I climb best when I

Over the many years of structured training, Ive had a couple coaches , used pre built plans, used TR. Did virtually all the workouts as prescribed, worked on sweetspot, threshold, vo2, anaerobic capacity and sprints. Became pretty strong , could climb pretty well… but I still cant seem to beat some of my PRs from 6 years ago up some solid 15 min climbs(on the road). Got me thinking, what was I going back then that made me just a little bit faster? The answer is I rode a singlespeed mountain bike a few times a month, the rest of the time was similar structure training like i do now. I definitely believe in training the energy systems, but i think there is something to making you ride in less than ideal cadences (way to high or way too low) or standing way longer than you normally would on a hill, and just the metal aspect of youve got to push through the pain or you walk.

id be interested to hear other peoples experiences with some singlespeed integration.


What sort of grade were the 15 minute climbs?

What gearing and wheel size/tyre circumference was the single speed?

How much weight were you pushing up the hills?

I climb best when I…
Do a mix of MTB/road climbing and longer threshold intervals on the erg trainer.

I climbed best after I switched from full time mountain to road back in 2003-ish. My theory is simply the type of riding I was doing on the mountain bike was very high torque low rpm grinds. Had to keep power on the pedal through a longer arc. When I switched to road over the years I’ve developed a super quick application of power over a much smaller pedal arc. Good for making power on flats/downhill but, not so much on climbs.

Just my theory. I’ve been riding a lot more down the block this year and it has helped a little imo/e.

climb best when I…am not such a fat fuck.

Sorry…that’s just how I talk.

A curse to know what the problem is (me) but not be able to fix it. It is simple of course…but not for a dipshit. Yes, I see it but can’t quite get there.

It can drive you mad, it feels like.


I was just thinking about this yesterday because I’m in the same predicament.

I used to hammer my cross country bike on 1.5-2 hour rides with 2-3k feet elevation gain. It built strength. I stopped doing that and just recently started doing it again and no matter the structured trainer rides the cross country rides built a different sort of strength and grit. I’m gonna keep these added rides in and see how it pays off.

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Ha! This is me too. I got overtaken by two racing snakes at the weekend on a relatively small hill, only to overtake them back on the flat. Then we got to the next hill and you can guess the rest! With the time I have to train, I know I have a ceiling on my ftp so I really want to lose another 10kg. That won’t make me whippet thin but it will be less depressing on any uphill Strava segments when I look at the times that day.

Also for me was having a power meter on the bike. I am terrible at pacing myself using just RPE alone. For some reason, it’s just not within my mental capabilities and I always go off too hard and blow up. It might even be psychological knowing that maintaining a certain power means I can make it up any climb.

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Single speed bikes really do work wonders, until 2019 I was doing 8 hilly kilometres each way for work and I was faster at all cadences.

I really do miss that commute! Plus it was fun burning colleagues off with only one speed.

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I climb best…

… when I accept that at 4w/kg I need to have a bail out gear ratio below 1.2, at least for the steeply hilly terrain local to me. I firmly believe that gravel riding has made me stronger, but I am unequivocally faster when I put my ego to one side and - try to - spin up the double digit gradients in a 36-32 or 34-30, rather than grind in a higher ratio because ‘I shouldn’t need it’.

How old are you? Maybe aging is the reason why you cannot reach those PRs anymore. Coumpounded that some strength exercices you were doing on the singlespeed are not there anymore.

I climb best when there is resistance but not enough to make me fall below circa 65rpm. 70-80rpm seems to be my sweet spot.

I climb best when I have a pretty good buzz.


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Two climbs in particular: one is a steady 6% grade, and the other is a stair step climb with the easy grades being 5% and the steep sections being 12%. A lot of going back and forth fro, sitting and standing on the 2nd one, where the 1st is sitting the whole time.

My SS is a 29r geared with 32x20, a pretty standard gear for where i live in E TN.

Weight?. Been pretty steady at 165 lbs over the years.

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Yup, i agree, there just something that a hard mt bike adds thats hard to reproduce by just doing imtervals

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I’m 48, Maybe age has play a role. Im goimg to incorporate SS into training this summer and see it i can beat those PRs…if so, the its SS, if not, might just be age

I agree that when your out of your happy cadence, power drops off. But im proposing that a single speed opens up the range of happy cadences and may allow you to put out big watts at very low and very high cadences since it forces you to do that on every ride.

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I quit SS when I moved to the mountains. Climb best depends on what kind of climb, so the type of sustained climbing most target, I climb best when my w/kg is the highest.

Happy to help! :slightly_smiling_face:

Think my best times are when I’ve put in a blend of threshold / SS work and VO2. I climb best when I fuel properly, rest, and pace well.

I do like long climbs but I can separate myself from similar competition on punchy climbs. 5 min or less and I got your number. Then I blow up. :slightly_smiling_face:

When I stand.

I’ve podiumed in some climbing races – as in finish on a mountain races – and I go best when I can stand for about 30% or more of the effort, even on climbs longer than 20-30min. Stand for a while, sit, stand back up, sit, repeat…

I know a lot of coaches and riders will tell me that’s wrong, but it’s what’s worked for me at 1m84 and 72-75kilos. And yes, I worked for years on becoming a better seated, small gear climber. That just doesn’t work for me. Stand and grind.

I do the same. I don’t agree with the “standing will blow you up” logic. You gotta train your standing as with anything else. I can produce more power and I can use standing as a way to bring my heart rate down if needed.

I’ll do standing intervals where I have to be at a certain power of for 5 mins and progress that up to 10 mins.

Plus I feel way more badass standing.

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I climb best * when

a) I’m trying to catch a rider ahead
b) someone behind is trying to catch me.

  • Where best in this context means quicker

There was an interesting stuff on it today on GCN GCN during the Tour de Suisse. Some folk like the Yates will stand and be faster, where as others like Wiggins are faster when they sit. They deduced it was something to do with size. Myself I am somewhere in between :neutral_face: