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Turning a molehill into a mountain

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,185
80
Hill climbs require you to have good standing stamina and as high lactic acid tolerance as you can.

I agree with the second half, but I would be riding the hill at threshold level sitting down. Yesterday`s ride, I went from the onsen we were staying at to the top of the road I was on, which was 550m in 10.5K and it was all sitting. Today, I rode back home (75K) and included about 950m of climbing, again all seated, even with my backpack. If I`m riding at my limit, that limit will be higher/further if sitting when climbing rather than standing. I would only stand for temporary relief from sitting, or powering over a very short, sharp gradient section.

For hill climbing , climbing at your lactate threshold is a good way to improve. By climbing at threshold your body adapts to raise the threshold so you can do more work aerobically. A good workout is two climbs of 20 minute duration at lactate threshold (for me 170 HR).

I agree with this, limitation of your ability is your sustainable threshold level for the duration of the climb. So working out how long the climb will take you and doing a full TT effort for this length of time, would for me be a better strategy than very short hill repeats, especially as you have the long climbing at the weekend. Or add say +10% to the time, divide by 2 and do 2 sets of that. So say 1 x 45 or 2 x 25. You can then use the perceived effort scale when doing the actual hill climb to adjust your gear and/or cadence to match this sustainable power output for the duration of the climb. Obviously if you are lucky enough to have a power meter (not me) this makes it a lot easier to do.
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
2,706
2,718
I agree with the second half, but I would be riding the hill at threshold level sitting down. Yesterday`s ride, I went from the onsen we were staying at to the top of the road I was on, which was 550m in 10.5K and it was all sitting. Today, I rode back home (75K) and included about 950m of climbing, again all seated, even with my backpack. If I`m riding at my limit, that limit will be higher/further if sitting when climbing rather than standing. I would only stand for temporary relief from sitting, or powering over a very short, sharp gradient section.

Whether you climb sitting or a mixture of sitting and standing depends on the kind of rider you are. I know of great hill climbers who only sit and great climbers who stand for long periods or use standing to attack.

Personally I only do "dancing" at the disco! I would love to get out of the saddle ala Pantani but I just can't do it. I find it to be counterproductive. I can get out of the saddle when riding tempo but when I'm going as hard as I can in a hill climb race, if I get out of the saddle, I lose rhythm and momentum.

By riding seated all the way doesn't mean you have to be sluggish but you have to use your gears and cadence to follow moves. For the record, Murayama san a.k.a "Mr. Hillclimb" never gets out of the saddle and can keep up with riders less than half his age.

I agree with this, limitation of your ability is your sustainable threshold level for the duration of the climb. So working out how long the climb will take you and doing a full TT effort for this length of time, would for me be a better strategy than very short hill repeats, especially as you have the long climbing at the weekend. Or add say +10% to the time, divide by 2 and do 2 sets of that. So say 1 x 45 or 2 x 25. You can then use the perceived effort scale when doing the actual hill climb to adjust your gear and/or cadence to match this sustainable power output for the duration of the climb. Obviously if you are lucky enough to have a power meter (not me) this makes it a lot easier to do.

A HRM can also be used for this purpose. If you have a target HR that you are confident you can hold for a climb, this can be used to do a sustained TT on race day.

For me personally, I often aim for 180 HR / 80 cadence.

However, as I said earlier, I don't think it is absolutely necessary to stimulate this in training (perhaps once a few weeks before the race). By aiming for a lower target HR (for me, say 170) you are still teaching your body to react quickly and to maintain a seady output.

This concept is followed by many marathon runners who rarely run the full distance apart from on race day. Likewise, I have entered the 300 km Tokyo~Itoigawa for quite a few years now but would never simulate a 300km training ride. Rather a 200km one just once or twice before the event.

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
Currently training the body to gget out of the saddel. I can sit in and spin like a crazed merry-go-round on long climbs. But now Im really isolating the core when sitting really dragging and lfting the pedals on every single stroke.

So now this is perfected Im working on climbing while out of the saddle. Again isolation of the core and not rocking the bike, all power is going straight into driving the bike forward and its doing wonders for my abs and upper body as Im now countering the downward stroke.... Im getting a huge increase in wattage as well.

I think a lot of people just look at a hill and say "Right Im going to keep on hitting this till i get faster" that will work to a certain point but once you have reached a plateu you need to start looking at the mirco details of your riding style.

Lots of neat little tricks that will help isolate the upper body and the bike helping to conserve energy and up the wattage, great ways to distribute the work across the thighs as you climb so that you can keep going longer and harder.
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
2,706
2,718
All this talk of climbing technique made me thirsty for a bit of climbing. April 1st is celebrated round these parts as is the day passes and climbs are snow ploughed for the spring. Most years you can get up the climbs before this official date but with the heavy snow this year we've been waiting and waiting.

I dusted off my carbon bike for it's first outing this year. The hill climb position set up, compact cranks and lightness of the bike were noticeable as soon as I got going. I love my aluminium bike to bits, but you can't beat the lightness and smooth ride of carbon.
Today's main course was three climbs of Isonobe in Takayanagi. The road surface is rough, the gradient stiff, the views specatcular. The road wasn't clear to the very top as I think with the depth of snow (about 8 metres) the ploughers probably gave up.

Two climbs at lactate threshold. A third climb of intervals.

Pictures on the blog.

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,185
80
Whether you climb sitting or a mixture of sitting and standing depends on the kind of rider you are. I know of great hill climbers who only sit and great climbers who stand for long periods or use standing to attack.

Personally I only do "dancing" at the disco! I would love to get out of the saddle ala Pantani but I just can't do it. I find it to be counterproductive. I can get out of the saddle when riding tempo but when I'm going as hard as I can in a hill climb race, if I get out of the saddle, I lose rhythm and momentum.

By riding seated all the way doesn't mean you have to be sluggish but you have to use your gears and cadence to follow moves. For the record, Murayama san a.k.a "Mr. Hillclimb" never gets out of the saddle and can keep up with riders less than half his age.



I agree with you here: excluding anaerobic exertions, if you can go faster standing up then you are not going hard enough whilst sitting down. When I first started following cycling, Pantani was at his peak and was my favourite rider but this dispersed when details of what he was using to achieve those super-human performances started to appear.

As for Pantani`s riding style, I would separate it from standing, as he is `climbing in the drops`. For the majority of us, what matters most when getting up the hill is concentrating on producing the most sustainable power output and this over-rides any aerodynamic considerations. At the speed Pantani was going – his legendary climb up Alpe D`Huez was what...14 mph/22.4 kph after a mammoth stage (I had to check) - then aerodynamics do start to come into it. So I would argue that whilst his position wasn`t the most mechanically efficient, with his flat back the reduction in frontal area/drag arguably made it more effective at achieving the highest possible speed for a given exertion level. Now, if you were to take away the rocket fuel he used to achieve those climbs and he had to climb within human parameters than whether it would still be more effective would be an intriguing debate. Also, the law of adaptability comes into play, which is no matter what position you ride in, eventually your body will learn to adapt to it and maximise efficiency in that position.

However, as I said earlier, I don't think it is absolutely necessary to stimulate this in training (perhaps once a few weeks before the race). By aiming for a lower target HR (for me, say 170) you are still teaching your body to react quickly and to maintain a seady output.

This concept is followed by many marathon runners who rarely run the full distance apart from on race day. Likewise, I have entered the 300 km Tokyo~Itoigawa for quite a few years now but would never simulate a 300km training ride. Rather a 200km one just once or twice before the event.

Again I agree 100% but I would say this doesn`t apply to this Hill climb due to its length/duration. Looking at the stats, the Tour de Kusatsu is 13K with just over 800m ascent, say 6.2%. If I was to take 3 times up my favourite hill, thats 13.5K with around 780-790m ascent, so a fraction less gradient. Last time I did that was 6 weeks ago and took 53mins (with slow second climb due to my extra layer for the descent on the handlebars needing constant attention to stop it unwrapping). So with fitness improvement since then, I would look for 50mins and certainly should take less than 1 hour (when climbing at threshold, for my speed to drop to 13 kph the hill would need to be steeper than that). I did this today, and the combined three ride times were 53:30 but threshold training wasn`t the goal of the ride - the goal was to build endurance by having to keep climbing after doing this so only the last one, which I misjudged slightly, went a fraction above threshold. I`ll have to post the ride details in the April thread to explain further, or this post will be too long.

I do one session a week with this much `work`, so for me, if you are riding the hill to compete rather than just take part and you not doing this or can`t manage one session like this, then for me, you`ve been on the wrong training schedule or not training hard enough.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,185
80
I think a lot of people just look at a hill and say "Right Im going to keep on hitting this till i get faster" that will work to a certain point but once you have reached a plateu you need to start looking at the mirco details of your riding style.

Lots of neat little tricks that will help isolate the upper body and the bike helping to conserve energy and up the wattage, great ways to distribute the work across the thighs as you climb so that you can keep going longer and harder.

Agreed, once you reach a certain level, it is about making the most out of what you`ve got. I still have a way to go before this kicks in, but whether I would ever want to train to the point at which I get to this level is another matter entirely ;)
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
2,706
2,718
Sikochi,

As I said, each rider is different and climbs differently. When I ride hill climbs, I am riding at the max that I can sustain for the duration of the climb. People often ask me why I don't sprint at the end of a hill climb (they assume that because I am a big guy I should love sprinting). The reason is that unless it's been a tactical cat and mouse game up to the top, I am usually riding on my limit. That's why when I try to get out of the saddle I can't add anything to it.

With regards to high end training. By all means go flat out to simulate what you are going to do at Kusatsu. Each year, I do the same. A couple of weeks before (ie. now) is about the best time to do it. I'll have a go this week although I'm way behind schedule with regards to climbing this year.

At the end of the day, the way to become a good climber is to climb lots. This works for an extent and James is right when he says you then have to start looking for the finer details. The key is to know when to start doing the top end stuff and how much to do.

I was thinking about this thread when I met my mate Tazaki san on Mt. Yahiko today. He is one of the best climbers around but he too is behind schedule due to the winter we've had this year. He planned to do 5 climbs of the hill today (sea level to 650m altitude).

I asked him how he was going to take it on: 1. tempo, 2. tempo, 3. in the outer top, 4. out of the saddle, 5. squeeze out any juice he has left.

Not much science there. But then again, cycling isn't rocket science. Ride hard when necessary, ride easy when necessary, recover when necessary.

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,185
80
From doing athletics, adding a sprint to a run done at the limit wasn`t a problem for me, so if you don`t mind me suggesting, maybe looking at some of the training plans for middle or long distance runners might be able to offer some good pointers.

I`m not doing Kusatsu, as when the topic came up, was too embarrassed at my level and whilst I am happy to try one at present, something like Kusatsu done in the cold would cause me problems with my asthma, so I would probably have that as my limiting factor. If I can find something that`s not too far away or awkward to get too or invovles too much expense I shall enter one. Trouble is, despite all the hills here, the local scene doesn`t seem to have any such events :confused: Where my parents live, the local club does roughly one hill climb event and one TT a week, and it`s not even a big town!

I would love to get up at least 2500m (still short of your mate) but that will require careful management of additional training load. For now, if I was to attempt what he did, I could probably manage the first two done at tempo (though I`m not for a minute suggesting my tempo is anywhere near his) but if I tried the 3rd one, I might be, joking aside, going back down the hill in an ambulance. Yesterday was a planned rest day anyway, but today still didn`t go beyond a long slow ride with climbing (6oo m, nothing sustained beyond 7%, and mainly below 5%) but made sure I was well away from even touching threshold or raising my heart rate too high. Trouble is, my legs were perfectly fine, and could have managed the same again, so have to go back to threshold work and wait for the system to catch up to what my legs can manage.

Best of luck for the race.
 

patrick.yodar

Speeding Up
Jun 9, 2011
241
1
don't really have anything to add here, except I did my first set of small hill repeats yesterday and rather than ask for advice with a new thread I re-read this one and found some good stuff.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
974
251
I still like to note that most riders I see are conditioned in the saddle, but very low stamina and technique out of the saddle. Like anything else, you do have to practice. As FE notes - most important is core isolation and working on a very 'quiet' upper body. In addition the pedaling action moves more from your glutes / ITB , to calves / hams and of course the mighty quads.

Lastly, I'd like to say that what works for larger riders is very different for lighter ones. Especially as you climb - think about the weight a larger rider has to pump up and down many times - then out of saddle that is compounded. So - a lighter rider (a la Pantani) will be much better suited to extended dancing time, whilst an Indurain would be more suited to more in-saddle. Same thing with cadence - moving mass over time = work. If you can provide the same torque at lower cadence, then you're putting more of your 'work' into the cassette and less into gravity. The steeper the hill, the more this comes into play.

This is why you'd rarely see me attack on a 10% or less grade with riders like James, Michael or Stefano at bay - however, once the slope hits 12% + , I'm more keen to make a move as my lighter weight (59-60kg) has distinct advantage as the slope becomes increasingly steep. So even my paltry 250-350w becomes an effective weapon. However 10% and less, the 350 - 550w guys will crush me. Know where your effective fighting zone is at all times and how to conserve resources until you need them.

Too often riders just look at the hill as 'a hill' , and don't really analyze all the sections and ride it efficiently. Just the same old single position mashing away until finally the muscles give in to being baked for so long. Doesn't matter if you spin up it or grind up it, if you don't learn how to effectively transfer power through all your muscles groups and isolate according to function, requirement and physical state, then you'll just be an average, constantly tired, climber.
 

Yamabushi

Maximum Pace
Jun 1, 2010
2,335
188
I still like to note that most riders I see are conditioned in the saddle, but very low stamina and technique out of the saddle. Like anything else, you do have to practice. As FE notes - most important is core isolation and working on a very 'quiet' upper body. In addition the pedaling action moves more from your glutes / ITB , to calves / hams and of course the mighty quads.

Lastly, I'd like to say that what works for larger riders is very different for lighter ones. Especially as you climb - think about the weight a larger rider has to pump up and down many times - then out of saddle that is compounded. So - a lighter rider (a la Pantani) will be much better suited to extended dancing time, whilst an Indurain would be more suited to more in-saddle. Same thing with cadence - moving mass over time = work. If you can provide the same torque at lower cadence, then you're putting more of your 'work' into the cassette and less into gravity. The steeper the hill, the more this comes into play.

This is why you'd rarely see me attack on a 10% or less grade with riders like James, Michael or Stefano at bay - however, once the slope hits 12% + , I'm more keen to make a move as my lighter weight (59-60kg) has distinct advantage as the slope becomes increasingly steep. So even my paltry 250-350w becomes an effective weapon. However 10% and less, the 350 - 550w guys will crush me. Know where your effective fighting zone is at all times and how to conserve resources until you need them.

Too often riders just look at the hill as 'a hill' , and don't really analyze all the sections and ride it efficiently. Just the same old single position mashing away until finally the muscles give in to being baked for so long. Doesn't matter if you spin up it or grind up it, if you don't learn how to effectively transfer power through all your muscles groups and isolate according to function, requirement and physical state, then you'll just be an average, constantly tired, climber.

Great post, IMHO!! :thumb:
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
3,000
1,688
This thread looks good! looking forward to reading it in depth!
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
974
251
For what it's worth adding - hitting the e-perf camp last year was great in <re>enlightening these principles. I had/have some accumulated bad habits which were quickly spotted, so I'm much more keen about constant attention to the basics. Having a qualified coach or highly skilled rider give you some structured tips rapidly accelerates your learning or training curve. It's pretty easy to talk about this stuff - but all those who have competed seriously know the value of getting hands-on feedback and critic. I think Patrick said something like 'Training with bad habits is worse than training at all'. Or something to that effect. I agree with this.
 

patrick.yodar

Speeding Up
Jun 9, 2011
241
1
I think Patrick said something like 'Training with bad habits is worse than training at all'. Or something to that effect. I agree with this.

just so no one is confused (i was) this is e-performance patrick, not me patrick. if i ever give any of you advice get a second opinion before acting on it.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
974
251
From now on I think we should refer to you as 'The Chef' , for the way you cook wheels and burn the descents!
 

patrick.yodar

Speeding Up
Jun 9, 2011
241
1
case in point, using my judgment about gear and braking technique i've managed to melt a carbon fiber rim on a descent. don't do as i do.
 
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