Rollin rollers into the sunset. Photo via @fabbricadellabici

Rollin rollers into the sunset. Photo via @fabbricadellabici

Anticipation Shift

by / / 65 posts

I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft… As for me, give me a fixed gear!

– Henri Desgrange

Whenever I encounter a challenging thought or idea, I recoil instinctively. On impulse, I assume I’m an expert in the matter and proceed as usual, no worse for the wear. The secret to success is your ability to overcome adversity, after all. Another secret to success, if we are allowed two on the same day, is to always take the advice of people on the internet, so long as you sort through all the opinions and cherry-pick the ones you already agreed with.

While I’m not an expert on taking advice, I am a bit of a virtuosity when it comes to the matter of giving it – especially when it is unsolicited. Please note, however, that while I am not drunk, I have a bit of a nasty case of manflu, a fact which I am certain will make me even more trustworthy.

As any fool can see, poor old Henri – however brilliant he was – was completely bonkers (genius and insanity often occupy the same mind). Despite that, there is a thread of truth to his reasoning, which is to say that gears are often used as a psychological tool rather than a mechanical one in order to tackle the various gradients we encounter during our rides.

We typically encounter a hill from some distance off, rearing up as though some careless road engineer had forgotten to tack the other end down. And, more often than not, we respond with the impulse to deploy the Anticipation Shift: downshifting prematurely in response to the sight of a big climb. Click-click-click-click, right down the block to whatever gear you imagine you’ll need in order to ride to the top of a hill whose gradient you can’t accurately judge and whose summit you likely can’t see. And just like that, all your momentum is gone and you’re left to fulfill your own prophecy of laboring with the gear all the way to the tippy top top of the climb.

To be fair, shifting is a bit of a dark art and takes ages to master.  When to shift and when to power through is something one should feel, never see. There is either a laboring or an ease in your stroke that informs whether you should change gear. Please consult the below list for some tips on how to avoid the Anticipation Shift.*

  1. The point of shifting is to maintain your cadence and spare the guns from overheating and causing a meltdown in the Engine Room. With that in mind, never shift more than one gear at a time, unless you know something specific about the climb that merits a bigger jump. If you are changing front chain rings, do so together with a synchronized two-cog shift of the rear in the opposite direction. (If you have widely spaced gears, one cog in the back might be enough.) **
  2. Shift whenever you sense you are losing the ability to smoothly turn the gear over, never before. Smoothly is the operative word here; if you fall behind the gear, you will heap coals on the fire, burn the guns, and overheat the engine room. If you get ahead of the gear, you risk upsetting your rhythm by spinning more thereby putting additional strain on your lungs, which you will experience as acute pain.
  3. If you encounter a short uptick in gradient, you have the choice to power over or to downshift and spin up it. This decision will involve a quick assessment of how closely the Man with the Hammer is lurking. If you have the juice, power over. You can even jump out of the saddle for a little extra V. This will keep your speed up and keep you from having to accelerate again after the pitch.
  4. Always hit a climb at full gas, as fast as you can go – especially if you are coming off a descent and especially – especially – when you are completely jacked. Use your momentum to carry you as far up the climb as you can, get out of the saddle and slowly downshift as the speed scrubs and the guns lose their ability to smoothly turn the gear over.
  5. The fifth bullet is here more for symmetry than anything else, but I’ll use this opportunity to remind you that shifting is the Domain of the Sissy, so if you can avoid it, please do.

* While these points hold true for any kind of riding, they are focussed on climbing.

** Remember, you can’t boast about climbing in the big ring on a compact; it’s only a big ring if it has more than 50 teeth, in which case it’s an outer ring.

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  1. @Stephen

    Saw this Andrea Bruschettini-credited photo in the Eroica gallery on Velonews. It is DeVlaeminck’s rear cluster. I’m guessing he’s using a 54×11-15. Sometimes you need that 15t to roll back to the end of the paceline.

    There’s something about the tooth shape on those old blocks that I find so satisfying.

  2. @RobSandy

    @Ron

    What is the feeling on downshifting at intersections/stop signs/commuter trail crossings?

    What is the protocol in these situations?

    Don’t kill anyone. Including yourself.

    I can do that! This time of year though I really, really loathe motorists who refused to turn their lights on in driving rainstorms or when it’s essentially dark out.

  3. I have a trick I use to maintain momentum and challenge myself on uphills. When there’s a dip and you can wring out the block and make it to tuck before the uphill, decide how many strokes per gear you will take. Ride the big ring and little cog cog as long as possible, when the legs can’t hold cadence, shift down one and make 8 (magnificent, of course) strokes. Shift down one and take eight more. Keep doing this until the crest. Next time, try to take 10 strokes in each gear. Soon you’ll be pushing over the crest on the 11.

  4. @pistard

    Regarding the fifth bullet: I thought we’d gotten beyond derogatory terms for the developmentally challenged.

    We can’t call people sissies anymore? I think someone needs the Rule #5 talk.

  5. @Stephen

    Saw this Andrea Bruschettini-credited photo in the Eroica gallery on Velonews. It is DeVlaeminck’s rear cluster. I’m guessing he’s using a 54×11-15. Sometimes you need that 15t to roll back to the end of the paceline.

    DeVlaeminck, the king of the corn cob. Brandford Bike has a DeVlaeminck (which is really a Colnago) in the shop and it has one of those as well.

    It looks like a 13-18 to me, that 18 is quite a bailout gear, if you ask me. They didn’t even develop a 12 (allez la douze) until the late 70’s, before that is was 13 or bust.

    @Tim Read

    When that block was made and in use by RdV an 11 was a mere glimmer in some Nipponese engineers eye. 13 was the max!

    This.

  6. @Al__S

    there’s a short climb here that’s a favourite of club runs that unfortunately requires an anticipation shift. there’s no safe way to approach it at speed, as it’s a side road on a blind junction. To make matters worse, it’s usually taken as a right turn (UK, so we ride/drive on the left) and rears to 100% almost immediately.

    I hate those climbs, just BAM, low gear and no mo’. A struggle from the bottom. There are a few like that that we do here in Seattle on the Ronde Cogal where we go straight into 20+% gradients on cobbles from a stop sign.

    In fact, the “club run” bit brings a whole further factor into play of group etiquette. Sometimes it’s fine to attack the group and ride at your own pace- but not always. There’s a time and place where one would be an arse to attack. Shift down, keep the cadence up and pace weaker riders up.

    This gets into a bigger scope, but for sure it’s a very good point. Rule #2 and Rule #3 fall into play here as well.

  7. @nobby

    I was once told my a gnarled old roadie (back in the day when I was a kindergarten student of V) that, rather than habitually shifting to a lower gear at the foot of a hill, you should shift UP and hit it in a slightly stiffer gear than your mind feels is appropriate. This gives you strength and also deals a hammer blow to the feeble minds of your fellow riders.

    good article Frank, as always

    Yes, absolutely. In fact, I significantly improved my power since riding with Johan Museeuw the first time and watching him climb in monster gears. It’s not always faster, but it really helps you gain strength. When actually trying to go fast, you might spin more, but the power will having you chewing up rises and rollers like a champ.

    @Teocalli

    It’s all relative of course but the devil in me grins when my normal buddy clicks down so I don’t but rather I pedal a just a bit harder. Just makes that elastic snap “ping” sound all the nicer.

    Click down last click up first.

    I love this.

    @AJ

    “** Remember, you can’t boast about climbing in the big ring on a compact; it’s only a big ring if it has more than 50 teeth, in which case it’s an outer ring.”

    So my 52/50 oval ring is only a big ring for half the stroke? Which would mean I could only ever do half a climb “in the big ring”? I think this makes me sad.

    Well, your oval ring should make you sad in principle, but I suppose whatever the effective gear size is would determine your Sissy Factor.

  8. @Ron

    What is the feeling on downshifting at intersections/stop signs/commuter trail crossings?

    I prefer a rather low tempo most of the time, around 80-90. I don’t like to be cruising along at that rate, have to stop or slow considerably, and downshift so that I get going and am spinning like crazy. I prefer to stay in the same gear and just stand as I get going again.

    What is the protocol in these situations? (and I’m not talking some knee shattering high gear, just something between the low and high ends)

    First of all, don’t roll through – stop, or at least get so slow that everyone at the intersection knows you’re stopping in spirit, if not reality.

    Track stands seem pointless, but I suggest you learn how to do one, just so you can roll up, do a quick stop, and keep rolling.

    And always downshift for a stop sign and stand on the pedals to get going.

    But for fucks sake: Be Casually Deliberate.

  9. @Ron

    @RobSandy

    @Ron

    What is the feeling on downshifting at intersections/stop signs/commuter trail crossings?

    What is the protocol in these situations?

    Don’t kill anyone. Including yourself.

    I can do that! This time of year though I really, really loathe motorists who refused to turn their lights on in driving rainstorms or when it’s essentially dark out.

    I had a guy nearly hit me on a greenway because he felt it was crucial to pull out even though the driving lane was full of traffic. So he pulled into the bike lane and I had to do a full emergency stop to avoid him, which meant actually sliding on a locked front wheel (very leafy and wet out here these days) with the back wheel off the ground. I normally don’t engage drivers for the knowledge that it will only make things worse, but his window was down so I calmly told him that he really put me in danger and that this is a bike lane, not a car lane. And I quote, “I SHOULD HAVE KILLED YOU, MOTHERFUCKER!!!”

  10. @VbyV

    I have a trick I use to maintain momentum and challenge myself on uphills. When there’s a dip and you can wring out the block and make it to tuck before the uphill, decide how many strokes per gear you will take. Ride the big ring and little cog cog as long as possible, when the legs can’t hold cadence, shift down one and make 8 (magnificent, of course) strokes. Shift down one and take eight more. Keep doing this until the crest. Next time, try to take 10 strokes in each gear. Soon you’ll be pushing over the crest on the 11.

    Interesting approach. This circumvents the principle of not shifting until you feel you’re getting behind the gear, but I like the strength training aspect. I will try this and report back.

  11. Shit. Does Campy make a 51 tooth chainring and can I afford it? In my mind I’m still crushing the big ring (50) and I refer to it as a big ring mostly to bug Frank.

  12. @frank

    @Al__S

    there’s a short climb here that’s a favourite of club runs that unfortunately requires an anticipation shift. there’s no safe way to approach it at speed, as it’s a side road on a blind junction. To make matters worse, it’s usually taken as a right turn (UK, so we ride/drive on the left) and rears to 100% almost immediately.

    I hate those climbs, just BAM, low gear and no mo’. A struggle from the bottom. There are a few like that that we do here in Seattle on the Ronde Cogal where we go straight into 20+% gradients on cobbles from a stop sign.

    There’s a corner in Deep Cove just as nasty, the only advantage being that a right turn in Canada isn’t across traffic so if you approach it heading South it is only slightly less painful. The main problem (self-inflicted) is the doughnut stop that usually precedes it.

  13. I was mainly talking about my daily commute on a low-volume MUP. My question was mainly – to downshift or not? And the answer is Yes.

  14. @frank

    @pistard

    Regarding the fifth bullet: I thought we’d gotten beyond derogatory terms for the developmentally challenged.

    We can’t call people sissies anymore? I think someone needs the Rule #5 talk.

    They’ve just changed the medical diagnostic codes (expanding the list mightily). My biggest complaint is they got rid of moron and idiot which were honest to God medical diagnosis (diagnosi?).

    I never had the balls to code for them but have had plenty of opportunities.

  15. What type of climbs are you monsters mashing up in the big ring? Your knees are still attached come the finish? When we plan to climb, the route takes us up and over several category 4s, 3s and 2s in a day. The pace is not civilized either. Other than the 4s, no one is in the big ring for the entire day unless they have a death wish. We have a special route here aptly named the Seven Climbs of Death. Even the elite racers in our group will not big ring it – not sure if any of us can and live to tell about it after 128kms. I am considered a climber in my group but I must actually be a wee sprout. I am removing my inner ring this evening. That will teach me.

  16. I’m still haunted by the shitty advice I gleaned from something Andy Hampsten said in an article a long time ago – they all got instructions to ride as small a gear as their legs could spin at all times while climbing, and to start this well in advance.

    Stupid. Totally doesn’t work. Say I can spin a 39 x 25 at 90 RPM on a given hill, I’d be rolling at ±18 kph. But if I’m willing to grind it out and dip down to 60 RPM for a minute, I can choose a 53×21 and roll out at 19 kph. The slightly higher velocity requires a little more work (physics and shit), and the interplay of multiple lever arms probably means I’m slightly less efficient (more physics and shit… but whatevs); but all this is made up for in spades when I crest over that fucker sur la plaque.

    I like @VbyV ‘s pre-determined stroke count idea, because the finite number means you’ve either pedaled that many strokes, or you haven’t. Deciding to “hold this gear as long as I can” makes it too easy to quit on yourself. You may be able to convince yourself and others (wrongly) that you didn’t have any more power to lay out, but you can’t deny you pedaled 7 strokes instead of 8. It’s a fact, laid bare for all to see how you let the rest of us down.

    Plus, there is a little cadence trick you can use to get the most out of your pre-counted strokes. You can actually accelerate while you’re in a given gear instead of just maintaining it. (Or, at least you’ll slow down a little less than you would have.)

  17. @VbyV

    I have a trick I use to maintain momentum and challenge myself on uphills. When there’s a dip and you can wring out the block and make it to tuck before the uphill, decide how many strokes per gear you will take. Ride the big ring and little cog cog as long as possible, when the legs can’t hold cadence, shift down one and make 8 (magnificent, of course) strokes. Shift down one and take eight more. Keep doing this until the crest. Next time, try to take 10 strokes in each gear. Soon you’ll be pushing over the crest on the 11.

    I do a very similar style of shifting up one cog at a time for set revolutions. making a game of it.

  18. “How closely the Man with the Hammer is lurking”.

    That Fucker never leaves!

    Well put Frank

  19. @gilvelo

    “How closely the Man with the Hammer is lurking”.

    That Fucker never leaves!

    Well put Frank

    Right, but the hitch is: you never know where he is… just go for it, and if he finds you, he finds you. If he’s gonna get you, at least you’ve done something to get stronger before he nabbed you. And if he doesn’t find you…? Voilà la Volupte, non?

  20. Anticipation shifting is like premature ejaculation. No good for anybody, anytime. Please see Rule #5.

    Pretty sure that advice to Andy back in the day was a nefarious plot by the euros intended to slow 7-Eleven down. Bob Roll didn’t shift prematurely…then again, he was the lantern rouge on a lot of climbs. Better to be last with your dignity and V intact than windmilling the legs 100 rpm @ .05W.

    @ VbyV: I like the set rotations per gear – gonna try that but need to find some longer hills first. Most here are too short to test the theory so I end up just sprinting up them. Fun to pass people on the way up, they have no idea what is going on.

  21. @frank

    @Ron

    I had a guy nearly hit me on a greenway because he felt it was crucial to pull out even though the driving lane was full of traffic. So he pulled into the bike lane and I had to do a full emergency stop to avoid him, which meant actually sliding on a locked front wheel (very leafy and wet out here these days) with the back wheel off the ground. I normally don’t engage drivers for the knowledge that it will only make things worse, but his window was down so I calmly told him that he really put me in danger and that this is a bike lane, not a car lane. And I quote, “I SHOULD HAVE KILLED YOU, MOTHERFUCKER!!!”

    This sort of shit happens all the time. I’m very aware of motorists so I haven’t had many really near misses, but the few I have I’m normally so shaken up I can’t think of anything to say, so I just stare at them in what I hope is a menacing manner.

    One of my mates’ approach to crap drivers is to give them a big ‘thumbs down’ hand gesture with an accompanying sad face. I like it.

  22. @Sparty

    What type of climbs are you monsters mashing up in the big ring? Your knees are still attached come the finish? When we plan to climb, the route takes us up and over several category 4s, 3s and 2s in a day. The pace is not civilized either. Other than the 4s, no one is in the big ring for the entire day unless they have a death wish. We have a special route here aptly named the Seven Climbs of Death. Even the elite racers in our group will not big ring it – not sure if any of us can and live to tell about it after 128kms. I am considered a climber in my group but I must actually be a wee sprout. I am removing my inner ring this evening. That will teach me.

    Along the lines of “Did you see that fish that I hooked it was THIS big”……………?

  23. I’m with Monsieur Desgrange on this. My nine bike/winter commuter is invariably a fixed gear of some stripe. Need to go up? Pedal harder. Need to go down? Pedal faster. You have precisely as many gears as you need.

    For this year’s incarnation, I took an old Cervelo P2-SL frame and converted it to fixed-gear – these frames have little track fork ends instead of a vertical dropout, which makes the conversion a snap. Replaced the goofy aero bars with some proper road bars, and there you go.

    48×15 gearing does about right for rolling terrain.

  24. @RobSandy

    It very much depends on the hill, sometimes hitting it full gas in the big ring (I now ride a 52 so can officially call it a big ring) and powering all the way to the top works fine, sometimes this results in sudden cessation of forward movement and/or crying, and you’re best to get in the inner ring and spin away.

    Climbing out of the saddle is something I’ve worked on and can now do it for a bit longer, although it still feels like a struggle and my instinct is to go high cadence.

    Practice what I call “Contador intervals.” I actually do these on my spin bike over the winter. After warming up, I turn the resistance up and do out of the saddle “climbs” for 10 minutes with 3 minutes recovery inbetween. At least 3 reps, sometimes 4. Sometimes the same resistance each time. Sometimes increasing the resistance with each rep. Apparently, Contador likes to do 20 minutes out of the saddle when he’s working on his climbing.

    Seated, I’m more of a lower cadence “grinder” than a “spinner” when I climb. I sort of need the feel of “resistance” as I pedal. I feel like if I spin (or spin too much) when I’m climbing that I’m not getting any power. I often see people climbing who are spinning but their bike speed doesn’t seem to match their pedal speed. And, more times than not, I can catch/pass them.

  25. @nobby

    I was once told my a gnarled old roadie (back in the day when I was a kindergarten student of V) that, rather than habitually shifting to a lower gear at the foot of a hill, you should shift UP and hit it in a slightly stiffer gear than your mind feels is appropriate. This gives you strength and also deals a hammer blow to the feeble minds of your fellow riders.

    good article Frank, as always

    Yes! You want to hit the base of the climb with power/bike speed not leg speed per se. Shift down (bigger cog) when both bike speed and leg speed start to bog down. The art to this is doing it before you actually lose it.

    A corollary is that as you get to the top, shift back up (smaller cog) and power up and over the last part of the climb.

  26. @Al__S

    there’s a short climb here that’s a favourite of club runs that unfortunately requires an anticipation shift. there’s no safe way to approach it at speed, as it’s a side road on a blind junction. To make matters worse, it’s usually taken as a right turn (UK, so we ride/drive on the left) and rears to 100% almost immediately.

    In fact, the “club run” bit brings a whole further factor into play of group etiquette. Sometimes it’s fine to attack the group and ride at your own pace- but not always. There’s a time and place where one would be an arse to attack. Shift down, keep the cadence up and pace weaker riders up.

    I have something similar one of my routes, but maybe actually “worse.” The run in is a lengthy (a little over a km) barely perceptible uphill (maybe 1%) slog. Right turn and BAM! Short climb (less than a km), but you have no momentum, with an average grade of 6% but double digit at the top.

  27. @chuckp

    Practice what I call “Contador intervals.” I actually do these on my spin bike over the winter. After warming up, I turn the resistance up and do out of the saddle “climbs” for 10 minutes with 3 minutes recovery inbetween. At least 3 reps, sometimes 4. Sometimes the same resistance each time. Sometimes increasing the resistance with each rep. Apparently, Contador likes to do 20 minutes out of the saddle when he’s working on his climbing.

    I do something similar but my turbo is not great at shifting resistance being a) basic and b) fairly old. So my typical sequence is set resistance to a baseline for a session with the bike in big dog and mid cassette and use gearing to increase resistance per……

    1. Warmup 2 mins shifting down (lower gear) 1 cog.
    2. Shift to baseline for 3 mins and pick up fast cruise
    3. Drop 1 cog (higher gear) 2 mins near max
    4. Back to baseline 3 mins fast cruise (i.e. not as slow as recovery)
    5. Drop 2 cogs 2 mins near max
    6. Back to baseline 3 mins fast cruise
    7. Drop 3 cogs 2 mins near max
    8. continue depending on cog you start in till either a) you are in highest gear or b) you collapse
    9. 5 mins on rowing machine x 2 cycles
    10. End with 2-5 mins warm down back on turbo as step 1

    I usually set up resistance such that step 6 is 50% standing and step 7 is all standing.

    Repeat depending on age / fitness / ability to stay sane on a turbo.

  28. I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

  29. @Teocalli

    I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

    Agree. Some sort of intervals keeps you focused and makes the time pass. Music also helps. I also sometimes just put a movie on the TV. But in an hour or so, you can get a pretty good/beneficial workout. For me, it’s essentially strength training without going to the gym.

  30. An interesting take on this is when you have to do an all uphill mountain time trial (which I’ve had to do exactly once). Standing start on a grade (no fancy TT start house). Do you start in a small gear so you have leg speed and then shift to smaller cogs to get power? Or start in a bigger gear and try to power up from the get-go? Big ring knowing that you will absolutely have to shift down to the small ring?

  31. @chuckp

    @Teocalli

    I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

    Agree. Some sort of intervals keeps you focused and makes the time pass. Music also helps. I also sometimes just put a movie on the TV. But in an hour or so, you can get a pretty good/beneficial workout. For me, it’s essentially strength training without going to the gym.

    Agh, the thought of just getting on the turbo and riding makes me feel nauseous. I have a selection of 30-45 minute workouts on the turbo to achieve different things.Nearly all intervals of some kind. Any longer than that and it’s just mental torture.

  32. @chuckp

    An interesting take on this is when you have to do an all uphill mountain time trial (which I’ve had to do exactly once). Standing start on a grade (no fancy TT start house). Do you start in a small gear so you have leg speed and then shift to smaller cogs to get power? Or start in a bigger gear and try to power up from the get-go? Big ring knowing that you will absolutely have to shift down to the small ring?

    I’ve recently done a hill TT, and the complete bastard thing about it was that the gradient constantly varied. It started with a false flat, where you needed to be in full on TT mode, then steepened a little, then went into double digit gradients for a bit…it was just the most horrible thing I’ve done on a bike. I just felt uncomfortable the whole time, no opportunity to get into any sort of rhythm.

  33. @chuckp

    An interesting take on this is when you have to do an all uphill mountain time trial (which I’ve had to do exactly once). Standing start on a grade (no fancy TT start house). Do you start in a small gear so you have leg speed and then shift to smaller cogs to get power? Or start in a bigger gear and try to power up from the get-go? Big ring knowing that you will absolutely have to shift down to the small ring?

    Racing in Scotland in the 80s, hill climbs were an intrinsic part of the fall calendar. Two-up ‘Gentleman’s races” and a couple of hilly TTs were also part of the fall schedule. They always attracted good crowds to watch the riders suffering. Being historically unsuited to climbing, I rode a few (mostly club ones) just for the “fun” of it. Remember, this was before compact cranks and brifters so gearing was generally higher and shifting a bit more awkward as you couldn’t shift while out of the saddle. If I remember, I’d start pretty low depending on the initial gradient and then shift accordingly. The biggest thing was getting really warmed up. None of the ones I rode could be done on a 52. A lot of guys rode fixed. Some climbs started easy, others were full on from the start. As this was also in the days of toe clips and straps, there was usually someone to catch the riders at the top so they wouldn’t fall over. It was pure masochism. Good times.

  34. @litvi

    You can actually accelerate while you’re in a given gear instead of just maintaining it. (Or, at least you’ll slow down a little less than you would have.)

    let the record show that litvi is a good name.

    on the front, yes. good idea to give enough acceleration before shifting to another sprocket. seamless pedal strokes before the shift, whether shifting up or down, serve the rider and other riders. any other rider, hanging on your wheels every word, needs to see this. giving an evident moment shows riders closing in on a climb to prepare their “own shift” or accelerate right then and there. this also depends whether you are attempting to drop riders or pilot them to the next climb.

  35. @Gianni

    Shit. Does Campy make a 51 tooth chainring and can I afford it? In my mind I’m still crushing the big ring (50) and I refer to it as a big ring mostly to bug Frank.

    If you do it to annoy Frank, and so long as its done in the spirit of Rule #43, then it gets a pass in my books.

  36. @chuckp

    @Teocalli

    I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

    Agree. Some sort of intervals keeps you focused and makes the time pass. Music also helps. I also sometimes just put a movie on the TV. But in an hour or so, you can get a pretty good/beneficial workout. For me, it’s essentially strength training without going to the gym.

    +1. With the first snow accumulating on the ground outside my house last night, I’m finally resigned to suffering in my basement for the next few months. The only way it’s tolerable is to first add music, and second, to break up the monotony into 2, 3, 4, or so minute chunks with specific objectives.

    I also gave Zwift a try this week. Though I feel quite anti-V admitting it, I enjoy the virtual riding. I wouldn’t trade it for a whirlwind 1200km (each way) weekend sprint to ride in the real world with Velominat, but it certainly adds another dimension to breakup the trainer boredom.

  37. @TheVid

    @chuckp

    @Teocalli

    I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

    Agree. Some sort of intervals keeps you focused and makes the time pass. Music also helps. I also sometimes just put a movie on the TV. But in an hour or so, you can get a pretty good/beneficial workout. For me, it’s essentially strength training without going to the gym.

    +1. With the first snow accumulating on the ground outside my house last night, I’m finally resigned to suffering in my basement for the next few months. The only way it’s tolerable is to first add music, and second, to break up the monotony into 2, 3, 4, or so minute chunks with specific objectives.

    I also gave Zwift a try this week. Though I feel quite anti-V admitting it, I enjoy the virtual riding. I wouldn’t trade it for a whirlwind 1200km (each way) weekend sprint to ride in the real world with Velominat, but it certainly adds another dimension to breakup the trainer boredom.

    Large quantities of alcohol during the winter usually do the trick for me.

  38. @VbyV

    I have a trick I use to maintain momentum and challenge myself on uphills. When there’s a dip and you can wring out the block and make it to tuck before the uphill, decide how many strokes per gear you will take. Ride the big ring and little cog cog as long as possible, when the legs can’t hold cadence, shift down one and make 8 (magnificent, of course) strokes. Shift down one and take eight more. Keep doing this until the crest. Next time, try to take 10 strokes in each gear. Soon you’ll be pushing over the crest on the 11.

    Did the above mentioned 8 count today up all the rollers along my 60 km route.

    Worked well and much less click click click going on when then mind is overpowering the body.

    Well played!

  39. @litvi

    @gilvelo

    “How closely the Man with the Hammer is lurking”.

    That Fucker never leaves!

    Well put Frank

    Right, but the hitch is: you never know where he is… just go for it, and if he finds you, he finds you. If he’s gonna get you, at least you’ve done something to get stronger before he nabbed you. And if he doesn’t find you…? Voilà la Volupte, non?

    This, he always lurks nearby, the question, I suppose is how soon he will strike, and whether you have the strength to avoid his blow.

    @Teocalli

    @Sparty

    What type of climbs are you monsters mashing up in the big ring? Your knees are still attached come the finish? When we plan to climb, the route takes us up and over several category 4s, 3s and 2s in a day. The pace is not civilized either. Other than the 4s, no one is in the big ring for the entire day unless they have a death wish. We have a special route here aptly named the Seven Climbs of Death. Even the elite racers in our group will not big ring it – not sure if any of us can and live to tell about it after 128kms. I am considered a climber in my group but I must actually be a wee sprout. I am removing my inner ring this evening. That will teach me.

    Along the lines of “Did you see that fish that I hooked it was THIS big”……………?

  40. @DeKerr

    @frank

    @Al__S

    there’s a short climb here that’s a favourite of club runs that unfortunately requires an anticipation shift. there’s no safe way to approach it at speed, as it’s a side road on a blind junction. To make matters worse, it’s usually taken as a right turn (UK, so we ride/drive on the left) and rears to 100% almost immediately.

    I hate those climbs, just BAM, low gear and no mo’. A struggle from the bottom. There are a few like that that we do here in Seattle on the Ronde Cogal where we go straight into 20+% gradients on cobbles from a stop sign.

    There’s a corner in Deep Cove just as nasty, the only advantage being that a right turn in Canada isn’t across traffic so if you approach it heading South it is only slightly less painful. The main problem (self-inflicted) is the doughnut stop that usually precedes it.

    I’ve got a right-hander onto a great climb that has a manhole cover right where you want to be if you’re going to use your momentum to big ring the steep bottom pitch before settling into a great series of sweeping bends up through the bluffs. Your choice is to cross the middle line, lose your wheel on the manhole cover and crash, or hit the brakes and lose your ‘mo. All three seem equally appealing.

  41. @antihero

    I’m with Monsieur Desgrange on this. My nine bike/winter commuter is invariably a fixed gear of some stripe. Need to go up? Pedal harder. Need to go down? Pedal faster. You have precisely as many gears as you need.

    For this year’s incarnation, I took an old Cervelo P2-SL frame and converted it to fixed-gear – these frames have little track fork ends instead of a vertical dropout, which makes the conversion a snap. Replaced the goofy aero bars with some proper road bars, and there you go.

    48×15 gearing does about right for rolling terrain.

    It’s a classic winter-training technique. When I was starting up, the rule was never to ride in the big ring before May (this was Minnesota, the roads weren’t rideable until late March at the earliest). Not fixed, but the idea was to ease into the power and work on pedalling smoothly at first.

  42. @Teocalli

    I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

    It’s also surprising how much better suited a turbo is for intervals than is riding on the road; there is nothing keeping you from staying in the pattern. I actually enjoy riding my LeMond, although I sure as fuck haven’t pulled it out since April. I don’t love it THAT much.

  43. @wiscot

    @chuckp

    An interesting take on this is when you have to do an all uphill mountain time trial (which I’ve had to do exactly once). Standing start on a grade (no fancy TT start house). Do you start in a small gear so you have leg speed and then shift to smaller cogs to get power? Or start in a bigger gear and try to power up from the get-go? Big ring knowing that you will absolutely have to shift down to the small ring?

    Racing in Scotland in the 80s, hill climbs were an intrinsic part of the fall calendar. Two-up ‘Gentleman’s races” and a couple of hilly TTs were also part of the fall schedule. They always attracted good crowds to watch the riders suffering. Being historically unsuited to climbing, I rode a few (mostly club ones) just for the “fun” of it. Remember, this was before compact cranks and brifters so gearing was generally higher and shifting a bit more awkward as you couldn’t shift while out of the saddle. If I remember, I’d start pretty low depending on the initial gradient and then shift accordingly. The biggest thing was getting really warmed up. None of the ones I rode could be done on a 52. A lot of guys rode fixed. Some climbs started easy, others were full on from the start. As this was also in the days of toe clips and straps, there was usually someone to catch the riders at the top so they wouldn’t fall over. It was pure masochism. Good times.

    We used to do one here up Zoo hill, but they stopped. It was fucking agony.

    https://www.strava.com/segments/609135

  44. I used to be able to turn over a 53/12 up some hills, and early went to 39/23

    Now, I’m old and slow, and 39/25 is not enough on some hills, and I shift all the time, call me a wimp, at least I’m riding in 38deg water, through mud, rain, and all else.

    Not only will I keep all my gears, I’ll continue to use them!

  45. Got the closest I’ve ever felt to pedalling with a Magnificent Stroke on Sunday. When I felt the resistance start to increase and my cadence slow, instead of either clicking down or labouring on with a low cadence, I steadied myself in a strong position, engaged my lower back and core muscles, and concentrated on turning my feet in strong circles rather than stomping them up and down.

    The effect was astonishing, I could feel the power pushing through the bike without the normal indicators of effort; rolling shoulders, a laboured stroke, etc. It didn’t feel easier, but it did feel better; faster.

    It still felt like fighting, only fighting and winning. Awesome.

  46. @Michael

    I used to be able to turn over a 53/12 up some hills, and early went to 39/23

    Now, I’m old and slow, and 39/25 is not enough on some hills, and I shift all the time, call me a wimp, at least I’m riding in 38deg water, through mud, rain, and all else.

    Not only will I keep all my gears, I’ll continue to use them!

    My 90s steelie race bike (which I rode most of last year, but only occasionally this year) is 53/39 up front and 12×23 in back. I found 39×23 just barely enough to get up some of the steeper stuff. Am now grateful for my “mixed/semi” compact gearing: 50/36 up front with 11×28 in back. Old and slow, but remember what Fausto Coppi said: “Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.”

  47. @frank

    @Teocalli

    I forgot to add. It’s surprising how a turbo session with some sort of interval structure somehow makes the time pass better than sitting there and grinding away in the same mode for the duration.

    It’s also surprising how much better suited a turbo is for intervals than is riding on the road; there is nothing keeping you from staying in the pattern. I actually enjoy riding my LeMond, although I sure as fuck haven’t pulled it out since April. I don’t love it THAT much.

    This is my Winter / Bad Weather lunch time intervals. Alternate reps sitting and standing.

  48. @chuckp

    Steal, mine is Alm, and stiff as an I-beam! I also don’t ride it anymore, mostly just look fondly and remember all of the adventures we were on.

    On bumpy roads it’s almost felt like I was doing a CX race! It would hurt so bad on longer rides, I did several double century rides on her. Could not get back on the saddle for week after each one.

    Vintage Kelin

  49. @RobSandy

    Got the closest I’ve ever felt to pedalling with a Magnificent Stroke on Sunday. When I felt the resistance start to increase and my cadence slow, instead of either clicking down or labouring on with a low cadence, I steadied myself in a strong position, engaged my lower back and core muscles, and concentrated on turning my feet in strong circles rather than stomping them up and down.

    The effect was astonishing, I could feel the power pushing through the bike without the normal indicators of effort; rolling shoulders, a laboured stroke, etc. It didn’t feel easier, but it did feel better; faster.

    It still felt like fighting, only fighting and winning. Awesome.

    Oh man, I miss that feeling…after 8 weeks off the bike caused by the arrival of 2 new Velominippers, leave passes have finally been granted this week.

    The memories of what you could do previously are not fun when you have to face up to the realities of what you can do currently.

  50. @frank

    @VbyV

    I have a trick I use to maintain momentum and challenge myself on uphills. When there’s a dip and you can wring out the block and make it to tuck before the uphill, decide how many strokes per gear you will take. Ride the big ring and little cog cog as long as possible, when the legs can’t hold cadence, shift down one and make 8 (magnificent, of course) strokes. Shift down one and take eight more. Keep doing this until the crest. Next time, try to take 10 strokes in each gear. Soon you’ll be pushing over the crest on the 11.

    Interesting approach. This circumvents the principle of not shifting until you feel you’re getting behind the gear, but I like the strength training aspect. I will try this and report back.

    This technique works well for me. I have another strength thing I do when riding with the VMH, who is not as strong a rider as me. I will just stay in the big ring all the time, riding slowly up hills with her but KILLING my quads with too big a gear.

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