- that's roughly what I do these days, but even times when it was more like 20+ over 80-90 mile rides I never bothered much with pedalling down hills, and kept up 25ish on the flat on gears around 80"-85". Only when racing mates I'd bother with gears up to 100" which was always plenty.in fact my fastest ride of any length averaged just 14.5mph
Winching up a hill on a tiny gear only makes it last forever, which might suit some people's fitness style, i.e. more suited to long constant effort rather than short bursts, but ultimately you need the same amount of energy to get up the thing.
Surely that's not quite true?
Yes, the notion that it takes "forever" is obviously... er, untrue. The amount of energy "per second" is what's different, so if you're restricted in the rate of energy, a lower gear is useful, but as you have to expend that energy for longer, the total is the same (well, give or take a hundred other factors). During a long ride on the MTB I can easily drop to 4-5mph if I admit defeat on steep hills, whereas on the road bike if I give it some welly it'll be more like 7-8mph. This isn't a huge difference, but psycologically it's massive. This may be just a personal quirk of mine. Without testing it scientifically it's impossible to be too definite, as when I see people hunking it out of the saddle, they've obviously got enough energy to do that, when I see people winching miserably at a snail's pace they're obviously not coping too well, so one can't necessarily say that winching slowly is what's making them knackered - it's probably the other way round.
The bit about expenditure regardless of external work seems to suggest that the slower you go up the hill, the more energy you expend, as the external work is the same, but the time is longer. Anyway, I'm not arguing that - I think if we get into technicality, it gets so complicated that just going on experience is better, after all psychology is wrapped up in there somewhere and everyone's different - if you find going up hills slowly keeps you mellow, that's good. For me it only happens when I get defeated (frequently these days as I'm unfit), and given the choice I'd much rather save the energy to get it over with and enjoy the view at the top, stop for a breather and wait for my mate who's chosen to winch himself up.