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  1. #1
    Giant Anthem
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    Help me be a climber

    I'm a wimp on the long climbs. I can nail short, steep climbs like no other (plenty of power) but long steady climbs eat me for breakfast. I've been hitting hill intervals (45 seconds) throughout the summer which has helped a lot on the short stuff, but I need some advice and workouts on how to stay strong for long climbs while racing next season!

    Thanks guys
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    I'm a wimp on the long climbs. I can nail short, steep climbs like no other (plenty of power) but long steady climbs eat me for breakfast. I've been hitting hill intervals (45 seconds) throughout the summer which has helped a lot on the short stuff, but I need some advice and workouts on how to stay strong for long climbs while racing next season!

    Thanks guys
    Plenty of threads about this, but simple threshold work, done on the flats or climbs, will cure what ails ye.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.ph...99#post6249599

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    if you don't weigh 140lbs, lose weight. i'm in a similar boat at 160lbs. just can't hang with the little guys.

  4. #4
    AZ
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    Follow Le Dukes advice , mix up the threshold work with your current interval work and throw in one base mileage ride per week.

  5. #5
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    Lose weight.

    2 x 20.

    And, um, maybe do a bunch of long climbs? I mean, it seems kind of stupidly obvious, but nobody's mentioned it yet.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    if you don't weigh 140lbs, lose weight. i'm in a similar boat at 160lbs. just can't hang with the little guys.
    Eeeek! If I were to drop to even 160 I'd probably look like a poster child for anorexia. I'm 6'5" 195 and people already think I'm too skinny. If we're talking tour de france everyone should aim for closer to 140.. but at a state, or regional level I highly doubt anyone needs to be that weight to be competitive. That said based on your height and weight losing some pounds can be very helpful... although if you start trying to cut too much weight you'll have no energy to train effectively.

    Mix up the intervals with some longer threshold efforts. Sounds like you need to work on sustainable power.

  7. #7
    ganginwood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    simple threshold work done on the flats
    i think you missed the part about climbing.

    the guy answered his own question. his intervals are at 45 seconds and he's already strong at short climbs.

    train your weakness race your strengths.

    i would do the intervals at threshold over the required distance. springtime intervals staying seated at 60 rpm max threshold for 5-6 minutes. longer if possible. descend back for 5 minutes and repeat 3 times working your way to 5-7 times.

    as the season progresses, continue the repeats with higher rpm's but same power/heart rate. start working in the 90-100 rpm range.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Aswell
    the 5th poster, ganginwoods, is correct

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood
    i think you missed the part about climbing.

    the guy answered his own question. his intervals are at 45 seconds and he's already strong at short climbs.

    train your weakness race your strengths.

    i would do the intervals at threshold over the required distance. springtime intervals staying seated at 60 rpm max threshold for 5-6 minutes. longer if possible. descend back for 5 minutes and repeat 3 times working your way to 5-7 times.

    as the season progresses, continue the repeats with higher rpm's but same power/heart rate. start working in the 90-100 rpm range.
    Ah, yes. Because the body suddenly forgets that you've trained it to produce 5w/kg for X number of minutes as soon as you move from a flat section to a climb.

    Oh, wait. No, it doesn't.

    Watts are watts. You either have them or you don't. They don't magically come and go as they see fit.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    Ah, yes. Because the body suddenly forgets that you've trained it to produce 5w/kg for X number of minutes as soon as you move from a flat section to a climb.

    Oh, wait. No, it doesn't.

    Watts are watts. You either have them or you don't. They don't magically come and go as they see fit.

    Ooops nope huge difference,

    he needs to practice climbs that are perhaps 10 to 20% longer than the ones he wants to be good at....that's for the body..

    Well they could be intervals on flats etc as well...

    For the mind he needs to know how to leave exactly what he wants in the tank at the top of said hills...

    So practice what you want to get good at...

    For me a long hill is around an hour to hour and half, well some are longer...

  10. #10
    CB2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiflow_21
    Eeeek! If I were to drop to even 160 I'd probably look like a poster child for anorexia. I'm 6'5" 195 and people already think I'm too skinny. If we're talking tour de france everyone should aim for closer to 140.. but at a state, or regional level I highly doubt anyone needs to be that weight to be competitive. That said based on your height and weight losing some pounds can be very helpful... although if you start trying to cut too much weight you'll have no energy to train effectively.

    Mix up the intervals with some longer threshold efforts. Sounds like you need to work on sustainable power.
    If I break 140 lbs, I'm feeling fat, but you've got 10" on me (that's what she said).

  11. #11
    ganginwood
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    duke, you've been racing for a year. don't pretend to be an expert because you have 700 posts

    the resistance in the pedal stroke is different for some climbers. which is why they sometimes suffer on flats. on the flats...they might be hitting (as in my case) a dead spot on top dead center of the pedal stroke producing absolutely no power. in essence, on flat terrain their foot is skipping over the top of the crank. but if the void is filled with resistance because of gravity they can accelerate out of the circle. true climbers need that gap in the pedal stroke to be filled. it also explains why they get dropped on flat tt's.
    if this guy has that problem, training on flat terrain will do nothing for him. apprarently you've never ridden with guys who kill it on flat terrain but are the first to get dropped on a climb. regardless of how many intervals they do. that situation works both ways
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Aswell
    the 5th poster, ganginwoods, is correct

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood
    duke, you've been racing for a year. don't pretend to be an expert because you have 700 posts

    the resistance in the pedal stroke is different for some climbers. which is why they sometimes suffer on flats. on the flats...they might be hitting (as in my case) a dead spot on top dead center of the pedal stroke producing absolutely no power. in essence, on flat terrain their foot is skipping over the top of the crank. but if the void is filled with resistance because of gravity they can accelerate out of the circle. true climbers need that gap in the pedal stroke to be filled. it also explains why they get dropped on flat tt's.
    if this guy has that problem, training on flat terrain will do nothing for him. apprarently you've never ridden with guys who kill it on flat terrain but are the first to get dropped on a climb. regardless of how many intervals they do. that situation works both ways
    This sounds like me; big time! I trained on flats a lot last year and it didn't help even though I was putting in some hard hard efforts. Is there any way to adjust my cockpit to help the wimpy climbers syndrome?
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    This sounds like me; big time! I trained on flats a lot last year and it didn't help even though I was putting in some hard hard efforts. Is there any way to adjust my cockpit to help the wimpy climbers syndrome?

    Absolutely just tilt the top tube so that it is 15% higher at the front...well I suppose 10% might work too.

  14. #14
    Can't feel my legs
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    This sounds like me; big time! I trained on flats a lot last year and it didn't help even though I was putting in some hard hard efforts. Is there any way to adjust my cockpit to help the wimpy climbers syndrome?
    As (most) here agree, to improve climbing, climb more. Small adjustments to saddle height and fore/aft may help, but working on your pedaling tecnique and cadence on longer climbs are going to help the most.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    This sounds like me; big time! I trained on flats a lot last year and it didn't help even though I was putting in some hard hard efforts. Is there any way to adjust my cockpit to help the wimpy climbers syndrome?
    if you are indeed having problems with mechanics, do some Individual Leg Drills. (pedal with one leg while dangling the other, then switch)

    or you could train with PowerCranks http://www.powercranks.com/

  16. #16
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme
    if you don't weigh 140lbs, lose weight. i'm in a similar boat at 160lbs. just can't hang with the little guys.
    Yep. Also, learn to use bar ends effectively. Although you may not see a ton of riders using bar ends in the USA, they DO help tremendously if you actually take the time to use them effectively. Seems like all the top racers in Europe have them....just fell out of fashion here in the USA I guess

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganginwood
    duke, you've been racing for a year. don't pretend to be an expert because you have 700 posts

    the resistance in the pedal stroke is different for some climbers. which is why they sometimes suffer on flats. on the flats...they might be hitting (as in my case) a dead spot on top dead center of the pedal stroke producing absolutely no power. in essence, on flat terrain their foot is skipping over the top of the crank. but if the void is filled with resistance because of gravity they can accelerate out of the circle. true climbers need that gap in the pedal stroke to be filled. it also explains why they get dropped on flat tt's.
    if this guy has that problem, training on flat terrain will do nothing for him. apprarently you've never ridden with guys who kill it on flat terrain but are the first to get dropped on a climb. regardless of how many intervals they do. that situation works both ways

    You know that I'm a Cat 1 roadie who has been racing for 4 years, and will be getting my pro license on the dirt next year, right? Just checking.

    Now, back to the discussion at hand.

    "True climbers" get crushed in flat time trials because their CdA/w ratio is higher than a guy like Fabian Cancellara. CdA/w meaning coefficient of air drag/watts. They own his ass in watts per kilo, but on the flats, he's the man. Why? Because he simply has a lower frontal area to watts ratio. And amazing technical ability in the aero bars. But mainly a LOT of power, and good position on the bike. 450w > 375w, despite that "only" giving him 6w/kg instead of 6.5w/kg for the climbers.

    And, everyone is subject to gravity. "True climbers" aren't the only people who produce more wattage (the difference is slight, but there, yes) on a climb due to the reduction of the dead spot in the pedal stroke.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle
    Lose weight.

    2 x 20.

    And, um, maybe do a bunch of long climbs? I mean, it seems kind of stupidly obvious, but nobody's mentioned it yet.
    Yep, this guy nailed it Got a road bike? find a decent climb amd start timing yourself, you've got all winter

  19. #19
    ganginwood
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    i believe we over analyze everything. sometimes less is more.
    in this case a fair analogy would be basketball....

    shaq ain't getting any better at free throws by practicing lay-ups.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Aswell
    the 5th poster, ganginwoods, is correct

  20. #20
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    Good job! Thanks to Le Duke...

    ...for that illuminating example!

    Recently, my riding partners and I had been discussing these very topics and compared the ability to climb well and how to measure it (Watts/kg) against riding well in the WIND.

    We live and ride in a very windy area (and I think Le Duke's locale is windy too!). And when it blows we obviously notice how the smaller riders (better climbers) are more effected. So we said it has to the be the coefficient of resistance (drag) per kg (CdA/kg). Smaller riders will have a relatively larger ratio versus larger riders, assuming similar riding positions. BTW, this came up in the course of a weekly TT series where wind-resistance actually matters!

    I think that it makes even more sense to use the CdA/Watt metric though, it replaces mass with power and in this case I think mass merely served as a poor proxy for power. Should have thought of this myself!

    Nonetheless, I still think that the heavier riders have it easier in the cross-winds regardless of watts!

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    "True climbers" get crushed in flat time trials because their CdA/w ratio is higher than a guy like Fabian Cancellara. CdA/w meaning coefficient of air drag/watts. They own his ass in watts per kilo, but on the flats, he's the man. Why? Because he simply has a lower frontal area to watts ratio. And amazing technical ability in the aero bars. But mainly a LOT of power, and good position on the bike. 450w > 375w, despite that "only" giving him 6w/kg instead of 6.5w/kg for the climbers.

  21. #21
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    Now It Makes Sense

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    You know that I'm a Cat 1 roadie who has been racing for 4 years, and will be getting my pro license on the dirt next year, right? Just checking.

    Now, back to the discussion at hand.

    "True climbers" get crushed in flat time trials because their CdA/w ratio is higher than a guy like Fabian Cancellara. CdA/w meaning coefficient of air drag/watts. They own his ass in watts per kilo, but on the flats, he's the man. Why? Because he simply has a lower frontal area to watts ratio. And amazing technical ability in the aero bars. But mainly a LOT of power, and good position on the bike. 450w > 375w, despite that "only" giving him 6w/kg instead of 6.5w/kg for the climbers.

    And, everyone is subject to gravity. "True climbers" aren't the only people who produce more wattage (the difference is slight, but there, yes) on a climb due to the reduction of the dead spot in the pedal stroke.
    Every time there is a climbing thread there is one person who insists that training on hills makes no difference. Even on the road, I seek out hills to improve climbing, though the advantage is only mental. On the road you can ride all out, and only be limited by how hard you can push.

    On even semi-tech trails, this is not the case. Your speed is often limited by the technical aspects of the trail. You simply can not do propper intervals on level or rolling trails. Long climbs, however, provide the perfect solution to this problem. Speed is again limited to ability, and effort can be controlled with gearing.

    Can you train for hills without hills ? Yes.

    Where is the best place to train for hills ? Absolutely, without a doubt, on hills

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPark
    Can you train for hills without hills ? Yes.

    Where is the best place to train for hills ? Absolutely, without a doubt, on hills
    Of course. We'll all take specificity, any day of the week.

    I simply made the argument that you can improve your ability to climb as long as you can find a place where you can push yourself to your LT/FTP, and hold it there for a while. Rinse, and repeat.

    And, from a fitness standpoint, your legs don't know where you're riding. They only know how hard you're pushing, for how long.

    Now, here's an interesting question for the crowd:

    Should you train your climbing ability on smooth trails or roads, or train on more technical terrain similar to what you'd find in a race? I.e., places where you can do uninterrupted intervals, or a trail where you might bobble, have to get off the bike on a steep section, and then get off an run?

    Basically, should you be going all-out, with the focus solely on the effort itself, or should the emphasis be on both the physical effort and perfect technical performance?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NC2WA
    ...for that illuminating example!

    Recently, my riding partners and I had been discussing these very topics and compared the ability to climb well and how to measure it (Watts/kg) against riding well in the WIND.

    We live and ride in a very windy area (and I think Le Duke's locale is windy too!). And when it blows we obviously notice how the smaller riders (better climbers) are more effected. So we said it has to the be the coefficient of resistance (drag) per kg (CdA/kg). Smaller riders will have a relatively larger ratio versus larger riders, assuming similar riding positions. BTW, this came up in the course of a weekly TT series where wind-resistance actually matters!

    I think that it makes even more sense to use the CdA/Watt metric though, it replaces mass with power and in this case I think mass merely served as a poor proxy for power. Should have thought of this myself!

    Nonetheless, I still think that the heavier riders have it easier in the cross-winds regardless of watts!
    Yep. I "grew up", riding-wise, in the corn fields of IL. An area where you can go out for a 4.5hr ride and do 3hrs in one direction, and get back in 1.5hrs or less.

    I learned very quickly how little watts per kilo mattered when I was getting smoked by guys who were visibly overweight, simply because they could gutter it out, and ride away from me in a crosswind.

    Unfortunately for them, I'm just as strong as they are now, and at 5'6", 140, there isn't a lot of me to hind behind when they overextend themselves, or a crosswind kicks up.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    Now, here's an interesting question for the crowd:
    Should you train your climbing ability on smooth trails or roads, or train on more technical terrain similar to what you'd find in a race? I.e., places where you can do uninterrupted intervals, or a trail where you might bobble, have to get off the bike on a steep section, and then get off an run?
    If you had to choose one or the other, the latter.

  25. #25
    Can't feel my legs
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke
    Of course. We'll all take specificity, any day of the week.

    I simply made the argument that you can improve your ability to climb as long as you can find a place where you can push yourself to your LT/FTP, and hold it there for a while. Rinse, and repeat.

    And, from a fitness standpoint, your legs don't know where you're riding. They only know how hard you're pushing, for how long.

    Now, here's an interesting question for the crowd:

    Should you train your climbing ability on smooth trails or roads, or train on more technical terrain similar to what you'd find in a race? I.e., places where you can do uninterrupted intervals, or a trail where you might bobble, have to get off the bike on a steep section, and then get off an run?

    Basically, should you be going all-out, with the focus solely on the effort itself, or should the emphasis be on both the physical effort and perfect technical performance?
    The OP said he was having trouble with longer climbs, so, I'm assuming that climbs are a regular feature of the trails he is rideing.

    Do your legs know if you are on a hill ? No, but your mind does. This is a fact that should not be simply ignored.

    So, again, can you hill train on flat terrain ? Yes, but why would you ?

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