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Thread: steep hills

  1. #1
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    steep hills

    anyone got any tips for big guys on steep hills? I'm 6' and 268#s

    obviously momentum is key but anything over 45 degrees on dirt/grass is killing me, I'm either leaned forward and losing traction or about to backflip, I'm up off the seat, in the low gears and just can't get up

    I've been working on a nice tall grass burm by my house for practice, it's a little over 45 degrees and maybe 15' of elevation change on the climb

    anything less than 45 doesn't seem to be much of an issue, even with some loose dirt or rocks

    Thanks guys!

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    Could be bike geometry, a good climbing bike I can sit and mash and a poor one will do just as you described. What is your ride?

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    I'm 6'4" and 225 lbs. I'm finding it easier and easier to ride the climbs lately so here is what I have found -

    Sit and spin - If you don't have momentum you have to gear down and spin the pedals. get into a low enough gear BEFORE you have max load on the pedals. Sit on the nose of your saddle and lean forward JUST enough to control your front wheel. Lean back just a hair if your rear tire starts slipping. It seems to help to twist both grips backwards, but that is probably just mental. The key is keeping your pedal speed up and pedaling full circles.

    Stand up & mash - If I can hit it with a lot of momentum I will try to standup through the climb. It is much harder to find the right body position (front to back) but easier to keep my balance and load up the pedals. The key seems to be to start pedaling much earlier than you think you should, then keep pedaling until you are over the top.

    HTH
    Last edited by CxAgent2; 08-22-2011 at 07:44 AM.

  4. #4
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    I have found practice is best....just like you are doing. If you have a front shock, lock it out when going up hill (don't let the little guys tell you it doesn't matter...cuz it does!!). When climbing, keep your forearms parallel to the ground, while pulling back on the handle bars....your butt should be hovering just over the saddle.

    I have found with this technique, I have been able to pull my front tire off the ground while out of the saddle. Ohh, also try to make your pedal strokes smoooooth, utilize both your up and down strokes of the pedal travel. Quick darts of the pedal will cause your tire to lose grip, and you know what happens then.

  5. #5
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryanjt View Post
    Could be bike geometry, a good climbing bike I can sit and mash and a poor one will do just as you described. What is your ride?
    I should have included this in the original post, I'm riding an 05 giant iguana

    I notice last night my bike sitting next to my friend's trek 4500 that my bars are much higher, it looks to be leaning back when parked but that could just be the preload on the fork, any less and every root is a like a wall

    I'm sure most of it is posture, I did some longer hills last night and a few kinda steep ones, one was loose gravel, we know how that went

  6. #6
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    I had the same issue (5.11 250ish), but found a way to overcome the tire slip/whealy balance issue. Like someone said above, get your gear set early, get your weight down near the bike in a crouch, pull back on the bars putting your elbows toward your body, slightly lift your backside to hover over the seat, and crank away.

    Then, crank with a steady cadence. I find that if I count, like 1, 2, 3 - 1, 2, 3 in my head, it helps me keep a steady cadence, which, before I know it, I am moving with the momentum (without slippage) that I need to power over the roots that love to show themselves on steep hills or steep switchbacks.

    Also, like said above, practice makes perfect, but practice also makes one stronger and more fit. Dropping 50lbs since January has definitely helped me power up the hills easier than I was before losing the weight. So, while dropping lbs, I was strengthening my legs so that I can tackle the hills. Fitness is key, but, technique is definitely a big part of steep climbing.

    Keep at it, you will get it. I love the feeling I get every time I finish a really steep climb. The feeling of accomplishment is awesome! Also, bombing down is always worth the climb up! =)

  7. #7
    No talent hack
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    Cadence. That is key for me. Stop trying to mash the ants under your pedals and spin... keeping a steady cadence (60-80 rpm) keeps you from bouncing on the bike, killing momentum and tipping you center of gravity around (losing traction or popping wheelies). I have been really working on cadence and it is making a huge difference in my riding.... it is so much easier to pedal at a relax force faster than it is to MASH on the pedals trying to muscle through things.

    Don't be afraid to hike-a-bike as you are working on technique.... every time you tackle that hill, you will get further and further up it until you are climbing over it every time.

    After 10 years of sitting on my ass, I have been riding for about a month now steadily and now I am up to 13-14 miles rides and I am not in pain at the end of the ride... just a big smile on my face. When I started this quest, I was at 325 at 6'4" (now down to 315 ), so I am no small potato.
    Fat guys need bikes too.

  8. #8
    local trails rider
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    45 degrees is ---- steep.

    If it is smooth and you can pick up speed before it, it may help. If the speed is not enough...


    "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"

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    Lots of good advice here. The only other thing that I can think of would be that the tire tread and an appropriate pressure (usually lower) can sometimes help you to a small degree (given that you're doing all of the above).

  10. #10
    gravity fighter
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    One little trick you can try is putting your thumbs on the top of the grip and lowering your elbows. This puts you in a better position for the steep stuff and you can quickly change your grip if you have to get over an obstacle. Also, really concentrate on relaxing your upper body so you can breath easier and get more power to your legs.

  11. #11
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevermiss View Post
    Lots of good advice here. The only other thing that I can think of would be that the tire tread and an appropriate pressure (usually lower) can sometimes help you to a small degree (given that you're doing all of the above).
    more info to add here I'm running a kenda small block 8 in the rear and a nevegal up front, both at 45-50PSI any less and I'm afraid of pinching my tube, did some 1' or so drops and a couple of logs last night

    I think the hand position that everyone is bringing up may be key here as well, something I have not yet taken note of when riding, I'll find out tonight, going riding in the "kettles"

  12. #12
    Lord Thunderbottom
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    killed a few big ones yesterday, thanks for the help guys!

    keeping your elbows low and sortof pulling down/back on the bars is deffinately the key, tipping my seat forward just a few splines helped as well, allowed me to get a bit lower

  13. #13
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    That is awesome! I really enjoy the feeling that you get when you conquer a new hill!

  14. #14
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    One item that worked for me was to level my seat. Just looking at it I thought it was nose high, then I put it on a level garage floor and put a level on the seat. It was actually nose down. I adjusted that to level, then adjust the seat forward/aft so your knee when slightly bent is directly over the center of the bottom bracket. There is a good article in the April issue of Mountain Bike Action about this. It made a big difference in my climbing. Another thing I concentrate on is bending at the waist instaed of the middle of the back then flexing elbows out. Adjust this based on steepness of climb. I'm no expert, but this really seemed to help me. I'm 6' 2" 225.

  15. #15
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    Just started riding again after a decade or so off the bike and this is good info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    45 degrees is ---- steep.

    If it is smooth and you can pick up speed before it, it may help. If the speed is not enough...

    Now that looks like a fun challenge.
    We don't have anything quite that steep here in FL.....well maybe it exists, I but have not seen it

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surfdog93 View Post
    Now that looks like a fun challenge.
    We don't have anything quite that steep here in FL.....well maybe it exists, I but have not seen it
    That's a noise barrier just off a highway.

    "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"

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    45 degrees is ---- steep.

    If it is smooth and you can pick up speed before it, it may help. If the speed is not enough...

    I see the bike, but where are you?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    That's a noise barrier just off a highway.
    That's it, we need noise barriers

    We have a landfill (hill) nearby with 500' climbing (total) 1 lap 12 MINUTES, but not as steep as in picture

  20. #20
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    I see the bike, but where are you?
    When the bike stopped, I hit the brakes and started tipping over backwards. Parting ways seemed like the best idea. I rolled better than the bike

    "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"

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