Hill Climbing: how do you gauge your max effort?

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ScottGoBlue
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:38 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA

by ScottGoBlue

I regularly ride a pretty good climb near my home: 14 miles 5-6% grade (nearly 4000 ft). The last time I rode it, my buddy looked at me and said, "I'm dying near the top, but you're able to talk and carry on like you're doing fine." He thinks I can step it up.

My problem is, I really don't know "how much" I can push it. On a long climb like that, I guess I'm afraid of bonking too early. I have no idea how much harder I can go and sustain.

I don't have a HR monitor or power-meter. I have a Garmin 500, however, so a HR monitor is an option. Do I need to use a HR monitor? Or is there another way to do this using perceived exertion?

Scott

by Weenie


denzity
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Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:01 pm

by denzity

At the bare minimum I'd suggest getting a HR monitor. You can gradually ramp up your perceived exertion as you climb the hill until your HR comes up to around 85% of max (or whatever your threshold is). That'll be close to max level you could climb it at.

teddysaur
Posts: 119
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 4:28 am

by teddysaur

I know I'm maxing out by listening to my breathing. I'll be near out of breath and will not be long before I give up to the pain.

HillRPete
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by HillRPete

Learn to feel it -- even if that probably involves going too hard a few times. Any I mean not just on that one climb, knowing how hard you can go will help your riding in general. A training regime I found very helpful for that is the 2x20min, regardless of uphill or flat. (There's lots of information how to do that around).

Personally I don't find a HRM very helpful for (near) max efforts (and I don't have a PM either). But supposedly you have a speedometer, so what you could do is step it up like 1-2kph in each section gradually, until, well, your body will tell you ...

Or even simpler, just run the next harder cog than you usually do (in each section), and try to maintain your original cadence. Have fun pushing your limit!

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theremery
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by theremery

Incredulous that it didn't kill you and you wanted to cry and get off your bike for 20 mins is probably pretty close. best cheap method = get a heartrate monitor and use it for a LOT of rides. Your highest HRs will be attained when you are rested but not overly fit yet "really going nuts".....you need to moderate that quite a lot to survive your climb so it takes practice and observation to know where you'll sit. It will not be any where near good enough to use roughs like 220-your age X 85%....as people vary far too much. e.g. I'm 47 years old but regularly climb at 185BPM for more than 20mins continuous. In theory, that shouldn't be possible/sensible but it's just how I'm built.
Updated: Racing again! Thought this was unlikely! Eventually, I may even have a decent race!
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konky
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by konky

If it's a particular climb so a finite distance and gradiant, time/speed is a good way to moderate and improve performance. Work out average speed to achieve your best time up a particular climb. Stay with that average speed all the way up. Try to increase speed in a sustained way to build your max effort. I.e. go from 15mph to 16mph up the complete climb.

Some bits of the climb will be steeper and harder to maintain a particular speed and therefore some will be easier. Still try and maintain the same speed. This will help to raise your threshold at some points and give a measure of rest in others. Small rest is required to make an average best and ultimately help you improve.

WinSuits
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 1:15 pm

by WinSuits

ScottGoBlue wrote:I regularly ride a pretty good climb near my home: 14 miles 5-6% grade (nearly 4000 ft). The last time I rode it, my buddy looked at me and said, "I'm dying near the top, but you're able to talk and carry on like you're doing fine." He thinks I can step it up.

My problem is, I really don't know "how much" I can push it. On a long climb like that, I guess I'm afraid of bonking too early. I have no idea how much harder I can go and sustain.

I don't have a HR monitor or power-meter. I have a Garmin 500, however, so a HR monitor is an option. Do I need to use a HR monitor? Or is there another way to do this using perceived exertion?

Scott


RPE scales are too subjective. You need a HR monitor b/c some days that feel hard are too easy and some days that feel easy are too hard.

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Rick
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Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:30 pm

by Rick

Basically, I am pretty close to absolutely red-lined on every climb.
I judge it by if I start to lose my ability to focus my eyes, get tunnel vision, and start weaving all over the road. Then, I know I have to back off a little for safety concerns. :oops:

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Frankie - B
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by Frankie - B

LOL, that's not training, that's racing!
'Tape was made to wrap your GF's gifts, NOT hold a freakin tire on.'

tcurtbike
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by tcurtbike

Why don't you just gun it and see how far you can get? I had a nice hill near my old place that I would do repeats on, once in a while I'd just go all out and see how far I could get. Pretty unscientific, but it was a good indicator of how much I had improved since my last attempt :lol:

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MattSoutherden
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by MattSoutherden

I think the 'just gun it' approach on a 14 mile climb may not be ideal.

Without a power meter, a good way to learn to gauge your efforts might be to start picking some landmarks every km or so up the climb and watch your time splits.

If the gradient varies a lot it might not help you km to km, but it would give you a good cross-reference to previous attempts. e.g. you might go 2 mins faster over the first split, but then start dropping time after that.

Just like a TT, the hard part is learning how to settle in to FTP pace at the start of an effort, and not over-reaching.
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kulivontot
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by kulivontot

Find another climbing partner who's stronger than you. You'll find your max effort real quick

CerveloBert
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Location: Los Angeles, CA

by CerveloBert

I just count my splits and look at my heart rate according to how fast I've done those splits. I typically choose landmarks on long climbs like street signs or crossing streets to govern my split distance. I also find that with increased air temperature, my HR will shoot up as well so that could be an inconsistent measurement for you (especially around where I live in Los Angeles you get one day at 70 degrees then the next would be 95)

14 Miles is a long climb. I do not recommend that "gun it" mentality as I think you might have a difficult time finishing the climb.

ScottGoBlue
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:38 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA

by ScottGoBlue

Thanks everyone for the feedback.

I have recently been hitting all of my hills in a larger cog, to start. Some of the steepest ascents, in which I typically used my 34/28 combination, I've been doing in 34/25 ... and I've been surprised so far that I've been able to make it up just fine. My speed, however, has been about the same to date.

I now have a HR monitor too, which I will start using. I will probably start training that climb using my higher gearing and pushing my HR up higher.

I'd been using RPE for so long ... but I'm finding that I've been able to surprise myself recently. Hopefully this will help me push it in a controlled manner.

As far as "just gunning it" ... I tend to lean on the conservative side. I'll probably creep up to higher effort ... that tends to be my style. :D

Scott

CerveloBert
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Location: Los Angeles, CA

by CerveloBert

I went through the same surprises you're probably going through right now. Once you get hard metrics into your training plan, then you'll never go back.

by Weenie


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