Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour De France - Climbing.

Climbing changes the game.

The climber has to apply pressure to the cranks at all times. Gravity pulls relentlessly on the whole body and there is very little kinetic energy. A constant demand of the muscles makes it difficult. The perfect bike setup really plays a major role.

Lighter the body, the better! Climbing hills is not like climbing a mountain. Small burst can be done by the sprinters on the hills but long steady climbs pack a real bunch to a body that has more mass.

Climbers are know to adjust their saddles for mountain stages. Even our mtb CAD is much different than the regular road bike blueprint as most of the cranks are 175mm. Gravity affects your balance on a slope and if you used a road fit, you just moved behind the bottom bracket a good 10mm at around 10% grade. So if you can move forward by the 1cm it's possible to get close to the conditions of riding the road fit on the flats. Bottom line, climbing means power rather than speed and you want to not lose the leg/foot speed. Being aero is less of a factor, so its best to be more upright as raising the chest allows you to breathe.

Watch to see who removes the support of the saddle. You can think of this like running with your feet nailed to a bike, a lot of work to pull the bike with you. If standing, where should you balance your weight? Many don't do this well? They don't place their center of mass over the descending pedal and there are two of them. Too often, they raise their center of gravity higher than their saddle. The up and down movements really waste energy!

Getting out of the saddle simply burns more energy, the heart rate increases, but it can be helpful. Standing can change the muscles and makes it possible to get rid of lactic acid (sour milk). Replenishment of glycogen is a good thing!

Like skiing, you can move the upper body over the bike or the bike under the upper body. Leaning the bike side to side is best, as it allows you to have more pressure on top of each stroke and on each side. Just alternating your arm movement is what is needed to tilt the bike under the center of mass. One hand pulls while the other hand pushes is helpful.

Watch many and note they place too much weight on the bars. Perhaps they wish to rest on the handlebars instead of the cranks and staying on the entire power zone. It takes practice!

There are many skills that the pure climbers. Watch to see if you can pick up on them?

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