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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

  3. #3
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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
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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.

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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
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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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    someone beat me to the power crank suggestion if a flatspot in your pedal stroke is the problem.I think there is a body position difference when you try to train for hills on the flat,not sure how much that really counts for ,but add psychology and it might add up, never under estimate the power of psychology,if i ride with cat 2's on road hill intervals i can do a lot better if i rest less on the downhills and flats and lead them out and try to keep them from catching up , instead of watching them pull slowly away.

  27. #27
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    "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?"


    Great question..was wondering the same myself...sort of. What I am feeling is that when I train only on road, what is lacking it that "sting" you get from your legs absorbing rock shock during long climbs on mtb. I don't know about you guys, but that kills me. I am a strong climber, but for whatever reason, those small sting bumps take a lot out of my legs irregardless of FS or HT.

    So...I guess cross training is the most effective way to train. INMO, tech and descending = icing on the cake for a good finish on race day.

  28. #28
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    Well, a lot of good ideas here guys-thanks. But I must add another iron in the fire; granny gear verses middle ring. At the race I was referring to I used granny a lot on the second lap climbs, however on my practice laps at the same course I used middle exclusively because I thought it would help me be a better climber. SO... I got it that I should train with specificity on the long climbs (all off road by the way, no hills around me, have to drive 1.5 hours to get hills) But should I use a fast cadence/granny or slow cadence/middle? Gosh-so much to learn sorry for so many questions guys.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    But should I use a fast cadence/granny or slow cadence/middle
    I'd recommend doing most of your training climbs in whatever cadence you feel most efficient and natural in, since that's what you're going to do during a race, and it's all about specificity. Different people will have some variation in what their most efficient cadence is. For climbing off road, most riders gravitate toward 70-80rpm, although you willl always find some outliers to either side.

    As for what gears to be in, start by finding your natural cadence. After that, gearing is a function of the difficulty of the climb (grade and length), and your abilities. In other words, if you can maintain your most efficient cadence while staying in the middle ring on a given climb, by all means do it. You might even find that you can achieve a level of fitness that allows you to do some climbs in the big ring without topping out on the cassette. If you're bogging down to a slow cadence in the middle ring though, then obviously you need to be in the small ring up front.

    One exception may be on climbs where I'm topped out at my biggest cog inthe back, with the middle up front. I like to preserve some ability to grab an easier gear for short steep pitches within the longer climb, without having to try changing the front ring while under power (not usually a good idea) or else easing off the throttle to finish the shift. In those cases I'll go granny, and then work up and down the biggest few cogs in the back. If it's a climb that I'm familiar with, and I know I can crest it in the middle ring without bogging down, then I'm happy to leave it at biggest rear cog with middle up front, so that I can punch it over the top and not be stuck in my little ring.

  30. #30
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    Watts are watts. In theory you should be able to push the same watts on flats as you can on the climbs. Of course this is in theory.

    One of big differences between flats and climbs is cadence. Cadences on a MTB tend to be very low (a normal climbing cadence on an MTB for me is 60-70 rpm, and compared to many I am a spinner). Training on flats at a cadence of 90+ is not the same. It can be simulated to a certain extent, but the load on the pedals never feels the same. I know my best power numbers are on climbs, I can't produce the same watts on the flats.

  31. #31
    LMN
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    "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?"


    Well that is a good one.

    Considering that you typically find both types of terrain in a race you should probably train on both.

    Smooth trails or road is going to allow you to focus on producing as much power as possible.

    Technical terrain is going to allow you to work on getting the power to the ground. Also the power demands on technical terrain is incredibly varied. The specificity cannot be simulated anywhere else.

    Ideally if your skills are sufficient, you should be able to average high watts, well going fast, over technical terrain. (The interesting thing about technical terrain is high watts do not necessarily result in going fast).

  32. #32
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    Slow climber fast on flats and downhills

    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip
    I'd recommend doing most of your training climbs in whatever cadence you feel most efficient and natural in, since that's what you're going to do during a race, and it's all about specificity. Different people will have some variation in what their most efficient cadence is. For climbing off road, most riders gravitate toward 70-80rpm, although you willl always find some outliers to either side.

    As for what gears to be in, start by finding your natural cadence. After that, gearing is a function of the difficulty of the climb (grade and length), and your abilities. In other words, if you can maintain your most efficient cadence while staying in the middle ring on a given climb, by all means do it. You might even find that you can achieve a level of fitness that allows you to do some climbs in the big ring without topping out on the cassette. If you're bogging down to a slow cadence in the middle ring though, then obviously you need to be in the small ring up front.

    One exception may be on climbs where I'm topped out at my biggest cog inthe back, with the middle up front. I like to preserve some ability to grab an easier gear for short steep pitches within the longer climb, without having to try changing the front ring while under power (not usually a good idea) or else easing off the throttle to finish the shift. In those cases I'll go granny, and then work up and down the biggest few cogs in the back. If it's a climb that I'm familiar with, and I know I can crest it in the middle ring without bogging down, then I'm happy to leave it at biggest rear cog with middle up front, so that I can punch it over the top and not be stuck in my little ring.
    I would say that I favor a higher cadence in general. So, on longer climbs I do feel more comfortable in granny. I can go middle but it doesn't "feel" better and taps into my legs a lot. I've seen riders that are slower than me go middle ring on certain trails which made me think I should be using middle more on climbs. I haven't seen the pro's climb much during a race so I'm wondering what kind of gear/cadence strong climbers favor? (I should know as I get passed by them all the time ) Anyway, your right, I need to go with the gear that gets me up the climb quickly and efficiently during a race. Remembering back to the last race I used middle on the very last climb because I knew I had some nice downhill to the finish, so yeah, the course and situation dictates. So for training the bottom line you recommend is to go with what comes naturally-cool.

    Another thought here: am I a weirdo that my climbing is average to poor and on flats and downhill I'm faster than most in my class? Anyone else have this strength/weakness combo?
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    I would say that I favor a higher cadence in general. So, on longer climbs I do feel more comfortable in granny. I can go middle but it doesn't "feel" better and taps into my legs a lot. I've seen riders that are slower than me go middle ring on certain trails which made me think I should be using middle more on climbs. I haven't seen the pro's climb much during a race so I'm wondering what kind of gear/cadence strong climbers favor? (I should know as I get passed by them all the time ) Anyway, your right, I need to go with the gear that gets me up the climb quickly and efficiently during a race. Remembering back to the last race I used middle on the very last climb because I knew I had some nice downhill to the finish, so yeah, the course and situation dictates. So for training the bottom line you recommend is to go with what comes naturally-cool.

    Another thought here: am I a weirdo that my climbing is average to poor and on flats and downhill I'm faster than most in my class? Anyone else have this strength/weakness combo?
    I think we can all agree that going downhill fast is more about skill than anything else. Sure, you want to be able to recover quickly (directly linked to LT/FTP, regardless of the length of the climb prior to the descent) so you can actually think and move around, but mostly a skill based ability.

    If your climbing ability is poor but you go faster than most on the flats, you probably need to lose some weight, and get your watts per kilo ratio up.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    I haven't seen the pro's climb much during a race so I'm wondering what kind of gear/cadence strong climbers favor?
    It depends what type of "pro" you are talking about, but at the world cup level it's almost not even worth comparing to us mere mortals. Some of those guys are hammering at high speed up an incessant stream of steep pitches with a single ring setup on 32t or 36t in the front, all without bogging down into a slow grinding cadence for 2 hours straight.

    Sure, some "normal" riders can also get up steep pitches with bigger gearing, but not at the rate and frequency that these pros can do, nor for the same total duration. That's why they are world cup pros.

    It's not all about middle ring, granny ring though. You could be in 22t up front, and 21t or smaller for your back cog for example (if you were to dare cross-chaining at the extreme range) and those are harder gears than 32t middle and topped out on the biggest cog in back. All other things being equal, I like the middle ring better because there's more chain tension on little downhills, less chance of chainsuck in muddy conditions, and on many FS bikes better suspension suspension characteristics compared to granny front.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    Another thought here: am I a weirdo that my climbing is average to poor and on flats and downhill I'm faster than most in my class? Anyone else have this strength/weakness combo?
    I rate my climbing as average for the group that i race with, and have good technical and DH skills. so i think i am probably in a similar boat to you.

    there are reasons for my climbing limitations:

    i am 5'10" and am not built like a 12yr old boy, so i tip the scales at 160. i have dipped as low as the 152lbs in race form, but subsequently got sick. i race against 140-150lbs guys that have been racing for longer than i have ridden a bike. major disadvantage to me.

    in the long run, I do what i can and am totally happy to be where i am at. i never thought i would put myself in 2nd at a national caliber race in CAT1!

    in case you are interested, the story is here...

    http://themannadventure.blogspot.com...oast-trip.html

  36. #36
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    [QUOTE=rydbyk]"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?"


    personally i do them as different workouts. i work on tech climbing separate from a hill workout. i have a hill i do interval work on (road and mtb) and a very tech hill i do that work on. i get a different w/o from both of them it feels

  37. #37
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    The harsh reality of "mountain" bike racing.. it often includes "mountains", or at least courses that feature "ascents" of some nature.

    Bottom line, Le Duke's advice is best for general performance improvement.. more sustainable horsepower (doesn't matter how you earn it) and less body weight will make for a faster ascent.

    But once horsepower and body weight are established and the goal race is 8-6 weeks away, "specificity" rules. Train on climbs that are similar to the climbs of the event. Grade-length-trail composition-frequency-etc..

    Some courses feature climbs that require frequent periods of power output well above LT. Other courses feature steady grinders. Ideal cadence depends.. spinning on a climb that needs to be mashed will cost time.. mashing on a sustained climb will accelerate fatigue. I will perform best if my training targets the demands of the course.. horses for courses. Whatever cadence, power, rythem, gets me to the top the fastest is best.. and that depends.

  38. #38
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    Just a silly and random thought, but having a higher cadence may result in less lateral flex in the BB area and therefore waste less energy.

    I have the same problem as the OP. I can kill it on the flats and downhills, but come to a stop on fire road climbs.

    I did countless intervals on paved hills and I still sucked on long climbs.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by RideFaster
    Just a silly and random thought, but having a higher cadence may result in less lateral flex in the BB area and therefore waste less energy.

    I have the same problem as the OP. I can kill it on the flats and downhills, but come to a stop on fire road climbs.

    I did countless intervals on paved hills and I still sucked on long climbs.
    Ditto...What about them fast and slow twitching muscles? Is that a bunch of baloney or do we just have fast twitching muscles?

  40. #40
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    Guys like us may have a higher percentage of fast twitch; but what can you do? We just need to keep improving on the weak areas and hope the slow twitch fibers step up to the task
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  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u
    Guys like us may have a higher percentage of fast twitch; but what can you do? We just need to keep improving on the weak areas and hope the slow twitch fibers step up to the task
    I ride with some pretty good climbers and they leave me in the dust everytime. It's no fun because I can blow them away for short climbs or sprints, but I have to reserve my energy or I really get left behind on the long climb out. I've had a really hard time improving on the long climbs. I know how you feel.

  42. #42
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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...
    What people? Normal people who probably carry around an extra 10+ pounds, or the guys that are beating you up hills?
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138
    What people? Normal people who probably carry around an extra 10+ pounds, or the guys that are beating you up hills?
    Oh schnap.

    Ryan Trebon is 6'5" and around 175lbs. Skinny, yes, anorexic, no. And when he's climbing, he's lugging around 20 pounds less than 195.

  44. #44
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    Well, maybe, but it's a serious question... at 16% bodyfat (female), most non-cyclists tell me I'm skinny, when in reality, compared to chicks that kick my butt, I'm probably 10 pounds overweight.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138
    Well, maybe, but it's a serious question... at 16% bodyfat (female), most non-cyclists tell me I'm skinny, when in reality, compared to chicks that kick my butt, I'm probably 10 pounds overweight.
    Of course. Even worse for runners, because they have no muscle!

  46. #46
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    As far as pro's climbing ability goes:

    This year I watched some of the pro guys getting up the toughest climb at one of the Pro XCT races here in Birmingham, AL. There is a freaking chasm in the abilities from the front pack of Kabush and those guys to the ones in the rear. The faster ones were in the big ring still just hammering it looking smooth, guys in the rear were in the middle ring suffering. No real point to this, but it is humbling to watch some of these guys ride up a hill. What was even more shocking was the downhills. Very precise, very fast for almost all of them.

    I ride a ss so just sorta get used to grinding away. Try and shift positions and cadence during climbs, it really helps.

  47. #47
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    climbing comes natural for some

    Thinking back to my first year of mountain biking it's easy to see that my strengths/weaknesses are the same now as they were then; not as pronounced but still there.

    Another example: this summer a mom approached me about taking her 9 year old on a ride because he could climb really steep hills with ease and wanted to see if he has cycling potential. So, I took him and the mom on a ride at some easier singletrack, he did great and loved it. Then they went to the next race with me as there was a kids race. He got first place and it's pretty evident that he's a great climber. So he's naturally gifted.

    I don't know where I'm going with this but it seems that naturally good climbers seem to have an edge over those who are good on the flats and not good climbers since in a race there is so much climbing-duh it's mountain biking after all. So, us not naturally gifted climbers may have to work extra hard to keep up; no?

    So, does a "non climber" have to train harder and fight harder to be competitive as opposed to a gifted climber? I guess the simple answer is "yes" a less genetically gifted athlete may have to work harder to be competitive with the genetically gifted athlete. Either way both would work there butts off to be the best they can.
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  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2fst4u

    So, does a "non climber" have to train harder and fight harder to be competitive as opposed to a gifted climber? I guess the simple answer is "yes" a less genetically gifted athlete may have to work harder to be competitive with the genetically gifted athlete. Either way both would work there butts off to be the best they can.
    That's as good an answer as any...
    Unfortunately I'm not good at long climbs and I work my butt off to get better at it.

  49. #49
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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.
    I'm about your size at 6' 3" and about 190. For me, riding SS was the answer to becoming a good climber. You don't need to be super light, as long as you are light enough for your size. I'm not a pro, but almost no one drops me on a climb in our local club rides.
    Check out some of our local hills: CDRC (Capital District Road Climbs)

  50. #50
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    Increase your watts-to-weight ratio. Two ways to do that...lose weight or get yoreself a singlespeed and ride the hills...and you will shed pounds doing that, even at your slender profile. Stronger and lighter=better climbing. Sure worked for me.
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