WE Notes – Climbing

Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy climbing!

Learn to climb EASY. If you’re always suffering, you will hate climbing and you won’t get good at something you don’t like. Climb at different effort levels (choose 6, 1 being easiest, 6 being gut wrenching). And figure out what kind of climber you are – short power climbs or long, steady climbs.

Make sure you understand how to properly shift your bike. Timing and gear selection are very important. Visit your bike shop and get a tutorial on how your drive train works, gear ratios, and which rear cassette to use for climbing.

How well you climb is often a matter of overall cycling fitness. If you don’t ride much, you can’t expect to be a strong climber. Build a strong foundation or base of aerobic fitness. If you have a bigger engine, you’ll have more power and stamina for the hills.

How well you climb is relative. Try not to compare yourself to others, but be the best YOU can be. Let yourself be motivated and driven by others’ strengths. Try to ride with people stronger and more experienced than you. That’s how you get better.

Learn how to capitalize on your strengths and compensate for weaknesses on competitive group rides and races. Train your weaknesses. Also, train alone sometimes so that you can stay committed to a training plan that’s right for you.

If you are carrying extra, unnecessary weight (i.e. fat), climbing will be more challenging. This doesn’t mean that larger people can’t climb well. But you have to be able to “carry” your weight up a hill. Mass is advantageous on descents and often on flat roads, but not in climbing. This also applies to large muscle mass. Strong, muscular legs can generate more power, but large pecs and biceps won’t help you. Be lean and strong! Skinny is not necessarily strong and muscular is not necessarily powerful.

A strong back and core will help you stay steady, stable and comfortable when climbing.

Often overlooked, how well your bike fits you and you fit your bike are very important for performance and comfort. Our sponsor, Gran Fondo Cycles’ owner Lynn Greer is a master bike fitter.

Upper body should be still and relaxed. Practice standing which gives relief on long climbs and provides ability to accelerate and compensate for increases in steepness.

Keep cadence high (80+ rpm) and pedal stroke smooth and even.

You get better at climbing if you do lots of climbing. Climbers love to climb so they climb a lot. Become a climber in your own mind and your body will, perhaps, follow.

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