how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Stroud24
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how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby Stroud24 » 16 Jul 2018, 5:51pm

Hi

I've got a 100km charity ride coming up, and I'd like to do it in a decent time. I'm a relative amateur, but have been riding a few times a week (for various events etc) since February, and the distance isn't a concern, and generally, I've been happy with how my speed has increased.

However, there's a hill on the route with a 15% gradient, which is also quite long, and I just can't do it. My legs are fine, but my lungs and heart just don't seem up to the challenge.

Does anyone know of an effective exercise or routine to improve these things? It's not practical to practice on the hill itself, as it's a long way from home, and there's nothing like it close. Frequent regular hills and distance and speed practice obviously isn't helping enough.

Just after some hints and tips please.

Thanks

cyclop
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Re: Super steep hill

Postby cyclop » 16 Jul 2018, 6:10pm

What is your lowest gear? Just give the number of teeth on your small front chainring and also the large rear sprocket.

brynpoeth
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby brynpoeth » 16 Jul 2018, 6:19pm

Just use a low gear and ride up slowly
You could even hop off and walk, no shame in that, I do it sometimes
May one ask which hill it is exactly?
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby mjr » 16 Jul 2018, 6:22pm

Find the steepest local hill you can. If Stroud24 means you're near Stroud, there are some corkers like Maiden Hill, Haresfield Beacon and Scottsquar Hill and that's just one lump.
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby Paulatic » 16 Jul 2018, 6:30pm

Just keep riding hills. If your lungs and heart are giving out then you are trying too hard. Settle down into an easy pace right from the bottom not from half way up after you’ve run out of breath. Get to the top, without gasping, engage big gear and you’ll belt past all those who tried too hard getting up there.
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby meic » 16 Jul 2018, 6:40pm

Interval training.
Look it up if need be.

While out on rides, insert little full force sprints into the ride, with longer periods of normal riding in between.

I would agree that while on the actual event, walking up can have you setting off from the top with revitalised legs compared to cycling up and arriving at the top completely knackered.
However it sounds like your legs are not the limiting factor here.
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby thirdcrank » 16 Jul 2018, 7:23pm

I would have assumed that gearing might be an issue, but being really over-geared tends to mean that you stall before your heart and lungs are in trouble. Don't underestimate the extra effort involved in climbing. It's hard for everybody but some can do it faster. Keep on trying. Also every ounce has to be taken up the hill so the more unnecessary weight of any sort you are carrying the harder it will be.

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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby foxyrider » 16 Jul 2018, 9:01pm

I decided long ago that my build is just not great for climbing. At 178 and 85-7kg I'm too heavily built and heavy to do it well, my power to weight ratio is appalling! I can happily ride for hours, I can ride up pretty much anything but not at anything resembling speed!

Particularly on longer climbs with a bit of gradient I will often stop for a breather before setting off again. And on occasion I have taken to pushing, no shame in that, especially if it's a steeper climb.
To get up longer, steeper grades it's important to go at it in a controlled way - slow and steady is the way. I'm certainly not getting any younger or improving fitness a great deal these days but I take it as a matter of pride to get up the climbs that the sportives throw up (they can be quite horrible 20% plus things up this way!) as soon as you start thinking negatively you'll fail.

The 15% section on your climb is unlikely to be very long and i'm sure a lot of others will walk it. Train by doing the aforementioned intervals, if you have a HRM try to climb towards the lower end of your riding range. Try to eat something about thirty minutes before you reach the climb and have a wet before you start the climb proper. And don't be tempted to chase others on the climb, do it at your pace, not someone elses.
Convention? what's that then?

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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby eileithyia » 21 Jul 2018, 12:24pm

Lower gear, change down to start, don't 'attack' the bottom so that you run out of puff part way up, start at a measured pace that you can maintain, don't be tempted to chase down other riders unless you think you can sustain the effort.
Practise on other hills.
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby drossall » 21 Jul 2018, 5:26pm

All good advice above. There's a lot of psychology in climbing. The hill often beats your head, rather than your legs. So, if you can find a steeper hill, and have a few goes at that, the hill you really want to climb will suddenly seem not so bad :D

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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby Vorpal » 21 Jul 2018, 6:02pm

If there are very many people on the charity ride, you may be forced to walk up it anyway, just because everyone else is.

That's happened to me a couple of times.

Otherwise good advice here. If you don't have a super steep hill near you, just pick the biggest one and go up it, go down straight away, and up again, etc., as many times as you can. If you do that a couple of times per week (or more, if you can), you'll soon notice some improvement.
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Cunobelin
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby Cunobelin » 21 Jul 2018, 8:01pm

The ride is something to be enjoyed and savoured

The more you let this hill become a Bete Noir, the more it will become an issue and affect your ride

Ignore it, and if you have to walk a few hundred terra then done it

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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby fullupandslowingdown » 22 Jul 2018, 9:05pm

yes, high intensity interval training is the key.
Specifically, after your usual warmup time, you ride ( best on a gym bike as you have safe control over your surroundings) really hard for a time, then rest relatively by easy spinning for a time (but never stop pedalling all together). Then repeat another 5 to 7 times.
The key is the times for the exercise period, and the rest period. Someone preparing for a sprint event would have maybe do a 30 second effort with higher power. For a steep hill, I'd suggest at least 60 second efforts maybe even 90 at a lower power. And recovery time of the same or maybe upto twice the effort time. for example
90seconds on then 180 seconds off. After a few months you could shorten the recovery period.
Another way to gauge things is to use a HRM, aim to achieve 95% of your HR max, then peddle easy until your HR falls to 80% of HR max. So a sprinter would be doing 700W for 30seconds or going to 98% HR max. Professional cyclists achieve more like 1200W, Sir Chris Hoy reputed to sprint at 2500W albeit for 5 seconds.
.
To begin with you select a effort that isn't loads more than your regular hard effort as it is more important to maintain your effort for the whole time than to make a bigger effort. The physiological change comes from maintaining the effort not making a hard effort that petters out long before the end of the exercise period. As you improve, then you make a harder effort. If you are on a Watt Bike you might see say 350W effort, before spinning out at 80W.
.
At first the efforts will leave you feeling really exhausted if not a bit sick, but it's a bit like weight training for your lungs. You stress them so they become stronger. Recovery days are as important as the workout day.
Its really worthwhile sticking with as you probably improve faster with HIIT than regular long distance bike rides. And the feeling of sick goes after a few times.
A specific variation of HIIT is EMESHIIT. You do the training first thing in the morning before you've eaten anything. Sports physiologists believe this adds more benefits than just improved power and lung capacity. It improves your peak fat burning rate and reduces insulin resistance - important for preventing diabetes.

Edit to add: practice restraint too as other posters said, resist the temptation at the hill start to pedal as hard as you can, but go gentle so you leave plenty in the tank for the last 10 metres. I know it feels silly to spin a low gear and not make any effort seemingly, but it's the tortoise and the hare scenario.

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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby brynpoeth » 22 Jul 2018, 9:09pm

Change into low gear in good time, it may be hard to change down as one looses momentum
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Re: how do I train for a super-steep hill ?

Postby Vorpal » 23 Jul 2018, 7:35am

Regarding interval training, it can be a useful training tool, but I'm not sure that it is necessary for the OP to do interval training to get up this hill of theirs. It would certainly make them fitter and faster and improve their hill climbing, but it seesm to me that it kind of loses sight of the goal.

I am *not* criticising interval training. I'm just suggesting that it's an awful lot of time and effort compared to the specific stated goal.

For the OP: I have had a similar problem to the one you describe. I had planned a ride with a long, sometimes steep climb. I didn't have any such hills near me, but there was one about 1/3 as high with some steep sections near my work. So, a couple of times per week after work, I climbed that hill three times, going straight back down to do it again each time. I pushed myself a bit, more than I would on a long ride.

That is similar to interval training, but a simpler approach.

I was fine on my ride. 8) Good luck with yours.
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