Cadence and pedaling style up a long hill!

Ivan

New Member
Every week I make myself do some uphill training. For that i ride to the mountain near my area. To start things off i ride 6 miles to the mountain and get into what I call "pre-mountain hill". It is 20% elevation hill just before the mountain, approximately 500 meters long. Than i get to the main part, the mountain climb. It is a road going uphill to the top of the mountain without any spirals, just straight up 45% elevation for at least 400 meters. I ride my trek mountain bike that weights 30 pounds and it is not a nice ride with that elevation. It is like hell going up that hill. So my question is should i use lower gear and higher cadence and sit in the saddle (that will take forever to climb) or should I stand up increase by a gear or two and muscle it out? Sorry if its a stupid question, just wanna see what other people do.
 

pooriggy

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Sit until the last 20 seconds then get out of the saddle and gear up.

The goal is to get faster in the saddle, you burn a lot of energy getting out of the saddle. To get any real benefit from this hill climb you would have to do this more then 1x/wk. I would say do this 3-5reps two times/wk. After a month you will be surprised with your results.

Keep us posted as to how it works out.
 

1speed

Incredibly profound yet fantastically flawed
Don't mistake degrees and percent. A 45 degree hill is a 100% incline. A 45% climb is only about a 22 or 23 degree -- very steep, but not the steepest in the world by a long shot. The percent of an incline is just the tangent or the slope (rise over run) times 100. So if you go up 2.25 feet for every 5 feet of horizontal distance, that'd be a 45 percent incline. That's still really steep, but not as steep as 45 degrees, which is 1 foot up for every 1 foot of distance.

Added: to the OP, I'd agree with Iggy if your goal is to get stronger. Finish with power. Good luck!
 

stb222

Love Drunk
Jerk Squad
Seated climb is far more efficient than standing because when you stand your upper body expends energy by supporting some of your body weight on the bars. Seated climbing will also help you develop more powerful legs over time. The pinnacle of seated climbing is a high cadence on a large gear but obviously that takes a lot of work to get to and is also a personal preference. Try different things and see what works for you.
 

wonderturtle

Well-Known Member
Marty - Understood. In fact I looked it up before I posted since wasn't sure of the difference. But scanning several articles about "steepest roads in the world" and "steepest roads in America" all have roads in the high 30 PERCENT range as the steepest that roads get. Some mention a road on Hawaii (only open to 4wd) that is very briefly 45%.

You might be right but then basically every article on the internet about road steepness is wrong. Not kidding... I may put my money that you're right ;)

One such article.... http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4871559
 

stb222

Love Drunk
Jerk Squad
There aren't too many roads in NJ that have above 20%. What road is it @Ivan? It also may help knowing the road and people can give how they would ride it.
 

clarkenstein

JORBA Money Launderer
JORBA.ORG
There aren't too many roads in NJ that have above 20%. What road is it @Ivan? It also may help knowing the road and people can give how they would ride it.

i'm curious about which road too.

i have to be out of the saddle. i'm more of a grind and mash kinda person so i don't like the sit and spin way of doing things. never been comfortable doing that. my heart rate spikes instantly when i get into spintastic mode. i know its more inefficient to be out of the saddle in a harder gear, but i prefer it in the long run. sometimes i'll sit and grind just to take a rest, but my knees don't like that if i do that too long. so there's my preference. that said, listen to kev and iggy, they climb a heck of a lot faster than me.
 

Patrick

Overthinking the draft from the basement already
Staff member
thought the correct method was to stand on the pedals, not lean on the handlebars?
or is that relative to sit/spin, where getting upright to breath (hence no forward weight) is the wtg?

any good tips here?
 

icolquhoun

Active Member
there are basically three different methods being discussed here:
1. seated spinning
2. standing, what i'll call "dancing on the pedals" spinning
3. standing to attack/put in a really big effort

look at all the best climbers out there, they sit and spin on long efforts and stand and "dance on the pedals" to break up the seated spinning position on longer climbs or even just to get off the saddle and refresh their "sensitive areas" periodically on really long climbs.
When attacking or on shorter steeper pitches, more upper body is brought into the mix to gain more power/speed.

There is a huge difference between attacking whilst standing/putting in a really big effort and "dancing on the pedals" for going roughly the same speed as if you were to sit and spin.
When attacking, you use a huge amount of upper body to saw the bars side to side opposing each leg extension. this is basically the same as sprinting just going up an incline. note that if your just starting out riding, you may have to resort to this to just get up things, not necessarily to "attack"
When "dancing on the pedals" I find I am usually just a gear or two harder than my seated spinning gear, or sometimes even the same gear. My arms are resting on the bars, but have hardly any weight whatsoever on them. You will hear old-timers refer to "having fingertips in the bartops like your playing a piano" to keep yourself as efficient as possible, this whole technique should basically feel like relaxed from the abs up through your shoulders and out your arms, not in tension whatsoever. Just stand up like your climbing stairs, just as smoothly as possible. focus up spinning smooth strokes, not blocking stairmaster moves. Your using a lot of your bodyweight to turn the pedals over but need a decent technique to keep it efficient and smooth. At high cadence, it almost feels like running up the hill with a relaxed upperbody.


Seated spinning takes a lot of practice to feel right, and I have found that most beginning riders hate it because they lack sufficient fitness to turn high rpm without raising their heartrate and oxygen consumption through the roof. The more you sit and spin, the more it will feel natural, but it could take a year or two!
 

rick81721

Lothar
PS I am also interested in some mental/psychological tips to climbing hills. Someone posted recently that they don't look up, instead stay focused on the road just ahead so they don't see how steep or how much more of the climb is left. I've tried this a few times and it seems to help. Here's one I use - when a climb gets really painful, I think of this scene from the tenacious D movie the pick of destiny (see ~ 4:09) and just keep repeating: "oh sweet baby" - yeah I have a juvenile sense of humor. Anywho, the distraction seems to help as well

 

clarkenstein

JORBA Money Launderer
JORBA.ORG
Someone posted recently that they don't look up, instead stay focused on the road just ahead so they don't see how steep or how much more of the climb is left.

i do this depending on the day. on days where i feel not so good, i keep the head down and only look at my wheel area. days where i feel alright i try to look around a little bit more, try to catch some of the view to take my mind off of the effort. my best climbing i have found to sorta zen. not even thinking about my form or anything - just trying to find a rhythm in the pain.
 

wonderturtle

Well-Known Member
on longer climbs I switch it up quite a bit. sit and spin for a while. then when my legs dont like it, I stand and spin. then, when they get fatigued from standing I sit again. repeat. for me, that's the best way for me to get up a hill. not sure if its the best or most efficient but it works for me.
 

qclabrat

Well-Known Member
to you use this same climbing technique for SS as geared?

for long climbs, I'll drop to a lower gear, sit back further and pull on the bars as I chug along
this allows use of different muscles, but can't remember if it's all quads
 

stb222

Love Drunk
Jerk Squad
Seated spinning takes a lot of practice to feel right, and I have found that most beginning riders hate it because they lack sufficient fitness to turn high rpm without raising their heartrate and oxygen consumption through the roof. The more you sit and spin, the more it will feel natural, but it could take a year or two!

This, this, this.
 

jnos

Well-Known Member
to you use this same climbing technique for SS as geared?

I spent a lot of time comparing and contrasting and writing up a response only to delete it when I realized that, yes, on the road (geared road bike) and off road (SS MTB) I use styles 1, 2, and 3 about the same amount (70% seated, 20% dancing, 10% "sprinting"). I may do a bit more of style 2 off road due to logs and other obstacles on an uphill.
 

icolquhoun

Active Member
^^^ yeah, techniques will be the same on road vs offroad, but due to traction/obstacles, and gearing, you may favor on technique over the other offroad. Offroad you have waaaay more variable than just grade, and I'd say SS (which is the only MTB I've ridden in the past 8 or so years) I am more of a spinner than most and run a 32x21 (yeah wuss gear, but I LOVE to spin) and find I still sit and spin except for places like the long dam climb at round valley or ice cream at mooch.
 

Ivan

New Member
Okay sorry for all the confusion! Just calculated the percent grade of the climb using google maps and some percent grade calculator. It is 8-9% grade climb, on average 8.7%.
 

The Kalmyk

Well-Known Member
I ride sspeed road and mountain bike. So I do a lot of standing and mashing. One day I will go back to gears but till then I will continue to suffer
 
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