If you are riding around Northumberland you just can’t escape the hills. They are part of the joy of the scenery and should be part of the joy of the complete cycle ride. They come in all shapes and sizes from long and drawn out, to short and very steep! So, being able to get up them well is an invaluable skill for the cyclist and means you won’t dread the upward road ahead of you.
So, follow the training tips below, courtesy of British Cycling and before you know it, you will be sailing up those inclines!
1. As mentioned, climbs come in all sizes, so therefore being able to identify what type of climb you are about to encounter will determine your method of attacking it. For instance, you may attack a short ‘power’ climb, getting out of the saddle and pressing hard on the pedals. For a longer climb you should attempt to settle into a comfortable, seated rhythm.
2. Whilst carrying momentum into the climb, select an appropriate gear before you ride the climb, shifting on the climb will make the initial climb difficult on you and your bike. Remember for a climb you will need to spin an easier gear. Keep revs consistent from the beginning – don’t try and increase your cadence once climbing.
3. If changing gear, momentarily release pressure on the pedals whilst you continue to spin them to ease the gear change.
4. Identify smooth areas for maximum efficiency and energy conservation. Clearly, being mindful of traffic is paramount, but try to identify and stick to smooth tarmac as much as possible as a every lump and bump will take its toll over the course of a long climb. For very steep, traffic-free climbs, a zig-zagging line of travel will reduce the severity of the gradient.
5. Keep your upper body relaxed and your torso still in order to ensure you can focus on deep and rhythmic breathing. It’s no good being hunched in a ball over the handlebars no matter how much your struggling!
6. Move your body forward and back over the centre of the bike as necessary, maintaining rear-wheel traction and preventing the front-wheel from becoming ‘light’ and wandering. Do not be afraid of getting in and out of the saddle, as being comfortable is key. Clearly if you’re going to be constantly moving you are going to use valuable energy, but it’s no good sticking to a position if you’re not comfortable as it will only make the climb seem longer and steeper!
7. Similarly alter your grip on the handlebars using a wide grip or even bar ends to climb effectively.
Hills will always be a challenge, but don’t let them get in the way of a good ride. In fact, no good ride is complete without them!