General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Tell me how you train for hills when... Rss Feed  
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2013-07-12 3:13 PM

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Ft. Myers, Florida
Subject: Tell me how you train for hills when...
you have no hills on which to train....

I live in a land so flat we're nearly below sea level. I know I could train indoors on a stationary simulating hills but I don't have a trainer and the stationary bikes at the gym aren't the best in world in terms of quality. I know I could crank the gearing to the hardest level and mash it but there has to be other or more effective ways to simulate hills.

Can any other flatlanders give me their perspective on hill training without hills?

And the few bridges and over passes we have to ride on, we've already had 2 people killed while riding their bikes on them. They are trecherous at best and I've already survived getting hit once by a car, I don't want to push my luck.

So how would train for hils when the largest hill around is the speed bump in the parking lot?


2013-07-12 3:17 PM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Deep in the Heart of Texas
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
While not the same, riding into strong headwinds can be helpful at building strength and stamina.
2013-07-12 3:17 PM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Roswell, Georgia
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...

I have to drive to the hills. A 45-min drive gets me some decent rollers, while a 2.5-hour drive gets me to some larger hills. I can't do it every weekend but try to do it at least 2-3x per season. Local tri/bike clubs and BT are great resources for "hidden" routes with hills.

Not sure how far you'd have to drive but might be worth checking into.

2013-07-12 3:36 PM
in reply to: lisac957

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Champion
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, Minnesota
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Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...

I did some strength work over the winter on the trainer, which you could surely do on the road.   Especially if it's flat, you can be more precise.  Here's a sample workout:

Warm Up:
5 minutes easy
10 minutes as 1 up tempo, 1 easy

Main Set:
4 minutes @ 80 rpms easy to steady
3 minutes @ 70 rpms steady to moderate
2 minutes @ 60 rpms moderate to hard
EASY 1 minute after EACH. REPEAT 2x through (24 minutes)
2 minutes steady out of the saddle @ 70 rpms steady, 2 minutes seated easier; repeat 3x through

Cool Down:
4 minutes

2013-07-12 4:15 PM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Master
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Overland Park, KS
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
When you're riding on the flats, do some interval work where you're going all out etc. for 3-5 minutes at a time. x2 on the riding into a headwind idea. It's the the same but if you get stronger in the bike on the flats, the wills be get easier. As flat as it is where you are, when you do have a grade up, that's where you want to hit the gas and do that interval work. We have a lot of 1-2% "hills" around here and that's when I try to maintain my fast "flat" speed during workouts.
2013-07-12 6:49 PM
in reply to: lisac957

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Northern IL
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Originally posted by lisac957

I have to drive to the hills. A 45-min drive gets me some decent rollers, while a 2.5-hour drive gets me to some larger hills. I can't do it every weekend but try to do it at least 2-3x per season. Local tri/bike clubs and BT are great resources for "hidden" routes with hills.

Not sure how far you'd have to drive but might be worth checking into.

About what I have to do to get anything substantial as well. Lots  of small ones locally, but only big enough to mess up your rhythm. The trip can be quite worth it for some new territory and to get some more experience. However, if learn to push yourself hard at times, you'll have plenty of capability for it. The feel of a hill is a bit different than flat ground, but any training development you need to get up it can also be done on flatter ground.



2013-07-12 7:24 PM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Knoxville area
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
it's not about training ON hills. There are guys from Florida who come ride with us (in Knoxville, which is NOT flat at any point) and they do perfectly fine going up. It's descending they have trouble with.

Climbing is all about power/weight ratio, finding your rhythm and not killing yourself the first time it turns steep.

Ride hard, ride more, lose weight. You'll go up a lot faster.
2013-07-12 9:56 PM
in reply to: Leegoocrap

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Master
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University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Originally posted by Leegoocrap

it's not about training ON hills. There are guys from Florida who come ride with us (in Knoxville, which is NOT flat at any point) and they do perfectly fine going up. It's descending they have trouble with.

Climbing is all about power/weight ratio, finding your rhythm and not killing yourself the first time it turns steep.

Ride hard, ride more, lose weight. You'll go up a lot faster.


So very true. I ride 98% on the trainer, so almost never ride up real hills outside races etc. I'm a pretty good climber, simply based on the w/kg. ... But I'm a horrendous descender. I have neither the skill nor the heart for it.
2013-07-12 10:16 PM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Expert
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Hammond
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
We have a couple of multi level parking garages that are usually fairly empty on weekends. It's the best option I have but it helps. One is at the University. There is an occasional car but usually not many.

Shelly

2013-07-13 8:20 AM
in reply to: fitmomma2010

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Regular
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Ocala, FL
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
I was thinking bridges while reading your post. Are there any better bridges in the area with a larger emergency lane? It may be worth the drive.

How long is it for you to drive to Clermont? Probably not a good option for a weekly ride, but it's a great occasional day trip. Best place in FL to ride hills.
2013-07-13 2:11 PM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Ditto what Colin said. I almost never train on hills, except for a few weeks at summer break. There aren't any hills in Saigon except for a few bridges, and I haven't ridden them for over a year since a woman was attacked and nearly killed on one of them. But I am a very strong climber. It's the only thing I do well on a bike. I think it's mostly a matter of power to weight ratio. (I'm about 115 pounds with a great engine and not much else.) If you do power-based workouts on the trainer or stationary, including some work with heavier resistance, it's not necessary to ride actual hills, except to gain experience with the best gearing choices to handle them on your actual bike. (The first time I did a hilly race I struggled because I didn't actually know how the full range of gearing on my bike worked! Stupid but true.) I would just focus on developing power (and losing weight if necessary) and then fit in a few hilly rides before a race to get a feel for the gearing.


2013-07-13 6:35 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
I didn't train for any hills for my HIM and my upcoming IM. I tend to average 18-19 mph on the bike for my long rides (flat bike trail). I just go off of HR and I try to keep it at my upper limit of my zone, if I can (hard recently). The headwinds here are insane though and they definitely take it out of me. Some days just going 13 mph causes me to be at my limit. Anyway though, did a HIM last month (HIM Kansas) and I averaged 18.6 mph. That course is nothing BUT hills. That time also includes me stopping 7 times: 2 from me changing gears stupidly and causing chain to come off and 5 times to adjust my speed sensor from stop hitting my wheel before I just ripped it off and put it in my pocket. So with 0 hill training, I still managed to get my average and stay in my target HR. So I agree you don't have to train on hills all the time if a course has hills. My training plan does have interval training though during the midweek ride and I tend to do those on the trainer and I do think that helped.

Edited by Blastman 2013-07-13 6:35 PM
2013-07-15 7:29 AM
in reply to: Blastman

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Master
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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
I live in an area where I can go out and ride hills anytime but I usually do not. I like riding my trainer because it fits into my schedule better and I feel I get a better workout in then being out on the road and constantly starting and stopping. I have been increasing my bike training alot over the past 3 months and this weekend I went out for a 30 mile ride and tackled a pretty long 8% grade half way into the ride and I felt fine doing it. Just make sure you keep the interval work up and increase your power on those sets and when it comes time to go up a hill, either power through it or put it in granny gear and spin up.
2013-07-15 7:43 AM
in reply to: dmbfan4life20

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University Park, MD
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Originally posted by dmbfan4life20

I live in an area where I can go out and ride hills anytime but I usually do not. I like riding my trainer because it fits into my schedule better and I feel I get a better workout in then being out on the road and constantly starting and stopping. I have been increasing my bike training alot over the past 3 months and this weekend I went out for a 30 mile ride and tackled a pretty long 8% grade half way into the ride and I felt fine doing it. Just make sure you keep the interval work up and increase your power on those sets.


Great progress!
2013-07-15 8:00 AM
in reply to: colinphillips

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Memphis, TN
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Check out craigslist for a used indoor trainer. I got one half off and the guy used it only 3 times and realized he hated riding inside. I live in Memphis so training for serious hills is hard too. We have some rollers but that's about it around here.
2013-07-15 9:50 AM
in reply to: colinphillips

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Master
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Crab Cake City
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Originally posted by colinphillips

Originally posted by dmbfan4life20

I live in an area where I can go out and ride hills anytime but I usually do not. I like riding my trainer because it fits into my schedule better and I feel I get a better workout in then being out on the road and constantly starting and stopping. I have been increasing my bike training alot over the past 3 months and this weekend I went out for a 30 mile ride and tackled a pretty long 8% grade half way into the ride and I felt fine doing it. Just make sure you keep the interval work up and increase your power on those sets.


Great progress!


Thanks Colin


2013-07-15 10:20 AM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Connecticut
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Hills have two components, approached differently.
*On the way up*
1) Course homework: You should know where the hills are, how long they are, a good idea of the grade, and if all possible, scouted on the bike, at least the car. If you can't scout, go with strava reports for a better idea of what to expect. Psychologically, there should be NO surprises before you arrive at the climb on you bike come race day.
2) Momentum - simply put, have some. If you're coming off a flat, that does not mean push harder before you get there, it means maintain cadence and speed until you do.
3) Gearing - drop into your small ring up front and maintain your cadence until you begin to drop speed. Shift through to maintain your cadence constant.
4) Power - part 1 of where training makes all the difference going up. Look, no BS, this is gonna hurt. If you get down into your granny gear and your cadence starts to fall off, you're in trouble. It's going to burn. The BEST way to make it up a climb is spinning at a held cadence. If you can't you have two options - one, your cadence drops and you stay seated and mash up the hill best you can, or two, go UP to a bigger gear, stand up and start pounding. The best climbers do both - spinning and mashing - varying what's being used and how much. What helps? Not being heavy, having strong, trained legs, not rocking back and forth\maintaining posture, having a high VO2Max, and a high tolerance for lactic acid. Those things you can control and train for regardless of whether you have hills near you at home or not. If you have trained effectively with power (different subject), then the only variable of being on an actual hill that will be 'new' is the gearing.
5) Strategy - at the top of the hill as it starts to level, a novice climber will stay in the same gear, decrease cadence, breathe a sigh of relief, and let the acid burn off for a few seconds. Then, after they feel 'better', they'll re-engage, gear up, and start riding again. Not the best strategy. Start gearing up as the hill levels, so you're back in the big ring where you need to be once you crest.

*On the way down*
You might have climbed to a plateau, but eventually you're going to go down. Unfortunately this is where those that can only train on flats are going to get dusted. If you've never pushed your bike up near 50 mph in the drops or in aero, there's really nothing I can suggest. It's exhilarating, and if you're one of the lucky few, the most fun you can have with clothes on. However, most people find it to be one of the scariest things in the world.
A few obvious points:
1) A bike handles differently at high speeds. Your handlebars are of no use at high speed. Turn them and you'll fly. However, in no way am I saying to lock your body. Quite the contrary - you need to be loose and relaxed. Just don't try to steer with your arms or hands. Steering at high speeds is done leading with the head, and leaning with the body.
2) If it's straight and the pavement is good, you don't need brakes.
3) If it's straight and the pavement is bad and you are able pick a line on a rolling basis 50 yards ahead that avoids the potholes, you don't need brakes.
4) If you can't avoid potholes or can't see a line 50 yards in front you, you need brakes.
5) Braking power comes from the front brake. If this scares you or is new information, you need to practice using just the front brake. Do NOT grab the front brake full strength at full speed or you will fly. The term used is 'feathering the brakes', best described as using a light touch and feeling the brake against the track.
6) Pedal until you spin out. The goal is to go fast, and pedaling makes you go faster. Don't just tuck and go, take advantage of the descent until you can't anymore. As it levels out, start pedaling again and keep that well earned momentum.

I can't give you any pointers on fear, I personally don't experience it on the bike. Try to relax, look down the road, think of it like being in a windy car I sometimes even sing songs to myself, it's like the zen point of the ride.
2013-07-15 12:34 PM
in reply to: fisherman76

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Veteran
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Colorful Colorado
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Originally posted by fisherman76

Hills have two components, approached differently.
*On the way up*
1) Course homework: You should know where the hills are, how long they are, a good idea of the grade, and if all possible, scouted on the bike, at least the car. If you can't scout, go with strava reports for a better idea of what to expect. Psychologically, there should be NO surprises before you arrive at the climb on you bike come race day.
2) Momentum - simply put, have some. If you're coming off a flat, that does not mean push harder before you get there, it means maintain cadence and speed until you do.
3) Gearing - drop into your small ring up front and maintain your cadence until you begin to drop speed. Shift through to maintain your cadence constant.
4) Power - part 1 of where training makes all the difference going up. Look, no BS, this is gonna hurt. If you get down into your granny gear and your cadence starts to fall off, you're in trouble. It's going to burn. The BEST way to make it up a climb is spinning at a held cadence. If you can't you have two options - one, your cadence drops and you stay seated and mash up the hill best you can, or two, go UP to a bigger gear, stand up and start pounding. The best climbers do both - spinning and mashing - varying what's being used and how much. What helps? Not being heavy, having strong, trained legs, not rocking back and forth\maintaining posture, having a high VO2Max, and a high tolerance for lactic acid. Those things you can control and train for regardless of whether you have hills near you at home or not. If you have trained effectively with power (different subject), then the only variable of being on an actual hill that will be 'new' is the gearing.
5) Strategy - at the top of the hill as it starts to level, a novice climber will stay in the same gear, decrease cadence, breathe a sigh of relief, and let the acid burn off for a few seconds. Then, after they feel 'better', they'll re-engage, gear up, and start riding again. Not the best strategy. Start gearing up as the hill levels, so you're back in the big ring where you need to be once you crest.

*On the way down*
You might have climbed to a plateau, but eventually you're going to go down. Unfortunately this is where those that can only train on flats are going to get dusted. If you've never pushed your bike up near 50 mph in the drops or in aero, there's really nothing I can suggest. It's exhilarating, and if you're one of the lucky few, the most fun you can have with clothes on. However, most people find it to be one of the scariest things in the world.
A few obvious points:
1) A bike handles differently at high speeds. Your handlebars are of no use at high speed. Turn them and you'll fly. However, in no way am I saying to lock your body. Quite the contrary - you need to be loose and relaxed. Just don't try to steer with your arms or hands. Steering at high speeds is done leading with the head, and leaning with the body.
2) If it's straight and the pavement is good, you don't need brakes.
3) If it's straight and the pavement is bad and you are able pick a line on a rolling basis 50 yards ahead that avoids the potholes, you don't need brakes.
4) If you can't avoid potholes or can't see a line 50 yards in front you, you need brakes.
5) Braking power comes from the front brake. If this scares you or is new information, you need to practice using just the front brake. Do NOT grab the front brake full strength at full speed or you will fly. The term used is 'feathering the brakes', best described as using a light touch and feeling the brake against the track.
6) Pedal until you spin out. The goal is to go fast, and pedaling makes you go faster. Don't just tuck and go, take advantage of the descent until you can't anymore. As it levels out, start pedaling again and keep that well earned momentum.

I can't give you any pointers on fear, I personally don't experience it on the bike. Try to relax, look down the road, think of it like being in a windy car I sometimes even sing songs to myself, it's like the zen point of the ride.



Excellent summary. Just to add a few fast descent tips:

-- Always look where you want to go. Never look where you dont want to go. This means on a curve, continue to look ahead on the road, not at the guardrail, trees, etc.

-- On a fast turn, put LOTS of weight on the outside pedal (which will be in the down position). Lean the bike hard, but you dont need to necessarily lean your whole body. In fact, you can connect your turns quicker if you dont lean too much with your body.

-- If you need to brake hard, shift your weight back first, and use your arm strength to resist your body going forward over the handlebars as you brake.

-- Grin like an idiot.
2013-07-16 10:26 AM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Master
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Rural Ontario
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
Some good responses already.
I'll throw in one more - Cyclocross.
Both racing and riding the bike.
I ride my CX bike with 35mm tires on dirt trails and green pastures, up & down embankments and every small hill. Its not quite a sustained effort like a major hill climb but it does get the legs used to generating power.
CX races are the most fun you can have on a bike with your clothes on. Again, the power required to zip up muddy, grassy hills and embankments is a proxy for road bike / TT bike hills (or at leadt rollers).





2013-07-16 10:59 AM
in reply to: cafenervosa

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Extreme Veteran
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Lakeland
Subject: RE: Tell me how you train for hills when...
If you can and it would be any easy drive up 75 to San Antonio north of Tampa(about 40 min). Plenty of good quality hill work to do and its a nice area to ride on the weekends. Lots of cyclists on the weekends. Make sure you find a map of the rides.
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