams "YES", although in truth I seriously doubt it.
    Gonna go out tonight and try some of the recommendations and hopefully have some progress in the coming weeks/months.
    Thanks again everyone!

  15. #15
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    Climbing is a psychological-game. Most of the time, the simple lure of the next descent is enough motivation. This logic works well when its a rolling-type of trail where climbs can be steep but usually pretty short. On long climbs, consequently, ones where the brain starts wandering, finding a good cadence is key. When you feel like quitting, look for 'markers' and aim for them. Once you get to that 'marker', choose something else farther up and aim for that continuing this head-game until you've reached the top. This seems to work especially well on technical climbs where sections can be broken-down into 'puzzles'.

  16. #16
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    I felt this way as well. I was riding maybe once a month and the climbs were brutal. I would ride in first gear at just over walking speed. I felt kind of dumb but when the people I was riding with would give up and walk I would pass them up. Now I have been riding almost everyday, some climbs, some flat, some of both, and its been a huge improvement. I've also lost 10 pounds in about a month.

  17. #17
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    I went out tonight and did intervals on the incline I mentioned above.
    Went up 7 times, each time going 10 yards or so past my last point and then back down. By the last round my legs were exhausted but it seemed like my breathing and heartrate weren't as out of control as before.
    I then went for a 6 mile greenway ride and pedalled back for one last climb. This time I made it further than I ever had, which has me a little confused since I was spent going into it.
    I did notice a neat thing though. If I keep my Camelback mouthpiece in my mouth (without drinking) it causes me to control my breathing better by taking deep breaths through the nose instead of panting out of my mouth.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    I should have rephrased that better LOL.
    Instead of lack of nutrients I should have said decreased caloric intake. In general, I think I manage my macro's pretty well but will admit I am a bit dumbfounded about proper pre ride nutritional support.
    I never feel like I'm gonna puke. My problem seems to be lactic acid buildup followed in short order by my heart feeling like its gonna blow up. No chest pain, just that feeling of not being able to pull in enough air to meet my body's need for O2.
    If you've never felt like you're gonna puke, you never pushed yourself to your limits.
    Yes, your mind is your biggest motivator, so make up your mind and do it. If I say to myself I'm gonna do 50 push ups, at around 45 I start to get tired. If I say to myself I'm gonna do 25, than at 20 I start to get tired. No, I don't say things to myself often, lol, but you get the point. Sure there's a limit. It's not like I can say I'm going to do 1000 Push ups, but I can surely do more than I think I can because of limits set up in my mind.

    Now to contradict that info, I'm gonna say, have a race with someone you think, in your mind that you can beat, or better yet, some one who can beat you but you don't want them to. When you see them pulling ahead your body will ignore the pain (lactic acid) more, and your mind will disconnect from it alot more than usual so you can push harder. Sorta like a temporary insanity.

    I see you have a protein shake pre-ride. Your better off with that shake post ride (with in an hour) to quickly feed your muscles, and that's also the time for simple (fast) carbs. Better off with a light but smart meal like pbj on whole wheat, and a banana about an hour before. It takes a bout an hour for that food to start being used as energy in a way that's good because even thou some is available sooner, it also takes energy from your body to digest the food. About 2 1/2- 3 hours (much sooner if you're exercising) after you eat, you start ot run out of food energy and start entering "fasting mode", so at that point mostly only some of the carbs you ate are gonna help.

    Hydration. Start to hydrate way before, during, and after your ride. You don't wanna feel bloated for the ride so slow and steady. If you're sweating alot, a drink like gatorade can help. Coffee Is also good right before a ride that your trying to push your limits. As long as you don't have too much, or are effected by it too much so you don't have a big "crash" when it's done.

    For me, I usually warm up for my first few miles, then at around 5-7 miles I hit a low spot, keep going and my energy comes back for another bunch of miles.

    P.S. before anyone feels the need to correct my info, or dissect my post. I tried to keep it simple, easy to understand and short. I already feel like it's way too long so I guess 2 out of 3 aint bad.
    Last edited by theMeat; 07-29-2011 at 08:36 AM.
    Round and round we go

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    Meat,
    Thank you for the advice!
    I think you got a little confused on the pre ride meal (I don't have a protein shake, typically protein and complex carbs), but you did answer my question regarding post workout nutrition.
    As far as feeling like I'm gonna puke, I'm not sure that would be an accurate gauge for me. I have pushed to the point of dizziness, near fainting and stomach cramps accompanied by explosive diarrhea. It doesn't really surpise me though as I have only regurgitated a handful of times in my entire life
    Thanks again for the great in depth reply and I appreciate you taking the time to help a brutha out.

    Sidenote- I also noticed tonight that I am too tense on climbs. When I focused on relaxing my grip and stomach muscles it seemed to make it much more bearable.

  20. #20
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    I'll echo a few points that others have made it's mental game and physically the more you do it the better you'll feel on the climb. It'll still kick your a$$ but you can cope with it better.

    I like to keep a simple thought my favorite mantra is "no dab" I'd do whatever it takes not to stop. If you can crest it once you know it can be done and you'd start expecting to clean it everytime. I remember when I first started riding there's a 3 mile gentle climb that I had to stop 3-4 times now I use that to warm up or get back in shape.

    Just keep at it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    I ride up hills to get better at riding up hills, as well as strength training along with intervals 2 days a week.
    What a strange idea! Intensity work to get better at an intensity thing??

    For me, there's something a little different about hills and flat intervals. So, I try to be specific. Also, I'm not really motivated enough to ride intervals unless it's 'cross season and I'm having fun with it, but I have fun riding hills. Routes that were hard in 2008 are fast and rhythmic now. Intervals never get easier.

    14 miles on pavement is not much. But, you're having problems at 2 minutes. So if you can't substitute a mountain bike day for that ride, change up your route - try something with rolling hills.

    Try running instead of resting if you can't continue on the bike. For me, 65 is a pretty low cadence. I suspect I use it now and then, but in a sustained climbing situation, I'd get out of the saddle at that point - too low for efficient seated climbing, for me. So you might try that if the traction is good enough.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Here are a couple things I'll add.............
    *Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist but I'll pretend to be one for a second*

    Pre Ride:
    Pre Hydrate all day leading up to the ride.......as much as possible.
    If you're riding in the morning, drink a few glasses of water after breakfast. It'll help get that food working too.
    Stay away from a bunch of protein before riding. Try to eat carbs. I find a few pieces of wheat toast with peanut butter or nutella is great pre ride food.
    I've even had good luck with cereal.
    The problem with protein before riding is it takes alot of work for your body to digest. More blood rushes to your stomach, and leaves less in your legs where you need it.
    Carbs kind of self digest and will easily burn away as you workout.

    During the ride:
    When climbing, try to relax ALL of the muscles in your body, besides your legs obviously.
    When you have a death grip on the bars, you are wasting O2 in your arms.
    If you are tense in your shoulders, you wasting blood there too.
    Tensing up your face muscles will waste precious O2 as well.
    Save all that oxygen for your legs where you need it most.
    Easy grip on the bars, relaxed shoulders, poker face. Trust me.

    Try not to stare at the top of the climb. It will screw with your head, making it feel like it takes so long to get there. It will also kink your neck ( and waste O2)
    When approaching a climb, take a look at the top and gauge how much effort you are going to need to use to get to the top. Then focus a bit closer towards your front wheel.....lets say 10 feet max.
    No matter how tempted you are to keep looking at the crest, DON'T!!!
    Keep your head low and focus on relaxing.
    It will be a surprise when you get to the top.

    If it gets really steep, scoot forward a little onto the nose of your saddle, and keep your elbows low and relaxed.

    Post Ride:
    Re Hydrate, and eat a protein filled meal, followed by a well deserved frosty beverage.
    I find a nice big Burrito works good.

    Rinse and repeat.
    Look, whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

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    I sometimes find that cussing out loud and/or making guttural noises help me overcome that last bit of the climb.... Give it a try...

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    OH, was that you^^, lol. So funny and so true
    Round and round we go

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    All said before, BUT:
    - I found out the hard way that diet & excercise are complex...simple carbs before are GOOD/REQUIRED
    - Intervals are good, but I still suck
    - If you have a road bike and some long steep hills close by it's a good opportunity to increase you ability to sustain climbs
    - Heat seems to affect my climbing thresholds and it's been HOT!

  26. #26
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    Another few things that come to mind are, Go for long out of saddle sprints and rides. I sometimes ride for an hour off the saddle just to build up different muscles and techniques. If the hill is real steep than some weight on the saddle will keep your rear tire's traction steady, but when doable, switch between sitting and standing, when you feel you can't go any more, to give different muscles a temporary break.
    Round and round we go

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    Good stuff fellas'!
    Gives me plenty of ideas to try, and will hopefully improve my current dismal performance level.

    I tried doing out of seat yesterday but the gravel path didn't offer much traction for the rear wheel and a lot of energy was wasted by the tire skidding instead of gripping and pushing forward. Then again, maybe I was doing it wrong?
    Gonna give it a go again tonight. Everyone else I've seen pushes their bike up it so I wanna be the one who pedals it LOL!

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    Managing rear tire traction is tricky, and I find it gets harder when I get out of the saddle. A while ago, it occurred to me that if I'm already grinding a low cadence and I already barely have any weight on my saddle, there's no big, magical change that happens when I take my butt off the saddle.

    So here's the trick: keep your hips back, over the saddle. Try to pedal smoothly. When your butt's off the saddle, you should be able to develop a little more torque, but with your hips back, you won't have as much trouble as you would with a more upright/hips forward position.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I very rarely get out of the saddle when on a major climb, even tech climbs. I feel confident on my bike and in the seat, but if I get out of the seat it seems like to much work for some reason.

    My bike is very sensitive to the rear tire losing traction when you pull out of the seat too. Every time it will spin out when I get off the seat and I either fal off the hill or roll backward. Hate that.

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    Lots of good advice.

    Do you ride clipless pedals or platforms? If you're riding platforms I would switch to clipless. I've ridden clipless from day one and wouldn't have it any other way.

    Why? Well, there are numerous advantages but the what I discovered sometime after I started is that clipless riders have the benefit of being able to use not only their quads but their calf and hamstring muscles in their pedal stroke. For me, this equates to being able to use a bit harder gear rather than one that requires me to spin up a hill at 3 or 4 mph. I'm not saying that I just hammer in some extremely hard gear but that I can use a gear which allows my legs to do as much work as my cardiovascular system does whereas it does most of the work if I'm just spinning.

    If you're already clipped in then try learning to use all of your leg muscles in your pedal stroke and not just your quads. It's made a world of difference in my ability not just to climb but climb in a way that's much more efficient thus not using as much energy for one hard effort.
    build a man a fire keep him warm for a day, set a man on fire keep him warm for the rest of his life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by queevil View Post
    Lots of good advice.

    Do you ride clipless pedals or platforms? If you're riding platforms I would switch to clipless. I've ridden clipless from day one and wouldn't have it any other way.

    Why? Well, there are numerous advantages but the what I discovered sometime after I started is that clipless riders have the benefit of being able to use not only their quads but their calf and hamstring muscles in their pedal stroke. For me, this equates to being able to use a bit harder gear rather than one that requires me to spin up a hill at 3 or 4 mph. I'm not saying that I just hammer in some extremely hard gear but that I can use a gear which allows my legs to do as much work as my cardiovascular system does whereas it does most of the work if I'm just spinning.

    If you're already clipped in then try learning to use all of your leg muscles in your pedal stroke and not just your quads. It's made a world of difference in my ability not just to climb but climb in a way that's much more efficient thus not using as much energy for one hard effort.
    Thanks for the response!
    I ride platforms although I know many people frown on them. I've seen too many riders flop over due to not being able to disengage quickly enough during an unexpected stop. Invariably it's a situation where they must stop extremely quickly and then just topple over in slow motion .
    I do like the idea behind clipless but I simply have no confidence in either them or my ability to correctly use them.

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    Hi, I have a similar problem and wanted to share, but I am unsure if it applies to you as well. I can ride a road bike for 50 or more miles without issue and do various forms of training throughout the week (weights, kickboxing, boxing). I noticed however that I have alot of trouble running longer than a mile or climbing longer stretches while mountain biking. Well after explaining to my docs they suggested a blood test and it seems my red blood count is on the low side. I am 33 yrs old and they say this would explain it and that I am likely anemic. They say the lower red blood count reduces the oxygen that my blood can carry to muscles and organs etc causing fatigue during burst type effort when demand is high. They suggested I take a B12 supplement and try to consume more steak for iron. Its worth a try for me

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    Quote Originally Posted by savagemann View Post
    After a year, you'll be middle ringing it up the same climbs!!!
    I know there's no way I'll ever be middle ringing it on any of my climbs. . .no way. . .








    (my new bike has a 2x10 on it!!).

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    I don't frown on platforms. If that's what you want to use then go for it. However, clipless aren't as dangerous nor is the learning curve as steep as it seems. Sure, you'll take a few spills at first but usually that happens when you're going slow and lose your balance. It's not a big deal. Get up, dust yourself off and get back to business. After 5 or 6 good rides unclipping quickly as needed became second nature. Then I had the confidence to ride more technical terrain. The other thing I like about clipless is that my feet don't come off of the pedals in rooty, rocky sections. I feel like I have more control over my bike when I'm clipped in.

    If you ever decide to try clipless and don't want to lay down a lot of cash the Shimano M520's can be had for less than $40. You may even be able to find an online vendor that sells a pedal shoe combo for less than $100. The 520's are built rock solid. They use the same design as their XTR racing pedal. They have an easily accessible tension screw that can be loosened to allow the rider to clip in and out very easily. I've been using the same pair for 3 seasons now and they've worked great.

    The most important thing you can do is have fun. If you're not having fun then you might as well be at the gym riding one of those stupid stationary bikes which is about the most boring thing I could think of.
    build a man a fire keep him warm for a day, set a man on fire keep him warm for the rest of his life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadiell View Post
    Hi, I have a similar problem and wanted to share, but I am unsure if it applies to you as well. I can ride a road bike for 50 or more miles without issue and do various forms of training throughout the week (weights, kickboxing, boxing). I noticed however that I have alot of trouble running longer than a mile or climbing longer stretches while mountain biking. Well after explaining to my docs they suggested a blood test and it seems my red blood count is on the low side. I am 33 yrs old and they say this would explain it and that I am likely anemic. They say the lower red blood count reduces the oxygen that my blood can carry to muscles and organs etc causing fatigue during burst type effort when demand is high. They suggested I take a B12 supplement and try to consume more steak for iron. Its worth a try for me
    You might be on to something there. My last physical was in May and the Dr. suggested vitamin supplementation based on bloodwork results. My dumb a$$ didn't ask why so I don't know the reason behind it, and like a fool I still ain't taking them.The only part I do know is because I am allergic to direct sunlight so some vitamins are missing.

    I had a good ride tonight. Waited until 10:00PM so the temps had dropped into the mid 80's. Found a nice stretch of road in a local neighborhood that has a nice double hill section that looks like this \____/ and rode it back and forth 10 times. I then went on a 5 mile gently rolling ride and returned to the first area and did the hills four more times.
    The whole time I made a conscious effort to control my breathing, stay smooth, keep relaxed, and mentally focus on never quitting. I practiced in lowest gears and mid gears, in and out of the saddle, and weight shifting. I am proud to say I never had to put a foot down to take a break. May not sound like much to you guys but it sure made my day .
    I'm not gonna say it was easy by any means but I am pretty pleased with how I felt afterwards. You guys have given some really great advice and I am highly optimistic that I'll see some improvement in the coming weeks.
    I want to thank each one of you for taking time out of your day to respond!

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    Quote Originally Posted by UUNetBill View Post
    I know there's no way I'll ever be middle ringing it on any of my climbs. . .no way. . .








    (my new bike has a 2x10 on it!!).
    Haha. You almost had me, until I saw the rest of your post..........
    Look, whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post

    I had a good ride tonight. Waited until 10:00PM so the temps had dropped into the mid 80's. Found a nice stretch of road in a local neighborhood that has a nice double hill section that looks like this \____/ and rode it back and forth 10 times. I then went on a 5 mile gently rolling ride and returned to the first area and did the hills four more times.
    The whole time I made a conscious effort to control my breathing, stay smooth, keep relaxed, and mentally focus on never quitting. I practiced in lowest gears and mid gears, in and out of the saddle, and weight shifting. I am proud to say I never had to put a foot down to take a break. May not sound like much to you guys but it sure made my day .
    I'm not gonna say it was easy by any means but I am pretty pleased with how I felt afterwards. You guys have given some really great advice and I am highly optimistic that I'll see some improvement in the coming weeks.
    I want to thank each one of you for taking time out of your day to respond!
    Great news man!!!!
    Keep up the good work.
    Don't forget, the more you do it, the faster you'll go......but it never really gets easier....
    Look, whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

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    Eat a whole lot of chilli and beans before riding. When you feel as if your going to fall over due to just not having enough uummmpphh to get over that narly root in your way, FART!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbfan2 View Post
    Eat a whole lot of chilli and beans before riding. When you feel as if your going to fall over due to just not having enough uummmpphh to get over that narly root in your way, FART!!!
    With my luck I'd end up with brown soup running down the back of my legs and into my shoes .

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    Did the intervals again today for almost an hour and had the luxury of using an altimeter. It showed an elevation change of 156ft from the trailhead to my turnaround point each time (about 50yards from the very top). Considering the path is an 0.2 mile long steady climb, is there a formula to give an estimate of the grade?
    I keep telling people it is deceptively steep but I'd like to know if that is true or I simply suck that bad LOL.

  41. #41
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    How do you think people figure out grades?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(slope)
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    How do you think people figure out grades?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(slope)

    Sorry I asked such a ridiculous question Your Royal Highness. Might you find it in your heart to forgive my lowly self?
    Geez man,
    Was it that difficult to reply without being a smarta$$. On a brighter note you did prove an undeniable truth. The fact that there is at least one in every bunch .

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    I'm sorry I offended your delicate sensibilities.

    Maybe this link, and my apologies, will be more to your liking.

    http://tinyurl.com/3qs8rj6
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I'm sorry I offended your delicate sensibilities.

    Maybe this link, and my apologies, will be more to your liking.

    http://tinyurl.com/3qs8rj6
    No not really considering the link provided. Still appears to show you are the one in the bunch. Thanks for playing though
    I was hoping someone who had more knowledge than myself could figure the grade and let me know what level of difficulty it would be considered. Unfortunately, it looks like I ended up with just you.
    Don't fret it none though. I don't readily give out negative reps on any board I visit simply because someone is being a peck .

    I did manage to find a calculator that gave me a grade of approximately 14%. That doesn't sound particularly steep so I guess I truly do suck in my climbing ability.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numbtoyou View Post
    I'm running a low calorie diet as well, for the same reason, but you shouldn't have a lack of actual nutrients in any diet, if that makes sense.

    I personally try not to eat much very soon before a ride because it always tries to come back up if I do.

    I'll usually just have a protien shake and a handfull of carrots or something for lunch and then head to the trail a few hours later. I'm hungry by the end, but then I have a grilled chicken breast and spinach salad or similar for dinner. I've lost 5 ;bs, but I've lost much more fat and gained muscle as well. But I am by no means a dietitian either.


    And yes, climbing is inevitable most places. I hated it at first. It still isn't my favorite, but I at least enjoy it now.

    Keeping with it, and practicing uphill like others have said as well will help.

    I went several months incredibly frustrated not making any progress and just recently have seen a huge improvement. You may just have a bit of a 'step' to overcome before you see much improvement
    This. Absolutely this.

    Also go clipless to help with the climbing.

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    roughly 15% grade. rise over run x100

    its a steep driveway, steeper than newly designed road. so fairly steep. roughly 45' high for every football field long, midway through the 5th floor on an office building.

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    Pfff, stop complaining and go ride some upgrades. Maybe take a ruler, along with your altimeter, so you know how steep. LOL
    Not cool to pick on Andrew who's always looking to help.
    I'm guesing that you want to know if that's a tough upgrade. There's no link of formula for that, sorry. It's easy for some and hard for others. guess we know which one in the bunch you are.

    Touche'

    Instead of pointing out someones less desirable traits because thet didn't magically read your mind or give you the answer you want, you could just say thanx, as you have before, and move on.
    Last edited by theMeat; 08-03-2011 at 09:47 AM.
    Round and round we go

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    Doesn't give me license to be an ass either. But thanks.

    OP - 14% is actually pretty steep. %grade is a really bizarre way to measure something, although at least it's a unitless formula, and not yet another bizarre standard. 100% grade is a 45 degree angle, and near un-climbable. Stairs have about a 60% grade and if you imagine them as a ramp, that would be pretty difficult to get a bike up too. There are power output and power vs. grade calculators on the 'net too, although you have to have some context for them to make any sense - cyclists are pretty modest in terms of power output and pretty efficient in terms of what they can do with it compared to an appliance, and 200 W is not a bad figure for a cyclist to develop, especially if it's been a while. Anyway, play with one of those - it doesn't take much grade to make riding a road bike up a hill really slow, and mountain bikes fight a lot more rolling resistance. I tend to think of 300' per mile as a pretty steep rate of climbing, if it's sustained. That's a little short of a 6% grade.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    AndrwSwitch,
    Now that is some fine information right there and I truly appreciate you taking the time to help me understand. I'm horrible at math so the links provided and the explanations they gave had my head spinning. Yours makes much more sense because it comes from a riders perspective and thats what I was looking for.


    the Meat,
    I'll tell you the one in the bunch I am. I'm the one in the back of the pack, slowly plodding along, and trying my best to learn from people with infinitely more knowledge than I have, even if it means asking questions that may seem stupid to the seasoned rider.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post

    the Meat,
    I'll tell you the one in the bunch I am. I'm the one in the back of the pack, slowly plodding along, and trying my best to learn from people with infinitely more knowledge than I have, even if it means asking questions that may seem stupid to the seasoned rider.
    The only stupid question is one not asked, I have no problem with stupid questions or even stupid people. I do have a problem with mean people, even if they do it in a cutesy, sarcastic way. Looks like you're back on track so good for you.
    PS. there's a wealth of knowledge on this site, as you've prolly realized already, but you just can't have thin skin as your last two posts have shown if you wanna enjoy. I never said your question was stupid.
    Round and round we go

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    The only stupid question is one not asked, I have no problem with stupid questions or even stupid people. I do have a problem with mean people, even if they do it in a cutesy, sarcastic way. Looks like you're back on track so good for you.
    PS. there's a wealth of knowledge on this site, as you've prolly realized already, but you just can't have thin skin as your last two posts have shown if you wanna enjoy. I never said your question was stupid.
    I didn't realize I was being "thin skinned". In fact, I thought i answered a relatively rude reply in a way that would somewhat diffuse the situation and bring a bit of levity into the thread (notice the smileys and such?). Judging from your response to the interaction between myself and the other party it would seem you are a bit biased and perhaps willing to overlook rudeness provided the person is someone you know or respect. In my eyes I find that to be more mean spirited than an impartial reply that is less than flattering.
    Anyways,
    Thanks to all who responded with some great helpful hints and tips!

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    How do you think people figure out grades?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(slope)
    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    Sorry I asked such a ridiculous question Your Royal Highness. Might you find it in your heart to forgive my lowly self?
    Geez man,
    Was it that difficult to reply without being a smarta$$. On a brighter note you did prove an undeniable truth. The fact that there is at least one in every bunch .
    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    I didn't realize I was being "thin skinned". In fact, I thought i answered a relatively rude reply in a way that would somewhat diffuse the situation and bring a bit of levity into the thread (notice the smileys and such?). Judging from your response to the interaction between myself and the other party it would seem you are a bit biased and perhaps willing to overlook rudeness provided the person is someone you know or respect. In my eyes I find that to be more mean spirited than an impartial reply that is less than flattering.
    Anyways,
    Thanks to all who responded with some great helpful hints and tips!

    Rant on,
    Who was being rude? You'll have to excuse me but, your condescending attitude and self entitlement has touched a nerve especially after the number of people that went out of their way to try to placate you so that your questions could be fully answered. The type of response that you offer up is exactly why I rarely answer in the beginners forum. Rant off.

  53. #53
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    AzMtns,
    Please see Andrews last post. It appears that he may agree that his reply could have been construed as condescending and he appears to be quite a gentleman for owning up to it.
    As far as my "condescending nature and self entitlement" goes, I admit to being a bit miffed. I can't quite equate standing up for myself with being pompous as you are suggesting. In addition I have profusely thanked everyone (including Andrew) for their helpful information.
    From your reply it seems you equate a high post count with priviledge to treat someone however you wish, which ironically, reeks of self entitlement.

    The beginners forum is just that. A place where beginners can ask questions from knowlegeable riders who have the ability to help them make headway. If someone asks a question and receives a reply that reflects that the person is too lazy to look for themselves, what purpose does this serve? In fact, I did look for myself and the results made little sense to me hence my whole reason for asking for guidance.
    With that being said, which do you find more condescending, a new member attempting to stand up for themselves or an established member berating a new member for asking help with a question that may appear mundane to the seasoned rider?

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    AzMtns,
    Please see Andrews last post. It appears that he may agree that his reply could have been construed as condescending and he appears to be quite a gentleman for owning up to it.
    As far as my "condescending nature and self entitlement" goes, I admit to being a bit miffed. I can't quite equate standing up for myself with being pompous as you are suggesting. In addition I have profusely thanked everyone (including Andrew) for their helpful information.
    From your reply it seems you equate a high post count with priviledge to treat someone however you wish, which ironically, reeks of self entitlement.

    The beginners forum is just that. A place where beginners can ask questions from knowlegeable riders who have the ability to help them make headway. If someone asks a question and receives a reply that reflects that the person is too lazy to look for themselves, what purpose does this serve? In fact, I did look for myself and the results made little sense to me hence my whole reason for asking for guidance.
    With that being said, which do you find more condescending, a new member attempting to stand up for themselves or an established member berating a new member for asking help with a question that may appear mundane to the seasoned rider?



    Respectfully, Andrew's last post has no bearing on this conversation, the posts that I quoted started the ball rolling, it was as much finished in those two posts. Your response set the tone for every post after. No one berated anyone for any question. I'm out, last post in this thread.

  55. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS View Post
    Respectfully, Andrew's last post has no bearing on this conversation, the posts that I quoted started the ball rolling, it was as much finished in those two posts. Your response set the tone for every post after. No one berated anyone for any question. I'm out, last post in this thread.
    How convenient. You hand pick what offends you, overlook a key contributing factor, and then make a hasty retreat . I will respectfully counter by saying that the first reply to my question set the tone for every post after.
    Once again, you seem to be equating a high post count with priviledge and the right to belittle someone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    How convenient. You hand pick what offends you, overlook a key contributing factor, and then make a hasty retreat . I will respectfully counter by saying that the first reply to my question set the tone for every post after.
    Once again, you seem to be equating a high post count with priviledge and the right to belittle someone.



    Are you this delicate in real life?

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    Honestly, it's best to let this thread die and start anew at a later date. From reading through many threads in this forum, I'm quite sure you're not going to get the satisfaction you're looking for.

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    Marpilli,
    Thanks for the input.
    I've already received the satisfaction I was looking for which is the answer to my question. Andrew put it in terms that easily made sense to me which is greatly appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nocturnalnature View Post
    I've already received the satisfaction I was looking for which is the answer to my question.
    That's the spirit. I've received more help in these forums than I ever would have imagined. Welcome, and good luck with the climbs.

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    Okay, I have reading this thread and not commented but I will now. There is some really good advice here. Where do you live. are there hills? How old are you (I am 42)? are you in good shape?

    Don't get beat by your brain. just pedal and keep going. the first part of my "backyard" ride is 1200 vertical feet in 3 miles. I live at the bottom (8000ft elevation) and always start cold. That climb sucked at the begining of the season but is a JOKE now. I know I can do it and just keep going. Know where the rest areas are and use them to recoup a bit. Just keep pedaling. One of the most important things is mileage on similar terrain. Ride miles of hills. don't go up a 156ft then turnaround. find a better place to go where you can ride hills. Work your way up. Go to the hill that beats you and ride it. when you can't pedal get off and push your bike up the hill. Don't rest. Don't let your heart rate come down too much. Don't cool down. One of the most important things I've learned is to keep breathing hard even on the flatter areas, that way when you get to the next steep area you don't get that hit of lactic acid in your legs. This is something we deal with riding at high altitude because of the lack of O2.

    You know what I think of when I can't keep up with my friends. The Biggest loser. If those fattys can run a marathon you can ride up that hill.

    Stick with it, I did and 1200 vertical feet would wear me out at the begining of the season and now I can ride 4000 vert and not be worked. You will get stronger if you keep riding miles. Also the heat can be a factor but I don't know where you live.

    pick a loop or trail to ride and finish it even if you have to push your bike up parts of the hill. I don't know a better way to say this: don't puss out!

    as for a pre ride meal. Carbs and natural sugars. I eat a bagel with jelly, or toast with jelly. I learned that from a long distance Olympic runner.

    let me when you kick that hill's ass!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by lloyd braun View Post
    Okay, I have reading this thread and not commented but I will now. There is some really good advice here. Where do you live. are there hills? How old are you (I am 42)? are you in good shape?

    Don't get beat by your brain. just pedal and keep going. the first part of my "backyard" ride is 1200 vertical feet in 3 miles. I live at the bottom (8000ft elevation) and always start cold. That climb sucked at the begining of the season but is a JOKE now. I know I can do it and just keep going. Know where the rest areas are and use them to recoup a bit. Just keep pedaling. One of the most important things is mileage on similar terrain. Ride miles of hills. don't go up a 156ft then turnaround. find a better place to go where you can ride hills. Work your way up. Go to the hill that beats you and ride it. when you can't pedal get off and push your bike up the hill. Don't rest. Don't let your heart rate come down too much. Don't cool down. One of the most important things I've learned is to keep breathing hard even on the flatter areas, that way when you get to the next steep area you don't get that hit of lactic acid in your legs. This is something we deal with riding at high altitude because of the lack of O2.

    You know what I think of when I can't keep up with my friends. The Biggest loser. If those fattys can run a marathon you can ride up that hill.

    Stick with it, I did and 1200 vertical feet would wear me out at the begining of the season and now I can ride 4000 vert and not be worked. You will get stronger if you keep riding miles. Also the heat can be a factor but I don't know where you live.

    pick a loop or trail to ride and finish it even if you have to push your bike up parts of the hill. I don't know a better way to say this: don't puss out!

    as for a pre ride meal. Carbs and natural sugars. I eat a bagel with jelly, or toast with jelly. I learned that from a long distance Olympic runner.

    let me when you kick that hill's ass!!!!!
    Lloyd,
    First let me thank you for such an in depth reply. It's nice when someone takes time out of their day to lend a hand and it's greatly appreciated!
    Ok, on to the questions.
    I live in Roanoke Va. which is known for the Blue Ridge Mountains. The terrain is, for the most part, pretty steep (at least it seems like it to me LOL).
    I just turned 40 and am currently in the process of getting myself back into shape after a 5 year layoff for extended illness. Started this journey at 233 and have made it down to 190 (I'm 5ft 11in) so far and feel pretty strong on the street. Unfortunately I am finding I struggle with the offroad aspect although I enjoy it MUCH more. I have come to the conclusion that the calorie restriction along with weight training is causing my legs to fatigue much quicker than my cardiovascular system as the days roll by. It appears cardio builds much quicker than muscle endurance so I'm not sure if I should continue working my legs during weights or give them a week to recover.
    Today was an outstanding day though. I did a nice road loop since I did intervals yesterday and came upon a hill that had me quite worried. I started pedalling up that thing, looking down the whole time, and finally made it to the top. My legs were spent, my heart was pounding, but the feeling of conquest was a huge rush. I really felt as though I accomplished something and noticed the pace for the rest of my ride increased due to the positive mental change.
    I'm going to do the offroad tomorrow and give your suggestion a try. Instead of turning around I'm going to keep plugging away although I'm sure I will be walking a fair bit.
    I can honestly say that the information that has been given throughout this thread has led to some very positive changes in a short amount of time .

  62. #62
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    Well a follow up as promised.
    I decided to focus on other difficult hill climbs and leave my nemesis alone for a few weeks hoping I would build up stamina and strength.
    IT WORKED! Went back to the original climb today and beat it not once but 4 times without taking a break or putting a foot down.
    Needless to say, I am quite pleased!
    Thanks for all the tips and advice that made this personal achievement possible.

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    start finding a critical point when you feel like you cannot make it any further and push yourself to make it to that specific point and everytime you go look further and further. Army ranger trust me I live by this concept

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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturnalnature View Post
    well a follow up as promised.
    I decided to focus on other difficult hill climbs and leave my nemesis alone for a few weeks hoping i would build up stamina and strength.
    It worked! Went back to the original climb today and beat it not once but 4 times without taking a break or putting a foot down.
    Needless to say, i am quite pleased!
    Thanks for all the tips and advice that made this personal achievement possible.

    nice

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    as a beginner myself, m using my hr monitor to gauge myself on climbs..i keep a rhythm of 60-70 cadence/min and if my hr reaches 90% i usually pace down. it helped me a lot in improving my climbs and fitness in general.

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    Don't worry about the gadget too much. If there's a time and a place where it's okay to redline, the time is during exercise and the place is on a climb. Just make sure you can see the top.

    One of these days I'll have to get a heart rate monitor. More serious racers than me seem to think they're a good way to do structured workouts at the right effort levels, and better left flipped over for a race, when sometimes they find out their Max. HR has actually gone up a bit since last time. Someone who doesn't race would most likely find his real max. on a climb, I think.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  67. #67
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    More serious racers than me seem to think they're a good way to do structured workouts at the right effort levels, and better left flipped over for a race,
    I'm not serious enough to even think about getting a HRM

    Reading some accounts of Endurance races, it sounds like it can be a valuable tool there, to make sure you actually finish. Like, if you are "redlining" during all the climbs during the first 60km lap, the next two or three laps are not going to be easy...

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  68. #68
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    Reading some accounts of Endurance races, it sounds like it can be a valuable tool there, to make sure you actually finish. Like, if you are "redlining" during all the climbs during the first 60km lap, the next two or three laps are not going to be easy...
    True. This is one of the places where I think having a better calibrated sense of perceived exertion is really useful. And practicing long rides for pacing.

    I actually had my first 50 mile race yesterday. There were two visits to the pain cave. One after I attacked a climb, thought it was over, and discovered I was wrong. The last couple miles were a bear. And one near the end, although some more calories helped a lot.

    Training books sometimes compare a person's available energy to a book of matches. Cruising along at a training pace is like burning them slowly. Maximum efforts are more like striking a match with the phosphorus thing at the top, so it burns up and it's gone. People have a limited number of matches, and when they're gone, the finish-defending sprint may not be there when a racer needs it, and the next climb or technical singletrack section could suck on a MTB ride. So developing a sense of how many maximum efforts one can get away with is really useful.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  69. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by marpilli View Post
    I sometimes find that cussing out loud and/or making guttural noises help me overcome that last bit of the climb.... Give it a try...
    ^^ Agreed!! LOL!

    I have a picture my girlfriend took of me during my first race. It ended on a long hill climb and she took the picture just as I was reaching the apex. The look on my face is a combination of horrible intestinal pain and a deadly anger.... lol! I was swearing up a storm under my breath and hoping none of the young riders near the finish could hear me.

    I told her if she ever posted the picture or showed it to anyone they would never find the body......

  70. #70
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    Speaking of heart rate, an amazing thing has happened (at least I find it pretty neat).
    My heart rate really doesn't increase to levels that scare me anymore. In addition my breathing capacity must have improved as well because it is increasingly difficult to make myself get out of breathe. The climb in question just about killed me just a few short weeks ago just trying to make it 3/4 of the way up. Yesterday I didn't even get particularly winded until my 3rd pass. I will admit though that I have really done nothing but tackle extremely steep hills for the past few weeks which I guess built up my cardiovascular system.
    Before I got back into biking a few months ago my resting heart rate was 80-90BPM. Now it hovers around 50-55. It alarmed me enough to see my physician who just laughed and said he is pleased as that is the range of many athletes.
    Moral of that story is biking is not only fun but downright good for you so get off your lazy butt and GO RIDE! LOL

  71. #71
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    yep having hrm is realy good in assessing urself..fitness and performance wise.

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