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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Twin Cities, Minnesota
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    486

    Starting Up that Steep Hill

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    there is a very steep hill I have tried to climb several times. I won't even bother to say how far I get up before I walk. Just know it isn't much.

    How do you start climbing a hill from its base? There is no way you can make a riding start on this hill. There is a four stop at the bottom of the hill and you have to obey it. The hill elevates approximately 35 feet in a tiny bit over .06 mile.
    kajero
    2013 Trek FX 7.6 WSD
    2012 Specialized Ruby WSD
    2004 Schwinn (I think that is the year)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    4,632
    Is the stop directly at the bottom of the hill?

    Shift down a couple gears when you stop, more than you would normally when you stop. You'll have an easier time of it. However, much of it is just fitness and practice. Keep trying!
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    I would shift to my lowest gear as a I approach the stop. I have to pedal a low cadence on steep hills to prevent an asthma attack -- it keeps my heart and lungs from being overwhelmed. It also means I may go as slowly as 3 mph, but I just keep pedaling until I reach the top.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,227
    Since you’re starting the hill from a stop try your gears to see which one starts you up the hill comfortably. You may even need to start in a harder gear as you practice riding the hill more.

    I find a constant effort works best for my climbing which means knowing my shifting patterns and more importantly when to shift. I’ll relax my pedal stroke for a brief moment and shift just before I have to to keep my effort constant. That just takes practice in getting to know the timing. It’s also one aspect of bicycling that I enjoy…..that bicycle/body/mind interaction can give me a perfect climb with smooth shifts done at the right moment. I got that connection back this year for the first time in a few years with all the climbing I’ve done.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Oslo, Norway
    Posts
    4,066
    Your lowest gear, and work on pedalling as slowly as possible without falling over :-) It's easier (and safer!) to practice without traffic around. It's amazing how slowly you can pedal without stopping, once you have some practice, but you need to think about balance. And don't forget to sit up and breathe.
    Winter riding is much less about badassery and much more about bundle-uppery. - malkin

    1995 Kona Cinder Cone commuterFrankenbike/Selle Italia SLR Lady Gel Flow
    2008 white Nakamura Summit Custom mtb/Terry Falcon X
    2000 Schwinn Fastback Comp road bike/Specialized Jett

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    I would want to know two things before answering.

    First, do you have good solid footing at the stop sign ... i.e., do you have to stop on a steep crown, or does the climb not start until after you've crossed the other road?

    Starting on a steep crown or hill ... I hate that. It's super, super dangerous, especially if the cross road is busy and/or sight lines on the cross road are short. And super especially when it's wet or icy. To the point that I would contact the county engineer and explain the danger to two-wheeled folks (not just bicyclists, but motorcyclists too. And I would have to think it would be pretty dangerous for Amish too - although they aren't in danger of tipping over, which is the greatest danger to two-wheeled vehicles, horseshoes don't exactly have the best traction, horses and harnesses are long so that the driver is well back from the intersection and may not be able to see well, and the buggy and occupants are just dead weight behind ...).

    Honestly, what I usually do in that situation is pull slightly past the stop sign before stopping, with my bike turned toward the right as much as possible, to give me better footing and a flatter surface to start from. Then I turn right onto the cross road so I can get some momentum going, then make a U-turn when it's safe. (Or, and you didn't hear me say this, if sight lines are long and there's no cross traffic, I will just slow down enough to see clearly, and then blow the stop sign. To me that's way safer than tipping over, or taking a very long time to get momentum going, and then being immobile in the path of the next vehicle that *does* come along.)

    Second, assuming you have a safe start, does the hill flatten out after that initial bump? I don't mean is it the top of the hill, I mean does it become less steep for a while before resuming the climb? The way you specify the initial distance and elevation gain suggests that that's the case.

    In that situation, I would actually NOT shift down as much as the others suggest. I would not get into the saddle at all after starting from the stop sign, but stay standing all the way to the top of the bump. (Maybe that's still your low gear, which is cool.) Then when you've climbed that initial bump, you can get back into the saddle, downshift if necessary/available, and spin the rest of the way up.

    But if it stays too steep for you to climb in the saddle with your current gearing, past that initial bump, then I would tend to agree with the others ... downshift before you stop, increase your cadence and downshift again as you start the climb, if you still have more gears available continue to downshift whenever your cadence drops, and then just power up as far as you can - you should get farther up as your conditioning improves, until eventually you can get to the top.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 10-16-2013 at 04:33 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,394
    I would approach it the way NY Biker does, except I might be in my 3d lowest or 2nd lowest cog, to give me some "escape" down to the very lowest. It might be just the perception in my mind, but, if I know I have at least one more gear, it helps. And, steady, even round circles on the pedals, as I settle into a steady cadence, even at a low speed. While I don't have issues with my lungs while climbing, I usually climb these types of grades as slowly as I can... especially if they are in the middle of a long hard ride.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura
    2017 Specialized Ariel Sport

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Posts
    486
    Time for honesty . . . Even when starting in my lowest gear I only make it up that hill about 10-12 feet! It just seems so impossibly steep!
    kajero
    2013 Trek FX 7.6 WSD
    2012 Specialized Ruby WSD
    2004 Schwinn (I think that is the year)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,227
    Quote Originally Posted by kajero View Post
    Time for honesty . . . Even when starting in my lowest gear I only make it up that hill about 10-12 feet! It just seems so impossibly steep!
    maybe find a less challenging hill to train on and then come back to this one when you're better able to climb it. Use that as motivation...or get a triple crank

    There's a street in L.A. (Fargo St) that has a 30%+ grade and around 1000 feet long. It's a street I don't feel a need to try and ride even though I might be able to. Pick the right climbs to help you improve your climbing skills!!!!
    Last edited by rebeccaC; 10-17-2013 at 06:08 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    Even standing?
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    130
    What is the actual grade? I Never stand and I am always happy to use my lowest gear in any hill (compact front, 12-28 back). I think steep for me is about 16% plus though, that might be lame, I dunno. The canyon here with a 22% is just not on my wish list, but I can climb all day on more reasonable grades.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
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    1,227
    Quote Originally Posted by Skippyak View Post
    What is the actual grade? I Never stand and I am always happy to use my lowest gear in any hill (compact front, 12-28 back). I think steep for me is about 16% plus though, that might be lame, I dunno. The canyon here with a 22% is just not on my wish list, but I can climb all day on more reasonable grades.
    16% isn't lame for me I do steeper short sections in the Santa Monica mountains though. I'll come off the saddle to crest a really steep climb or 20%+ short sections but most likely I'll stay seated, use my gears and conserve my energy as much as possible for a long steep climb.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    Quote Originally Posted by Skippyak View Post
    What is the actual grade? I Never stand and I am always happy to use my lowest gear in any hill (compact front, 12-28 back). I think steep for me is about 16% plus though, that might be lame, I dunno. The canyon here with a 22% is just not on my wish list, but I can climb all day on more reasonable grades.
    The numbers she quoted say 11% overall, and over 6/100s of a mile, it's unlikely to have much steeper segments. I would normally spin up 11% too, from a riding start (not, for example, from changing a flat or dropping a chain in the middle of an 11% grade) and I have the combination of leg strength and low gears to do it. But, since the OP isn't able to get over the hump that way ... and since she's already out of the saddle for the stop sign ... and since the bump is apparently very short (though she didn't confirm that impression) - I still say the best way over is just not to get back in the saddle once she's across the cross street. Use body weight for that extra assist, it isn't long enough to run out of lung, and eventually she'll develop confidence and the leg strength to spin up it if that's her preferred way to climb.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 10-18-2013 at 04:58 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Twin Cities, Minnesota
    Posts
    486
    Whew. Now I have to figure out how to stand. I am so scared of losing my balance!
    It isn't that I really want to ride up the hill that much, it's just the another way to enter a trail I like to ride. There are two other entrances that are hilly but not as steep.
    It's also the only hill I haven't been able to climb within 3 miles of my house! But maybe I am not meant to climb all the hills in my neighborhood.
    kajero
    2013 Trek FX 7.6 WSD
    2012 Specialized Ruby WSD
    2004 Schwinn (I think that is the year)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    What kind of bike are you riding and are your feet attached to the pedals (with cleats, toe clips, etc)?

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

 

 

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