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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok i am terrible at climbing. I know the best solution is to climb more right? I know my bike is supposedly a dog to climb with (super V700) but i am not going to use that as an excuse. Where i live there are lots of rooty and rocky steep climbs. I have yet to sucessfully make it up one. I try to use momentum and take a good line, but i just can't seem to summit anything. This involves me getting off and having to hike a bike to the top which REALLY annoys me. Any tips or tricks to solve my climbing problems or help me become a better climber
 

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Without posting the following things you won't get much more then just climb more as an answer.

Body Weight
Amount of time riding on the bike
Type of riding on the bike
Setup of your bike

Does the bike fit you well? The seat should be at a point where you can barely put your ankles down below the pedals when riding. Your knees should be slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke. This position takes some getting used to. Put it up slowly til it is where you need it. This postion will help your climbing. You can always put it back down for bombing down the hills.

How high are your handlebars. The lower the bars typically, the easier it'll be to climb. Do you find that your front wheel comes off the ground when you climb?

Clipless pedals will help your pedal stroke. You can pedal in circles instead of just pedaling down. You'll use your legs more effectively.

What gears do you have on your cassette and crank. If you don't have it you could always go for a cassette with up to 34 tooth gears which will help ease the pedaling.

If you have less then a couple hundred miles on the bike this year then I'd say just keep climbing. Ride the same hill once a week to gauge how your coming along.

There is this one climb that when I first started riding I could barely walk up. Then after a while I'd make it half way up, then almost all the way, then I made it once. My legs felt like they were two tree trunks when I got off my bike. Couldn't tell the difference between my quads and calves they burned so much. Now a few years later I can get up it everytime.

I'd definately climb a lot on at least one ride every week. Some weeks do it twice. Just be sure to have a couple days off in between.

Louis
 

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and one he didn't mention

first, bad because of fitness, or because of technique? If the former, hey it's genetic, get over it and drop 'em into a stiff headwind instead. grimpeur vs rouler. ask goggle if you no speaka the frog.
if technique, try this: Position your saddle further forward, well forward, and sit in the nose whilst climbing seated. works for me. and many others. If yer saddle's all the way back, there ya go, can't climb seated as well that way, front end gets too light.
 

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Can you say more pls...

What, exactly, is stopping you? Is it the steepness, or do you only bog down when you reach the roots and rocks?

Does the problem seem especially severe on corners, or is it common on straight uphills too.

Are you running out of gas, or is the problem happening on short climbs too?

Have you tried anyone else's bike on the same climbs? If so, how did you do? And can your friends make the climbs on your bike?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Alright here goes... i am going to try to get all these questions answered so i can get a better answer. I am 6'4'' 200lbs, i just got the bike in the past month. I ride mainly XC, and the bike is totally stock set-up from what i understand. I have no idea what exactly the gearing is on it. The bike seems to fit me well, perhaps a bit small since i have to raide the saddle near its max height to achieve a comfortable position and have full range of motion. I really have no idea how high my handlebars are, but they feel like they are in a good position. Yes the frontwheel does seem to pop up when i climb. And yes i am clipless, and it helps ALOT for efficiency.

for post #2... I think my woes are comming from technique, i would consider myself a fairly fit individual. I run a 6:10 mile and can easily run a 5k and a 10k without feeling like vommiting. I also regularly lift weights and eat very clean (did the whole bodybuilding thing for a long time) As for the rest of your post, i am really confused as to what you are saying. As for climbing seated, it seems to work decent but i've found that i tend to slide back out of the saddle and over the back, forcing my front to come up and my momentum to stop.

finally...What slows me down is the combination of the steepness and the roots and rocks. I can do long and fairly clear climbs well. The shorter, more technical climbs that are steep are my hitching point. If i go out in the next week i'll bring my digi cam and take a snap of what i am talking about. the straights are just as bad at the corners. As for using others bikes.. with the heigh difference of my riding partners, i can't really use their bikes as they would be much much too small. So i've never attempted a climb on someone elses. Occassionally my back tire looses grip when i am going up a steep incline and i come to a big rock, my front gets over fine, but my back gets to the obstical and just starts to spin, then i need to unclip and get off. Most of the time i can't remount and start to climb again b/c it is mid hill and to steep for me to get going again.

Hope this second post helped some. Anymore info needed? sure would be nice not to have to hike so much anymore.
 

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Good thing it's only technique, that's more easily corrected than fitness. :)
Things I think that may help are:

Stay seated towards the nose of the saddle (as suggested) to keep the front end down AND to keep weight on the back tire. Almost as if you're pushing down on the seat for traction.

Try to keep as much momentum as possible when climbing and when you come to an obstacle lift the front over then un-weight the rear tire right before it gets to the obstacle. Get back on the nose of the saddle quickly for traction.

Experiment with tire pressure.

Good luck and keep practicing.
Lou.
 

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Penn State said:
Ok i am terrible at climbing. I know the best solution is to climb more right? I know my bike is supposedly a dog to climb with (super V700) but i am not going to use that as an excuse. Where i live there are lots of rooty and rocky steep climbs. I have yet to sucessfully make it up one. I try to use momentum and take a good line, but i just can't seem to summit anything. This involves me getting off and having to hike a bike to the top which REALLY annoys me. Any tips or tricks to solve my climbing problems or help me become a better climber
The solution is to optimize your power to weight ratio. It means you need to be super light and super strong.
 

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Penn State said:
Alright here goes... i am going to try to get all these questions answered so i can get a better answer. I am 6'4'' 200lbs, i just got the bike in the past month. I ride mainly XC, and the bike is .
Your body mass is your worst enemy when riding uphill. The best climbers are the skinniest guys. I'm 6'3" and at my best when I weighed around 150 pounds I was a pretty damn good climber. Weight is everything when going uphill.
 

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All that bodybuilding power may be part of the problem.

If you have alot of strength it is hard not to spin out the back tire going up hills. If you are not spinning when one of your big strong legs starts pushing down there is alot of force transfered to the rear tire all at once. This makes it spin out, and you stop. If you were me, you would focus on learning to pedal circles. Espically while tired. You are going to need clipless pedals if you do not have them already. Go out on what is for you a regular ride. When you finish try this drill. Find a flat road, and unclip one foot. Pedal with just the one leg like 20 times. Then do the other. As you get better at it, focus on pedaling faster and faster. When you just start you will probably find that you have a hard time getting the pedal over the top. This is a common flat-spot in a pedal stroke. Once you have a good smooth circle and are comfortable with a fair pedal speed. Move to a hill and pedal up it one-legged. If you do this it should help your problem. Plus I think you should double the amount of riding you currently do. Remember the correct amount of riding can be expressed by this formula. where X= how much you ride now, and R is the right amount. 2x=R. Good luck
 

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Cleaning the climb

Penn State, it might help to talk first about getting past that rock, and then about climbing in general.

To get past the rock,
- accelerate before reaching it, then stop pedaling and get your cranks level.
- get off the seat, and bring your upper body low and well forward, up over the handlebars.
- let momentum carry your front wheel over.
- (the back wheel is now reaching the rock) use your arms, shoulders and back to shove the bike forward under you, to help the back wheel up and over the rock.
- make a stong pedaling stroke as the rear wheel gets to the top of the rock, to help get the bike up and over.

This is sometimes called a "lunge", and on level ground you can practice moving the bike back and forth under you to get a feel for it.

Whether climbing or on the level, we sometimes create a problem for ourselves just by reaching the critical point of passing an obstacle, dip, etc. with the pedals in the wrong position. The worst position at that moment is 12/6 o'clock, because we'll be delayed a full quarter-revolution until we can apply some power to the situation, and by then it may be too late. It's much better to coast briefly with the cranks level so we're ready. Sometimes, in a tricky spot where coasting isn't enough by itself, it can pay to "ratchet" (spin the pedals backwards a bit) to get the cranks level so we can add some leg drive an instant later when we'll need it.

About climbing generally,
The best position is to bend forward at the waist, bending your elbows and lowering your head and chest toward the top tube. To help deliver traction to the rear tire and keep the front tire on the ground, pull back (not up) with your hands as you pedal.

If you stand, keep the same position - bent at the waist over the top tube.

Perhaps the biggest self-inflicted cause of a lack of traction during a climb is irregular pedaling. If the power comes on in bursts the back wheel will tend to break free. This is a particular problem when standing up because we can generate more power, and standing strokes are naturally more choppy. It can help to be in a higher gear when standing during a climb, because the greater resistance smooths out the pedal strokes. This approach is especially useful when the surface is loose or muddy.

Alternating between standing and sitting during a climb can also cause irregular pedaling. Once standing, it may be best to stay up until the grade levels out a bit and we can sit down again.

BTW, if you're sliding off your seat, you might want to lay a board on it to make sure it's not tilted back. You can also try angling it nose-down slightly to see if that helps.

:p ...and never Armor-All your seat... :p
 

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For tall people, the fact that all bikes have the same chainstay length, is a climbing disadvantage. If climbing's the main thing of your riding, sliding the seat forward a bit (bike fit permitting), would help keep the front wheel down so obstacles are not too much different from those in a flat section.
If nothing helps, get a 29" bike. I'm 6'4", and my XL Fisher and XL Surly are the first bikes that ever truely fitted me, and they make riding so much easier for me! I've got huge legs, so maximum climbing disadvantage, but I keep searching for steeper hills to clean, seemingly unlimited traction, as if I were riding on rails.
I like chosing a really light gear and spin up the technical steeps. It's as if the high cadance offers some extra stability to lean against. It's key to keep momentum though, otherwise the cranks will just seem like a front wheel lofing device.
 

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Penn State said:
Ok i am terrible at climbing. I know the best solution is to climb more right? I know my bike is supposedly a dog to climb with (super V700) but i am not going to use that as an excuse. Where i live there are lots of rooty and rocky steep climbs. I have yet to sucessfully make it up one. I try to use momentum and take a good line, but i just can't seem to summit anything. This involves me getting off and having to hike a bike to the top which REALLY annoys me. Any tips or tricks to solve my climbing problems or help me become a better climber
I think he implies that he struggles on short/steep technical climbs (technique) as opposed to just plain uphill fireroadesque climbing (power/weight).

Only thing you need to climb those short tough technical bits is to keep the power on like mad. That is the only difference. I found that in the past when climbing such climbs I would ride with same power as on a normal hill which on typical technical climb means low speed. Inevitably I would impact a small obstabcle like a root or rock, which would rob me of little momentum I had then my legs would just be unable to power on once it all started grinding to a halt and dismounting followed soon. Nowdays, appart from more experience, I can climb very rough climbs purely cause I force myself to pedal like mad (I'm talking WAY into anaerobic zome typically) and each mini impact with rocks and roots does not cause me to dab as I have greater speed to help keep upright and also move over the obstacle more quickly.

In short once you make yourself keep pumping like mad making it up such climbs is not hard at all, practically no matter what line you take.
 

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Penn State said:
Ok i am terrible at climbing. I know the best solution is to climb more right? I know my bike is supposedly a dog to climb with (super V700) but i am not going to use that as an excuse. Where i live there are lots of rooty and rocky steep climbs. I have yet to sucessfully make it up one. I try to use momentum and take a good line, but i just can't seem to summit anything. This involves me getting off and having to hike a bike to the top which REALLY annoys me. Any tips or tricks to solve my climbing problems or help me become a better climber
#1 -Don't beat yourself up about this too much. It sounds like your riding in a very technical part of the country on a technical trail. and it sounds like you are relatively new to the sport.

You say that you can ride regular hills ok, so like what some others have said this isn't so much a power/weight issue as much as technique combined with some red line top end fitness.

Both technique and the ability to survive repeated high output efforts and recover in time for the next technical section take a lot of time to develop.

One tip is to break down the climb into defined sections, and work on one section at a time, until you discover the trick for clearing it. Kill yourself, redline your heart, huff-puff, and clean the section. Go out there with a local rider who is known as being a good technician. Ask them to help you work out some sections. Keep in mind that someone else's good line may not be YOUR line. Try several lines. try different tires, different tire pressure. Make sure your suspension is tuned to your terrain, and boy weight. Figure out which surfaces you can pedal on w/o spinning the rear wheel, and in what conditions, wet/dry. For those that you just can't pedal on you will have to lunge it to get the rear to clear w/o spinning out.

Move on to the next section until you know that each individual section is cleanable. Then worry about cleaning the whole hill at once.

I've been at this for almost 15 years, and the last time I cleaned this one climb that sounds like the one your describing was 10 years ago.
 

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You have to keep your chest down, close to your handlebars, while your tail is on the forward tip of the saddle. If you must go over a rock or root, you can raise your chest up a bit to unweight the front wheel and get over it, then power the rear wheel over with leg muscle. If you don't have the legs to power over, go back down the hill and try again, in the next lower gear.

But getting my chest down over the bar and my butt on the tip of my saddle (yest, it DOES hurt a bit) is what made me better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the replies guys, i'm going to try this lunging thing soon. I suppose i do it whenever i go over a tree that is fallen in the trail on flat ground. I guess i just never thought of doing it on climbs too. Luckily since i live at the base of a hill that has the exact same terrain as the trails i ride, i have mapped out a climb for me to practice on. I just need to go clear it out tonight a bit. I guess also that i might be giving up to easy on the climbs. Since i dismount everytime i think i might tip over or loose traction. Maybe just pumping harder is the key.
 

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Penn State said:
Thanks for the replies guys, i'm going to try this lunging thing soon. I suppose i do it whenever i go over a tree that is fallen in the trail on flat ground. I guess i just never thought of doing it on climbs too. Luckily since i live at the base of a hill that has the exact same terrain as the trails i ride, i have mapped out a climb for me to practice on. I just need to go clear it out tonight a bit. I guess also that i might be giving up to easy on the climbs. Since i dismount everytime i think i might tip over or loose traction. Maybe just pumping harder is the key.
Alot of good adice in here. I like how rollin' explained over the rock thing. I suck at explaining things but I can sure climb good :) There was this one hill I showed my friend.
Started off smooth and very few roots and slow gradually more and more roots are in your way. Then about halfway up ( about as far as I made it before stopping) it goes nuts and theres roots all over the trail to the point thats all your on. Im sure its ridable but the day I showed him it it just rained earlier in the day lightly and the roots were still a lil wet. He only made it up 1/4 of the way in that condition.

Also the line that looks the easiest isnt always that, well maybe it is but I like going over things others wouldnt try :)
 

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Practice, practice, practice

Penn State said:
Ok i am terrible at climbing. I know the best solution is to climb more right? I know my bike is supposedly a dog to climb with (super V700) but i am not going to use that as an excuse. Where i live there are lots of rooty and rocky steep climbs. I have yet to sucessfully make it up one. I try to use momentum and take a good line, but i just can't seem to summit anything. This involves me getting off and having to hike a bike to the top which REALLY annoys me. Any tips or tricks to solve my climbing problems or help me become a better climber
I think there's some good advice in all these posts regarding technique and bike setup. You're new to the sport and are reasonably fit; you'll make rapid improvements. I found that riding with experienced (and patient) people helped me considerably with technical riding. First off I would see people ride things and understand that it IS possible. Second I would try to emulate their techninque, follow their lines and pick their brains. Enjoy the ride!
 

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Don't forget to chose the right gear, the looser the conditions the faster the RPMs and sitting down to keep the rear wheel planted. Also you may want to try a bigger gear and standing when getting over bumpy stuff, it helps alot as your balance is usually better and is easier to pull the front wheel up and over stuff.

Also don't be afraid to walk back down the hill and try it again with slightly different setups until you find something that works (you will, its just a matter of time)
 
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