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How To Improve Your Climbing | Ask GCN Anything About Cycling

How To Improve Your Climbing | Ask GCN Anything About Cycling


– Welcome to another
edition of Ask GCN Anything, and for this edition
we are in the mountains in the Dolomites in Italy. very close to some of the most
famous climbs in pro cycling. With that in mind, we thought
for this edition of Ask we’d focus on that very
discipline, climbing. And we’ve got a cracking first question from Salman N. Fara. – We have. So Salman closes his question
with, “Is dancing effective?” But the first part is really
more relevant to climbing, which is in the saddle
or out of the saddle? – Yeah, I think, well definitely
for a long, steady climb, climbing in the saddle is
something you need to get used to. You spend far less energy, and basically you can turn a nice low gear in a pretty energy-efficient way, especially these days
with the real kind of wide ratio gear we’ve
got on a lot of bikes. But then out of the saddle
does have it’s place as well, doesn’t it? – For sure, so I mainly
use out of the saddle either to kind of get myself
over a really steep bit in an otherwise not-so-steep climb, or just to kind of relieve the pressure, stretch my legs, stretch my back a bit. That sort of stuff feels good. – Well, if you’re training for climbs, and you want to get some more power out, definitely going out of
the saddle and accelerating for sustained periods of time, 30 seconds, a minute, even more, is a great way of doing
interval training basically. You do need to get used to
recruiting the different muscle groups that you’ll
need when climbing. Especially, as Tom said, when you’re trying to
get over steep sections, you do need to get out of the saddle. Basically, what you’re recruiting, as well as in the muscle groups, is your actual body weight. when you’re swinging the
bike from side-to-side you’re assisting with generating power with your body weight as well. – Yes Matt, like you said, I think there’s very little doubt that climbing in the saddle
for the majority of your climb is probably the way to
go and is more efficient. But, climbing out of the saddle definitely does have it’s place. We did actually send Si to test which was better for steep climbs. But not just any steep climb, we sent him to Jones
Street in San Francisco– – Oh, brutal. – Which is, yeah it’s 30%,
so it’s pretty grippy. Here’s the video, check it out. – Which is fastest, in the
saddle or out of the saddle? Round two, out of the saddle. – A really important question, actually, from Christopher Taylor, who asks, “Can interval training benefit
hill climbing in any way?” – I think it can without
a shadow of a doubt. Although, clearly, it
depends on where you’re doing your interval training. I suppose if you’re
riding a lot on the flat, it’s gonna feel very different than if you’re riding
in your turbo trainer, again, it’s going to feel very different. But what it will replicate, to a degree, to a big degree, is the
cardiovascular kind of load that you’ll feel when
you’re riding on a climb. So generally, as soon as
the road tilts upwards, especially when it starts
getting reasonably steep, your heart rate will increase, your rate of breathing will increase, and you’ll basically end up working very quickly in threshold, which is what you do when
you do interval training. Although again, it will
feel slightly different, it will equip you reasonably well for the demands of climbing
without a shadow of a doubt. – We’ve actually done a load
of interval training workouts that you can watch on YouTube. Matt, would you care to point the viewers to your, perhaps, favourite one? Maybe least favourite is a better one. – How ’bout my kind of
20 minute hit session? Just about to start the warmup. To get yourself ready during the warmup, it’ll be an opportunity
for me to talk you through exactly what’s ahead. Recover, regroup, and
refocus for the final intervals that are coming up. So in total, you’ll be
doing 10 flat-stick, perceived effort between 9 and 10, so very, very hard physically and psychologically. Next up is this question,
sticking with climbing, of course, from Hereza Liem who asks, “32 teeth rear cassette with
a semi-compact chainring or 28 teeth with a compact
chainring for climbing?” Cracking question. – I guess what Hereza is
asking is 32/36 or 28/34? I would probably go for
32/36, just ’cause I probably have a 36 in a chainring. – Yeah, I have got on a couple of mine. I have a 34 on one bike
and a 36 on another bike, and I must admit, I do prefer the 36. Although I’ve only got a 28 in the back. But I think what you’ve got to
think about as well, Hereza, is what kind of terrain
are you gonna be riding on? Are you gonna be riding on
longer, steadier climbs, or have you got some really
brutal percentages in there? That’s what you need to think about. And also, your kind of
own level of fitness. So a bit of trial-and-error
if you get the opportunity. But if you’re kind of
relatively new to the sport, and these, the really
brutally difficult climbs, always play it safe and
go for the lower ratio. – James asks, “Short steep
climbs or long gentle ones?” I’m gonna dive in and answer. Probably set myself up for a massive fall because I do quite like
short, steep climbs. – We kinda have noticed that.
– Don’t know why. Don’t know why, but,
you know, just like ’em. – You’re a bit of, kind of, masochist. – Yeah, yeah. – Strange one, isn’t it? I prefer, in stark
contrast to yourself Tom, I do prefer long, gradual climbs. And I will go out of my way to
find a longer, gradual climb than a brutally steep one. Although in my earlier
more formative years, when I was a nipper, I did actually like the
brutally steep ones. A bit like you now. So maybe it’s an age thing, as well. – There’s probably like
a deep, personal truth hidden in those answers. But if you would like to
check out a steep climb, here’s the Muro de Aia, which is the steepest
climb I’ve ever ridden. So the final pitches never go below 20%. (Tom breathing heavily) – [Spectator] Go! Alright! – Wow, that was pretty savage, Tom. It was the first time we actually
saw the SufferMeter used, wasn’t it?
– It was. – It was the gauge of all thing brutal. Now for something not
quite as brutal as that, but kind of almost an
epic, or even more epic, arguably, is this. It’s the Passo Pordoi
which me and Dan climbed, a few months back, in the Dolomites. It’s epic, and there’s also
thunder and lightning, too. – It’s the Passo Pordoi, and we have come to find out
what all the fuss is about. (upbeat music) – This climb tops out at over 2,200 metres with a total elevation gain of 638 metres. – So Grega asks, “What
is the difference between powermeter watts and
Strava estimated watts?” – Yeah, it is a good question, actually. It’s all to do with algorithms, really, so they’ll need to take
some key metrics from you in the absence of a powermeter. First and foremost, of course,
is your speed on the road. Second one will be your
weight, that’s very important. And then they’ll factor in
the gradient of the climb. And they can work out,
reasonably accurately, how many watts you’ll be producing to go up that climb
with your given weight. Although it might not be as
accurate as a powermeter, as it’s completely relative to you, you can see if you’re actually performing on any particular climb. It is quite handy if you
haven’t got a powermeter. – If you haven’t subscribed
to GCN, click on our logo which is on-screen.
– Indeed. – Then, if you want to find
out how to use a powermeter, click right here. And Matt, what video do
you want to send them to? – I think you should click just down here. Talking of climbing, we’re
gonna go across Europe a bit to Alpe d’Huez. Epic climb video. You made it back at the Tour de France a few years back. It is proper epic, and also
contains beer and rain.

91 comments on “How To Improve Your Climbing | Ask GCN Anything About Cycling

  1. the real question is, how do heavy riders like me get better at climbing?
    I´m 2 meters tall and there is no way I can keep up with these small little spinners

  2. #TorqueBack Hello GCN, if an 90Kilos Cyclist is doing 200Watts or 2.24Watts/Kilo on the FLAT, for me to ride with him at the same speed and i have 60Kilos, should i run at 200Watts (3.33W/Ki) or 2.24Watts/Kilo (134,4 Watts) ?? Lets say we both are at the same cadence 90RPM

  3. Problem about strava's estimated watts is that it completely ignores wind speed. Ride the same segment at the same speed in head and tail wind, it will give you the same estimated power, but your efforts will be very different.

  4. Hi GCN! I have a question for you. I am on the bigger side of riders with 195cm and 110kg body weight and as a former shotputter I guess I can create some momentum on the cranks. Could you recommend any strong wheelsets as I have broken 5 freehubs already this year on climbs? Or is the RatchetSystem the only way to go? #TorqueBack

  5. #torqueback guys can we find any of your races on youtube that you won? It would be nice to watch you all race 🙂

  6. Well. First of all. Sitting on youtube wont get u faster up Pordoi. What about get out and get the job Done instead? No not for the internet generation

  7. #TorqueBack especially during my climbing trainings, I feel this need to spit out more than normal. Why do you think this happens?

  8. Oooooh… Dancing! Looks like somebody's watching some Eastern content!

    Only, "dancing" in this case didn't translate well — but yeah, I do that, too, but on short, steep climbs. 😉

  9. What size tire is optimum for speed vs. weight? I suggest taking one rider and instead of going on a flat or hill just coast down a straight hill and see which is faster. Can always do the same going up to see if difference in weight hinders over  performance. Also could do the same tire tubeless or with tube. #TorqueBack

  10. Next time you guys talk to strava, if you could ask them to easily add a backpack's amount of weight to a single ride that would be killer. The average watts calculation is kind of a annoying for us commuters who sometimes like to smash it on the way home and don't have a power meter.

  11. So i am 16 and cycling for 4 months and my average speed is 24km per hour and i can sustain that for an hour or two how good or bad am i?#TorqueBack

  12. Would you opt for Dura Ace 7900 in 2017? Or if you have an option, would you go for the Ultegra 6800 instead? #TorqueBack

  13. Hi gcn staff

    I've seen gcn videos regarding do and don't when riding in group but can what if your riding with someone who spits like every minute. What's the etiquette on spiter alley?

  14. #torqueback In a recent video Si told us that he is riding at 50PSI in the wet. Is it fine to ride below manufacturers specs or Si got such a broad pressure range tires?

  15. #torqueback When are you boys going to try hardknott pass in the Lake District?
    Or..for an off road totally brutal climb, ingleby incline in the North Yorkshire moors

  16. Can you please do a segment on coming back from injury? I fractured my right femur in 4 places 5 years ago and wonder how people like Taylor Phinney and Peter Stetina have come back so strong.

  17. Love the video guys, but I want to make a couple points:

    1. On the topic of the 52/36 & 11-32 gearing vs 50/34 & 11-28 gearing: the advantage of the former is that 1) you get a slightly lower gear at your lowest and 2) you get a higher gear at your top. The advantage of the latter is that there is less difference between your rear cogs which could allow you to find that sweet spot gear and be more efficient. I personally love the 52/36 & 11-32 as there are some nasty steeps around my area and conversely I'm not spinning out when I encounter a fast, straight descent.

    2. I know you guys did a video about sitting vs standing on a really steep stretch of hill in SF, but I would love for you to re-do the sitting vs standing video on hill that's something more manageable like a 2-3 mile 7-8% kind of hill. That would be really interesting. I mean I figure anything over 15%, if you're not standing, you're basically falling off backwards. Also, when you did the video, I don't think Simon really had the proper gears to be sitting on a 30%. That was just crazy.

    #torqueback Is there such a thing as a 52/34 chaining? I've looked and they don't seem to exist.

  18. I reeeeeeally wish you guys would start listing the music you use on these videos. Unless it's already in there and I'm just missing it.
    …Am I?

  19. can you tell me what the need is for consuming alcohol during the daytime. It looks like gcn is promoting drinking.

  20. #TorqueBack I often cycle to work with baggy shorts rather than cycle shorts as I don't want to parade round the office in Lycra 🙂 How much of a performance gain do you get wearing Lycra shorts vs Mountain bike or baggy shorts

  21. ‪#TorqueBack If the UCI has a minimum weight limit, why isn’t the extra weight invested into the bike‬ such as a stronger frame or more comfortable seat? Instead, artificial weight is used which has no benefit to the rider when surely this weight could serve a better purpose?

  22. When eating my Porridge before a longer training session, would you advise to use low fat milk (to be easier on your stomach while riding) or full fat milk for the plus of available protein for your body? Using low fat all the time, but was getting curious if i`m missing out on a cost effective marginal gain! 😉 #TorqueBack

  23. 34 x 28 = 32 gear inches   36 x 32 = 29.7 gear inches.  So the 36 x 32 will be easier to spin on a steep grade than a 34 x 28.  34 x 32 = 28 gear inches, easier still.

  24. #TorqueBack My bike from factory came fitted with a Shimano tiagra groupset (50-34T). What would be a good upgrade for speed. Enjoy the videos !!

  25. #TorqueBack How do you train without a cycle computer? Mine recently broke and I haven't bought a new one yet. Any tips?

  26. I just got a new crankset for my cx/comuter. It's 5 mm shorter then my current cranks. Should I move my saddle 5mm up or redo my fit alltogether? #TorqueBack

  27. I have bad luck with cycling computers. Which would be the best watch to use to track my rides, heart rate, power, etc. #TorqueBack

  28. #Torqueback hi guys. Great videos as always. Looking to make the next upgrade to my bike. I have just upgraded my wheels for a pair of mavic cosmic's and new tyres and currently run a full 105 groupset. Any suggestions on what I should upgrade next?

  29. Hi GCN great and helpful videos! 😀 Totally unrelated what should you do when a dog starts chasing when you are riding your road bike? (being clipped-in doesn't help to react fast when you don't know the dogs intention). Any hints in general about a dog attack? #TorqueBack

  30. With regard to the question about gear ratios (34/28 vs 36/32) its worth mentioning that 34/28 gives you a gear ratio of 1.21, 36/30 is the closer match to this with 1.20. A 32 tooth rear cassette would be 1.13 with a 36 front ring, which would mean you were travelling 0.5mph slower than the 36/30 combination at 90rpm.

  31. #TorqueBack Sometimes, when I push myself really hard, I get very exhausted and a little nauseous. Is there a method I can do to eliminate this?

  32. Which one is cheaper: using mechanical brakes or hydraulic ones? I'm using mechanical at the moment. Would converting to hydraulic brakes pay off in a few years time considering maintenance etc.? #TorqueBack

  33. When buying cyclocross bike can you use your Road bike position and numbers of should you consider sitting slightly closer?

  34. is it a fetish or what? Changing the cassete from 11-28 for a 11-32 instead od changing chainset or rings. 11-32's got herendous jumps between the gears its stupid if you want to hold your perfect cadence. I know chainsets and ring are expensive but its all about cadence.

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