Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Karyn's Climbing Tips

With Karyn's permission, I'm posting her climbing tips from our group ride last week:

1. Climbing is a power-to-weight activity; World class climbers generally have less than 2 pounds of body weight per inch of height.
2. Stay seated as much as possible; While standing you use 10 to 12% more energy as you work your arm and back muscles. While sitting you burn less energy and your heart rate is approximately 8% lower for any set speed. Sitting uses your bigger gluteal (butt) and hip muscles to your advantage
3. Push your butt back on the saddle; When you slide back on your seat, you gain a leverage advantage on the pedals. The only time you would want to slide forward is for a short sprint on a small rise.
4. Standing while climbing; If you must stand, remember to power into BOTH the down and up strokes - 12 to 5 o'clock on the down stroke and 7 to 10 o'clock on the upstroke. Don't lean too far forward, you will lose power.
5. Keep your upper body still and quiet; the bike should rock under you (try pulling up on the handlebar opposite of the leg on a down stroke). Too much movement wastes energy. Keep your shoulders back and "open". If not, you are constricting your chest and cannot breathe efficiently.
6. Find your rhythm; Climbing should always be done in your comfort zone. Ride at your own pace and know your limits; listen to your body. Ride your pace instead of trying to keep up with better climbers on the lower slopes, then reaching your limits and losing big hunks of time. If you're nearing your red line on that hill, slow slightly, breathe deeply and continue at a speed within your ability. Gear down before the hill. The goal is to avoid producing large quantities of lactic acid and then pedaling through the pain. You want a sustainable rhythm. Try to keep your cadence above 70 -- any slower puts excess stress on your knees. The optimum spin rates for efficient pedaling are somewhere between 70 and 80. Try to find the cadence that would let you "climb all day". You are pushing too hard if you: (a) can't keep a smooth pedal stroke or (b) are panting or breathing irregularly
7. Breathing; If you start to breathe irregularly, take a deep breath and hold it for a few pedal strokes. Try synchronizing your breathing with your pedal stroke - start by taking a breath every time one foot (your right one for example) reaches the bottom of a stroke. Then try 1 1/2, and finally every two strokes. You will actually deliver more oxygen to your system with a
controlled rate than an irregular panting or gasping one.
8. Hand Position; A wide grip on the top of the handlebar reduces breathing restriction. Drop your elbows and relax your upper body.
9. You have to climb to get better at climbing; After you've developed a good strength base in the weight room, the absolutely best way to improve climbing is to get back on the bike in the Spring and work on climbing. Find some rolling hills and use them like intervals with short bursts of climbing followed by spinning on the flats. Start with hills that take about 15 seconds to climb at a cadence of 90 rpm. Once you have your season base, you might add climbs of 10-15 minutes in a bigger gear that you can maintain easily at 70 rpm - but not if you have a history of knee problems.
10. Power to Weight Ratio; We all know that lighter riders climb faster that heavy ones. So remember to watch the weight - both your own and the weight you are carrying on the bike.
11. Group Riding; Weaker climbers in a group should move near the front of the group near the start of the climb and allow others to pass as the climb continues. This way, you will be near the back at the top but won't get dropped and have to fight back to close with the group.

Hope this helps! Keep practicing and find what works best for you!

Be safe!



nancytoby said...

That's an outstanding set of recommendations - very, very helpful! Thank you! Now to go practice....

Comm's said...

scribble, scribble, scribble.
Another piece of the puzzle comes into view.

soccerdad said...

HEE HEE! i read #1 and i was DONE! 2lbs per inch? yeah, like whatever!
good info, though...

Flatman said...

So, I should weigh 140, huh?

There goes eating for a, I am a long way from that and I don't think my wife would like me if I got down anywhere near that low!

Vertical Man said...

I don't think Karyn's point is that we all ought to weight 140 or thereabouts. Rather, those who weigh more are disadvantaged in certain ways and need to make it up in other ways.

Flabbyironman said...

The best climbers in the world look like pre-pubescent adolescents... one reason why I will never be an amazing climber (that and the fact that I look more like a linebacker)

Good advice though. I can definitely agree that the seated climbing is better. I very rarely climb out of the saddle anymore except to sometimes stretch my legs out.

If you want to practice your climbing, come out here and I'll show you where Chris Carmichael lives. Now THAT'S some nasty climbing