The Grind Climb Blues

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    • #80979

      I’ve done two races now, and found that my problem is the same: the long, grind climb on dirt roads (I hate riding on dirt roads 😼 ). Power climbs and downhill have not been a problem…yet. However, the long grindy climb really eats my lunch. I’ve ridden dozens of 20-30 mile mountain bike rides, but I can’t seem to train the grind climb blues out of myself. Suggestions?

    • #80980

      I suppose I’m almost your diametrical opposite then. I get my rear handed to me on the downhill and, oddly enough, do really well on the extended climb (and on the power climbs). Of course, the fact that I’m riding with no suspension right now may play a part in my downhill ineptitude.

      I think it’s largely a function of aerobic/anaerobic fitness combined with a powerful bike fit and smart use of gearing. I see a lot of folks trying to grind their way through these climbs, and they’re blown before they even hit the singletrack. Choose the right gears—make sure you aren’t mashing—and hunker down for the long haul. Take the climb in small bites. It shouldn’t feel anything like weightlifting or "grinding." Save your explosiveness for the power climbs—you’ll need it there.

    • #80981

      Two suggestions.

      1. find a long up hill fire road, ride up, ride down, ride up ride down, ride up ride down…….. try to do it in a higher gear.

      2. Stationary bike with lots of "gear" on it.

      Doesn’t sound fun but it should make you a better climber.

    • #80982
      "markgowan" wrote

      Power climbs and downhill have not been a problem…yet. However, the long grindy climb really eats my lunch.

      Just did a race this past weekend, and, sure enough, gained most of my time on the uphill sections.

      Some additional thoughts for you:

      1. Are you hauling more gear than you need to? A lot of guys I passed at the race this past weekend had fully loaded, high-storage-capacity Camelbaks on. I rode with a water bottle, no spare tire, nuthin’.

      2. Are you riding at or above your limit the whole time? This goes back to my last comment a bit, but even though you’ll have to cough up the occasional super-human burst of power, you should be riding most of the climb a little lower than your absolute maximum. You should have a little juice in the tank for quick, explosive moments (like when you have to outsprint the other guy going into the singletrack).

    • #80983

      Make sure you downshift to an appropriate gear. 95% of riders try to push too high of a gear on long climbs. You should be able to maintain the same pedal speed/cadence as you do on the flats. If your pedals are slowing you are in too high of a gear. The reason most people don’t downshift enough is: that until they are in the proper physical condition, they have to downshift to some of the easiest gears to maintain the cadence, which results in slower speeds. Most people want the instant results and push higher gears…but that just burns the riders and doesn’t actually result in being a better climber.

      If that doesn’t help then I have no idea 😉

    • #80984

      On long climbs, do you guys sit down and pedal in a low gear, or stand up with a higher gear?

    • #80985
      On long climbs, do you guys sit down and pedal in a low gear, or stand up with a higher gear?

      Once in awhile you’ll need to stand to get yourself over a hump or two but standing while your on a long climb will ZAP your energy reserves in the blink of an eye and turn your legs into useless stubs,hahahahaah.I might be the extreme example because I’m the 300 plb. clydesdale,but I think everyone will agree that standing up and pedaling is not compatible while on long climbs.
      I use to ride bmx as a kid and rode standing up about 95% of the time,so somtimes I get to thinking that I can ride standing up anytime.NOT THE SAME ON A MTN BIKE. 😮On the other hand,being in good condition to be able to stand up and pedal as much as you can is never a bad thing.By all means,do it,you just dont want to get carried away with it past your conditioning abilities.

    • #80986
      "chris1911" wrote

      On long climbs, do you guys sit down and pedal in a low gear, or stand up with a higher gear?

      you are more efficient seated, (according to Ned Overend 😼) so especially when climbing, i am almost always seated, unless i need to surge for an obstacle. but given we’re talking about dirt roads, heck yes i’m seated. like most of the people said, don’t ride your guts out on the climbs, go below your max so you can push hard over the top and down the other side, where it really counts (some more Ned Overend advice). i personally am a fast descender (that’s why i mountainbike) so this formula works for me. but then again, i also don’t race… just helps me be more efficient and last longer on those epic rides.

    • #80987

      I have been sitting down for the long climbs, but i stand up for short, steep ones.

    • #80988

      I am on the saddle most of the time. Also I am fairly low/close to the handle bars. I was once told (or maybe read) that it helps you to expand your lungs more. I prefer bar ends and climbs this (to me at least) come in handy. When the trail surface is loose gravel/dirt/sand I tend to pull the handle bars down toward the back wheel. This will help you maintain traction.

      When I do stand on climbs I switch to a higher gear before my surge.

      I really enjoy the challenge of a good climb. Does this make me nuts?

    • #80989
      "ChiliPepper" wrote

      As long as your mind set will be set on "I hate riding on dirt roads 😼", you will always have an issue with the grind climb on dirt roads. Your mind can be your worst enemy if you let it bro. Some real good advise given here. 😃

      Very true. A couple of weeks ago, I was spent and the very last section of the trail back to my truck is a doozy of an uphill when you are tired. Not technical at all, but it works tired legs real good. I had all but given up before I even got there and had convinced myself that I was going to have to walk it. Then my buddy started pushing me and that was all that I needed. I gritted my teeth, stared at the ground below, and just kept pedaling until I reached the top. Don’t let your head tell your body that it can’t be done!

      Another poster commented on taking it in small pieces. I also agree with this. On long non-technical climbs, it is easy to focus on the top of the hill. I never look toward the end. I look right out in front of me so I am not focused on how far away the end really is.

    • #80990
      "ChiliPepper" wrote

      Check this posting out, it will help anyone out with the climbing blues:

      Nice ChiliPepper. I forwarded the Climbing the Walls section to a buddy of mine. We were facing that challenge on a couple of sections just last night.

    • #80991

      Thanks for all the comments. I just finished my 3rd race: 24 miles, 11,000 ft and two flat tires later, I’m starting to get an idea of what I need to do.

      1. I have a single 32 ring up front, and am changing that to a triple (for the granny mostly). I can’t keep a good cadence up long hills.

      2. I need to eat more during long rides/races, and eat right days before the race.

      3. I need to do more base-mile training (zone 2).

      4. Stop ‘hatin’ and start ridin’

      These are some of the things I see popping up in articles that I’ve read concerning some of the problems I’m running into.
      I’ll check out the link to this topic too! Thnx.
      m 😃 😃 😃

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