10 Simple Tips for Climbing

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1 : Use your gears. Don’t struggle in a gear in the middle of the cassette just to have a few gears left in reserve if you get in trouble further up the hill. By trying to ‘save’ a few gears you will get in trouble.

2 : Be willing to suffer. Know that everyone suffers on a climb. It’s just that some people suffer at a faster speed.

3 : Train for climbing. Avoiding the hills on training spins is one sure fire way to sabotage your chances of improving your climbing. Find a good hill that’s pretty steep for between 2 and 5 k. Warm up for 20 minutes then ride the full climb in a gear high enough to make you stay out of the saddle att the way to the top. But comfortable enough to enable you to sustain the effort all the way up. Sprint the last 200 meters and empty the tank. Ideally you will then ride down the other side for between 8 and 10 k spinning an easy gear before turning around and riding back up the less steep side in the saddle in a big gear at approx 70 rpm. Now you must remain seated all the way. This builds power.
4 : Loose weight. Imagine putting 10 bags of sugar in a backpack and hauling that extra weight up a hill. If you are carrying 10kg extra around your midriff that is exactly what you are doing. When you are at a good trim physical weight then you can look at lowering the weight of your bike. But there is no point spending €250 to shave 100g off a pair of handlebars if your body is 10kg overweight. Also remember that rotational weight is worth double any other part of the bike. i.e. 100g saved on wheels or pedals is equivalent to saving 200g on the frame.
5 : Gears again : As you rise out of the saddle to stand on a climb your speed always drops slightly. By changing into one sprocket higher as you rise from the saddle you can diminish this effect and also avoid ‘throwing’ the bike back on top of the rider behind who might run into your back wheel if he is too close.
6 : Get a rhythm : Use the Anquetil method. Concentrate on your pedal revolutions. Count to four with your right leg then on the fifth stroke just let your leg ‘follow’ around. Then count to four with your left leg and again on the fifth let your leg follow around before going back to the right leg again. Keep doing this all the way up the climb. Along with maintaing your mental focus on a constant pedal rhythm this also has the added benefit of giving you a ‘free’ pedal stroke every fifth revolution without the loss of speed or momentum thus giving you extra gas in the tank. This method takes practice but is great for Climbing or Time Trialling.
7 : Focus on the cassette in front : If you are climbing in a group try to focus on the cassette sprockets of the wheel in front of you. This stops you looking up to see ‘how far is left’, which can mentally crack you when under pressure. It also has a slightly hypnotic effect drawing you in towards the wheel in front.
8 : Ride at your own pace : On a sportive it’s important to climb at or very close to a pace that suits you and that you can maintain all the way to the top. You have only so many matches to light in the matchbox. When they are gone they are gone which leads to a long day of suffering ahead.
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9 : What goes up must come down : Always remember that there is a great descent to look forward to on the other side of the climb. Get to the top and you can recover on the other side. That is unless you are in a race when it’s the perfect time to attack !
10 : Enjoy the view : After all that effort to get to the top of a climb be sure to look around at the view when you get to the top. You’ve earned it !
Barry

 

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