Wednesday, 17 August 2011

We're running up that hill - we're running up that hill.

Just for those not in the know - the title is taken from an old Kate Bush song.

I haven't posted in a bit, basically things have just been ticking along - I am trying to get used to my new saddle (review will follow after proper testing) and am down to small changes in the angle of the saddle. Beyond that I have just been getting along with the daily grind with work seeming to sap me of most of my energy currently.

The one thing I am really trying to get a handle on, is my appalling hill climbing ability. To be honest it is now starting to become a real issue with me in my head. I am at a total loss to explain why I am so bad at hills. On the flat (as I have mentioned before) I shoot past 90% of cyclists and seem to be making a steady improvement in my average speed and fitness, therefore I am enjoying my commute more as it becomes less taxing and my recovery is quicker. But on a hill - 95% of people overtake me (this is not a lie) I just crumple, and hills seem to drain me of all of my energy very quickly.

Yesterday I was ecstatic I actually overtook someone on a hill! This was a truly rare event for me and it was with great pride that I looked over to the gentleman as I passed him - only to discover he was probably about 70. And it hadn't been that easy to overtake him in the first place. Back onto the flat and the speed ratchets up to 24 mph cruising speed again with no problem.

Why of why can I not master hills? Why am I so desperately bad on them?

I now have a new plan - one problem I noticed was I tend to be in the highest gear but on the largest chain ring at the front. This means I can sit in the saddle and maintain a reasonable cadence at least, going up the hill - but if I decide to stand out of the saddle for extra power the gear is just to high for my weight, so I quickly have to sit back down.

So now I have started a gradual process of lowering the gear on the hills - so far I have dropped one gear for the whole hill and am in the process of dropping 2 gears for the first half and one gear only for the second half. I am hoping this will increase the strength in my legs - but this is another weird area for me. I have always had very strong legs (or so I thought) - I was a very high level sprinter at one time and I also am able to do near maximum weights on squat machines if I go to a gym. 

So this leaves me feeling even more confused - hills just hate me but I hate them more! Anyway apart from the gradually upping of gears on the "hill of pain" on my way home from work - I am doing a few squats daily (not too much because I am always fairly tired by the time I get home and I don't want to over stress my tired legs more). I will see if this and the gearing will help - after all, I can't use the bad saddle excuse any more. Maybe just maybe, I no longer have the desire or ability in my mid forties to take the necessary pain required to develop my strength enough to cope with hills properly but I feel this hill problem is restricting my pleasure of cycling and before I set off on a new route I always take a fair amount of time to check out the hills I might have to face and alter the route accordingly - I don't really want t have to do this though - HELP!


  1. Can't help you there - I just sit in the saddle & plod!

    My legs are pretty muscular also. Maybe that's the problem :>/

  2. gggrrrr - that's no help - I need the silver bullet - I want to go up hills as fast as my 80 year old disabled neighbour!