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  1. #1
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    Tips/tricks for SS sustained climbing?

    I'm just getting into this, and rode this past weekend up some steep-ish, non-techie switchbacks. My body tells me when to stand and mash, versus sit n' spin, but I was wondering if there's some advice the experienced singlespeeders could chime in here. Are there any tips/tricks to steeper climbs, especially when you're in the thick of the climb and trying to keep from stalling out. What are your strategies for maintaining sustained climbs? Thanks.
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  2. #2
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    Do everything you can to maintain momentum.

    Don't back off...

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  3. #3
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    Like SPP says, momentum is the key. Keep it going from the bottom of the climb. Don't start slow and try to save yourself for the steepest parts. Deep breaths and recover as much as possible when it levels (if at all). Keep weight on rear tyre to avoid slipping. You can ride anything on a SS that a geared bike can, given the right gearing. Choose wisely.

    Rinse and repeat.
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  4. #4
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    I wrote an post a few months about about Newton's 2nd law Force = Mass x Acceleration. Since we have no gears there is no way for us to slow down the bike. Therefore we can't really reduce Acceleration. This means we are stuck with a base amount of Force that we have to exert or the bike will stall out. Often times this Force we have to consistently exert to keep the bike from stalling is greater than the VO2 we can hold for the length of the climb. So when riding up a hill either one of three scenarios will happen:

    1) You'll run out of oxygen (hit your VO2 Max limit) and have to get off the bike. In other words- your fitness couldn't keep up with the speed you were pedaling up the hill.

    2) You'll stall out (too hard to pedal) or spin a wheel. You were going too slow. Either because you were trying to conserve your Oxygen or because your fitness isn't there to spin the bike fast enough (which is slightly different than #1. I've had times where I wasn't breathing very hard but I just didn't have the speed or strength to make it up- I should have been going faster.)

    3) You'll make it up the hill. Your fitness allowed you to push the bike at Force greater than or Equal to the mass of your bike (and the slope) times the minimum speed you pedaled the bike up the hill.

    For sustained climbs you have to think like a geared rider and try to go as slow as you possibly can without stalling out. This will keep your heart rate down, keep you from going into Oxygen Debit, and get you though the climb as long as you can keep from stalling or slipping the rear wheel.

    Your fitness level will automatically go up the more you ride SS. Just try to hit those short climbs as hard as you can to increase your leg strength and VO2 max.

    Anyways TL: DR version: Go as slow as you possibly can without stalling or slipping.

  5. #5
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    Tips/tricks for SS sustained climbing?

    Thanks for all the responses. I found myself leaning forward almost to the point of losing traction in the rear wheel, then backing off to maintain it. The cool thing I realized is that power txfer feels so deliberate. Standing and mashing on a SS feels different than a geared bike. I was wondering if there was a 'trick' to capitalize on this great power txfer (e.g. deliberately shifting weight, rocking side to side, etc) to enhance momentum. Maybe I'm over- thinking this.
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  6. #6
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    Momentum is your friend and lover but it can be hard to maintain that on long sustained climbing efforts.

    Take a look at your chainring, it's round. Don't forget that! Your pedaling motion should aim to keep power through the whole circle. Don't stamp down and expect that to get you there (unless you're riding one of those goofy old Alenax bikes - google them if you don't know what I mean).

    Despite your best efforts to maintain that circle there will still be a dead spot. Get into the rhythm of rocking the bike forward through the dead spot in your pedal stroke. And yeah, rocking the bike from side to side is useful too. Wider bars give some leverage for that.

    Well, the above works for me, give it a shot and see if it helps.

    Oh, and don't let it get to you. Think happy thoughts. If you start to focus on any pain or how long it's taking, or how you long for something for your right thumb to press then before you know you'll be off the bike and having a hissy fit like a 13 year old girl who missed out on Bieber tickets.

    Grumps

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    Often in a long race and/or a long ride walking super steep sections is a better tactic. If your speed falls below around 4mph you might as well walk the steep section and resume riding when the terrain allows. Most long climbs only have a few steep sections and as such sometimes walking short bits is a good idea.

    For long climbs adding bar ends helps give you a more powerful and relaxed climbing position. Also select the gear that works for your riding area. My view is that the best gear one that works well for the majority of the day. Some of the time it will be too low and sometimes it will be too high. If you are in a hilly area you will need to pick the gear that works well for climbs and then simply coast the downhills and go mellow on the flats.

  8. #8
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    When you stand up and mash down on the pedals alot of people have the tendency to unweight the rear wheel...that's bad and as sucks here due to how slick our trails stay. When my uncle was teaching me to climb he kept telling me "kiss the headset". That kept me up and in a position to really use my legs but also allowed me to add in the arms like Uncle Grumpy said, all while keeping my rear wheel planted. I see alot of riders here that are hanging WAY over their bars on the climbs we have.

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    Just keep turning the pedals.

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    (michaelscott) "For sustained climbs... try to go as slow as possible without stalling out. This will keep your heart rate down, keep you from going into Oxygen Debit, and get you though the climb as long as you can keep from stalling or slipping the rear wheel."

    For me ^ this works, plus generating momentum, so that on any flat spot I can coast or spin without pressure. Doing so keeps my breathing in check, and saves some punch for those steep sections.
    Notice that with a smaller cog, one can generate more uphill momentum, yet it taxes both aerobic capacity & leg strength that will either crush you, or enables you to kill it.

  11. #11
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    Tips/tricks for SS sustained climbing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    Notice that with a smaller cog, one can generate more uphill momentum, yet it taxes both aerobic capacity & leg strength that will either crush you, or enables you to kill it.
    Well said.

    Totally agree.

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    Use momentum to try to find the sweet spot for the gear your using, if not doable learn to ride real slow with a ultra low cadence. The sweet spot to me is when I can maintain speed without my HR going up too fast. To manage energy on really long climbs I try to master the seated climb, if I stand too much my HR goes ballistic. Mastering a real slow cadence/speed uphill helps avoid unclipping and causing a hill start or walking. This is handy in races when stuck behind other riders climbing slow (usually in the little ring) and you need to almost track stand mid climb to avoid the dreaded unclip which usually leads to running or walking it out.

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    All great advice. I'm just starting too, and this helps, especially the 'kiss the headset' guideline. I've lost the back tire a couple times, stopping my momentum and forcing me to walk.

    Wide bars help for the slow leverage just at the top of the climb to get you over that last hump.

    I also like the slow rhythmic cadence that you can develop while standing not sitting, my knees don't like it when I sit and mash.

    Lastly, when I get a chance on those slight 'breaks' and I'm riding alone, or not in a hurry, I will "practice my trackstand", aka "lower my heart rate, and take a breather".

    I thought I hated climbing, but writing this, makes me want to ride. Or maybe I just don't want to be at work...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelscott View Post
    Go as slow as you possibly can without stalling or slipping.
    No, no, no! Go as fast as you possibly can to keep momentum.

    With experience you will realize just how wrong your advice is.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    No, no, no! Go as fast as you possibly can to keep momentum.

    With experience you will realize just how wrong your advice is.


    The OP was asking about sustained climbing. Maintaining momentum is good advice on short efforts but on a long run nobody can redline forever, and while I don't completely agree with the advice to go as slow as you possibly can I think there is a balance somewhere in the middle, or as dwilson said- "find your sweet spot".

    Long, sustained climbs often have little chunks here and there that are steep and/or techie and you need to have something in reserve to handle those parts, and to have some gas in the tank for the rest of the ride.

  16. #16
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    For me - slowing cadence to expend the least amount of energy while maintaining balance and forward motion. Always attack a climb at the bottom and settle into a variety of other methods as laid out below..

    When my legs start screaming and begin to fail on long, sustained climbs I resort to different methods (in no particular order):
    1. The 'hurky-jerky' method of lunging the bike forward to get over a steep spot.
    2. The 'traverse' method of moving left to right over the hill while recovering (admittedly, not pretty - but effective).
    3. The 'seated' method of attempting to grind out a long climb using as little energy as possible while keeping some forward momentum.

    To each their own, but I find riding spuds can help recovery on long grinders as I can switch from using solely downward pressure on the cranks to using upward strokes on the pedals while clipped in. This uses different muscles and enhances recovery and oxygen transport to the tired muscles.
    I go through a kind of cost-benefit analysis at some point on a long climb - is it better to walk up and save some legs for later or better to continue and grind through? This also depends on my mental tenacity ... some days the anger from my legs screaming to 'STOP' will piss me off to the point that I can dig deeper and pull off a climb. (Those are good days indeed =)
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
    Just keep turning the pedals.
    +1.

    Use your calves to rest your thighs a little.
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  18. #18
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    One trick I use is weight distribution. I try to climb in a standing position that balances my weight front to rear in such a way that if I lean back, I increase grip. If I lean forward, I decrease grip. What this does is allow me to slip the rear tire slightly when needed. This is like hitting a lower gear breifly and can get you out of a jam and keep from stalling.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    The OP was asking about sustained climbing. Maintaining momentum is good advice on short efforts but on a long run nobody can redline forever, and while I don't completely agree with the advice to go as slow as you possibly can I think there is a balance somewhere in the middle, or as dwilson said- "find your sweet spot".

    Long, sustained climbs often have little chunks here and there that are steep and/or techie and you need to have something in reserve to handle those parts, and to have some gas in the tank for the rest of the ride.
    Going as fast as you can does not mean redlining. Weather the climb is 20 seconds or 20 minutes, going as fast as you can for that period, it what we aim for. Nobody aims to ride as slow as they can. Well, not if performance is part of the equation.
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  20. #20
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    Tips/tricks for SS sustained climbing?

    Vision, line & pedal efficiency!


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  21. #21
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    I do it all, but I don't think I ever sit down on any climb. First I'll stand and start pedalling, then start smashing, then lean forward... I run 32/20, and while it's hard to keep momentum at the beginning with that ratio, I find it's easier to keep it moving when I don't have the momentum anymore. 32/18, had better momentum at the beginning, but when I'm out of gas and barely moving, it's hard to keep the bike moving.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    Going as fast as you can does not mean redlining. Weather the climb is 20 seconds or 20 minutes, going as fast as you can for that period, it what we aim for.


    If I go as fast as I can for a 20 minute hill climb that is called a time trial, and if your ride ends there then that strategy works fine. The ride usually doesn't end there though so most mortals have to pace themselves up a long climb, and throughout the whole ride in order to maintain the fastest average speed. Riding a single speed can make pacing a climb more difficult because you are not always in an ideal gear. You have to adapt.

  23. #23
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    A lot of good advice here.

    One thing I do is what I call "dance". I use quite a bit of body motion to sort of "dance" my way up the hill. My dance enables me to rock the bike forward and backward to get over boulders. Also, I like to just hover over my seat when mashing then pop up and lean forward to get the bike over a rut or boulder. Another thing you can do is on the up stroke of the pedal, pull up with your knee. This has the effect of bringing in the hip flexor to help you. This is why many runners are excellent climbers. Running works the hip flexor (and the core). When climbing you will be using all the muscles in your body from your shoulders down to your feet. Bar ends help immensely for leverage.

    Lastly, when the hill begins to level off enough, you should sit down immediately. Sit on the nose of your seat and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Your forearms should be parallel with the ground.

  24. #24
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    You want to keep as high cadence as possible always. The higher cadence takes the bite off the grind and is actually easier than slowing down and grinding each stroke. I am not adverse to walking either.

    I gear my bike towards climbing - 32x20 on 26" wheels - so that I can get up more hills.

  25. #25
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    Tips/tricks for SS sustained climbing?

    It all comes down to how effectively you can conserve energy. As many noted, find your sweet spot, momentum is key as well as picking the best lines and maintaining focus,vision.....and confidence. The mind is a big part of the process.


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  26. #26
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    Keep pedaling until you reach the top. /thread
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by A1an View Post
    Keep pedaling until you reach the top. /thread
    This.

    Honestly, i will sit, stand, mash, or walk. As long as i'm moving forward. Ideally i'll maintain the fastest pace i can while keeping my heart rate around LTH and conserve maxing for the shorter steeps. I'll do this for any climbs ranging from 15 minutes to an hour. More than that and i'll work in walking for the steeps to decrease the amount i max. I'm still learning that fine line though and sometimes blow up from being too pedal happy.

    Find your happy place and turn those cranks. When you get tired, breath, then start back up the hill again until you get tired. Rinse, lather, repeat.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelscott View Post
    I wrote an post a few months about about Newton's 2nd law Force = Mass x Acceleration. Since we have no gears there is no way for us to slow down the bike. Therefore we can't really reduce Acceleration. This means we are stuck with a base amount of Force that we have to exert or the bike will stall out. Often times this Force we have to consistently exert to keep the bike from stalling is greater than the VO2 we can hold for the length of the climb. So when riding up a hill either one of three scenarios will happen:

    1) You'll run out of oxygen (hit your VO2 Max limit) and have to get off the bike. In other words- your fitness couldn't keep up with the speed you were pedaling up the hill.

    2) You'll stall out (too hard to pedal) or spin a wheel. You were going too slow. Either because you were trying to conserve your Oxygen or because your fitness isn't there to spin the bike fast enough (which is slightly different than #1. I've had times where I wasn't breathing very hard but I just didn't have the speed or strength to make it up- I should have been going faster.)

    3) You'll make it up the hill. Your fitness allowed you to push the bike at Force greater than or Equal to the mass of your bike (and the slope) times the minimum speed you pedaled the bike up the hill.

    For sustained climbs you have to think like a geared rider and try to go as slow as you possibly can without stalling out. This will keep your heart rate down, keep you from going into Oxygen Debit, and get you though the climb as long as you can keep from stalling or slipping the rear wheel.

    Your fitness level will automatically go up the more you ride SS. Just try to hit those short climbs as hard as you can to increase your leg strength and VO2 max.
    Great advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Grumpy View Post
    Momentum is your friend and lover but it can be hard to maintain that on long sustained climbing efforts.

    Take a look at your chainring, it's round. Don't forget that! Your pedaling motion should aim to keep power through the whole circle. Don't stamp down and expect that to get you there (unless you're riding one of those goofy old Alenax bikes - google them if you don't know what I mean).

    Despite your best efforts to maintain that circle there will still be a dead spot. Get into the rhythm of rocking the bike forward through the dead spot in your pedal stroke. And yeah, rocking the bike from side to side is useful too. Wider bars give some leverage for that.

    Well, the above works for me, give it a shot and see if it helps.

    Oh, and don't let it get to you. Think happy thoughts. If you start to focus on any pain or how long it's taking, or how you long for something for your right thumb to press then before you know you'll be off the bike and having a hissy fit like a 13 year old girl who missed out on Bieber tickets.

    Grumps
    More good stuff! Only thing I'd change is fit the bar width to your comfort, not just wider better, because when it gets tight and twisty really wide bars are slower handling and awkward. There may always be a hill you can't make without walking even if you change gearing.

    Quote Originally Posted by febikes View Post
    Often in a long race and/or a long ride walking super steep sections is a better tactic. If your speed falls below around 4mph you might as well walk the steep section and resume riding when the terrain allows. Most long climbs only have a few steep sections and as such sometimes walking short bits is a good idea.

    For long climbs adding bar ends helps give you a more powerful and relaxed climbing position. Also select the gear that works for your riding area. My view is that the best gear one that works well for the majority of the day. Some of the time it will be too low and sometimes it will be too high. If you are in a hilly area you will need to pick the gear that works well for climbs and then simply coast the downhills and go mellow on the flats.
    Yep, yep, yep.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    The OP was asking about sustained climbing. Maintaining momentum is good advice on short efforts but on a long run nobody can redline forever, and while I don't completely agree with the advice to go as slow as you possibly can I think there is a balance somewhere in the middle, or as dwilson said- "find your sweet spot".

    Long, sustained climbs often have little chunks here and there that are steep and/or techie and you need to have something in reserve to handle those parts, and to have some gas in the tank for the rest of the ride.
    Agreed, especially on the last sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by Felton_Flyer View Post
    For me - slowing cadence to expend the least amount of energy while maintaining balance and forward motion. Always attack a climb at the bottom and settle into a variety of other methods as laid out below..

    When my legs start screaming and begin to fail on long, sustained climbs I resort to different methods (in no particular order):
    1. The 'hurky-jerky' method of lunging the bike forward to get over a steep spot.
    2. The 'traverse' method of moving left to right over the hill while recovering (admittedly, not pretty - but effective).


    To each their own, but I find riding spuds can help recovery on long grinders as I can switch from using solely downward pressure on the cranks to using upward strokes on the pedals while clipped in. This uses different muscles and enhances recovery and oxygen transport to the tired muscles.
    I go through a kind of cost-benefit analysis at some point on a long climb - is it better to walk up and save some legs for later or better to continue and grind through? This also depends on my mental tenacity ... some days the anger from my legs screaming to 'STOP' will piss me off to the point that I can dig deeper and pull off a climb. (Those are good days indeed =)
    Agreed, but I always stand when grinding out a SS climb, so I deleted option 3.

    Quote Originally Posted by TacoMan View Post
    One trick I use is weight distribution. I try to climb in a standing position that balances my weight front to rear in such a way that if I lean back, I increase grip. If I lean forward, I decrease grip. What this does is allow me to slip the rear tire slightly when needed. This is like hitting a lower gear breifly and can get you out of a jam and keep from stalling.
    Nice, I'll have to try that thanks for the idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by 4nbstd View Post
    I do it all, but I don't think I ever sit down on any climb. First I'll stand and start pedalling, then start smashing, then lean forward...
    I'll sit and spin before the climb (if it's a fast section), then as I lose speed I'll stand and mash when spinning is no longer efficient or effective lol.
    Get off the couch and ride!

  29. #29
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    I usually try to think about something pleasant whilst grinding up a sustained climb, like drowning myself in beer afterwards. Sometimes that helps. Otherwise I just sort of whimper and sob quietly until I reach the top.

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    Something that has seemed to help me the most with climbing is my track standing ability. Sometimes when I feel like I am going to pass out or getting into the red zone I will just back off the pressure, track stand for a second and within that second, take in the trees/birds, relax and take a deep breath, and then hit it hard again. I find that if I am grinding up a climb too much then I am more prone to stalling on tech sections or a wheel spinning out.

    Also a high poe hub helps in the track standing or either make sure that when you are ready to start again that you are in your power stroke with your dominate leg in the 1 o'clock position. A high poe hub can help you ratchet back to the power stroke position if need be.

    I think everyone who mountain bikes will find practicing track standing to be beneficial. I do it when I am farting around in the driveway with my friends and family. When I am waiting for others at the trailhead or parking lot, or when I am just hanging out after a race or whatever and instead of standing next to my bike I try to just stand on my bike. It's amazing what it can do for crash prevention and learning to stay on the bike and figure things out instead of bailing.

    It is amazing how much it has improved my mountain bike riding for a guy who doesn't generate much power and only gets to ride like 3 to 5 hours a week.

  31. #31
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    Don't forget to eat! I walked my gear bike the other day as I was crushed by previous days rides! I was glad nobody saw me, funny. But I got to the top! Sweet downhill followed since I checked my ego at the trailhead and enjoyed the day.

  32. #32
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    As Boostin said, gearing is key also. I've been back and forth with different setups on a 650B and 29r SS of late with 34/19 on the mid size and 32/19 on the big hoops. Just put the 34/19 setup on the 29r expecting to change to a 20t rr cog later. But after riding it I think I found the best setup. Which is weird that it feels a lot better with a taller gear, basically back to a 2:1 setup that I started with on a 26" wheeled bike. Must be the longer gear inch or possibly that riding them for soooo long has just made me a stronger rider @ 55!....
    Wait whuuut, who did he tell you that!?!?....

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetboy23 View Post
    This.

    Honestly, i will sit, stand, mash, or walk. As long as i'm moving forward. Ideally i'll maintain the fastest pace i can while keeping my heart rate around LTH and conserve maxing for the shorter steeps. I'll do this for any climbs ranging from 15 minutes to an hour. More than that and i'll work in walking for the steeps to decrease the amount i max. I'm still learning that fine line though and sometimes blow up from being too pedal happy.

    Find your happy place and turn those cranks. When you get tired, breath, then start back up the hill again until you get tired. Rinse, lather, repeat.
    Don't look up.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by CB2 View Post
    Don't look up.
    Agree with this on long climbs. I'm a big advocate of always looking ahead down the trail and not staring five feet in front of your bike. But if it's a climb I've done a few times in the past and I know that there is nothing tricky that's gonna stuff me on the way up, I just keep my head down and dig. Looking up to the top of the hill and knowing exactly how much further I have to go can sometimes be discouraging and makes me think about giving up the fight and walking.
    Last edited by tsj5677; 06-20-2013 at 03:24 PM.

  35. #35
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    I look like a injured mammel trying to hump a steel contraption with two wheels while I climb. I tend to fall into the going rather slow category keeping just enough weight on the rear tire so not to loose traction. This definitley works a ton of muscles, namely the back due to pulling on the bars. Once Colorado keeps getting drier and drier, my back will be stronger and stronger since I'm going to have to put a lot of weight on the rear tire.
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  36. #36
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    I Didn't read all the reply's so I don't know if someone said this already.

    You, as a single-speed rider, will climb faster than most geared riders (mostly because you don't have a choice) so leave a little room as you approach a hill on a group ride. You will get slowed down by someone or something so learn to balance at very slow speeds and how to throw your weight forward and upward. It's like doing a bunny-hop/j-hop from a stand-still. Along those lines, the track stand and a subsequent flick of the bike in either direction, while looking cool is a useful trick to re-position yourself, take a breath and focus. And yes, keep your momentum... ...every bit you muster.

  37. #37
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    For really steep grades, track standing is an essential skill. It isn't that you need to purposefully stop. Instead, it is because balancing becomes more difficult at slow speeds. This is compounded by a single speed. If you ride singlespeed for a long time, you will be able to track stand indefinitely.

    For steep, slow climbs, it is sometimes necessary to backpedal a bit to get over a root or rock without a pedal strike. When that happens, the bike can actually roll backward a couple inches while getting repositioned. With really really steep climbs, it can be necessary to nearly trackstand between each pedal stroke.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Grumpy View Post
    Take a look at your chainring, it's round.
    Someone just starting out should definitely stick to round chainrings and learn to use them properly, but the more experienced riders may want to look into something like Q-Rings, they make a nice 34T for single speeding, and it can help with climbing.

  39. #39
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    I'm new to SS but I'm finding that some steep climbs around me are too steep to ascend seated and too long to sprint up...The result is a very slow standing rhythm where the force required to turn the pedals exceeds body weight. At this point you are pulling up very hard on the handlebars to resist each pedal stroke (feels like you are going to pull the stem off the steerer). It works ok but it really makes the pedal areas of my foot sore for a few days afterwards.

    ...I got up those climbs, though - that's the important thing!

  40. #40
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    Rhythm, and a good song in your head.
    Bring it.

  41. #41
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    Tips/tricks for SS sustained climbing?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimification View Post
    It works ok but it really makes the pedal areas of my foot sore for a few days afterwards.
    Same thing I found when I first started SS. I had some clipless hiking type shoes. Too much flex. I ended up switching to a stiffer soled shoe and that helped tremendously.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    Going as fast as you can does not mean redlining. Weather the climb is 20 seconds or 20 minutes, going as fast as you can for that period, it what we aim for. Nobody aims to ride as slow as they can. Well, not if performance is part of the equation.
    then you get to the top....
    ride down 500 vertical ft, and come across another 2 mile climb....

    but you just rode as fast as you possibly can for the last hill, and burned up all your matches. now what? if you didn't manage the last hill correctly, then this one may mean walking most of the way....because that may be 'as fast as you can'. not so much fun and ultimately far slower than pacing yourself.

    .

    i say it's all about learning your body and managing your power output vs. the slope. not every sustained climb is exactly the same gradient the whole way and you need to use the portions that aren't 100% taxing to regroup for the ones that are. and how you approach a climb at mile 2 of a 5 mile ride is gonna be way different than mile 2 of of 55, or 50 of 55.

    most steep sections just need to be attacked with a vengeance, imho. and then on the not-so-steep sections....even if standing up is still a given, everything needs to be done to get your HR back down and get yourself ready for the next kick. slow it down, get it in a rhythm where every pedal stroke or half pedal stroke corresponds with a big breath....that sorta thing. so yes, purposefully riding slow for segments or even full length climbs can be very beneficial on a long ride.

    i suppose a case could also be made for riding the flatter portions harder and simple succumbing and walking anything you deem too steep. that doesn't seem as fun/challenging to me though, albeit necessary the longer the ride becomes (or more vertical gain).

  43. #43
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    I have the bars set at a height that allows me to extend my arms to support my upper body when climbing. I don't lock the elbows, but my arms are very near straight to ease muscle tension. My lower half is sort of hanging below me and turning the cranks in a very circular motion: slight pull at the rear position, push down at the front, forward at the top, back at the bottom and everything in between. The movement includes hip rotation, but not pulling up on the bar.

    Constant acceleration and deceleration from mashing and irregular spinning wastes a lot of energy. Try to keep your speed as stable as possible. Don't jerk the bike in any direction. Twisting the bar is another waste of effort.

    If you find the speed to be too much for you at the preferred cadence, don't worry: just slow down. Climbing slower requires less energy and will be easier even if your efficiency at a lower cadence isn't optimized.

  44. #44
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    It seems people have different definitions for "as fast as you can". I ride everything as fast as I can but don't pass out. But you're correct, theoretically i could ride quicker. If I pushed hard enough I would pass out. There is probably something in between as well.

    That's a good SS secret. Shhh, don't tell the gear spinners. Some of us single speeders are absolutely dyeing at the top of long climbs, hunched over the bars as ping for air, head pounding. But by the time everyone else catches up, we're like what? No biggie, what took you so long?

    (edit damn iOS autocorrect)
    Last edited by dfiler; 06-25-2013 at 06:36 AM.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    I have the bars set at a height that allows me to extend my arms to support my upper body when climbing. I don't lock the elbows, but my arms are very near straight to ease muscle tension. My lower half is sort of hanging below me and turning the cranks in a very circular motion: slight pull at the rear position, push down at the front, forward at the top, back at the bottom and everything in between. The movement includes hip rotation, but not pulling up on the bar.

    Constant acceleration and deceleration from mashing and irregular spinning wastes a lot of energy. Try to keep your speed as stable as possible. Don't jerk the bike in any direction. Twisting the bar is another waste of effort.

    If you find the speed to be too much for you at the preferred cadence, don't worry: just slow down. Climbing slower requires less energy and will be easier even if your efficiency at a lower cadence isn't optimized.
    A lot of SSers lean the bike with every pedal stroke when climbing hard. When standing this can help with the cadence by allowing a rhythm to sustain speed between each hard downward stroke. Around here the grades are steep enough that we would destroy our knees if trying to sit on the extreme climbs.

  46. #46
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    Hard climbing is one thing. I thought the topic was sustained climbing, which is lighter but takes longer.

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    I guess "sustained" also means different things to different people. Much of that is probably related to terrain and length of climbs or max elevation gain. Around here, most singlespeeders can climb anything while standing. But in more mountainous terrain with more than several hundred feet of continuous climbing, that probably isn't the norm.

    Seated climbs never seem like a challenge so it was sustained steep standing climbs that are worth discussing in this region. Sorry for the confusion.

  48. #48
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    Keep your momentum. I did an XTerra this past weekend and there were some steeper climbs i would of made it if the geared riders did not shift down.

  49. #49
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    Great advice from everyone!

    On my long climbs, I sit and pedal in circles and really activate the back of my legs. I get a lot of power from the glutes. When my HR gets too high, I'll stand and pedal in squares, but let gravity help and pull on the bars as needed. Standing is slower for me, but it lets me rotate the muscle groups and bring my HR down a bit. When ready, I'll sit again to pedal in circles, then stand as needed to bring the HR down.

  50. #50
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    My 3 years of climbing with SS:

    Use momentum, gravity, and body weight to spin the pedal not mash. If you want go faster just pedal faster not harder, use power as less as possible.

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