TOP CYCLING TIPS FOR – CLIMBING
For our previous post in our Top Cycling Tips series, our resident cycling expert Julia covered energy snacks. This week, she’s looking at one of the toughest and most revered aspects of cycling, the climbs.
Unless you live beside a Dutch canal it’s likely that your bike rides involve a hill or two. On long rides and cycle tours they are unavoidable, and part of the fun. Hills make rides more interesting, offer you a personal challenge and sometimes provide some friendly competition with your riding mates.
Whether you’re riding up the 46km Mount Tiede in Tenerife, the 80km climb to Lishan in Taiwan, the 30% gradient of Hardknot Hill in Cumbria or the 19 hairpins of Alpe D’Huez there are ways to make your climb more efficient and more comfortable:
Sit back in the saddle
As tempting as it may be to stand up and attack the hill, you are far better off gearing down and staying seated. Relax your arms and shoulders to avoid cramps and aches. Bring your hands slightly closer together and remain seated for as long as you can.
Use your gears
If it’s a short climb and you’ve got a bit of speed don’t drop into too low a gear too quickly or your legs will spin and you’ll lose momentum. If it’s a long steady climb work down into a low gear so you can keep your cadence at 80+ rpm.
Gear down slowly
When you drop from the big front ring to the small one, simultaneously move up a gear (ie into a smaller ring) on the back. This ensures that the jump in gearing isn’t too big and your legs don’t suddenly go from hard pedalling to spinning.
Ignore rule 1, but only a little!
Yes ok, we told you to sit back in the saddle, but sometimes you have to break the rules. Get up out of the saddle if you’re struggling to maintain your cadence or want a change of position, but don’t stay up too long as you’ll tire more quickly than in the saddle. Think of it as giving your climbing muscles a momentary rest, rather than a sustainable method for climbing.
If you’re going to stand, gear up!
When you stand up, move up one gear so that you can keep power through the whole of the pedal stroke. Then when you sit down drop back down one gear and you’ll find that spinning your legs feels easier.
Get to the finish!
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Keep slugging away and sooner or later you will find yourself at the top of the climb. The key is to stay disciplined and listen to your body – everybody has a slightly different way of climbing so experiment with what works for you. See you at the finish!
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