CYCLEQUEEN: Good question - for me it depends on the length of the hill. If it's short and sharp, I'll stand and jam up it. If it's long then I'll sit and spin. Occasionally I'll stand up but it's only for a couple of pedal strokes and then I'm down again. Everyone has their own "way" of doing hills - one of my regular riding buddies stands all the way but as a multisport athlete it's been drilled into me not to stand up if at all possible.
Try it yourself - find a hill and on different days try it standing, sitting or a mix of the two. You'll soon know which is the best way for you.
General hill tips though - if you're sitting and spinning then gear down BEFORE you hit the hill. Keep an eye on cadence - if you're dropping below 80 then keep going down. Don't be ashamed to go into your smallest gear - it's where I am for a lot of the hills that I ride!
To keep HR down, pedal at a lower cadence or use a smaller gear. If you're in your smallest gear (smallest ring in front, largest cog in back) then decrease cadence. This shifts the effort from CV system to muscles, in fact, I do most of my hill repeats in a low cadence (and correspondingly bigger gear) to build strength. If you want those workouts I can give them to you.
To become a better climber, you have to climb more. This year I made it a point to do one day of hill work, either structured hill repeats or a hilly ride. I've gotten a LOT better as a result.
DODGE: Anaerobic = Without air. In terms of exercise, this is practically full-out. This level of effort can only be sustained for seconds-minutes. In this case the OP wants to know how to stop getting into this zone but stay aerobic when climbing.
EDITED to add: When I want to stand in a group ride, I do two things. Firstly, yell "standing" before I stand up, and secondly, I stand up on a downward pedal stroke and push the bike forwards as I do so. This gets rid of that sudden "stop" that happens when you stand. When I sit down again I push the bike forwards and sit straight down on the seat as it comes through - again, you're still moving the bike forwards so you don't give the guy behind a nervous moment...
Edited by: WONGERCHI at: 10/21/2008 (12:58)
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Dodgemn: anaerobic means without oxygen. So this would be a 9 or 10 on a scale. Your breathing is erratic and you build up lactic acid in your muscles which is a burning sensation you feel. You usually only last a max of 5min. You can't say anything at all because of your labored breathing.
I sit because standing makes me use more energy, I'll stand for a few pedal strokes if nobody is behind me to get more momentum if I am feeling too slow, but when riding with a group, standing is bad because it momentarily slows you down.
I breathe and gradually shift to easier gears as I am starting to max out my current gear...
breathe, breathe, breathe
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I don't know if this is the "right" way, but it's how I do it. I put the big front gear (chainwheel) on the middle gear and the back small gear (cassette) up to about 6 or 7. I get momentum and stand up for a bit, then sit and when it starts slowing I might stand again unless it's really getting steep. If that's the case, I then shift the chainwheel down to the smallest gear (1). As it gets harder, I then shift the back gears (cassette) down. I just keep downshifting as necessary in a seated position. This works for me. It took me a while to get the hang of this and always open for suggestions to improving!
I was curious to know how you all tackle your most difficult hills. Do you sit, stand, or both? I am also curious to know how you keep your heart rate down so you don't go anaerobic before you reach the top. I am in the process of becoming a better and more efficient hill climber.
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