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  1. #1
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    Climbing big hills.

    I don't quite understand the "difficulty" in climbing big hills, I mean, it's kind of Lemond's quote in reverse, his quote was, "It never gets any easier you just go faster.". And my quote with big hills is "It doesn't hurt any more you just go slower."

    Am I right? Ultimately you only have the capacity to get X amount of oxygen into your blood depending on your fitness, THAT is what limits your forward progress, a steep hill just means you go slower, it doesn't mean it hurts more, unless you don't know how to change gears properly or "set your throttle" accurately.

    Discuss.

  2. #2
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    The bigger the hill the better. I love climbing. Never met a hill I didn't like. Bring it on!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    The bigger the hill the better. I love climbing. Never met a hill I didn't like. Bring it on!
    Right?!?!


    I don't quite get the aversion to climbing, or the pain of it, yea, it can suck, but if you show up with the right equipment/fitness it isn't any worse that pedalling on level ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    I don't quite understand the "difficulty" in climbing big hills, I mean, it's kind of Lemond's quote in reverse, his quote was, "It never gets any easier you just go faster.". And my quote with big hills is "It doesn't hurt any more you just go slower."

    Am I right? Ultimately you only have the capacity to get X amount of oxygen into your blood depending on your fitness, THAT is what limits your forward progress, a steep hill just means you go slower, it doesn't mean it hurts more, unless you don't know how to change gears properly or "set your throttle" accurately.

    Discuss.
    If you have the capacity to ride it quick than you can slow down to enjoy it or take a break without needing to stop. If the climb is at your limit to just keep moving it will suck the whole way and your only other options are to stop every time you max out or walk.

    There's quite a few climbs around here between 1 mile to 4 miles long that will put me at a 180 to 190 heart rate just to keep moving. My max HR is 198.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    I don't quite get the aversion to climbing, or the pain of it, yea, it can suck, but if you show up with the right equipment/fitness it isn't any worse that pedalling on level ground.
    On smooth trail, sure. Throw a bunch of roots and rock in there and you'll pay for small mistakes with lots of energy. I'm a strong climber but my line choice isn't the greatest and sometimes it feels like my front tire is bouncing off everything it touches and I'm working twice as hard as I should be.

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    One of the cool things about getting a bike computer was looking at the plots of elevation vs time. I noticed that all the hills looked like they had the same slope even though I knew they varied from 3 to 15%. Then I remembered they were graphs vs time. It just meant that my uphill speed was inversely proportional to the slope - just as the OP suggests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fajita Dave View Post
    If the climb is at your limit to just keep moving it will suck the whole way and your only other options are to stop every time you max out or walk.
    Certainly, I am a fan of too low of a gear as opposed to too much gear, going a bit slower on the descent doesn't suck nearly as much as being short gears on the climb!

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    A hill is one thing, a mountain another
    Round and round we go

  9. #9
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    Hills are great when you have the energy and stamina to climb them, no so much when you don't.
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  10. #10
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    Big and steep are two different things.

    7 mile climb means 7 miles of uninterrupted downhill goodness.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    A hill is one thing, a mountain another
    Yea, and no, I mean, if you feel crappy when climbing a mountain, use a lower gear. If you don't have a lower gear buy more gears!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    7 mile climb means 7 miles of uninterrupted downhill goodness.
    Yes! Get the brakes HOT!

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    What kind of climbing are you doing that it feels "just like pedaling on level ground, only slower"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    What kind of climbing are you doing that it feels "just like pedaling on level ground, only slower"?
    When I pedal on level ground I keep clicking up through the gears till I'm sort of maxed out cardiovascularly, and when I'm climbing hills I keep clicking down through the gears till I'm not overdoing it cardiovascularly.

    Set throttle at 75% and adjust gears as needed.

    I'm a spaz, I have a hard time running at part throttle, so I'm not prone to "easy pedaling" on flats. I'm also a bit smaller of a guy (158 pounds) so hills are sort of in my favor compared to bigger guys.

    As far as the hills I climb on asphalt, Strava shows my biggest unbroken climb as 4,100 feet or thereabouts, I think that was on an 11,000' day and I have a 5,000'+ unbroken road climb lined up in California in a few weeks, but I have plenty low gearing for it. I put down 5,300'+ climb on my MTB recently, but that was not a single climb, it was two 2000' climbs with some other hills thrown in.

    But, I'm absolutely not fast on these climbs as I don't want to blow myself up.

    Low gears save lives!

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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    What kind of climbing are you doing that it feels "just like pedaling on level ground, only slower"?
    And if I'm going to be totally honest, I always try to have my greatest output during a ride occur on the descent, so for me, descending often times "hurts more" than the ascending.

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    So, it's easy if I have the right gearing? And if I'm hammering on level terrain, it equates to the challenge of a climb?
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    The hills/mountains in my area have lots of sustained and unrelenting steep to them such that I am giving a large percentage of my maximum output almost continuously for extended periods of time. At some point, you can't go slower, you are in your lowest gear, yet you are still working really hard for extended periods of time. Throw in some tech or loose conditions, and let the good times roll.

  18. #18
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    I love climbing and flats on a roadie, not so a fan of downhill on the road (had a couple of motorbike crashes)

    On the mtb l like downhill, although l guess lm slow, climbing is ok but its just a means to an end
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  19. #19
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    I am OK with climbing because round here you are rewarded for the effort put in by some amazing downhill work. Unfortunately with age and infirmity, those climbs are sucking it out of me and I find myself on the easier trails just because the steep shit kills me now! I take a long time to recover after any hard workout, but Catch 22, I gotta keep at it to stay healthy... Every so often tho I force myself uphill, but I have to say that it is most definitely NOT like pedaling on the flat! At least not the trails near my house...
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  20. #20
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    I don't prefer climbing, but I also don't despise it...in fact, mastering a climb is probably the only "trophies" I have ever kept/keep in MTB....or mastering anything really, but I gauge my progress physically by my progress on climbs...and always catalog it as a motivator for the next one.

    I am one of the weirdos who would rather walk up an incline to go down it, than shuttle...

    I feel like climbs were pwrt of the natural terrain that I grew up riding on, so they never became something to dread or shun...they are just there...the next thing in the line
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  21. #21
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    Sounds like this is more of a personal problem to me.

    When the trail points down, I generally am not pedaling. I'm probably getting a substantial workout in other ways, but the cardio effort is comes into play on the climb. And yeah, I'll push my max on a climb when it kicks up or gets technical. Sometimes for quite awhile, after which I need to stop for a breather. I absolutely will dial back when the climbing is more mellow, especially when I know something steeper/harder is coming up, so I have something left in the tank for it.

    I'm still adapting to climbs that are bigger than about 300ft per. It takes a different kind of fitness to do lots of short repeats vs. one or two big, long grunts. Around here, though, the climbs and the descents most certainly are not equal grades, though. So a 7mi climb usually means a 5 or 6mi descent, since the most commonly ridden routes are usually ridden that way because the steeper trails are chosen for descents. And those steeper trails frequently have stuff that's not rideable when climbing, or at least takes an even greater combination of skill and stamina than most have.

    I'd like to see a bit more climbable singletrack routes in my area. There are a few that people commonly ride both directions, but lots of times, gravel roads are the most common ways that folks get to the top. I have an old guidebook for the area from the early 90's, and on those bikes back then (that descended so poorly), the routes were preferred to be ridden in the opposite direction they are now. So folks climbed the singletrack (though most of it was in better shape and more rideable in that direction back then - hurricanes and high traffic have done a number on many of the trails) and descended the gravel.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post

    I'd like to see a bit more climbable singletrack routes in my area. There are a few that people commonly ride both directions, but lots of times, gravel roads are the most common ways that folks get to the top. I have an old guidebook for the area from the early 90's, and on those bikes back then (that descended so poorly), the routes were preferred to be ridden in the opposite direction they are now. So folks climbed the singletrack (though most of it was in better shape and more rideable in that direction back then - hurricanes and high traffic have done a number on many of the trails) and descended the gravel.
    sometimes descending the gravel is as challenging/fun as the trail...in many ways it is more scary b/c you pick up speed without much "relief" from chatter and terrain change, and slamming on the brakes on gravel usually results in xxx number of feet of sliding in a quick stop...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    Am I right? Ultimately you only have the capacity to get X amount of oxygen into your blood depending on your fitness, THAT is what limits your forward progress
    Discuss.
    No. You are limited by your mind. Seriously.

    45 years ago I had a Marine drill instructor that didn't care if we were puking. His comment was, "It's mind over matter.....I don't mind, and you don't matter".

    It's amazing what you can push yourself to do, and it's rarely a purely physical/chemical limitation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by str8edgMTBMXer View Post
    sometimes descending the gravel is as challenging/fun as the trail...in many ways it is more scary b/c you pick up speed without much "relief" from chatter and terrain change, and slamming on the brakes on gravel usually results in xxx number of feet of sliding in a quick stop...
    No, thanks.

    Yeah, you go fast descending gravel, but there's usually nothing else redeeming about it around here. And since I don't ride just so I can go fast, I'll descend the singletrack when it's available.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    So, it's easy if I have the right gearing?
    None of it is easy, and it never gets easier, you just go faster ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    And if I'm hammering on level terrain, it equates to the challenge of a climb?
    What's the difference between a sustained heart rate of 175 on flat and a sustained heart rate of 175 on a hill? I don't think there is one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    No. You are limited by your mind. Seriously.
    I am the one that started the this thread about how riding hills is the same as riding flat terrain, so how is my mind limiting me? Your comment could be pointed at many other people posting in this thread, but not me.

    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    It's amazing what you can push yourself to do, and it's rarely a purely physical/chemical limitation.
    Sounds like you need a good hard bonk! ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    What's the difference between a sustained heart rate of 175 on flat and a sustained heart rate of 175 on a hill? I don't think there is one.
    HR of 175 is something I can sustain for a very long time. I'm a "high side of the bell curve" sort. So it's really more instructive here to talk about % of max. Either way, in some respects, there may not be much difference. But I think in others, there is.

    I think the key point is that for most people, their HR is NOT going to be the same all the time on different parts of the trail. I know that I absolutely do not push myself the same on flats as on climbs. I save my max efforts (HR pegged at or very near to max) for the steepest stuff. Which means that when I'm riding on the flats, my exertion is much lower the vast majority of the time.

    Sure, there are some instances where I peg my HR in a sprint on the flats, but they tend to be very, very few. I mostly don't race, so that eliminates a lot of reasons to ride that way.

  28. #28
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    Riding up a 20% grade is NOTHING like riding on the flat. One must balance their body weight and moderate the pedal stroke to keep from pulling the front wheel up or spinning out. On the flat one can coast, not so much up hill. On a hill there is no resting until the top.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    When I pedal on level ground I keep clicking up through the gears till I'm sort of maxed out cardiovascularly, and when I'm climbing hills I keep clicking down through the gears till I'm not overdoing it cardiovascularly.

    Set throttle at 75% and adjust gears as needed.

    I'm a spaz, I have a hard time running at part throttle, so I'm not prone to "easy pedaling" on flats. I'm also a bit smaller of a guy (158 pounds) so hills are sort of in my favor compared to bigger guys.

    As far as the hills I climb on asphalt, Strava shows my biggest unbroken climb as 4,100 feet or thereabouts, I think that was on an 11,000' day and I have a 5,000'+ unbroken road climb lined up in California in a few weeks, but I have plenty low gearing for it. I put down 5,300'+ climb on my MTB recently, but that was not a single climb, it was two 2000' climbs with some other hills thrown in.

    But, I'm absolutely not fast on these climbs as I don't want to blow myself up.

    Low gears save lives!
    Still doesn't really answer my question. If you're climbing doubletrack or fireroads then the effort required is less than steep, technical singletrack. When you're trying to navigate a chunky, loose rock garden that starts in a switchback turn while climbing at 20+% grade that's significantly harder than pedaling up a 10% fireroad grade, even if the climb itself sees less overall elevation. Climbing near me tends to require the ability to punch trough microburst style intervals while navigating tricky terrain; recovering wherever the trail mellows or the grade levels out a bit. I ride with a powermeter and usually try to maintain a spin that sees about 250-350watts when climbing, but will easily be pushed over 800watts when powering through technical sections, which for me at least is pretty exhausting. It's the quick bursts of high output that make the climbing around me so difficult. Trudging up doubletrack or fireroad where you can maintain a steady cadence output is entirely different, which is why I asked.

    As far as equating flat pedaling to climbing. I don't know. Hitting a 90rpm cadence on top gear in my bikes sees me going 25mph. Good luck maintaining that pace through tight, twisty singletrack. However, looking at some climbing segments and some fast singletrack segments my average power output tends to be the same, although the difference being that climbing power is made at low RPM while power in the (relatively) flat singletrack is made at high RPMs while running a good 10-15mph faster. Also, max power is higher on the climbs and overall fluctuates a lot, but average HR is little bit lower. For me, being able to get the same level of workout on the flats as you do on a climb means being a really fast rider, and having trails where you can really pin it without fear of immolating a hiker with your handlebars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    I am the one that started the this thread about how riding hills is the same as riding flat terrain, so how is my mind limiting me? Your comment could be pointed at many other people posting in this thread, but not me.



    Sounds like you need a good hard bonk! ;-)
    I guess you missed the part where you said: "Discuss".

    Okay. Everyone but you is limited by their minds. You are the only one who can push to 100%, 100% of the time.

  31. #31
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    Two phrases come to mind.

    "The mind will break, well before the body does"
    -Zachariah

    "It never gets easier, you just go faster."
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    Two phrases come to mind.

    "The mind will break, well before the body does"
    -Zachariah

    "It never gets easier, you just go faster."
    -Greg LeMond
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    Skypark Bike Park is a pedal up park. Every time I am there I hear people complain that they want a shuttle for the .7 mile climb at 5%.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    45 years ago I had a Marine drill instructor that didn't care if we were puking. His comment was, "It's mind over matter.....I don't mind, and you don't matter".
    If I had a nickel for every time I heard that in the Canadian Army I would but a Ripley V4 and go full downcountry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    Still doesn't really answer my question. If you're climbing doubletrack or fireroads then the effort required is less than steep, technical singletrack. When you're trying to navigate a chunky, loose rock garden that starts in a switchback turn while climbing at 20+% grade that's significantly harder than pedaling up a 10% fireroad grade, even if the climb itself sees less overall elevation. Climbing near me tends to require the ability to punch trough microburst style intervals while navigating tricky terrain; recovering wherever the trail mellows or the grade levels out a bit.
    In terrain like that you do have to vary the throttle of course, but as long as you keet you average wattage output per hour about where it is when you're at the high end of your sustainable rate on flat ground there isn't that big of a difference. If the trail is just so steep you can't ride it, that is certainly a different story.


    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    I ride with a powermeter and usually try to maintain a spin that sees about 250-350watts when climbing, but will easily be pushed over 800watts when powering through technical sections, which for me at least is pretty exhausting. It's the quick bursts of high output that make the climbing around me so difficult.
    In terrain like that I do as you do, just take it easy in the flatter parts where it's possible to do so so the spikes in output are offset by easy pedalling.

    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    However, looking at some climbing segments and some fast singletrack segments my average power output tends to be the same...
    Cool that you have data on this! I think this is the case for many cyclists that have grown accustomed to pedalling to get a good workout.

    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    Everyone but you is limited by their minds. You are the only one who can push to 100%, 100% of the time.
    I'm also really handsome.

    And sometimes I go 110%


    But is all seriousness, you addressed me specifically, you should have used the word "people" instead of "you" and your intended message would have been clear.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    Certainly, I am a fan of too low of a gear as opposed to too much gear, going a bit slower on the descent doesn't suck nearly as much as being short gears on the climb!
    That depends on the terrain too. If it's smooth you can use a lower gear but we have quite a few rocky climbs. If you go slow even with say 30/46 on 27.5 wheels you'll get stuck in a hole. If you keep the speed up you have the momentum to go right through it. If you don't have the fitness to keep momentum you're screwed and end up walking.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    No, thanks.

    Yeah, you go fast descending gravel, but there's usually nothing else redeeming about it around here. And since I don't ride just so I can go fast, I'll descend the singletrack when it's available.
    I hear ya...I am happy riding both, but also prefer the single track decent due to the "fun" of the the tech, the turns etc...
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  38. #38
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    As a certified midwesterner, I agree with Harold. I'd rather climb gravel than descend. Descending can be a pants-shittingly frightening experience, depending on how fresh the gravel is or how many tractor tire ruts are present.

    But we don't really have hills like you all. I used to ride up this one "mountain" (not a place for discussion about what is or isn't a mountain, but in the Ozarks it's not what you're thinking, just think very steep eroded hills) and there are constant ups and downs, but one of the longer uninterrupted climbs was 0.75 miles and ~380 ft. The whole climb from bottom to the top, with going up and then down and then up again was like 4.5 miles and 800 ish feet of climbing I think. To me that was super challenging, but I think many here wouldn't bat an eye. But you know what, it was super fun, and what I love most about climbing is the challenge. It's fun trying to both push yourself just a little bit more each time without burning out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NDD View Post
    As a certified midwesterner, I agree with Harold. I'd rather climb gravel than descend. Descending can be a pants-shittingly frightening experience, depending on how fresh the gravel is or how many tractor tire ruts are present.

    But we don't really have hills like you all. I used to ride up this one "mountain" (not a place for discussion about what is or isn't a mountain, but in the Ozarks it's not what you're thinking, just think very steep eroded hills) and there are constant ups and downs, but one of the longer uninterrupted climbs was 0.75 miles and ~380 ft. The whole climb from bottom to the top, with going up and then down and then up again was like 4.5 miles and 800 ish feet of climbing I think. To me that was super challenging, but I think many here wouldn't bat an eye. But you know what, it was super fun, and what I love most about climbing is the challenge. It's fun trying to both push yourself just a little bit more each time without burning out.
    I used to refuse gravel at every opportunity, only riding it when zero singletrack options existed. That was when I lived in the midwest.

    Now I ride in mountains (albeit smaller, worn down ones), and most rides have at least one climb that exceeds 1,000ft in a pop. Sometimes upwards of 2,000ft. I'd still prefer a singletrack climb if I could get a good one that didn't require tons of lifting my bike onto ledges and tons of extra time because of that and the extra steepness wearing me out.

    As I said, there are a few spots like that, and a couple trails I actually prefer to climb. I just wish there were more of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    And if I'm going to be totally honest, I always try to have my greatest output during a ride occur on the descent, so for me, descending often times "hurts more" than the ascending.
    This is so true for me also.

    If I'm too exhausted from a climb it won't be much fun riding down. Been there enough times. Sometimes it's just energy for that day when I don't have the downhill fitness.

    Couple days ago I was killing the descent after having a good climb. I felt like I was riding to my capabilities for the first time in several rides.
    I thought I was top 3 of my own descending times on the hill, and I wasn't even top 5. I don't know where I wasn't going as fast as I thought.
    I had a great ride with the hard climb going pretty well and killing the down (up one hill and down another).
    Times didn't matter, but was surprising I was 15 seconds, at least, slower than how I felt.

    Some days, most of the time if I'm alone, that I can moderate the climb efforts for a more pleasant down.
    We've had one trail close that was a blast, I've only been able to ride it 3 times before it closed. The problem was that it was about 1.5 hours climb to get to the downhill. Worth it in the end, but you sure do earn it.

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    I'd rather ride a 45 minute climb of any climbable grade than do a 45 minute pedaly trail that is otherwise flat. We have a few long trails that don't have much elevation gain changes, but is a net up/down (depending on direction) for the out/back.
    I'm not made to sit on a bike and pedal nonstop. My legs just can't handle the strength aspect of it. My weakness is endurance. I can pedal fast for a while but can't hold speed for long times. I could run great half marathons, but longer distances were something my body didn't prefer. I can sprint on a bike fast, and I was a fast sprinter as a runner.

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    I was spinning up a fire road in the Santa Monica Mtns while my friends were pushing their bikes, climbing was great, but that was only a short climb.

    Then I'm doing long gradual climbing at Cheeseboro, after a bit I'm wanting to get off the bike and curl up in the fetal position. It's mind over matter to keep putting one foot in front of the other and HAB to the top.

    My tag says Upcyclist, that only means I turn junk into stuff, I'm not an ascender.

    Maybe I just need moar gears.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornfield View Post
    Then I'm doing long gradual climbing at Cheeseboro
    The steepest bit I hit there with Hawg was right from the "parking lot" (end of the road a couple miles north of 101). My 30/50 gearing was enough though, no HAB that day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    The steepest bit I hit there with Hawg was right from the "parking lot" (end of the road a couple miles north of 101). My 30/50 gearing was enough though, no HAB that day.
    We went in from Agoura Hills. Not any real climbing for anyone who's moderately fit, I struggled a bit. I think Hawg had a 50 (and legs) and I only had a 42, maybe lower gearing would have helped.
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    We rode from the north end of Los Viegenes road.

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    We came back to the cars a from the north which was mellow, but we left the cars due west up the canyon wall, the first 1/4 mile was the steepest, it was all that bad, but there was zero warm up before hitting that pitch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    None of it is easy, and it never gets easier, you just go faster ;-)



    What's the difference between a sustained heart rate of 175 on flat and a sustained heart rate of 175 on a hill? I don't think there is one.
    Well, power is power I guess. I just don't think it's a practical comparison when it comes to endurance over a specific period of time.
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    I do have to take rest stops on the way up but then it's a roller coaster ride going back down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I used to refuse gravel at every opportunity, only riding it when zero singletrack options existed. That was when I lived in the midwest.

    Now I ride in mountains (albeit smaller, worn down ones), and most rides have at least one climb that exceeds 1,000ft in a pop. Sometimes upwards of 2,000ft. I'd still prefer a singletrack climb if I could get a good one that didn't require tons of lifting my bike onto ledges and tons of extra time because of that and the extra steepness wearing me out.

    As I said, there are a few spots like that, and a couple trails I actually prefer to climb. I just wish there were more of them.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
    Fair, but I actually think gravel riding is fun. I think for my preference it's like singletrack >= gravel > road. Some of my favorite hill climbing routes are forest service roads. Down in the Ouachita Mts one time, I made a short loop using singletrack and gravel roads and I'm pretty sure the gravel roads kicked my ass way harder. Almost all types of riding are better than sitting on your rumpus, with the exception of group road rides with people that run every stop sign and don't know how to behave on public roadways. That'll actually keep me off the bike.

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    Even though I enjoy climbing for the challenge there is no getting around the fact that it hurts a lot. There is a reason why attacks in races typically occur on big hills. It is the fastest way to gain time or drop rivals. In cycling I am considered a big or fat rider if you prefer at 190-205lbs depending on time of season meaning that climbing doubly hurts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    Riding up a 20% grade is NOTHING like riding on the flat. One must balance their body weight and moderate the pedal stroke to keep from pulling the front wheel up or spinning out. On the flat one can coast, not so much up hill. On a hill there is no resting until the top.
    This is true. If hills were the same as riding flat but slower, everyone could do them. They can't.

    I ride hills all of the time because, well, Scotland. Some people actively avoid the hills, they choose the flattest routes they can, and when those guys hit hills they crumble. They don't slow down, they stop.

    I love hill too. I find riding on the flat for an extended period of time totally boring. I like the challenge of the climb, I like the reward on the other side. I like where I live.

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    I'd have set this on autoplay if I could, lol! https://youtu.be/DDC_PBDsiSI
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    Korn, where do you come up with this shit?

    Please, keep it coming by the way. Funny stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    This is true. If hills were the same as riding flat but slower, everyone could do them. They can't.

    I ride hills all of the time because, well, Scotland. Some people actively avoid the hills, they choose the flattest routes they can, and when those guys hit hills they crumble. They don't slow down, they stop.

    I love hill too. I find riding on the flat for an extended period of time totally boring. I like the challenge of the climb, I like the reward on the other side. I like where I live.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Well, power is power I guess.
    I think the OP is trying to argue average power is average power, which it is not. If someone's FTP is 300 watts it is easier to ride at a steady state 250 watts for an hour (flat or up hill does not matter as long as it's steady state) vs a set of rollers where one might be going from 0 to 400 watts over and over. Resting does not make up for the stress that over-threshold riding puts on ones legs and lungs. As they say, one only has so many matches to burn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    Korn, where do you come up with this shit?
    In front of the computer at my desk most of the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    I think the OP is trying to argue average power is average power, which it is not. If someone's FTP is 300 watts it is easier to ride at a steady state 250 watts for an hour (flat or up hill does not matter as long as it's steady state) vs a set of rollers where one might be going from 0 to 400 watts over and over. Resting does not make up for the stress that over-threshold riding puts on ones legs and lungs. As they say, one only has so many matches to burn.
    And, hills hurt more; they are a different beast. Otherwise the Tour de France wouldn't always be won in the mountains.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    And, hills hurt more; they are a different beast. Otherwise the Tour de France wouldn't always be won in the mountains.
    In the mountains drafting doesn't help much as you are gong slow, so it comes down to rider fitness, on the flats that is not the case.


    IMO a technical climb and a big climb are different things. A big climb with lots of tech is going to wear you down more than a big climb with minimal tech. And a non tech big climb shouldn't really wear you out any more than that same amount of time riding on flat ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    A big climb with lots of tech is going to wear you down more than a big climb with minimal tech.
    Absolutely. You're using more muscles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    And a non tech big climb shouldn't really wear you out any more than that same amount of time riding on flat ground.
    except it does. care to explain?

    I'll reiterate something that's been brought up already.

    Gravity. When you're climbing, you're fighting gravity with every pedal stroke, and gravity slows your roll faster when you're not pedaling, so you HAVE to keep going if you want to keep moving.

    What you're saying would be like said that riding on flat ground with a headwind is no different than the same amount of time riding on flat ground with a headwind. Anyone who's ridden in those conditions knows that it's absolutely not true.

    Now, if you want to make comparisons between climbs and riding on flat ground, your flat ground riding needs to include headwinds. How much headwind equals a given climbing gradient? I don't know that answer, but with some testing, you could figure that out.

    For the high elevation folks, you also can't forget about the reduced oxygen availability at higher altitudes. Hard to replicate that on flat ground.

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    To a degree, Jack is right. Average power is average power. If I pedal up a hill at an average of 200 watts, that is the same as going down hill with an average of 200 watts, into wind at 200 watts, etc. We might perceive it as different, but it isn't.

    I see it all the time when I am training on my road bike. It is harder to hit target watts going in to the wind compared to with a tailwind. But that is mental, watts don't care about wind direction. You can look at your heart rate to get an idea of your effort, though not ideal, it is something.

    Only slight disagreement I have is that it is easier to gear select on flat ground. And your seating position is different. You have to climb a lot to really feel the effects of elevation. I did a climb this winter that started at sea level and went up to 8000'. I am sure I was down on power, but I couldn't feel it. I was more worn out by the first two hours of the climb that I hammered to notice the air.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    To a degree, Jack is right. Average power is average power. If I pedal up a hill at an average of 200 watts, that is the same as going down hill with an average of 200 watts, into wind at 200 watts, etc. We might perceive it as different, but it isn't.
    Yeah, yeah, avg power is avg power.

    That would be relevant if we actually rode that way all the time. But we don't. It's one of those situations where real world riding doesn't exactly mirror laboratory conditions, or controlled test conditions.

    I don't ride with a power meter. I've only used one once, and that was when I did an indoor training session on smart trainers. But I don't need a power meter on my bikes to tell you that I don't output the same power all the time when I'm riding. I would honestly never want to ride that way, though I could see why some would. But the vast majority of people never do. So it just isn't relevant.

    Most people have at least a vague perception of their speed, and their effort. They know that maintaining a given speed on a climb requires more effort than it does on the flats or on a downhill. That perception isn't wrong. Power simply isn't something that people attune themselves to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    What you're saying would be like said that riding on flat ground with a headwind is no different than the same amount of time riding on flat ground with a headwind.

    I am saying that. if you are running your heart at 180 BPM for an hour into a headwind, or at 180 BPM not into a headwind for an hour its the same amount of work for you. You will of course travel al shorter distance into the headwind, but I did intentionally specify time and not distance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Anyone who's ridden in those conditions knows that it's absolutely not true.
    I've ridden my road bike into plenty of headwinds, and with plenty of tail wind, and no wind...

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    For the high elevation folks, you also can't forget about the reduced oxygen availability at higher altitudes. Hard to replicate that on flat ground.
    But we have flat ground up here too, I live at 6,200'. The term flat ground in no way implies sea level. But man I love going to sea level with all my extra red blood cells, for 2-3 days I can smash the shit of climbs! Your body does get rid of the extra red blood cells pretty quick though unfortunately, after a week they are all gone even by day 4 the advantage has worn off notably.

    When I do go to lower elevations I do try to line up a ride my first day there just to get that glimpse of feeling tougher than I should.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    To a degree, Jack is right. Average power is average power. If I pedal up a hill at an average of 200 watts, that is the same as going down hill with an average of 200 watts, into wind at 200 watts, etc. We might perceive it as different, but it isn't.
    Yep, Just as MSU said, mind over matter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    Only slight disagreement I have is that it is easier to gear select on flat ground.
    Because that end of the cassette has smaller jumps between gears?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    You have to climb a lot to really feel the effects of elevation.
    Yep, not many places you can really climb enough for it to matter.

    Thinner air up high is detrimental to human output, but the thinner air does also reduce the amount of power needed to go a certain speed. Higher elevation is actually considered a net benefit for road bike travel, all the guys that set the hour record prefer to do so at higher elevation due to the reduced aero drag of riding through thinner air.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I did a climb this winter that started at sea level and went up to 8000'.
    Hell yea!

    White mountain from Bishop California? Or Hawaii?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    Because that end of the cassette has smaller jumps between gears?
    Not sure, might be a mental thing only there too. Or, just with steeper climbs I run out of climbing gears because of my chainring size (I'm slightly compromised to run higher top speeds).

    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    White mountain from Bishop California? Or Hawaii?
    Palm Springs (338') to Toro Peak (8088'). Started by going down the Palm Canyon Epic, climbed the fireroad to the top of Toro, then finished at the start of PCE.

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    I must be missing something. Climbs deplete your energy faster which makes them harder than riding flats regardless of wattage. It is like driving a car on a flat road at lets say 50mph at 2500 rpm, if I drive the same car on a hilly road at 2500rpm it will go slower as the OP said but the engine will also be working harder to keep that 2500rpm leading to decreased gas mileage. It is not just a question of constant wattage but also of how much energy is being used to produce that wattage. To me this makes it harder which is why climbing is such a challenge for many of us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    I must be missing something. Climbs deplete your energy faster which makes them harder than riding flats regardless of wattage. It is like driving a car on a flat road at lets say 50mph at 2500 rpm, if I drive the same car on a hilly road at 2500rpm it will go slower as the OP said but the engine will also be working harder to keep that 2500rpm leading to decreased gas mileage. It is not just a question of constant wattage but also of how much energy is being used to produce that wattage. To me this makes it harder which is why climbing is such a challenge for many of us.
    2500 RPM is not a measure of how hard your car is working.

    Gasoline consumed per minute is a measure of how hard you car is working.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    It is not just a question of constant wattage but also of how much energy is being used to produce that wattage.
    Watts and horsepower are exactly the same thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Yeah, yeah, avg power is avg power.

    That would be relevant if we actually rode that way all the time. But we don't. It's one of those situations where real world riding doesn't exactly mirror laboratory conditions, or controlled test conditions.

    I don't ride with a power meter. I've only used one once, and that was when I did an indoor training session on smart trainers. But I don't need a power meter on my bikes to tell you that I don't output the same power all the time when I'm riding. I would honestly never want to ride that way, though I could see why some would. But the vast majority of people never do. So it just isn't relevant.

    Most people have at least a vague perception of their speed, and their effort. They know that maintaining a given speed on a climb requires more effort than it does on the flats or on a downhill. That perception isn't wrong. Power simply isn't something that people attune themselves to.
    We aren't discussing "all the time", we are discussing the going up part. And in this case, going uphill on my MTB at 200w is the same as going on flat ground on my road bike at 200w.

    Nobody outside of triathletes do what you are saying.

    What you perceive to be true and what are true can be gleaned by having data. As you say, you do not have a power meter, so you don't have the data. You can only ride on perception (which is how I ride too), and your perceptions deceive you.

    The only time I ride with power is for training, or recovery rides. Tuesday I did some hard intervals on my road bike before a group ride with friends (70 mile ride), but they were 1 minute intervals and I only looked at my power to try and convince myself to go harder if the numbers looked low. I had no specific target, just a RPE of 9. Last night was a recovery ride, so I took my Enduro out and tried to keep my power below a threshold, which is impossible on steeper climbs, but possible for 90% of the climbing. I have power on my road, XC, and Enduro. I will put power on my gravel bike when I replace it.

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    I'll say that I don't have a power meter either, nor a heart rate monitor.

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    I have a heart rate monitor, or 'brain' as it is otherwise known.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I have a heart rate monitor, or 'brain' as it is otherwise known.
    Yeah when you start hearing your heartbeat you know you are in the zone!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    Yeah when you start hearing your heartbeat you know you are in the zone!
    If you're lying on the ground no longer breathing, you've gone too far.

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    Getting an actual HRM clued me in that my brain had been lying to me all along. That I wasn’t really pushing myself as hard as I thought I was up hills.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghood View Post
    Getting an actual HRM clued me in that my brain had been lying to me all along. That I wasn’t really pushing myself as hard as I thought I was up hills.
    That, is not a problem for me, I'm more prone to blowing myself up than I am easy pedalling. I've thought about getting a monitor to reduce the likelihood of blowing myself up, but it'll probably never happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    ...we are discussing the going up part. And in this case, going uphill on my MTB at 200w is the same as going on flat ground on my road bike at 200w.
    If you are looking at just your power meter then yes but in practical terms I do not think so. If I ride 10 miles putting out 200w on a flat road, are you saying it would be the same as riding 10 miles at 7% gradient at 200w?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    If you are looking at just your power meter then yes but in practical terms I do not think so. If I ride 10 miles putting out 200w on a flat road, are you saying it would be the same as riding 10 miles at 7% gradient at 200w?
    He is saying that, and there is no disputing that as it is fully supported by the laws of physics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    If you are looking at just your power meter then yes but in practical terms I do not think so. If I ride 10 miles putting out 200w on a flat road, are you saying it would be the same as riding 10 miles at 7% gradient at 200w?
    200w is 200w. There is no way around that.

    Difference is, 200w on flat ground is going to be FASTER than 200w up a 7% grade, so it will take you longer. Since it is taking you longer, you will expend more energy.

    But 200w is 200w.

    Now, a more CORRECT interpretation is:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brodino View Post
    If you are looking at just your power meter then yes but in practical terms I do not think so. If I ride 1 hour putting out 200w on a flat road, are you saying it would be the same as riding 1 hour at 7% gradient at 200w?
    In which case yes, yes it is the same.

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    Until you cramp.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    200w is 200w. There is no way around that.

    Difference is, 200w on flat ground is going to be FASTER than 200w up a 7% grade, so it will take you longer. Since it is taking you longer, you will expend more energy.

    But 200w is 200w.

    Now, a more CORRECT interpretation is:



    In which case yes, yes it is the same.
    Correct. Riding 200w for 30 minutes is the same for flats, climbs or wind. Feel is different and wind is worst. You can't see the wind and it just gets in my head. Climbs are not too bad and flats are boring. Still watts are watts. Now the real world situation is that for some climbs just to get to the top and not stop you need 200w. On the flats you just go slower, but still get there. On climb you may need 200w to just not fall over. So the actual effort is often not the same. Plus on flat ground you can stop pedaling and coast and often not slow down much. Climbing you slow down alot and those micro rest breaks can be important to your body. The other factor is body weight. Sure watts are watts, but on the flats resistance to forward motion is mostly from the air and being heavy or light generally does not change that much. However on climbs it is power to weight. So a 175 lbs rider at 200w on the flats will be moving pretty fast and close to a 130lbs rider at 200watts. How go up hill and that 200w 175lbs rider will get smoked by he 200w 130lbs rider. Simple power to weight. Now generally speaking a 175lbs rider might be at 220w vs 180 for the 130lbs guy. So on the flats the heavy guy could be faster, but on the climbs the power difference cannot make up for the weight difference. This why most good climbers, especially road, are light weight. On a mtn bike this less of impact due to shorter punch nature of many climbs, plus the extra technical factor.

    One other thing I will add is mental. Personally I can push climbs harder on ST than smooth dirt roads. My brain goes on "easy" mode on wide dirt roads on my Mtn bike, but goes in "charge" mode on ST. This not a function of power, but my ability and will to generate it.
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  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    In the mountains drafting doesn't help much as you are gong slow, so it comes down to rider fitness, on the flats that is not the case.


    IMO a technical climb and a big climb are different things. A big climb with lots of tech is going to wear you down more than a big climb with minimal tech. And a non tech big climb shouldn't really wear you out any more than that same amount of time riding on flat ground.
    Damn...I wish it were that simple. one has no choice but to grind it out on the hills; not so on the flats.
    The only important thing these days, is rhythm and melody. Rhythm...and melody.

  81. #81
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    Eff it...I'm buying an e-bike.
    The only important thing these days, is rhythm and melody. Rhythm...and melody.

  82. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Eff it...I'm buying an e-bike.
    We lost another one

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    Damn...I wish it were that simple. one has no choice but to grind it out on the hills; not so on the flats.
    The argument here is all theoretical. If holding the same wattage, there is no resting whether going up hill, flat, downhill, head wind or tail wind. One must still work to maintain that wattage. If wattage and RPMs are held constant, the effort should feel that same with the exception of muscles employed due to body position.

    The problem with the theory is that is rarely reality.

  84. #84
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    The reality is the mental game is real. Our brains hold us back more than our bodies.

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackbombay View Post
    Right?!?!


    I don't quite get the aversion to climbing, or the pain of it, yea, it can suck, but if you show up with the right equipment/fitness it isn't any worse that pedalling on level ground.
    For any level of fitness and equipment there is a combination of steepness & length that would make anyone cry and eventually dismount.

    PS I like climbs too, but there are limits for what I can do.

  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    The reality is the mental game is real. Our brains hold us back more than our bodies.
    Hell yeah!
    https://www.bbc.com/sport/cycling/47278392

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    except it does.


    Agree. Climbing requires a different pedal stroke even at the same watts ime. Climbing is just harder.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  88. #88
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    I don't understand why you guys struggle on the ascents. I just push a button on my ebike and let technology do the work. smarter not harder
    2015 Santa Cruz 5010 C

  89. #89
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    Love a good climb, my biggest sustained climb is 3,389'. I wish I had more of that in my life.

  90. #90
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    I'm not in the shape I once was, but I like tough hills. It's hard to even train around here, though, as we have maybe 250-300' elevation, usu. over 2+ miles. So....
    Take a look at the bike path on the left. To the left of that is the drainage ditch. Climbing in the drainage ditch is really hard, but actually compares well to the tougher climbs I've seen over my MTBing "career". All hills are not the same.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@41.3030...7i13312!8i6656

    I refer to it as "climbing pressure" (<-- my own made up term). I can climb all day at a certain "climbing pressure" (steepness+roughness+output), but if it gets too rough, or too steep, or I try to go too fast, something's going to give. If I have not trained at a high "climbing pressure" I can't climb really steep for very long, even if it's smooth. If the terrain requires body moves and fancy pedaling on the climb at a higher frequency than I can recover from them, then I will eventually not be able to turn the crank.

    There are still plenty of smooth/gravel hills that take everything I've got in my lowest gear to get up. And worse than that, is that the trail is off on the side, and it's steeper yet. The more I do it, the easier it gets, though. Lower gears don't help much.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  91. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    The reality is the mental game is real. Our brains hold us back more than our bodies.
    Darn right. There are times climbing on my singlespeed that I know if I just keep pushing harder I can clear that little ledge or short step pitch, but my brain says "f-it" and I stop get off. Hard to get that motivation sometimes, but when I do it feels great after. Knowing I cleaned the "tough spot" on the climb. Every climb has them and on SS they just get so much more apparent since you can't change gears to compensate.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

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    So what if a climb requires more wattage just to keep moving in your lowest gear than you can sustain? On flat ground if you reach your limit than you can just go slower. That isn't an option when climbing.

    My FTP is a weak 180. Punching some numbers into a bike calculator this 2.2 mile climb that averages 14% will require me to put out 237 watts at 4mph if it were smooth (155Lbs rider with 30Lbs bike). https://www.strava.com/segments/1508699 This is a pretty rocky trail and has quite a few sections that pitch up far more than 14%. So it would be safe to assume that I would need to put out 250 to 280 watts which would put me into CAT1 XC racer territory. That kind of power is well out of reach for most cyclists. In fact one of the fastest local XC racers here with a power meter averaged 261 watts with an average speed of 3.2mph. That's basically walking pace.

    How could this be understood in any other way than "difficult?" There is no option to make a climb easier unless you have something providing the power for you like an e-bike.

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Until you cramp.



    Or yakk.
    "These things are very fancy commuter bikes or really bad dirt bikes, but they are not mountain bikes." - J. Mac

  94. #94
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    Gearing simply doesn’t exist that makes climbing a hill as “easy” as pedaling on the flats, and if it did, there’d be no way to remain upright due to the slow speed. Also, who would want to pedal for 3 hours to go 2 miles? I notice even when pedaling as easy as possible, any significant climb is many orders of magnitudes harder than level ground. I think we don’t notice this as much, but HR and other data should easily support it. On level ground, you are mainly fighting wind resistance. Going up is fighting gravity.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  95. #95
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    I invite the OP to do come do this trail and then report back on “it’s the same as riding flat but slower”


  96. #96
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    I have no idea what this flat terrain is that you guys are talking about.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  97. #97
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    What's the difficulty in climbing big hills? Well, sometimes I get tired...

  98. #98
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    Yeah, I get what the OP is saying. A long climb (say not mega steep or technical), but a long grunt, you just adjust the gears so you're spinning like you do on the flat.
    Used to do many rides like that in NZ, 50min up, 5-10 min down. Just spin your way up without blowing up. The fitter you get the bigger gear you can spin.

  99. #99
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    I find it harder to sustain close to max heart rate on flats. It takes a bit of motivation to hammer at length. For me at least, I agree with you, it’s the same amount of work, you just go slower. But I’m also a “climber” and have put in 15,000 days on dirt and on the the road. I’m sure it varies for everyone.


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  100. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by MozFat View Post
    A long climb (say not mega steep or technical), but a long grunt, you just adjust the gears so you're spinning like you do on the flat.
    Up to a point but it's not exactly the same. Even a gradual climb is harder than flat. With practice, yes, you can climb for miles, I do it all the time but it is harder. I can think of several times someone has been with us who boasted about how many miles he does but then you figure out that he only rides flat routes, and you watch him crumble on the hills.

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