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Help Me Get Up The Hills

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  • Help Me Get Up The Hills

    Ok, so today I'm out on my 29" trying to ride up this grassy hill - maybe 4 - 6% incline. Here's a pic of it.

    Just can't make it up. I make it a ways up but it seems that I get stuck. I can usually make all the paved hills but have difficulty on the grassy ones. Will this come in time when I get more miles on my wheel? I've only been riding since Jan of this year.

    Any words of wisdom?

  • #2
    Very likely this will become much easier as your riding skill improves.

    One of the things that might help you with any hill climb is to insure that you are holding on to the seat with one hand and that you are pulling it up into yourself to maintain a firm link between you, the uni and the ground surface.

    Off road riding of any sort can bumb and shake you off balance causing a lack of forward momentum. Keeping the seat tight to you helps keep your flow moving forward.
    Always remember: With patience and perseverance you can piss a hole through a rock.


    • #3
      Like the previous poster said, it's the sort of thing that just gets easier with experience. Holding onto the saddle is a good thing, and I find standing up on the pedals helps keep things more stable on a rough climb - so the saddle needs to be slightly lower than you would set it for road riding (but not silly low like a trials rider). It takes a lot more effort to climb a rough grass slope than a similarly steep paved slope.

      "Hedgehogs - why can't they just share the hedge?" (Dan Antopolski)

      "I would absolutely recommend a 29er to anyone who didn't prefer a larger or small wheel." (Mikefule)


      • #4
        Well, I do believe that you will probably, more than likely, in my estimation, develop your skills, in such a way, that maybe, possibly, quite likely, you will some day, climb that hill.

        If you don't then you are old, and so you're over the hill anyhow

        Seriously, you gotta get outta the seat and put all of your weight on the pedals while pulling up on the seat, while at the same time staying balanced enough that you can lean the uni forward and "attack" the hill.

        Practice on steeper paved stuff, maybe something that has a inconsistent grade, then move to rougher terrain.

        It's amazing what you can roll with time
        I dream of hamsters and elderberries


        • #5
          Same as above. Try keep your momentum up, pedaling smoothly and REALLY try to not get down to 1/2 revs (I think this would be especially true w/ the inertia of a 29). Steeper paved hills will help w/ this. Also focusing on the articulation of your ankles as your feet come around will help you get past 12/6:00 smoothly.

          IMO a semi rough trail is easier than a similarly rough grass surface (I think the hidden bumps throw me off).
          Last edited by skilewis74; 2010-05-14, 08:47 PM.
          Ride everywhere and never just ride anywhere. If you can ride where you are going within a hour, do it, and if you can do a trick 50-75% of the time do it along the way.- Bob Burnquist

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          • #6
            The key thing with hills is that if you want to get good at them, ride up them, don't give up and walk. If you fall off on a hill, get back on and ride the rest. If you fall off again, get back on again. Repeat until you get to the top. If you find you've lost the power to ride up at all, take a pause to get your breath back before you get on again.

            People who do that get good at hills pretty quick. People who fall off once and then walk the rest and never really try hard at hills suck at hills forever and are boring to go riding with.

            You really will find that you get better incredibly quickly - and if you ride with other people, you'll really see the relative improvement.

            You can take this a bit far - on this mornings ride, I dismounted 15 times on one 400m stretch of rocky, rooty climbing (with a >20% grade which is my excuse!). I can run up that section in two and a bit minutes or something (it is in one of our local fell running races), it took me 15 minutes to ride it today.

            Obviously on a ride with other people I might have had a slightly less completist approach, so as not to piss people off, but I'll still give it a darned good go (and thanks to that training approach, anything rideable, I'll be one of the first to the top anyway).

            Oh yeah, on technique, I wouldn't worry too much - get the fitness and you'll learn the technique while you are there. I guess hold onto the seat, but don't pull up too hard is the only thing I can think of that is helpful, oh and being able to briefly still stand, do a pedal rotation, then still stand again is helpful, as you can take it one step at a time, but to be honest that technique is not going to be that useful on a 6% incline - that is more just about fitness.

            Last edited by joemarshall; 2010-05-14, 08:50 PM.
            old pics new zealand pics new pics
            Where have I been riding? (GPS)


            • #7
              On rough hills, I "stomp" up. I stand up and pretend the pedals are stair treads. Stomp stomp stomp. I don't really pull on the handle as such, but I do rely on it for feedback on what the uni is doing.

              It is also vital to pick your route carefully. Look ahead, set goals, avoid obstacles. Few hills have a uniform slope or surface. You need to find the route through the maze that uses the least energy and conserves the most momentum. (Which is probably the same thing in different words.)

              And practise practise practise.
              My first novel, Bridge of Otherwhere, Michael Wilkinson, on Kindle. A tale of subtle magic, mystery, friendship and love. For US$ page:


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mikefule View Post
                You need to find the route through the maze that uses the least energy and conserves the most momentum. (Which is probably the same thing in different words.)
                For me a lot of the time they are the same, but there are times where I know I've done one over the other, each w/ better success than I would have done the other way, if that makes sense.
                Last edited by skilewis74; 2010-05-14, 09:23 PM.
                Ride everywhere and never just ride anywhere. If you can ride where you are going within a hour, do it, and if you can do a trick 50-75% of the time do it along the way.- Bob Burnquist

                What's next?


                • #9
                  Grass is usually a very difficult surface to ride on, because you can't see the bumps. Dirt and rocks are easier.

                  To climb on a bumpy surface, keep your body loose so that a small bump won't stop you in your tracks. Pull up on the handle to get over bumps. And if it's a steepish hill for you, take it slowly, one pedal at a time; get used to a short moment of going very slowly or stopping at each pedal revolution.


                  • #10
                    when i ride in grass i just look very closely ahead of me. look for soft spots, bumps, etc and just go around them.
                    "I'm probably not advanced enough to have thoroughly tested it while riding, but I'm unadvanced enough to have very thoroughly tested it while falling." -uniShark

                    I ride for Christ-opher Walken


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JoeBike View Post
                      Any words of wisdom?
                      What I haven't seen in the replies so far is the recommendation to "lean into the hill". You need to lean forward a bit. Otherwise when you stall, you can't propel your wheel forward or it would shoot out from under you. And you will stall on grassy inclines as they tend to be bumpy.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Klaas Bil View Post
                        ..."lean into the hill"...
                        Good point, Klass. That's what I'm teaching myself to do. On a hill that I've been having trouble on, I kept stalling by being too far back. I've been working on consciously leaning further forward to allow myself to put more reactive force into the down-stroke. This appears to be important also for overcoming unseen bumps, etc, as there is more room for reactive adjustment when there is motion, as opposed to being at the near-stall balance point (if that makes sense).



                        • #13
                          Yes, that makes sense. Moreover, there is a physical need to lean into the hill just to be in balance, see


                          • #14
                            To aid in your learning process, cut the grass a little bit shorter.

                            Grass is tough, as tholub said. You don't know what's under there, and the amount of friction (depending on grass thickness and moisture levels) can be surprising, even on level ground.
                            John Foss

                            "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"


                            • #15
                              I tend to overpower each stroke when going through grass. This is just so in case I do hit a hidden obstacle I don't get stuck in the deadly 12 o'clock position. The obvious downsides are more energy consumed and less smooth pedaling. Another thing that seems to work for me in some situations is 'snaking' instead of going a straight line.