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How to approach climbs....
Alright so I'm fairly new to the sport, I have questions about those steep climbs. I was wondering if there's any technique to making those steep climbs easier. Currently, I'm just throwing it in a good gear for it, getting up off the saddle and doing my best to make it up. I've been told to stay on the saddle and pedal, but I just can't seem to get enough power to keep going uphill. Can someone give me a little advice?
Posted by Kostcoguy a 17 year old Cross-Country riding a KHS Alite 1000 on 07/22/04

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  • Re: Paging Octo
    Whats the number for the shuttle ?
    Posted by OCD on 07/22/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    Spinning a cadence of 60 to 90 rmps is best. Push the biggest gear you can without your heart rate going so fast you get anerobic.
    Posted by OCD on 07/22/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    For steep climbs, or really any climbs for that matter, remember that while your legs are doing the most visible work, the rest of your body is involved in the process as well. Arm position, hand position, where your ass is on the saddle, the saddle height, your back posture, the amount of arm pull you use.... all these things effect climbing efficiency. Pay attention to what fatigues first, and make adjustments accordingly.

    For steep climbs, first, make sure your saddle is the right height. Really this is true for any climb, but for steeps, any maladjustments are magnified. To judge proper saddle height. put your heel on the pedal in the lowest position. You should just be able to straighten your leg and have your heel lightly touch the pedal in its lowest position, so that when you're clipped in or riding with your feet in pedaling position, you're not over or under-extending your legs. Check both legs to make sure you're not just shifting your ass to compensate for too high a saddle.

    Actually, let's back up a bit.... clipless pedals are the biggest and best move you can make toward better climbing. If you're not running some sort of pedal that allows you to clip in (yeah, I know, you clip into clipless pedals...weird huh?) then you're losing the power of your upstroke.

    For steep climbs, scoot forward just a bit on your saddle, allowing you to stay balanced on the bike while pulling on the bars.

    Next, pull those bars when you pedal....straight back toward your hips, not up....up will get you a wheelie and a funny but embarassing crash. Don't apply constant pressure, or constant pressure with both hands, do it like you're running...with the opposite arn from the downstroke leg putting most of the pressure on the handlebar.

    Don't look straight down at your feet, but also don't look way up to the top of the climb. Look in front of you just a few feet....that's your goal, just a few feet at a time.

    Spin a small enough gear to stay seated for most, if not all of the climb. Climbing out of the saddle gives you more power, but is less efficient. For a short burst it's ok, but for any kind of grinder you want to spin a gear that feels tough, but not overwhelming. Stick with that gear and try not to downshift to an easier gear unless you're really dead. Don't upshift unless you see the climb getting easier for wuite a ways.

    Stay relaxed. You can't allow your body to climb hard or process oxygen well if you're all tense and stiff....loosen up a bit. This should actually be my first advice, but since I'm odd, I didn't tell you this until now. Anyway....

    If you do decide to get up out of the saddle and climb, make sure you're in a gear that is about 2 gears harder than is comfortable to spin while seated. Nothing is worse (ok, there ARE things worse, like AIDS and my ex-wife) than jumping out of the saddle for a climb, and finding yourself spinning so quick you have to sit down and waste all that juicy momentum and power because you're in the wrong gear.

    Oh yeah, one last thing. When you choose a gear for your climb, choose a gear that is easier to spin than your max. If you start out maxed, you have nowhere to go but bonk. Start smooth and semi-comfortable and manage the hill on your terms.

    Email me if you want me to show you some stuff. While I am now fat, old and a hopeless drunk, I used to cliimb hills that are even larger than Dusty Bottoms' ass. :-)
    Posted by El Jefe on 07/23/04

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    • Re: How to approach climbs....
      Thanks a lot man, I'm going to try that tomorrow on the same hill that killed me today.
      Posted by Kostcoguy a 17 year old Cross-Country riding a KHS Alite 1000 on 07/23/04

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    • Re: How to approach climbs....
      Great advice and explanation Jeff. The only thing I can add is emphasis on: " Oh yeah, one last thing. When you choose a gear for your climb, choose a gear that is easier to spin than your max. If you start out maxed, you have nowhere to go but bonk. Start smooth and semi-comfortable and manage the hill on your terms." = It's better to stay in motion for the whole ride by taking it too easy, than bonking by trying to prove anything in the beginning. A month of riding like that and even if you're fat, hopelessly drunk and old, you'll be able to hammer up a two mile phone-pole (always watch for slower climbers);-)


      Posted by Gusitar on 07/24/04

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      • Re: How to approach climbs....
        Wow, great advice. I have one thing to add, don't 'bobble' the front tire back and forth, just stay balanced and keep the front tire straight and true. I am going out to try out that shuffling thing now..........
        Posted by Ezyrider2 riding a spot from da beach on 07/24/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    Oh yeah, one (or three) more thing(s)... when pumping those legs, don't mash down on the pedals, or just pull up on them (if clipped in). Try spinning in circles, and then when you're really thinking about your spin, think of shuffling your feet. Yeah, shuffling straight forward and back. Trust me on this. Stop thinking about up and down, and start thinking about shuffling.

    It's amazing the extra spin power you can muster with just a little change.

    While a perfect circle spin is wonderful, it's not realistic. To keep from tiring one muscle group, change up your emphasis a bit to activate different muscle groups... a little more toward the upstroke for a bit for a while, a little more mashing for just a couple strokes, back to the shuffle.... move forward on the saddle for a few seconds, slide back on the saddle for a few seconds.... keep yourself fresh by activating different muscle groups and allowing others to rest. I hope this helps.
    Posted by El Jefe on 07/23/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    Wait at the bottom of the climb for another rider to pass you. Give them 2-5 minutes and then take off and try to catch them.
    Posted by Endo Verendo riding a Pushed 4-Spot from The Valley on 07/23/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    MP3 player
    Posted by Arrkelly on 07/23/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    take a gulp of water, relax and pedal up at a slower
    cadence, it works for me. Getting out of the saddle
    is good if its really steep, but most grueling climbs
    are from consistant 22 degree angles that seem
    to last forever.
    Posted by The real fatcat on 07/23/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    Excellent..Very good advice,,,I've always had a love/hate attitude towards Climbing..
    Posted by Burg a 42 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Turner 5 Spot from Valencia on 07/24/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    Get on Jefe's diet of Guiness and Krisy Kreme; you'll be zoomin' up those climbs in no time.....that is if you don't flake on showing up.

    Posted by OPP riding a Spider Bullit on 07/26/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    I usually approach climbs from the bottom and start riding up towards a pre-arranged picnic location. We then shuttle back down via the Forest Service.

    Posted by OPP riding a Spider Bullit on 07/27/04

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  • Re: How to approach climbs....
    “This is an exciting development for African cycling jerseys that has been years in the making. We’ve created a professional environment for riders from the continent of Africa,” he said.
    Posted by Happynicky on 12/07/12

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