The art of climbing

You either love or hate hill climbing and this came to me the other day, as I was slowly, very slowly winding my way up a hill. The day was hot and humid, which makes them even more tricky for me. I am the first to omit that my power to weight ratio isn't wonderful, perhaps I should lay off the cakes at the coffee stops. Anyway,  I started to think about all the advice and that I would write down a few points that helped me.


Choose a low gear so that you can easily spin up the climb. Make sure you are in a low-gear before you start. The chain small is on the small ring at the front and some near the top for the rear. If you are unsure a glance down to see what gear you are using. If you find you need to change your gear on the climb easy off the pressure on your pedals. Your bike will not change gear under tension, and in the worse case, you might lose your chain.


Keep your cadence constant; in other words, keep your legs turning over at the same rate. The bike will keep moving even at a slow walking pace. I know my fear was the bike was going to topple over. But with a little practise on the flat you can see just as slow as you can go before adding any other elements. A useful way to think about your pedal action is to pretend there is mud on your shoes and you are scraping it off.


Look ahead with the upper body relax to allow you to breathe. Remember, it is easy to end you holding your breath when doing something difficult. Try to breathe with your nose as this will provide more oxygen for your muscles to use. People talk about belly breathing which is a useful technique.


Lean slightly forward to use your glutes, your strongest muscle group.


Standing is useful to change muscles groups use and can take the pressure off the lower back. Let the front rock side to side with each peddle stroke. Good to give extra weight to the pedals on a steep part of the climb.


Do not be afraid to stop to catch your breath or even walk; eventually, you will make it up that hill. I know a lot of cyclists would disagree, but you can do things your way. Don’t worry about others.


You may even want to try a hill climb. May cycle club organises these events, and they are often open to anyone that wants a go.



A useful website about breathing

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