Question: I do a weekly workout on a 1.5-mile-long hill with a steep, 15% grade. I have good endurance but my speed is glacial. I also have a history of knee problems so use a triple crankset. A riding friend suggested that moderate hills are better training than this killer climb I’m using. Do you agree? — Lawrence C.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Yes, moderately steep hills are often better for training than going up a 15% wall.
And they’re better for your knees, too. Plodding up a wall teaches you to pedal slowly. It taxes your knees and muscles more than it does your aerobic system.
Riding a 5% hill in a reasonable gear with a cadence of 80-90 rpm is much better for you.
Of course, very steep hills have their place in a training program. But still, you’re usually better off attacking them with low gears (good to see you have a triple) and a sprightly cadence, especially if you have knee problems.