Exercise! - Cyclists out there....

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05-09-2006, 05:01 PM
Hi all! My main form of exercise right now is bicycling and I'm LOVING it! I have a question though....something I read the other day made me wonder, not to mention another cyclist I came to on the road the other day.

There are hills on the roads that I take...not huge hills, but hills that GO ON FOREVER....lol. I usually power up those hills in high gear. Meaning I stand up and push hard...I know I'm using my weight mostly, but my legs still hurt and I'm still huffing and puffing once I get up. Is this the correct way to be doing this?

I get mad when I go to lower gears and go forever and ever to get up the hills. I'll come almost to a standstill and it just discourages me.

A dude on a road bike passed me the other day, coming up on a hill and it looked like he went up that hill so effortlessly without changing his pedaling speed at all! Now I realize that he's probably been doing this alot longer than me...hehe...specially considering he was all jazzed up in bike riding apparel...but this is a good sized hill, it should have at least made him break his stride a lil!

Or maybe I just wanted to see him break his stride...hehe...I was thinking 'that narrow lil behind, probably the reason he can keep going so fast'...lol.

Thanks for any answers!

bone idle
05-10-2006, 12:21 PM
Thats the way i tackle hills too! Its an amazing workout for your thighs.
The other guy probably speeds up because he's super fit, being doing that hill for years and has a very expensive racing bike with super thin speeding tyres!

05-10-2006, 12:29 PM
Bone, hi! Thanks for answering! Yes, he had those thin racing tirers...hmmm...maybe I should be upgrading my bike? Naw...my daughter's wanting to do trails.

It is a great workout for the thighs isn't it? I absolutely love that feeling you get in your legs when riding a bike! I think it's helped my butt too...hehe.

Ah well...I'll keep powering up till I hear differently! Thanks for answering and happy riding!


Only Me
05-10-2006, 01:09 PM
I think it's considered best/most efficient to cycle at 180rpm (or is that 90?). At any rate, I think the ideal would be to change gears such that your pedalling speed remained pretty much the same when going up/down hill. Obviously, your speed will change.

A better bike makes a huge difference. Just changing to a bike with more gears (some were broken on his old bike) changed the time it took dh to get to work from 22 to 18. And this was just with another cheap bike with huge tires. A racing bike with skinny tires will move much faster for the same effort.

05-10-2006, 01:10 PM
Hi Kim,

I've been doing triathlon for a couple of years, so spend a lot of time on my bike.

There is more than one way to get over a hill, and advantages and disadvantages to each. What you are describing is known as 'grinding' and it can be bad for the knees, and just harder overall. But it is also the type of workout that cyclists uses as a kind of strength training workout. The other way to go is to 'spin', that is use a small gear and pedal quickly (high cadence). Most cyclist and coaches would recommend that you go closer to spinning than to grinding whenever possible, with pedal rotations per minute of 60 or more (your left foot should go down at least once per second). Personally, I feel like I paid a lot of money for the gears might as well use them, and it lets me go a lot farther if I don't burn up my legs.

But hey, if you are getting over the hills, your knees are holding up, and you are enjoying it more, then good for you! You probably have awesome quads.

FWIW here is Bicycling Magazine's advice on climbing.

Happy riding.


05-10-2006, 01:13 PM
Ideally you want to keep your pedaling at 60-90 rotations per minute, that's at least once around per second. I power up hills a bit, but usually shift down a gear or two.

I have big heavy hybrid. I've thought about getting a fancier lighter bike (especially when I have to use the upper tier storage at the place downtown I store my bike at night) but then I remember that I'm doing this mostly for the *exercise* why make it easier on me? :lol:

05-10-2006, 02:28 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies! I was beginning to wonder if it was a silly question...hehe.

Ya know, maybe today ( no rain YAY!!) I'll give both ways a go and see if there's a difference in my 'spinning' performance! With 2 weeks more fitness behind me, maybe it won't make me quite as mad...lol.

I do REALLY enjoy powering my way up a hill..makes me feel stronger...lol. I've noticed that the more hills I go up during a ride, the easier they get.

Anne, thanks so much for that link! It was interesting and I found that I use the last method for any hills...lol. Triathalons? Wow! I've never given riding much thought, but since hubby showed up with a pair of mountain bikes for us about a month ago, I've really, REALLY enjoyed riding and have given a few passing thoughts to doing something like that, but I'm sure it'll take me forever to get to that level.

Tani, I understand about the storage thing...too well! We keep our bikes in our shed, and we have to manuever them a good bit to make em fit, but I have noticed that they seem a bit lighter once in awhile!


05-10-2006, 06:40 PM
I BEAT THOSE HILLS!!!!! :carrot: I ran out for a quick ride today between when hubby got home from work and when my oldest had to be at karate practice (I have to bike when I can, I have a 3yf old and I'm not confident enough to put her in the kid bike seat..lol)...I knew I had an hour to ride...

First hill I did my normal brute force approach. On the second one...I figured I'd try out what I read in that link, geared down to 3rd gear and pedaled my heart out...lol. I didn't slow down as much as I was afraid of and I felt that amazing buuuuurn!!!!

I purposely didn't take my iPod today so that I could focus on how often I was turning the pedals, and I think I'm in the right range! I added some distance to my normal ride and even took a side road JUST to go up a hill that I hadn't been able to do before, made it, turned back around and kept going my normal route!

40 minute ride. Not as long as I'd have liked, but I worked up a slight sweat, even with the cold wind!!

I'm so excited that I don't have to throw my weight into getting up all my hills! LOL. Thanks everyone for the advice! It all really helped!

Kim :bike2:

05-10-2006, 11:30 PM
WOO HOO! Good for you Kim.

One thing you said really caught my attention--be VERY careful biking on roads with that iPod! You lose one of the main ways of observing traffic with it on, and all it takes is one inattentive motorist (and I think we've all been that motorist at one time or another). I've had too many close calls, and know so many people who've been hit.


05-11-2006, 01:30 AM

that's a great warning! I warn my hubby of the same thing! I do wear mine low enough that I can hear traffic behind me, horns, and all that. I don't have it blasting like I do at home on the elliptical, or even walking! Now hubby can come back from a ride and I can hear the music while the headset is on his ears...not a good thing! I fuss about that. Thank you very much for the warning!

I'm a worry wart about riding on the roads...I stick to sidewalks when it's possible.

Thanks for the cheering on!


05-22-2006, 01:35 PM
I have been riding on a bike trail that runs for miles by a river in my city. I can't believe the improvement in my health! I feel much more energetic even with only doing it once a week. I started out riding about 3 miles out and then felt just horrible on the way in. That was about 2 months ago. Yesterday I did a total of 15 miles, an hour and a half, and felt somewhat winded at the end but great! During the week I usually use my elliptical machine since I get home from work close to dark, and I think using the two has really improved the muscles in my legs, I could swear I even have less cellulite (could just be wishful thinking though). I was wondering if anybody khows if it is better to ride faster in a shorter time or if its better to pace yourself and go longer? I'm riding to improve my health and to lose weight.

05-22-2006, 06:04 PM
Don't quote me on this Caroline, but I've read that it's best for general health reasons to ride a nice, steady pace for a longer period than fast for short intervals. I've been reading cycling forums and they all seem to do days of both...in preparing for long rides, like the 100 mile rides and stuff.

With the longer, steady paced rides you burn more calories than the faster ones that don't last as long. I tend to do a bit of both on a ride...I'm not sure how that works out for general health, but I have found that my riding endurance is improving!