Riding up hills and being tall and heavy do not usually go well together BUT how many good rides have any of you ever been on where there were “No Hills”?? Anyone who is really interested in riding a bike competitively in races, centuries, grand-fondos… must be willing to ride up hills. And since riding in a group saves some much energy in any endurance event, being able to stay with your group of choice on a hill is a MUST!
Therefore, ever since I began riding more competitively, I began to look for ways/tricks which would help me ride uphills faster.
I quickly realized that there were no “quick fixes” and that I would have to rely on good leg strength, proper spinning technique, good body position and some mental toughness to get me up these inclines at a decent speed.
2 weekends ago, I participated in a local hill climb of Cypress Mountain. I was very happy to realize that my efforts paid off and even though, there were faster climbers than me, (most of them 30lbs and more lighter than me) I was able to ride uphill at speeds which I was satisfied with.
My climbing ability comes from a few different factors, but the ones which I believe most of you heavier riders could quickly see positive results from are:
- Leg power: I always had big legs but I have also always worked at keeping them strong. I regularly do leg presses, squats, lunges… all those great exercises which allow me to keep my leg muscles activated and strong. Power is what I am after and therefore, I focus on weight loads I can handle for 12 to 15 repetitions.
- Applying pressure on the pedal for the whole 360 degrees of the pedal stroke: I am often reminding the clients I coach cycling that effective control of the pedal throughout the whole spin cycle will give every pedal stroke the most power they can produce. It is well worth the efforts. No more “mashing” or pushing down on the front end of the pedal stroke. They key to a strong pedal stroke is complete control of the pedals.
- Sitting forward on the seat of the bike: By sitting forward on the seat, your hips will move closer to the bottom bracket of your bike which will put your body in a much better angle to activate your glutes and hamstring muscles to apply pressure on the pedals during the climb.
- Mental preparation to suffer a little… Yes, climbing hills is tough. It may be a little tougher on a 200lbs rider than on someone who weighs 130lbs… But you can still get mentally prepared ready for this. Mental preparation to suffer includes having done a pre-ride, knowing what the tougher sections are and reminding yourself that “it will soon be over!” Over the years, I have read and listened to many different ideas/thoughts on the best way to get mentally prepared to suffer and the one technique I choose is to practice hill climbing as often as I can. I must say, I often find hill climbing enjoyable now!!
In conclusion, climbing hills is part of riding a bike. Better get prepared for it and find ways to enjoy it!
Train Smarter – Not Harder!