Hills don’t have to be feared. Follow these simple tips to get you to the top smiling.
1) Think happy on the hills. Research has shown that just looking at a hill raises stress levels, making your heart rate soar. This tension wastes energy. Take a deep breath, shift into an easier gear, think serene thoughts and relax before you head uphill.
2) To sit or to stand? Seated climbing is definitely more efficient as you lose about 10-14 watts of power when you stand, so you need to expend more energy to maintain your pace. But if you want to get maximum acceleration for an attack, you will need to stand. Confused? Simply put; sit when you can; stand when you need to.
3) Drink constantly. Your muscles are like a sponge. The more you put into them, the better they perform. Constant hydration also keeps you cooler for longer, making it easier to sweat it out to the top.
4) Pedalling technique. Scoop the pedals at the bottom of the stroke in a push and pull action for maximum uphill power. Think wiping mud off the bottom of your shoe.
5) Think like a climber. Imagine you’re a good climber. Picture yourself climbing with the perfect form, and repeat to yourself, “I am a strong climber… I am a strong climber… I am a strong ….” Before you know it, you’ll be at the top of the hill.
6) Don’t try and be macho. Don’t be embarrassed to shift into granny and if your bike has a triple chainring crankset, use it. You will fly up hills, and the abuse you might receive about being soft, soon fades as you ride away from the nahsayers.
7) Keep on shifting. A common mistake cyclists make is staying in the same gear too long when climbing, which lowers cadence. Don’t hesitate to shift to keep your cadence up.
8) Position on the bike. Sit as far back in the saddle as possible when climbing to give you maximum power and traction. When standing, don’t slump onto your bar. You’ll unweight your rear wheel, causing it to spin out and throw away perfectly good energy. Rather stand as erect as possible, with your arms straight and your hips forward, and drive straight down into your pedals. Never climb in the drops.
9) Pull on the bar. When the going gets super steep, pull on the bar as you press down on the pedals. (Never push downwards.) This multiplies your power and traction.
10) Lose weight. Less kilos = faster climbing. It might be a bit late for you but it’s not too late for your bike. Try to get your bike as light as possible. Remove the saddle bag and carry your pump and multi-tool in your jersey pockets. This will increase your power to weight ratio without you having to shed a kilo of body weight.