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  1. #1
    pi makes wheels go round
    Reputation: damon's Avatar
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    Dec 2001

    Flat land power rider vs. climber

    I have a question maybe you guys can help me with. There is a local club that I ride with that has a variety of rider's abilities. There is one guy in particular who is my mark that I try to keep up with. Our rides are over a variety of terrain, and that is where my question comes from. This guy is a couple inches shorter than me (5'10 vs. my 6') and just about the same weight (170lbs), but he can put the hurt on me on the flats and descents and is generally an all around more powerful rider. However, when it comes to the climbs, I can drop him pretty handily.

    Is there some reason why two folks of similar body type would have noticeably different strengths on a given ride?

    I'm sure most of it is that he puts in way more miles than I do, but then I would think he should out climb me, too?

    Just curious, and thanks for any insights,


  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Oct 2012
    Maybe because you have more climbing training and he has more flats training? You are what you practise.

  3. #3
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    Reputation: Wookiebiker's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Could be a couple of things ... however, climbing generally comes down to power/weight ration ... flat land is power/wind drag ratio.

    So, with that said:

    1) He could have a more aero position on the bike than you allowing him to go faster on the flats, but he doesn't put out as much power allowing you to pull away on the climbs. This may also help your climbing if you have a more upright position on the bike.

    2) Your builds may be different. If you have long legs and he has short legs ... that could make a difference in how you put out power. Longer legs, lend themselves to better torque needed for climbing. This is why you have "Climbing specialists" in the pro ranks even though many of the racers are of similar weight. Climbers have long limbs, sprinters tend to have shorter limbs (this is a generality, but look at the pro's during the next race and observe differences in body types associated with their specialty).

    3) Better/more sustainable power output by you ... you might be able to hold a threshold effort longer than him. On the flats you can draft and recover, have a more aero position, etc. If you can't recover quickly in the draft you could be at a disadvantage on the flats trying to recover after a hard effort ... but be able to hold a stead power output for a long time ... this would be beneficial in the hills (or TT's).

    This is why TT specialists don't always make good crit racers ... high FTP, but recovery is slower than somebody that races crits all the time ... and good crit racers don't make good TT racers ... they recover quickly but don't have the FTP.

    4) Inability to suffer ... you may be able to handle pain associated with sustained efforts better than him. I've ridden with people that were fast on the flats and had similar power/weight ratios to me ... but sucked in the hills because they just didn't want to deal with the pain of climbing hard.

    Anyway ... it could be a number of things, just enjoy the advantage in the climbs ... that's where races are won and lost most of the time
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  4. #4
    I play for keeps
    Reputation: locustfist's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    ^that's pretty much it

    Flat power and climbing power are so different.

    On team ride days when the diesels (who weigh more or less the same as me) are out front hammering and I'm hanging on for dear life, I look forward to the climbs for a rest.

  5. #5
    Seeking shades of grey
    Reputation: Duane Gran's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Another possibility is mental. Some people relish the feeling of pushing against gravity and others get intimidated by it. This also applies to the flats. Some people (and I might be on of 'em) get very discouraged at the prospect of closing down a gap if they are already pushing close to the limit.

  6. #6
    tlg is offline
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    May 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by damon View Post
    There is one guy in particular who is my mark that I try to keep up with....

    but he can put the hurt on me on the flats and descents and is generally an all around more powerful rider. However, when it comes to the climbs, I can drop him pretty handily.
    Maybe he's not trying to keep up with you on hills. He might be maintaining a consistant effort/cadence across the entire ride. If he wanted to drop you on the climbs he probably could.
    I bet when you get to the top of the hill you're winded and have to spin for a bit to recover. Whereas when he gets to the top, he's pretty fresh, doesn't need to recover, and catches you quickly.

    It could also be gearing. He might be running a smaller cassette/ bigger chainring than you. If he's not really a hill climber and focuses more on flats, his cassette/chainring would reflect that.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    May 2010
    What's been said and:
    -Just because you look about the same weight doesn't mean you are.

    -Maybe he's just burnt out from putting the hurt on you on the flats by the time you guys get to the hill but with an even start he could actually beat you up a hill also.
    If I'm having a good day I can generally put the hurt on my riding buddies on the flats OR drop them on the hills. But there's no way in heck I could do both on the same ride. It works the other way too.....If someone is hurting me on the flats I know once we hit a hill they could likely be in trouble because of effort spent on the flats.

    -Or he just can't be bothered with hills. Some people only get motivated by going fast. Kind of like the golfers who get pumped over their drive distance and don't care if they 4 putt the same hole.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: jmorgan's Avatar
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    Apr 2012

    Flat land power rider vs. climber

    My guess is he is a little bit heavier then you think, he could be 10-15 lbs heavier and that could be the difference in him making more power on the flats and your easier time climbing. I ride with a guy that's more or less this same situation, I kill him on the hills and puts a little more power down on the flats.
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  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Nov 2012
    Or he's tired from dragging you to the climbs

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Aug 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by 6_Myles View Post
    Or he's tired from dragging you to the climbs
    lmao. This.

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