Climb Like A Pro – Tips On Cycling Up Hills

Climb Like A Pro – Tips On Cycling Up Hills


With riders all around you it’s easy to let
the adrenaline kick in and start these mountains too hard so at the bottom of the climbs throttle
back and take a moment to remind yourself how long it’s going to take, use subjective
feelings a heart rate monitor or a power metre to pace yourself, if you do things right you’ll
be passing a lot of riders as they fade towards the top. Why? It’s the most efficient way
to the top, sitting back in the saddle will recruit your glutes giving the large muscles
at the back of your thighs more leverage to pedal. Reduce the risk of going anaerobic
or in other words into oxygen dept, standing up or riding out of the saddle is more powerful
but will use vital glycogen stores faster. That said some riders, think Alberto Contador
and myself are simply more comfortable climbing out of the saddle so if you’re a bit more
experienced and you don’t feel like you can get all of your power out in the saddle then
do what feels comfortable, vary it, it will ease the pain. When you’re out of the saddle
change up to a bigger gear because you’ll want a lower cadence change back into an
easier gear when you sit down. A steady cadence of about 90rpm is considered normal, however
it is very much self selected so you shouldn’t try and ride at a specific cadence just because
someone’s told you that’s the best way to do it. Practice this it’s not easy whilst
you’re climbing, the effort is high, your breathing rate and heart rate soar and the
concentration of actually getting up the mountain can make you simply forget to take on calories
and fluids compensate for this on the flat sections. You don’t need to have an extra
special bike to be able to climb a mountain but you do need to choose the right gears.
A compact front chain set with smaller than standard chain rings will be needed by most
amateur riders to get up European climbs, on some of the Italian climbs which are painfully
steep as well as long you may also need to get a bigger rear cassette to give you an
even lower easiest gear. If you do happen to have an unlimited budget the lighter your
bike is the easier the fight against gravity will be. Pro riders are governed by the UCI’s
minimum weight rule of 6.8kg but these days it’s feasible to build a perfectly safe bike
which is well under that weight. It’s a waste of energy to grip the bars too tightly, don’t tense
your upper body, relax your shoulders, keep you back straight, shoulders down, hands resting
on the bar tops, this will open up your diaphragm making more space for your lungs to expand
and improve your aerobic efficiency. Setting out at the bottom of the Tourmalet and thinking
you’ve got 19km to the top can be so daunting that you feel defeated before you’ve even
begun. Break the climbs down into smaller chunks in your head ticking them off as you
go, if it’s a famous climb do some research beforehand identify the landmarks think about
these as your next marker and goal its 60% mental attitude, take the first third of the
climb slowly saving enough energy so that you can push through the last third, this
is when you should be exerting yourself, not before.