Some ascents are smooth and effortless; others make you feel as if you’re towing a hippo. The key, always, is rhythm. Here’s how to find yours on any slope—from gentle rise to Alpe d’Huez.
Long, Steady Grades
On big climbs, effective climbing is about monitoring your effort so you never redline.
Stay seated for prolonged periods. Slide back in the saddle a bit for leg extension and leverage. Relax your upper body and open your chest by pulling your shoulders back a bit. Hunching over inhibits breathing. Stand intermittently to give certain muscle groups (not to mention your butt) a break.
Cadence and Gearing
Your cadence should be high (not below 70 rpm; 80 to 90 is ideal). Mashing gears fatigues you fast. Spinning–like a low-weight, high-rep weight workout–lets muscles recover faster. Amp up your effort for steeper pitches, then revert to a lower intensity.
Keep it measured. Start by setting your pace roughly at what you think you can sustain, then back off a notch so you have some cushion if the grade steepens.
Stretch on the bike: Stand and push hips forward to help your low back. To loosen your shoulders, slide backward and round your back. Pin shoulders back to lengthen your neck.