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  1. #1
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    Riding out of the Saddle

    I live in the northwest and have a lot of hills. I would like to be able to take on the hills a little better than just sitting down and grinding my way to the top. I purposely train 1-2 times a week on a 2 mile hilly loop that averages 8% grade (peaks out at 18%) riding it hard 3-5 times before my legs feel like jelly and barely able to ride the 5 miles back home. My regular 40 mile route with 2,200' has some nasty 15-22% grade climbs that I grind up at 5-6mph. At least I haven't faced a climb that I've had to turn back down on. But I know I will one day if I can't increase my out of the saddle riding abilities. I ride 3-4 times a week averaging 90+ miles and put time on a trainer when i'm not able to hit the roads and rest for 1-2 days a week.

    I can't ride out of the saddle for anything longer than a minute before my legs feel like there going burn up. When I get back on the saddle then I'm fine and can just grind my way up the rest of the way. I changed my gearing to better take on the hills at a faster cadence. Have watched a lot of youtube videos on climbing techniques.

    I'm 51 years old and have been cycling for about 1 1/2 yrs and about 15lbs overweight (still trying to loose the weight I gained over the winter). I know loosing the additional weight would help but was wondering if there was a particular training regiment or something else I could do to help be able to ride out of the saddle longer. I'm envious of pro's who seem to ride out of the saddle for as long as they want.

    Thanks,
    Mark
    Bianchi - Infinito - 2012 - Ultegra 6700 Group w/ Fulcrum Racing Zero wheelset

  2. #2
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    Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Trying to increase your standing time a little bit each interval and the overall time spent riding out of the saddle per ride would help. I'm guessing most people get off the saddle when they need a break from sitting, want to power over a small bump or roller, or want to work different muscles.

    I greatly improved my climbing out of the saddle a few years ago during the singlespeed craze. You have to stand the entire time when you're pedaling up a an 8-10% grade for 10 to 15 minutes, otherwise you fall over sideways.

    You also know you're going against popular thinking by not wanting to stay seated and just spin up the climbs? I approve, I think some people that stay seated too much don't get up the hill as fast as people that alternate standing with riding seated.
    "I felt bad because I couldn't wheelie; until I met a man with no bicycle"

  3. #3
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    Staying out of the saddle only briefly is pretty common actually, especially among amateurs. When pushing a hard pace (i.e. around lactate threshold or higher), very few cyclists in general will ride out of the saddle longer than 20 seconds at a time. Pantani, Armstrong, Contador, Schleck come to mind as exceptions... losing weight will help, but IMO I wouldn't worry about it.

  4. #4
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    Find a longish hill that is not too steep and practice by doing ten strokes out of the saddle and ten in the saddle, alternating back and forth focusing on making a smooth transition between the two.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cableguy View Post
    Staying out of the saddle only briefly is pretty common actually, especially among amateurs. When pushing a hard pace (i.e. around lactate threshold or higher), very few cyclists in general will ride out of the saddle longer than 20 seconds at a time. Pantani, Armstrong, Contador, Schleck come to mind as exceptions... losing weight will help, but IMO I wouldn't worry about it.
    Yup. Near lactate threshold, you aint gonna be able to simply jump out of the saddle and pound away like you're fresh. Even most pros can only get out for 20 seconds and they burn up.

    OP,
    at your age, just concentrate on staying seated. But if you fancy dancing on those pedals, well you will first need some serious lungs. At 51 and with 1.5 years cycling, you simply don't have the lungs yet.

  6. #6
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cableguy View Post
    When pushing a hard pace (i.e. around lactate threshold or higher), very few cyclists in general will ride out of the saddle longer than 20 seconds at a time. Pantani, Armstrong, Contador, Schleck come to mind as exceptions...
    Ahhh... so all I need is PED's!

  7. #7
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    I used to stand more and now stay seated on longer rides to save my legs for going longer distances.

    For a short ride I'll stand up and try to PR on Strava Segements, etc... Its definitely faster, but my heart rate soars and my legs sore (pun intended).

    I definitely agree that practice makes perfect... both with spinning up the hills and standing up them.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I guess there really isn't anything other than hard work and time. At least I now realize that it's pretty common not to be able to ride out of the saddle for long periods of time and what you see on TDF is an anomaly. I'll just keep grinding up the hills and try to ride out of the saddle a little more each time. When I first started i could barely stand for 10 seconds....... at least I've improved over the past 1.5 yrs.

    Thanks again,
    Bianchi - Infinito - 2012 - Ultegra 6700 Group w/ Fulcrum Racing Zero wheelset

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmlee View Post
    At least I now realize that it's pretty common not to be able to ride out of the saddle for long periods of time and what you see on TDF is an anomaly.
    Remember, watching the TdF and expecting to ride like that is no different from watching a golf tournament and expecting to play like Tiger, or any other professional sport, for that matter.

    But I feel your pain. It really sucks to pick up cycling in your 50s, and to have to work so hard to reach a marginal level of fitness. Not to mention realizing any chance of racing you missed by about 30 years.
    Tis the season for all of us not hard enough to play to belittle those not hard enough to win. We are a funny lot. - dave @ November Bicycles

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by skinewmexico View Post
    But I feel your pain. It really sucks to pick up cycling in your 50s, and to have to work so hard to reach a marginal level of fitness. Not to mention realizing any chance of racing you missed by about 30 years.
    I resemble that
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  11. #11
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    I am 51 years old and race on a singlespeed mountain bike, so riding out of the saddle is quite natural (and inevitable). I also have a singlespeed road bike.

    When I train indoors (I have a CycleOps 300 Pro), I often ride out of the saddle at 200-230 watts, for 20 minutes and occasionally I go for 40-60 minutes, straight.

    So practice and you will improve!
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  12. #12
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    If I stand up and keep a similar cadence to when I was sitting, it's too much. Like the other posters said, it's good for a short time only.

    But I can climb steep grades while standing if I purposely slow down my cadence. On a 8-10-12% grade, I'll shift to a smaller cog than when I was sitting. On a 15-18% grade, I'll be in the largest cog already, and I just slow down my cadence. At 18%, I'm down to 30-40 rpm, and 3-4 mph.

    You just need to be able to throttle back your effort to a maintainable level while standing. Don't try to blast up the hill.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    I am 51 years old and race on a singlespeed mountain bike, so riding out of the saddle is quite natural (and inevitable). I also have a singlespeed road bike.

    When I train indoors (I have a CycleOps 300 Pro), I often ride out of the saddle at 200-230 watts, for 20 minutes and occasionally I go for 40-60 minutes, straight.

    So practice and you will improve!
    I generally only train for 5 minutes standing and pushing a heavy-ish gear in the trainer.

    I tend to stand while climbing for quick accellerations or when the pitch is steep and I'm out of gears. Sometimes it just feels good to stand up a bit during longer races.

  14. #14
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    Trying backing off a bit when you stand up. For me, if I stand up and keep the same gear, my power output goes up by 50 watts. If you're already riding at your limit, that extra bit of power hurts a whole lot more.

  15. #15
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    I agree with rm-rf. You're not going to be standing too long if you're trying to spin up the hill out of the saddle. When I stand, I shift up a gear or two and lower my cadence to between 50-60 rpm. At this rpm I can stay out of the saddle for extended periods.

    And if you're doing hills above 15%, you're going to need to be out of the saddle.
    If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

  16. #16
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    I am in my sixties and have found that my climbing improved when I lost weight. Since I also like a pre-breakfast walk/jog I also found that my jogging improved with weight loss too.

    As I jogged more [and for longer periods] I found my standing/cycling/climbing also improved. Relaxing while climbing [both while standing and sitting] seems to have improved endurance and speeds.

    If you don't jog or hike.... standing while cycling will take a bit more practice.
    If I didn't bicycle when the weather is bad... I wouldn't be a cyclist. I'd just be another old fat man... with a bicycle hanging in his garage.

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    If I stand up and keep a similar cadence to when I was sitting, it's too much. Like the other posters said, it's good for a short time only.

    But I can climb steep grades while standing if I purposely slow down my cadence. On a 8-10-12% grade, I'll shift to a smaller cog than when I was sitting. On a 15-18% grade, I'll be in the largest cog already, and I just slow down my cadence. At 18%, I'm down to 30-40 rpm, and 3-4 mph.

    You just need to be able to throttle back your effort to a maintainable level while standing. Don't try to blast up the hill.
    I tried out your advice tonight and wow what a difference. I realized that I wasn't even thinking and just naturally staying at the same or faster cadence when I stood up and that's what was just burning up my legs. I slowed down my cadence to 40-50 and I was actually staying up for 2-3 minutes at a time. I almost made it all the way to the top out of the saddle on my 1/2 mile 8% ave grade climb going at a steady 45rpm.

    Thanks wetpaint and redondoaveb for the same advice. Subconsciously every time I got out of the saddle I was trying to go faster. I'll work on slowing things down so that i can utilize the benefit of being able to stay out of the saddle longer to better use my leverage to climb the tougher hills.

    Awesome forum, thanks again
    Bianchi - Infinito - 2012 - Ultegra 6700 Group w/ Fulcrum Racing Zero wheelset

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
    I am in my sixties and have found that my climbing improved when I lost weight. Since I also like a pre-breakfast walk/jog I also found that my jogging improved with weight loss too.

    As I jogged more [and for longer periods] I found my standing/cycling/climbing also improved. Relaxing while climbing [both while standing and sitting] seems to have improved endurance and speeds.

    If you don't jog or hike.... standing while cycling will take a bit more practice.
    Unfortunately my flat feet was the reason I tried and became a cyclist. I know that shedding weight will help so I guess I better make a more concerted effort on loosing weight as well.
    Bianchi - Infinito - 2012 - Ultegra 6700 Group w/ Fulcrum Racing Zero wheelset

  19. #19
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    20 km in Paris-Roubaix without bike seat - YouTube

    easy, just ride without a saddle for while and you'll be right mate!

  20. #20
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    I think your goal of standing more might be missguided OP.

    Having the ability to stand will make you a better climber, yes, mainly because it's a biproduct of better fitness and or lower body weight. But using more standing time simply for more standing time will just make you an inefficient climber.

    Reasons to stand are: Slightly change the muscles being used to mix it up, give your arse a little break and circulation, and because it's the only option for going the speed you need to go or get up the grade you need to get up. When you see pro's standing it's for one of these reasons not because it's efficient. If standing was more efficent for them they'd do it for the entire race.

    There's no free lunch. It takes xx watts to go xx speed up xx grade and sitting is generally the most efficient way to generate watts on a bike. If you're faster standing then you off course are putting out more watts and naturally will burn out sooner. Sometimes it makes sense to make that trade-off other times not. Don't force yourself to make that trade off when it stategically makes no sense (unless it's for training purposes).

    By all means work on fitness and the ability pedal out of the saddle. But don't arbitrarily pedal out of the saddle or think 'more is better'.
    Some people are do really well climbing out of the saddle. Some people do just as well seated 99% of the time. Let which catagory you fall into working itself out naturally instead or forcing a style that might not suite you.

  21. #21
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I think your goal of standing more might be missguided OP.

    Having the ability to stand will make you a better climber, yes, mainly because it's a biproduct of better fitness and or lower body weight. But using more standing time simply for more standing time will just make you an inefficient climber.

    Reasons to stand are: Slightly change the muscles being used to mix it up, give your arse a little break and circulation, and because it's the only option for going the speed you need to go or get up the grade you need to get up. When you see pro's standing it's for one of these reasons not because it's efficient. If standing was more efficent for them they'd do it for the entire race.

    There's no free lunch. It takes xx watts to go xx speed up xx grade and sitting is generally the most efficient way to generate watts on a bike. If you're faster standing then you off course are putting out more watts and naturally will burn out sooner. Sometimes it makes sense to make that trade-off other times not. Don't force yourself to make that trade off when it stategically makes no sense (unless it's for training purposes).

    By all means work on fitness and the ability pedal out of the saddle. But don't arbitrarily pedal out of the saddle or think 'more is better'.
    Some people are do really well climbing out of the saddle. Some people do just as well seated 99% of the time. Let which catagory you fall into working itself out naturally instead or forcing a style that might not suite you.
    ^^^^ All of this. This sums it up perfect.
    Some people are spinners and some are mashers. Some of it's training and some is genetics. I like to stand and mash up a steep hill. It's fun rocking the bike back and forth. But I'm always better spinning and can often go as fast as other riders who are standing.

    Getting better at standing up hills will make you a stronger rider. Just be aware that it will always be the least efficient method.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by spade2you View Post
    I generally only train for 5 minutes standing and pushing a heavy-ish gear in the trainer.

    I tend to stand while climbing for quick accellerations or when the pitch is steep and I'm out of gears. Sometimes it just feels good to stand up a bit during longer races.
    As a singlespeeder I have to train for out of saddle riding during the winter (in the summer it just happens). Since I also race on a rigid bike, I am am out of the saddle on many, if not most, descents, especially when terrain is rough. Even when riding with gears I tend to attack shorter climbs out of the saddle.
    My rides:
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Getting better at standing up hills will make you a stronger rider. Just be aware that it will always be the least efficient method.
    Generally true, but I would take issue with that "always." If you're comparing two situations where your muscles are equally fresh, seated spinning in the ideal gear will be more efficient. But in the real world your muscles get fatigued, and you lose efficiency. When you've been climbing seated long enough to have that happen, it will often improve efficiency if you stand and recruit a different mix of muscles, giving the most fatigued ones a little rest. That's why those pro racers (the great majority of them) are jumping up repeatedly on long climbs, even when not attacking or chasing.
    Eppur si muove.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
    If I stand up and keep a similar cadence to when I was sitting, it's too much. Like the other posters said, it's good for a short time only.

    But I can climb steep grades while standing if I purposely slow down my cadence. On a 8-10-12% grade, I'll shift to a smaller cog than when I was sitting.
    Same here if am grinding up a hill and go from sitting to standing and don't change up I blow up fast. If I can change to a bigger gear or two I can accelerate a little while standing. I have found that by dropping my cadence and using my body weight helps. Basically treating it like stair steps seems to make the effort easier. On really steep mtn bike climbs I may need to really stand push down on the pedals while pulling up the bars. This way I can put even more power per stroke, but it won't last long.
    Joe
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    I think your goal of standing more might be missguided OP.

    Having the ability to stand will make you a better climber, yes, mainly because it's a biproduct of better fitness and or lower body weight. But using more standing time simply for more standing time will just make you an inefficient climber.

    Reasons to stand are: Slightly change the muscles being used to mix it up, give your arse a little break and circulation, and because it's the only option for going the speed you need to go or get up the grade you need to get up. When you see pro's standing it's for one of these reasons not because it's efficient. If standing was more efficent for them they'd do it for the entire race.

    There's no free lunch. It takes xx watts to go xx speed up xx grade and sitting is generally the most efficient way to generate watts on a bike. If you're faster standing then you off course are putting out more watts and naturally will burn out sooner. Sometimes it makes sense to make that trade-off other times not. Don't force yourself to make that trade off when it stategically makes no sense (unless it's for training purposes).

    By all means work on fitness and the ability pedal out of the saddle. But don't arbitrarily pedal out of the saddle or think 'more is better'.
    Some people are do really well climbing out of the saddle. Some people do just as well seated 99% of the time. Let which catagory you fall into working itself out naturally instead or forcing a style that might not suite you.
    Great advice above. For most people standing during a climb is a bit of a deal with the devil. You get a bit of a bump at first but the check comes due pretty quickly and you are usually worse off when you sit back down. I'm a pretty good climber relative to the people I ride with but I tend to keep my butt planted unless I'm attacking, pushing through the top or just working through a brief steep section.

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