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  1. #1
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    Training to Shut Them Up

    There is a climbing race in about a month that climbs 1,200 feet in about 2.5 miles. Conditioned gearies are able to spin up this trail on the their granny rings in about 30 minutes while I can only mash up in 40. This race has steep climbs with short flats and no downhills. Though I'm faster up the hills, I end up being slower overall because I have to slow down to a crawl after steep sections to catch my breath while the gearies still have energy reserves from gearing down. Basically the proverbial hare and turtle story.

    How do I prepare for this race? I've read on this forum that all it takes is to keep riding the trail.

    On a more technical note, I managed to barely climb this trail on 32:18 in that 40 minutes. Should I continue training up this trail on 32:18, and in the final week before the race, train at 32:20 (or lower) and use this ratio for the race for that extra spin to not slow down as much after steep sections? Or should I go try the lower ratios immediately and train with it from the beginning?

    Any other training advice?

    I know I'm at a disadvantage from the very beginning to attempt a race on SS designed for geared bikes. I'm the only SSer I know in my parts and have been look on as a masochistic freak. Most who look at my bike ignorantly asks me, to my indignation, if I only do on-road riding. I want to at least place in this race to shut them all up once and for all.
    Last edited by hchchch; 02-18-2010 at 03:05 AM.

  2. #2
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    Cross train a bit. Do sprints on the road, do sprints uphill. Hop one legged up tall stairs a few times, switch legs, go on a quick sprint. Repeat. Do running sprints up stupid steep, loose hills. Build up your quad power and conditioning.

  3. #3
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    If there is only a short amount of flats, you might consider gearing lower. For my races with the most climbing, 4000'+, I'll gear around 45"-47" (34x21, 22 on a 29'er).

  4. #4
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    I second the idea of gearing lower for this kind of event. Make sure you also train with the lower gear, though: a faster cadence takes some time to get used to.

  5. #5
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    A month isn't a lot of time to train, especially when you want to stop training at least a week before the event so your legs are rested & hungry on race day. Go hard on your hard days, easy on your easy days, fully recover between hard efforts, pay attention to the role of proper nutrition (protien, carbs, etc.) set your goal and focus on that. Don't hesitate to gear down. Can you stand & pedal for half an hour? Might not be a bad goal. Good luck.

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  6. #6
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    I'd gear down. Then ride the remainder of the days to get used to the new gearing and what your pace should feel like.
    Just get out and ride!

  7. #7
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    I ride 34x20 and it goes pretty well on steep hills
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  8. #8
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    I would gear 32 x 20 or 32 x 22 for something like what you describe. You'll need to condition yourself to increase your cadence as the hill levels out. If you have to slow to a crawl after the steep sections, then it's partly a matter of fitness. On your regular rides, sprint to the tops of the shorter hills, and keep pedaling hard after the hill mellows or tops out till your breathing recovers. Then spin lightly till your legs recover. This will improve your sustained climbing quite a bit. It would also help to find some longer climbs that you can take at an easier pace to get your body used to a 30-40 minute non stop effort.

  9. #9
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    I don't think you mentioned what wheel size you're running, but 32x20 (46.4 gear inches) seems to be the norm for 29er riders. That's what I ride, and I can make it up just about anything with it. Long, steep climbs can be painful though. You may want to gear lower then that for the race. 32x21/22 would probably suit you well if you're on a 29er. On an old 26er, I rode 34x21 which felt super good. Low enough to seriously climb anything from what I recall.

    I don't race so I don't know a ton about proper training, but pushing a higher gear will make you stronger as you get used to it. Don't want to gear too high because of possible injury, but if you can stand to push 32x18 up the climb, then I would just continue training on that. Ride it a few times a week to build up strength. You definitely notice when you get stronger riding SS. I'd gear down to 32x20 just before the race, and then stick with it on race day. Maybe also try riding on the flats while you are training to develop a good spin.

    That's what I'd do at least. Some riders believe in trying to push the highest gear possible, while others say gear lower for efficiency. Not sure which I agree with at this point.

  10. #10
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    Also, save some weight, take your brakes off and maybe do it fixed. Less weight to carry up and for some reason people magically become better climbers when riding fixed. I'm assuming it isn't super technical.

  11. #11
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    If you've got a few cogs to play with then do some training on the hill with different ratios. Time yourself when you're training and see what gear ratio gets you up the fastest. That would get you training time and answer the "what ratio is best?" question far better than any of us can.

  12. #12
    dwt
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    I'll join the gear lower bandwagon.

    You know you can make the climb at 32:18, and you know that you are crawling in spots at this ratio. Stands to reason that if you add 2 cogs you are going to be able to speed the crawl up to a walk. Then the only question is whether you can walk 10 minutes faster than you crawl

    I'm betting you can.

    P.S. 26'ers rock
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  13. #13
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    So, where is your race? Maybe a few of us can come join you.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweeney
    So, where is your race? Maybe a few of us can come join you.
    If you check HERE you can see the OP is from Jakarta. I doubt you really want to (or even can?) fly all the way to Indonesia from Long Island just for one race.
    But good thoughts. It got me curious about the race location. It would be cool to see a bunch of SS racers swarm in on this race to support the OP.
    Its all Shits and Giggles until somebody Giggles and Shits

  15. #15
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    Any other training advice?
    put your bike (or preferably a small childrens bike) on your shoulder and jog for 2.5 miles. at your current rate of under 4mph, there's a good chance that'd be faster.

  16. #16
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    Surf and Turf

    Come on over! The weather is great! Can't beat 365 days of 70-95 degree temperatures. Plenty of mountains and beaches. Come for the surf, as well!

    Thanks for the great advice so far. I think I will try lower ratios on my next rides on that trail to see if I can improve my times.

    I'm actually riding 29:18 now on my 29er, but stated 32:18 to reduce confusion. Same ratio after factoring in wheel size. I'll probably try 29:20 next (32:20 on 26er) to see if I can get up that trail any faster.

    Are there any specific online references for race training schedules? I'm currently doing Tuesday and Thursday training sessions on that trail and reserve Saturdays for more relaxed group rides for my relax day. Should I be training daily?

  17. #17
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    I'd train 6 days a week. Hard, easy, cross train, easy, hard, day off.

    Fixed will get you up the hill faster.

  18. #18
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    Ah. That's why I'm slow. Better fix my training schedule to a daily one.

    Since I can make it up on 29:18 barely, does it make sense to use 29:18 on my hard days, 29:20 on my easy days, and group ride for my cross training? Or does easy have to be really easy?

  19. #19
    dwt
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    Quote Originally Posted by hchchch
    I'm actually riding 29:18 now on my 29er, but stated 32:18 to reduce confusion.
    26'ers still rule, but I reiterate that with the lower gearing you should be able to make up much of the 10 minute gap behind the spinning granny gearies.
    Old enough to know better. And old enough not to care. Best age to be.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hchchch
    Ah. That's why I'm slow. Better fix my training schedule to a daily one.

    Since I can make it up on 29:18 barely, does it make sense to use 29:18 on my hard days, 29:20 on my easy days, and group ride for my cross training? Or does easy have to be really easy?
    use the time you'd spend swapping out your gears to ride your bike. thats what makes you faster.....errrr....actually the rest after riding is what makes you faster, so training 6 days a week may not be ideal. just go really hard when you do ride, and take it really easy when your body says its tired.

  21. #21
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    training's for creationists
    darwin says buy a hook, tape it to a stick, hook yourself onto gearie riders going uphill, stop them in their tracks, survivial of the wittiest.
    If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!

  22. #22
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    I would make your easy days truly easy, not just "20 teeth vs. 18 teeth". I am no expert, but it may be a good idea to incorporate some specific hill training, where you concentrate on hills one day per week. I have had a similar approach work with trail running. Oh, and steroids.
    Miles on the trail are a very effective filter for the objectionable particles of the mainstream.

  23. #23
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    cadense concious

    I started working on improving my cadense about two weeks ago and I have improved from a sub 70 rpm to above 80 rpm in that time. Three weeks is enough time to improve your cadense; hopefully to something better than where I'm at now.

    Good luck-
    Sometimes, with a very strenuous effort, I will fatigue.

  24. #24
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    do it fixed. Less weight to carry up and for some reason people magically become better climbers when riding fixed. I'm assuming it isn't super technical.
    That's an excellent suggestion. Push a bigger gear and do it fixed. Using a smaller (slower) gear is not going to make you faster. A little gear will make you spin faster, but not climb faster
    read KNOBBY MEATS or be sadly ignorant of the mediocrity that is allowed to exist in the interwebs

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by the munts
    That's an excellent suggestion. Push a bigger gear and do it fixed. Using a smaller (slower) gear is not going to make you faster. A little gear will make you spin faster, but not climb faster
    if the big gear causes you to be in your red zone too much, too early (because it takes so much force to get the cranks around on lesser percentage grades)...you're gonna blow up and be slower than you would be if you chose an easier one and went at a more consistent pace.

  26. #26
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    if the big gear causes you to be in your red zone too much, too early (because it takes so much force to get the cranks around on lesser percentage grades)...you're gonna blow up and be slower than you would be if you chose an easier one and went at a more consistent pace.
    I guess it's totally dependent on the rider, but I fatigue more quickly when I climb with a small gear. I'm always out of the saddle, and if I'm pushing a small gear, there's not enough resistance in the pedals, and I end up putting too much weight on my arms.

    But in my experience, geared riders are faster than SSers because they can shift up, not because they can spin a tiny gear
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  27. #27
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    so do you ride a 44/11 on your local trails?

  28. #28
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    so do you ride a 44/11 on your local trails?
    38X20 or 19.

    I didn't say the OP should push a massive gear, because that would be slow as well. But if he gears down, he will probably climb with the same cadence that he typically does. If he pushes a 32X20 at the same cadence that he used to push the 32X18, he is going to go slower.

    Or maybe he will be faster with a little gear. Totally depends on the individual.
    read KNOBBY MEATS or be sadly ignorant of the mediocrity that is allowed to exist in the interwebs

  29. #29
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    Probably teaching you to suck eggs, but I'll put it down anyway, something might help.

    When cycling you'll encounter two types of effort. Aerobic and anaerobic. During aerobic exercise you can breathe relatively easily, preventing the build up of lactic acid, and allowing you to continue for long periods. This is your normal pootling along stuff. Anaerobic exercise is where you are working hard enough to start to become breathless, lactic acid builds up, your muscles start to ache and eventually you have to slow down or stop.
    The difference you have from the geared bikes is the need to vary your cadence with the surface, rather than the gearing. So they can stay in their aerobic zone by keeping cadence and effort steady, varying the speed of the bike with the gears. This is easy to train for.

    So you will have two choices. Train your body to climb as hard as possible whilst staying in your aerobic zone, which will mean climbing steadily and continually. Or plan to climb hard and then recover on each flat section. This second one sounds more like how you ride at the moment. If you want to beat the geared boys, I would think you need to go for sprint and recovery. With one gear you will be going a bit slower on the flat, but quicker on the hills, so try to maximise this.

    Personally I really don't like sprint work, my fitness isn't good for it. I'm much better at steady power work than spinning fast. On my 29er, I ride 32x16, and just about to move to 32x15. I find by staying steady I can keep breathing regularly and keep the lactic acid down. You'll have to work out what works best for you. So I would definitely agree with the earlier suggestion of trying a couple of different combos and finding what works by timing each climb.

    As for training, with a staged climb like this, you will really benefit from anything that improves your recovery time. So look at sharp sprints or climbs, repeated 2, 3, 4 or even 5 times. But between each one, don't stop, keep pedalling whilst you recover. Again, I don't know what your fitness or riding is like, but maybe 1 mile sprints with 3 mile recoveries in between. Over the training you can improve the sprint speeds, and up the recovery speeds too. Ideally work this with a heart rate monitor so that you can really see how quickly your heart rate comes down. Again, as mentioned, go for a staggered training plan, easy meduim and hard sessions with rest days. Anything that can improve stamina, lung capacity and general fitness is great, so riding, swimming, running, etc is all good.

    To be honest I haven't done this cycling, but through a couple of years of serious training for rowing. I used to hit about 200 beats per minute whilst full on sprinting, then would try to get down to under 100 for cruising. No idea how the heart stood that!

    Let us know how the training and the race goes!

  30. #30
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    Coming from road racing and tri's I have found it's all about power and balance. I understand that road and mtb are vastly different but i believe that balance is even more important in mtb than road. When i climb either mtb or road, i make small distance goals such as making it to that rock 10 yds away then setting another goal. This way i don't get discouraged and can focus better on staying in the saddle and conserving energy. I know i may get shot for this but a little indoor spinning can help alot too. I hate spinning but it helped me with developing a smooth peddle stroke and better balance. Mtb presents a challenge as hills contain obstacles such as roots, rocks, and uneven terrain thus making balance and weight transfer more important in energy efficiency. While spinning, try using one foot peddling and focus on the peddle stroke. Also try getting out of the saddle and climbing (on a spin bike) with just your fingertips on the bars. This works those smaller muscles that help maintain stability and equilibrium. I don't know how many people agree with spin training but i know it has helped me alot with balance. Just a another perspective.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Southern Jesse
    On my 29er, I ride 32x16, and just about to move to 32x15.
    You're either a complete hammer, or there are no serious hills/tech climbing where you ride
    Quote Originally Posted by VanillaEps View Post
    A little bit of pee just trickled out of my pipi when I saw that.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtDummy
    "On my 29er, I ride 32x16" You're either a complete hammer, or there are no serious hills/tech climbing where you ride
    32x16 = 38x19. I race alot of the same places as the munts. There are hills. Some of his competitors were using 34x22, 35x21,32x20, 32x19. So, different strokes for folks, etc.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtDummy
    You're either a complete hammer, or there are no serious hills/tech climbing where you ride
    Ummm, not sure what you call a serious hill, but quick check seems about our local trail features 500 ft of height gain in a 1.5 mile continual climb. Flint, chalk and clay. That's about as serious as it gets around here on the South Downs.
    We have one more we call the Killer. A bit over 400 ft up in about two thirds of a mile.That one is very rocky. My plan is to get used to our regular climbs on 32x15, then go back to 32x16 before trying the Killer!

    I ride with geared folks as the only SSer, so I want to build up as much flat speed as possible.
    Lonely SS-er on the UK South Coast. Anyone else around?

  34. #34
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    Just watch the training montage in Rocky IV. That should give you some ideas.

  35. #35
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    Update

    Just to give an update. Since my last post, due to work emergencies -- yes, life does interfere if you're not pro -- I was only able to try the lower gearing 32:20 once after a week-long hiatus. I can't be sure what impacts the performance most, be it the rest or the lower gearing, but I managed to shave 5 minutes riding time and only had to stop once to catch my breath -- though looking back I should have just sucked it and hammered that one last climb before a longish stretch of flat.

    The change of gearing from 32:18 to 32:20 allowed me to recover much faster after the steep climbs, but it was horrendously spinny on the flats. Not too much of a problem as I require that slow flat crawls for my recovery.

    Don't know how I will manage, but the race is only a week away now and I've only put in 1 day of race-focused training. Should I forgo this year and try for next year so not to put SS to shame?

  36. #36
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    Don't give up. Racing is about enjoyment. One thing that you can try is to pedal at a regular pace for 10 seconds, then go full out for 20 seconds, 10 seconds normal, 20 full out. Do this for 4 minutes. It is easier to do on an exersice bike, but works well in the real world too. This will kill you in very little time, but make you a much stronger rider overall.

    I'd give your training a break, and just mentally prepare for the race. Have a good time, and then try the above technique to prepare you for future races. Good luck.

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