Newbie with Hill problems

Pistol

New Member
Hi all

I purchased a road bike about a month ago along with a couple of mates as we were planning to get into cycling for a few weekend days out etc... However I cant believe how hard the hills are to get up, my 2 friends are also struggling but are better than me at getting up them. Fitness wise I didnt think I wad that bad, I can do a 10k run in under 50 minutes (I know thats not great but it isnt a disaster either) but I just cant get up these hills even in the lowest gear. I have checked the specs of my bike and my lowest gear is around 36 inches which I dont think is that big. My 2 friends have clip in pedals and I dont, does that make a difference? The lactic in my quads just killing me on the hills. On the flat I can keep up with them without much problem but as soon as the hills go above about 6/7% gradiant I'm really struggling, at 10%+ I'm dead. Weight wise I think I might be a bit too heavy for cycling, about 5 feet 11 tall and 14 stone 10 weight, but I work a lot and have quite a bit of muscle mass, is this my problem? My 2 friends probably weigh 1.5/2 stone less than me. Has anyone got any tips on how to improve on the hills as at the moment when choosing a route I try to avoid hills like the plague. There is a small road through a forest near us that is about half a mile long and average gradiant of 9.2% that I am using to go up and down to try and improve but I can only manage 2 reps up there at the moment before blow out.

Help would be appreciated. Is it normal to be this bad?

Cheers
Pistol
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
Practice makes perfect ! Just keep riding !
 
Fraid hills are always bad at first. keep in a lower gear than you think you need, so you are pedaling faster and easier and just aim to hold a constant speed. Don't hit the bottom hard and fade...
also aim for easier hills at first - it does help. I'm guessing its a different set of muscles in use that you may not have used before.
seat height also helps and I have found over the years that actually not gripping the handlebars, but physically putting all my fingers out so my palms are resting on the bars actually makes hills easier - think it forces you to concentrate on the legs and not pull the front wheel off the ground, but not sure on the theory, just know what works best for me!
 

Canrider

Guru
It's a different 'set' of muscles to those you use to run, so as said previously, you've just got to work at it. 9% grade is not insane, but it's still going to take some work. If it makes you feel any better, probably the 'biggest' climb of the Tour de France, the Tourmalet, maxes out at about 10% gradient it just goes on for something like 18 kilometres. :smile:
 

Kestevan

Last of the Summer Winos
Location
Holmfirth.
The only way to get better at hills is to keep riding up em.
As a side benefit you also get better at sweating, swearing and breathing through every available orifice.

At some point you may come to actually enjoy the climbs......allegedly :crazy:
 

sidevalve

Über Member
When I came back to riding after too many years off I could NOT believe how hard the hills were. It seemed the world had just turned into one big steep hill in the last twenty or so years and no-one had told me. It still aint easy but it does get better just keep at it. Canrider is right though, the muscles used in running / walking aint the same.
 
OP
P

Pistol

New Member
KOM?

I guess I wasn't expecting it to be so difficult. Living in Baildon next to the West Yorkshire Moors whichever way you turn you've got a punishing start so I haven't got much choice but to improve. Going on a 40 mile ride to Harrogate and back tomorrow, 1 hill of 1 mile at 9.6% and 2 * 7%ers for a mile or so, my knees a quivering already at the thought. I just dont want the humiliation of dismounting and being taken over by a 65 year old women as I walk up.:-(
 

Canrider

Guru
King Of the Mountains. ;)

Have you got a triple chainset? Sneak a 34 cog in at the back and then destroy your mates on the steepest hill you can find..
 
KOM?

I guess I wasn't expecting it to be so difficult. Living in Baildon next to the West Yorkshire Moors whichever way you turn you've got a punishing start so I haven't got much choice but to improve. Going on a 40 mile ride to Harrogate and back tomorrow, 1 hill of 1 mile at 9.6% and 2 * 7%ers for a mile or so, my knees a quivering already at the thought. I just dont want the humiliation of dismounting and being taken over by a 65 year old women as I walk up.:-(
KOM - King of Mountains
and learn to take the humilation if you have to, you don;t want to end up walking like a 65 yr old woman with bad hips and knees...

made the mistake of going through the north york moors on a fully laden touring bike... some nasty little inclines there 25%! could barely push my bike up them, let alone cycle!
 
OP
P

Pistol

New Member
King Of the Mountains. ;)

Have you got a triple chainset? Sneak a 34 cog in at the back and then destroy your mates on the steepest hill you can find..
I have a 50/34 on the front, and 9 gears between 12-25 on the back (apologies if this sounds very layman). What you recommend putting, say a 24 or 26 on the front also? Or is that a bit of a pansy way out?
 

on the road

Über Member
Sounds to me like you're pushing too hard on the hills at the beginning, that could be why you're getting a lactic acid build up.

Clip in pedals do help because you can pull up with one foot while pushing down with the other, so that would give them a slight advantage over you. And you say you're friends are 1.5/2 stone lighter than you, again that would give them a slight advantage because they have less weight to carry up the hill.

But don't avoid the hills, because as they say, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
 
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