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  1. #1
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    SingleSpeed Climbing - How To?

    Okay in this thread about lower back pain (toward the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2) a couple of people talked about rocking the hips as opposed to torquing on the handlebars. I want to know more. Can someone please point out articles on this or books or enlighten me as to how this is done? I think there are several other people watching that thread who can also benefit from this information.

    I'm big with powerful legs but find that when I come to a hill or steep climb I've got the handlebars tweaked as I pull/push against them to leverage my legs down on the pedals. It works but I don't think this is optimal and it does tire me as well as put undue strain on my back.

    Let's here the correct way to do this with the hips....

  2. #2
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    I was thinking about making the exact same thread. I would like to hear more about this.

  3. #3
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    A lot of it has to do with having a round pedal stroke and using your whole body (which in turn has an enormous amount to do with good core strength). You'll be trusting/pulling your core forward during what is typically the dead part of the pedal stroke. Do the above while pulling back with your lower foot and pushing forward with your top foot, then set your weight over the leading foot to drive the pedal down which will naturally move your torso backwards and downwards, then repeat.

    Having read the first page of the thread you cite, I think the other OP was missing the point to a certain extent. Lifting weights as most do it does little to increase core strength, and if you're getting low back pain from singlespeeding (if you don't have a lingering injury and it happens not in the course of muscle adaptation to a new riding style/stress load) then you have a weak core.

  4. #4
    i call it a kaiser blade
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    i hit the lockout, stand up, and hammer away. if i'm riding a climb-heavy trail i also have a rear 22T cog and longer chain i swap out before setting off.

  5. #5
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    Here is the best advice i have gotten and it's not about torquing my hips, which does really help but i was told to keep my toes up and pretend you are trying to scrape the ground with your heels, gave me a smoother more efficient pedal stroke and set up my foot to pull up with the upstroke



    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale
    Okay in this thread about lower back pain (toward the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2) a couple of people talked about rocking the hips as opposed to torquing on the handlebars. I want to know more. Can someone please point out articles on this or books or enlighten me as to how this is done? I think there are several other people watching that thread who can also benefit from this information.

    I'm big with powerful legs but find that when I come to a hill or steep climb I've got the handlebars tweaked as I pull/push against them to leverage my legs down on the pedals. It works but I don't think this is optimal and it does tire me as well as put undue strain on my back.

    Let's here the correct way to do this with the hips....

  6. #6
    HTFU and Ride
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    here is what i do...

    step one: unclip right foot
    step two: cx dismount
    step three: hike-a-bike

    at least for another month or so. man i hate getting out of shape in the winter...i should do something about that.

    i have actually heard of trying to drop the heels on the climbs and that does seem to help. situps and yoga are your friend.
    Winter is coming.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbrock450
    Here is the best advice i have gotten and it's not about torquing my hips, which does really help but i was told to keep my toes up and pretend you are trying to scrape the ground with your heels, gave me a smoother more efficient pedal stroke and set up my foot to pull up with the upstroke
    I have no idea what people are talking about but adding to this the best pedal stroke is toes pointed down as they come over the top of the crank but your heal should be down (toes up) and the bottom. I do this even when standing (google it, roadies do it all the time) and I swear I have gained 10% more power and endurance up hills from it. Could be to do with the hips but hip swinging is salsa dancing so who knows...

  8. #8
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    Do you have a lock out?

  9. #9
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    Maybe it is just me, but I seem to have better success when I lean back rather than lean over the handlebars. Better back wheel traction. Or something. Probably just me.

  10. #10
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    I stay seated as long as it's comfortable, and try to drag my heel like I'm scraping mud off the bottom of my foot. When I do stand, I also consciously pull up with my foot on the upstroke to maximize power. I'm also of course using upper body strength and bar ends (Cane Creek Ergo II's) to help maximize leverage. Bar ends really help for me when climbing both standing or seated.

  11. #11
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    I seem to have better success when I lean back rather than lean over the handlebars.
    I guess that depends on the exact terrain conditions.

    I find that it is easier on my body to stay forward on the bike. In some spots traction is an issue, so I try to hover over the seat or push my hips back to weigh the rear.

  12. #12
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    I know not many people use them anymore but I find that bar ends are essential for me to climb efficiently. I also like the added hand positioning it helps prevent the back from tiring prematurely. Typically on group rides I go on less than 1 in 10 use em anymore but I fail to see why they fell out of favor.

  13. #13
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    hmmm

    a better bar would put your arms in a better position, which would feel better on the shoulders, directly improving your back pain. yes...

    i use mary bars. they're nice. sometimes i stand up, over the bars... on the steep ****, i gotta lean back to keep some traction on the back tire... my back only ever hurts when i'm in the tunnels for too long, damn trees =)

    heels down, yes. makes the calves feel a lot better on long rides. as for back pain... meh. just relax the muscles... xen riding, with my xen helmet
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  14. #14
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    Hmmm; stand up, pedal, throw up; repeat as necessary..

    Seriously, pointing your toes up is simply a good way to learn the feel of a good spin, as you can not hammer down on your pedals if your toes are pointed up; your not supposed to keep pedaling like that, just use it as a tool, like pedaling with one leg. As far as saving your handlebars, one technique is as simple not concentrating so much on your down stroke. Since most will have an acceptable down strike anyway, concentrate on your up stroke. when your pedal is at 4 O'clock, pretend you are scrapping crud off your shoe and try to pull up your knee using your hips. Another technique is to try and pull your pedals apart when you standing. The action would be pulling your pedal up on one side and appose this action by pushing down on the other, then reverse the action. With a little practice, you'll be able to climb without pulling on your handlebars at all; you'll simply be countering the force of your down stroke with the force of your upstroke; the result being a rocking motion. Also remember you won't be climbing the same as a geared bike. Usually on a geared bike, you only stand to clear some obstacle or a particularly steep portion of the trail, so you tend to give it maximum effort. With a SS, you may be standing for 1/2 a mile or more, so you need to slow down and find cadence you can live with for a while..What you'll eventually find is you will ride using a combination of these techniques, switch from one to the other, and/or figure out something else that works for you..thats why SS is such a hoot! Oh and as Spastook said, barends work very well for climbing, by centering you over the front tire and not standing so straight up and down..
    Just one more rep and I get the toaster!

  15. #15
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    Dontheclysdale and the Diesel I think I know what you are asking for.
    I have been riding a ton for the last few years and started on a geared 29er then to rigid 29er SS, now full squish 29er SS.
    When I started the SS thing I had to learn how to climb all over again. Now I canít even ride a geared bike uphill.
    I will attempt to put into words what my body and bike do while climbing:
    #1 I always stand Ė even on the near flat stuff, I am out of the saddle
    #2 I very rarely pull on the handle bars - I pull to the rear but never up.
    #3 Balance, and rhythm is the key (and speed!) The steeper it gets the faster I try to go.
    #4 Clip in peddles is a must! you need to be able to push and pull the peddles all the way around!
    I only have power on the down strokes - that leaves two huge gaps.
    I donít care what anyone has to say about a 360 degree power stroke Ė that works great seated on a geared bike, where you can pull on the bars and jam the seat up your a$$. I canít apply power that way now because I am going slow, and I am standing. The only thing I have is momentum, the weight of my body, and the strength of my legs. (I USE LITTLE TO NO ARM ACTION!!!)
    Ok - so I am approaching a mild hill. I am standing Ė balanced with 10% Ė 20% of my weight on the bars (I could almost ride with no hands). As the hill gets steeper I begin to lope the bike forward and back to cover the dead spot.
    This is my key and I will try to explain it several ways:
    I will use minutes of a clock to diagram. From 7 minutes to 22 minutes I have power.
    As I am pushing down on the peddle from minute 7 to 22 my body is moving forward on the bike.
    Again another way Ė from minute 7 to 22 I am pulling the bike to the rear with the bars making my body move faster than the bike.
    Yet another way Ė From minute 7 to 22 my body is moving faster uphill than the bike.
    At minute 23 to minute 37 I pull the bike up the hill with the bars. This is the loping action. This is to cover the dead spot in the peddle stroke.
    Start again at minute 37 thru minute 52 I have a nice smooth stroke. Again my body in moving faster up the hill than my bike. So as I push down on the peddle I am pulling rearward on the bars. Balance is everything here - 20% of my weight on the bars and the other 80% of my weight is pushing down on the peddles. Note - If you are pulling up on the bars to put more power into the peddles you canít lope the bike. I always try to think of it like this. I am moving the bike up the hill with the weight of my body and the power in my legs.
    I canít put more power into the peddles by pulling up on the bars. I need to lean into the hill and use my weight as leverage.
    At minute 52 through minute 7 I am covering the dead spot again by pulling the bike forward (up the hill).
    I can ride most anything (when in good shape) on a 29er with 32 X 20 gearing
    I hope this doesnít sound like I am speaking a different language.
    I will watch this thread and will try and explain this another way if this sounds like crap.

  16. #16
    Happy in Happy Valley
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    ^^ It sounds complex in words, but once you get it the loping speeder describes is a big help. However, I am only in the habit of doing it on VERY steep stuff; I'm generally near to a complete stop and I need to get the pedal over the dead spot to where I can stand on it again. I had not considered trying it when I'm moving at reasonable speed.

    It's certainly easier to get the 'feel' for it on something very steep or when you are moving very slowly- this makes punching the bike forward feel much more intuitive IMO.
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  17. #17
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    I just change gears!
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  18. #18
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    If I understand the description of the "loping" motion,.I find myself doing it on steep climbs, and it works well

    I also try to bring my knee toward the bar on the upstroke, which unweights the pedal if not helping to lift it.
    Chasing bears through the woods drunk with a dull hatchet is strongly not advised

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by speeder3800
    At minute 23 to minute 37 I pull the bike up the hill with the bars. This is the loping action. This is to cover the dead spot in the peddle stroke.
    Hey speeder3800, do you mean "push" the bike uphill with the bars?

    I have occasionally rocked the bike from front to back instead of side to side. I think this is what you call "loping"? It works really well to get your cadence up if you've been bogging down. I prefer a faster cadence when I SS compared to my friend, but my heart and lungs can't always support it.

    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    With a SS, you may be standing for 1/2 a mile or more, so you need to slow down and find cadence you can live with for a while..
    Hey Brad, this is SO true, and also hard to figure out sometimes for me. At the bottom of a long hill I know by heart I will often times go very slow. This is also why its so hard to ride SS (or gears) at someplace you are not familiar with... because you never know what "a while" will be.

  20. #20
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    Speeder, i understand exactly what you described. The problem is that i cant seem to make myself do it even though i know what i am supposed to do. I end up trying to mash the pedals so hard that i have to pull up on the bars just to keep from pushing myself over the bars.

  21. #21
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    I see a book in the works... "Chi SScycling - It's all about the Core".

  22. #22
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    The Diesel - I think you need to spend more time on lesser slopes. Something that requires about 50% of your effort. This rhythm will become more natural if you don't try too hard. Just keep in mind the theory. Itís also faster than you are probably thinking. The bike is moving forward and back twice every full stroke.
    The loping I described is also not a steep climbing weapon. This only works on low and medium grades.
    If I were riding a geared bike and needed to be in the granny gear, leaning forward using all the climbing tricks I know. I would be pushing my SS. I canít climb stuff on the SS that I can clear with my geared bike. One of the reasons I switched to SS was because I got bored with the gears. I wanted something more challenging. I like to fiddle around and see what I can get away with.
    Just shy of ďtoo steepĒ - I would try to hit the hill with some speed and keep spinning as fast as I could and climb with brute force until I either make it to the top or give up and walk. I give up and walk more than not when I am not it good shape. I am here to have fun not beat myself with a stick. I will walk the steeps and conserve my energy for the rest of the climb.
    Momentum is your friend. I used to ride in an area with short steep patches mixed with flats and rolling hills. (The steeps were almost impassable with gears.) But they were short and most had a stretch of trail where I could build up some momentum. I would get flying and scream ahead to avoid a collision. After a good bit of practice I could nail these patches with the SS. Nothing better than cooking past a guy - pushing his geared bike.
    I find pulling up on the bars counter-productive. Mashing just spins the tire. Gearing is important too. With gearing too tall you may not have the mechanical leverage to climb (without crazy powerful legs!)
    I canít climb with 32X16 at all.
    A few other tricks I have used to get this figured out.
    I use Kenda small Block 8 tires (not very much tread) all most all year. I ride in a wet sloppy, leaf, moss, muck covered area. (throw in some loose rocks and wet wood obstacles.) With these tires mashing is the kiss of death. Finesse is the key. Smooth stokes and good balance.
    Another thing I did was to spend a lot of time working on my track stand. I cleared out the garage and spent time - just standing there on my bike. Now when I get in a pickle on the trail or get stuck behind someone going up-hill. I can come to a stop and just wait to make my move. Also when I spin the rear tire I can stay on the bike through more than a full stroke. If you put your foot down you are done. So donít put your foot down. Jam the brakes, regroup and begin again before you bail.
    I also have very wide bars. 710 MM with stubby bar ends. http://www.ninerbikes.com/fly.aspx?l...122&parts=true
    I get a ton of balance and leverage out of this set up. Medium steep - I am on the bar ends. Little steeper - I move to the grips. Even steeper I would cover the brakes with my index finger (both hands) I want access to the brakes in case I need to stop a spin or pause for a moment.
    Sorry for the long post. I hope some of my ramblings are helpful.

  23. #23
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    First, get Mountain Bike Action July 2006 page 102 by Travis Brown. Study these skills. The dead zone was mentioned, yes this is where you shift wieght forwards, you are throwing your bike, then shift your wieght backwards for traction, repeat and repeat, you are apearing to do push-ups you are throughing your wieght back and forth through the dead zone, when you are back or wieght is to the rear your goal is traction, thrust then throw. These actions are done fast, this skill is done on reallatvally steep sections. Climbing is done best locked out front and back, my rig is geared 32x16 26er w/bar-ends. There are other variations, learn this one and you figure out others.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supersinglespeeder
    First, get Mountain Bike Action July 2006 page 102 by Travis Brown. Study these skills.
    How does one acquire said magazine?

  25. #25
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    Also for clarification, I've never ridden with Diesel but we ride the same trails here in Houston. We don't have the epic one-mile slow grades. We have these very fast ups and downs. The ups are usually covered in roots prior to the hill and in many cases all along the face of the hill. While very few of these are over 100' in duration, they are usually very steep - similar to the angle of a concrete bayou bank (white walls.) If I had to guesstimate the angles of these climbs are in the neighborhood of 20-60 degrees.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale
    Also for clarification, I've never ridden with Diesel but we ride the same trails here in Houston. We don't have the epic one-mile slow grades. We have these very fast ups and downs. The ups are usually covered in roots prior to the hill and in many cases all along the face of the hill. While very few of these are over 100' in duration, they are usually very steep - similar to the angle of a concrete bayou bank (white walls.) If I had to guesstimate the angles of these climbs are in the neighborhood of 20-60 degrees.
    Yep. If it wernt for the roots at the bottom of the climbs, and my rigid fork, i would hammer before the climb and get halfway up and power through the rest. But, i find myself having to attempt a climb at medium speed and then zig zaging back and fourth over the crazy roots leaving me out of momentum near the top of a steep climb. I am getting better though, very quickly.

  27. #27
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    Yo Diesel, I just got a carbon fork for my Haro. Also some 2.55 WeirWolfs. So far on the light trails by house the roots are easier to attack. We're going to Jack Brooks today so I'll see how this new combo works... Also going to try some of the tactics from this thread.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale
    Yo Diesel, I just got a carbon fork for my Haro. Also some 2.55 WeirWolfs. So far on the light trails by house the roots are easier to attack. We're going to Jack Brooks today so I'll see how this new combo works... Also going to try some of the tactics from this thread.
    Sounds good let me know how it goes! I still have not made it to jack brooks yet, and not i have a diff car than last season so i dont have a bike back yet. So, im stuck on the anthills for a while lol.

  29. #29
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    I just got back from a ride and on my assent I paid close attention to all the elements of the lope.

    First off my hips where pretty active moving in a very shallow oval forward and back.

    My hand were not responsible for bringing the bike forward. My shoulders were directly over the bars and there my hand have no leverage to move the bike up. I did find myself pulling vertical on the bars as I got the really steep stuff.

    My rear foot is responsible for bringing the bike forward. At the top of the back stroke the foot coming up was pulling the bike forward.

    So my hips were dong Ĺ the work and the rear foot was doing the other Ĺ.

    Total movement of the bike was only a few inches per stroke.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale
    How does one acquire said magazine?
    Try this link

    http://www.zinio.com/gncissue?is=144163458&ns=usa

    You can actually read the article with the three complimentary "zooms". Just don't zoom in until you get to Travis' article.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by LongviewTx
    Try this link

    http://www.zinio.com/gncissue?is=144163458&ns=usa

    You can actually read the article with the three complimentary "zooms". Just don't zoom in until you get to Travis' article.
    THANKS! use the toolbar button to print!

  32. #32
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    Good stuff, thanks LongviewTX!!!!

  33. #33
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    dead on!

    speeder3800 and aka brad hit all the elements I have experienced in my 2nd year of SS. You are right on with what I have found to work.

    Here in the foothills around Boise we have some great variety for SS, some very steep to some nice rolling up hills. The lower trails give us 1000-1500 elevation climbs in a few miles. I run a SS rigid 29er with a 32x20. The first year I used a 32x22 and graduated to the 20 this spring.

    Since I took up yoga this winter, the spring rides are MUCH easier. I have much better balance on the uphills which, I have found, reduced my fatigue. I also worked on core strength with light reps and now the strength is there. My conclusion so far is:

    Balance, Core Strength and ride whenever you have the chance to improve technique (3-4 times a week on hills)

  34. #34
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    Yesterday, I found myself doing the "rowing" motion or back and forward movement, during a ride in partly slippery conditions. I think the way it worked out was: weight back when putting the most torque on the pedal and forward for the rest. At least it kept me moving up some slippery slopes.

    (It did not keep me from running out of steam and pushing the bike part of the way up to one particularly fun stretch of snow trails )

  35. #35
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    Just came back from some nice fast hilly trails. Not long climbs but 20' drops no bottom and 20' back up at rather steep angles. The climbing techniques in this thread really helped out. I think the best thing that helped is dropping the heels going back and pushing the toes down on the power part. It worked pretty good. Still haven't mastered the pushing the bike back and forth but the couple of times I tried it I think it made a difference. Made it up some hills that I wouldn't have even thought about a month ago. It put my heart rate at levels it's probably never been but it felt pretty good not getting off midway up and pushing.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale
    Just came back from some nice fast hilly trails. Not long climbs but 20' drops no bottom and 20' back up at rather steep angles. The climbing techniques in this thread really helped out. I think the best thing that helped is dropping the heels going back and pushing the toes down on the power part. It worked pretty good. Still haven't mastered the pushing the bike back and forth but the couple of times I tried it I think it made a difference. Made it up some hills that I wouldn't have even thought about a month ago. It put my heart rate at levels it's probably never been but it felt pretty good not getting off midway up and pushing.
    Dude, i didnt ride for about a week cause of the weather, then yesterday i hit the trails and i felt awesome and the bike felt light, i was climbing with no problem. I ended up trying to go as fast as possible on my 33/20. I stopped for a break and i could feel my heart beating in my neck and up the back of my head, all i could think was "this cannot be good". Anyway, thats all.

  37. #37
    Happy in Happy Valley
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Diesel
    Dude, i didnt ride for about a week cause of the weather, then yesterday i hit the trails and i felt awesome and the bike felt light, i was climbing with no problem. I ended up trying to go as fast as possible on my 33/20. I stopped for a break and i could feel my heart beating in my neck and up the back of my head, all i could think was "this cannot be good". Anyway, thats all.
    That's how you know you're working hard. Happens to me too and I haven't stroked out yet.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frs1661
    That's how you know you're working hard. Happens to me too and I haven't stroked out yet.
    The hearts a muscle, figure can't hurt to work it out once in a while

  39. #39
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    I don't know if it's a good idea or not to push your heart rate to the 190+ range but I've been doing it more often lately so I think I need to do a little research on the topic.

    One thing I noticed yesterday, I actually broke the back tire loose on a couple of uphill sections. That was the first time I have actually done that. Maybe my pedal stroke is getting more efficient and more powerful?

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale
    One thing I noticed yesterday, I actually broke the back tire loose on a couple of uphill sections. That was the first time I have actually done that. Maybe my pedal stroke is getting more efficient and more powerful?
    It just means you have not gone up anything steep or loose, or otherwise slippery

  41. #41
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    Hmmm; stand up, pedal, throw up; repeat as necessary..
    This is good advice, on longer extended climbs, bury head in "crash position" and proceed to lick top tube and or stem depending on length of climb.....

    this also reminds me of my racing training regimen and or weekend routine:

    ride, drink beer, spank it, repeat...

    ALL good advice.

  42. #42
    mtbr member
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    Lots of climbing round here. I employ kind of a side to side sawing up the mountain. 32x19 on me 29er. Balance is key somtimes i climb at 3rpm. Can identify with 6+ miles of standing climbing up jeep roads. I freakin love it!

  43. #43
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    Shoving or pushing the bike through the dead zone at the top of the pedal stroke is a definite help when it's really steep or technical and you almost come to a standstill.
    Check out some of our local hills: CDRC (Capital District Road Climbs)

  44. #44
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    Regarding back pain and SS ... as a sports chiro, USA cycling coach, and strength & condition specialist ... I see that low back pain is very common when a someone starts riding a lot of SS compared to geared. Heck, I was getting some pain myself. Mostly due to the increased out-of-the-saddle riding. Someone mentioned earlier about core, very important. Equally, upper body strength becomes important. Additionally, thoughts on pedal stroke are starting to change a bit in the road bike world, touching on an earlier post. The "scapping the mud off the shoe" at the bottom of the stroke is being re-though. We're starting to see that maintaining about 15 degrees of ankle plantar flexion delivers more power to the pedal spindle through more of the stroke. Dropping the heel too much can result in the force passing straight through the heel/back of foot, which is lost energy. The same can be said for the SS biomechanic's. As we SS'ers know, pedal stroke efficiency is paramount because we can't rely on gearing to bail us out. Most rides that include some climbing turn into a strength workout and should be treated as one for the first few months of SS. Play with your pedal stroke/cleat placement and incorporate some core/upper body stregnth training into your week ... you'll be amazed at the changes!

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