Last week we looked at how to climb a hill while running. This week we are going to look at the same topic, except on a bike.
- The lighter you and your bike, the better.
Uphill cycling favours the light. There are two ways around this. Firstly, buy as expensive a bike as you can. The more you pay, the lighter the bike becomes. Secondly, if you are carrying a little extra weight, you need to try and get rid of it.
- Get used to the reality of hills.
All of us love riding downhill. The feel of acceleration, the sound of wind in your ears. Downhills are, however, earned, and they are earned on uphills. So, don’t dread uphills. Get yourself into a patient mindset and get to work. Your average speed will drop, your heart rate will rise, your legs will burn, but remember, no hill lasts forever.
Nothing will get you as fit as riding up a hill. Remember that as you tackle your nemesis.
- Don’t fall into the trap of just pushing down on the pedal. You want, as far as possible, to maintain a steady rhythm and to put as much power through all 360 degrees of your crank turn. Cyclists using flat pedals do well to get into a cleated system in this regard. You will have a lot more power going up hills when your foot is attached to the bike.
- Hold onto the outer edges of the handle bars.
This will allow you to engage your core, and will also open your chest up, allowing more oxygen into the system.
- Pre select an easier gear before you hit the climb.
This is especially important for mountain bikers. There is nothing worse than going through a dip, hitting a steep uphill, and pushing down on the pedal only to realise that you are in the wrong gear. You will provide free entertainment for those behind you as you slowly pick yourself up from the dust.
- Ride in a gear that allows you to engage your muscles in the most economical way possible.
You do not want to over spin your bike at this point, spinning on the pedal will only make you go slower. At the same time you want one or two easier gears to click into should the hill pick up further. Find your sweet spot and get to work.
- Stand from time to time.
Standing on the pedals gives you a break as you engage a slightly different firing pattern. Standing also gives your butt a much needed break. Shift down a few gears, stand up and start peddling. You want to tap out a rhythm on the pedals at this point.
- When seated, try different positions on your saddle.
The most efficient one will be to push yourself backwards on the saddle and push. This will engage both quads and core muscles.
- Don’t spend all your energy on the hill.
Lots of cyclists deplete all their energy on a hill, then slowly glide over the top and then desperately try and recover on the way back down. Rather go a bit slower and at the crest of the hill begin to pedal a bit harder. This will increase your average speed dramatically as you fly down the other side.
- Get a proper bike setup.
I specialise in bike setups and each week shake my head at what I see. I would say that almost 80% of bikes that come in are woefully setup. A proper setup will help you avoid injury and will increase your power output on the bike.