For our blog this week we have some tips for all those of you loving your road trips but fear the hills. As races can’t all be flat what are some handy techniques to help you conquer this and smash past the competition on the ascents. Ride faster and stay stronger on the hills.
In the saddle versus climbing standing – Generally staying seated as long as you can is your best bet with the least wind resistance using a straight back with steady body position using relaxed arms and allowing you to maximise your air intake losing as little energy as possible from upper body wobble. Listen to your body and find the best power position for your body type that may be different to your usual riding position on the saddle, either further forward or back in order to allow power to transfer most cleanly through the pedals. Some people favour standing in the saddle and if this works for you don’t break a good formula but practice remaining in the saddle for longer as standing ultimately drains more fuel as you tend to create a less stable platform.
Be less fat – Carbon fibre everything is wonderful to drool over but chances are your best bet for weight saving is one less pie tonight. You are always the heaviest element of your bike and offer the greatest opportunity for weigh loss, that may mean one less jumper or slimmer socks but more than likely that pair of moobs give you greatest weight loss opportunity. Ultimately the less weight you carry the easier it is to fight gravity and drag your greedy chops up that hill.
Have the right kit – Gearing is certainly a factor so just because you happen to be rocking Di2 on that Pinarello doesn’t also mean you have the right number of teeth on that rear cassette. More teeth means better gearing and less effort to maintain momentum. Over a mountain and a steady climb you may need to consider dropping right down the gears and grinding it out. If your crawling up on your most stylish fixie basically your stuffed…but you’ll be looking good!
Manage your pace – For sure the more pace you carry into a hill the more pace you have to start your journey but this will only last for smaller bumps in the road. On a longer hill climb consider how much you attack the first section preserving enough energy to power through the final metres of a hill. If your attacking an unfamiliar ascent you have never seen before this may not be easy as you don’t know what comes around that corner so err on the side of caution and keep enough in the tank to conquer the Alps.
Practice, practice, practice – Regular Sunday rides with the chain gang are all well and good but if they never attack any hills and continue to find a way around it you will always be left wanting when it comes to race day. Ditch the slackers and get out there and find some hills. If you can face it doing hill repeats is your best bet to build up stamina and find your groove.
Find your happy place – Defeating a hill can be a mental battle as well as a physical one. It is all too easy to talk yourself out of success and give up. Find ways to take your mind away from the lack of finish line. Focus on your front wheel and count from 1 to 10 repeating without looking at your end point to allow the metres to pass without sweating your lack of progress. Relax as you focus on your pedal technique and talk yourself into success rather than persuading yourself you can’t do this.
About the author – Billy is the founder of Trivelo Bikes and a firm believer that a shinier bike is the answer to all his cycling shortcomings including being crap at hills.