While there are some people who consider cycling uphill to be a tormenting experience, there are others who relish it. In other cases, there are people who live in geographically steep areas and have no choice. Either way, climbing steep hills while cycling requires a little bit of background knowledge. You can’t just climb them, you need to understand them as well. We’ve assembled a list of tips and tricks that you can use to increase your stamina and endurance while cycling uphill.
1. Prepare yourself mentally
Cycling uphill often causes some level of physical pain, which is why you have to set your mind to it first. The process of climbing a steep hill can be tough or moderate depending on whether you’re the sports type or not. The key here is to see it as a challenge and not think about the negative things. In other words, to stop fighting the idea mentally. Think about the benefits of climbing a steep hill.
Not only will you learn how to conserve and use oxygen in difficult conditions but you will also feel a sense of accomplishment once you climb the hill. In addition, you’ll build up your muscle strength, as cycling in tough conditions targets different muscle groups.
You should know that you won’t be able to go as fast as you’d like. You’ll have to work hard to get to the top, but the descent afterward is a worthy compensation for your efforts.
2. Start the climb while being seated
A good start means a good climb. It’s important to stay on your seat before you start ascending. Make sure that most of your weight is kept back and that you hold the handlebars close to the center. The optimal distance for your hands should be around two to three inches away from the center stern. That way, you give yourself enough space for unobstructed breathing. Breathing can also be affected by the position of your chest and shoulders. That’s why it’s important to keep the chest open and the shoulders back (as far as possible).
3. Crouch down as you ascend the hill
The position of your body as you ascend the hill should be as low as possible. Since you’ll be cycling and tiring yourself out, you need to maintain your breathing pattern. In order to increase your performance, you can lower the position of your elbows and point them slightly out. You want to avoid obstructing your chest, and that is one way of giving it enough space. Doing this will result in easier breathing and a relaxed body.
4. Stand up from the seat when you’re near the top
When you notice that you’re nearing the end of the hill, divert your whole body weight to the pedals. That will require of you to stand up from the seat and push down on the pedals. Remember to open your chest and straighten your back.The technique takes more energy and effort, but it’s efficient. Try not to use this technique too much because it can tire you out quickly.
5. Shift the gears while going uphill
There’s a reason why gears are integrated into your bicycle. Try to implement their function as much as you can because they can prove to be a valuable asset. It might take some time to get used to the pace variety. Switching gears requires that you adapt to the new pace and distribute your power accordingly. Some people consider that to be too problematic, but practice makes perfect.
A useful piece of advice here is to shift gears in between different terrains. You’ll have to keep pedaling if you don’t want to lose momentum. So, keep your movement constant.
It’s perfectly understandable that you won’t be able to do everything right on the first go. If that’s the case, don’t feel discouraged as this technique requires constant practice. First of all, you need to get used to switching your body position as you ascend the hill. Second, you have to choose and adjust your timing when shifting gears. Lastly, you’ll have to practice using your body weight for extra power. If you’re still having trouble getting the hang of it after some time, try moving on to shorter hills. Once you start climbing those with ease, gradually move on to some tougher ones.
7. Use low gear on steep hills
As your confidence boosts up, you should implement more and more techniques. For example, now you can focus on how to climb the hill and still keep it somewhat economical. You can do that by using a low gear while climbing the hill. Unlike the previous techniques, this one requires you to sit down during the first stages.
First, you need to keep your breathing pattern steady and constant. So, your breathing should be slow so that you conserve your energy. Once you’ve selected the low gear, start by sitting up slowly, and then gradually pull up the brake hoods. You can use standing during the last stage of the climb (if it’s too difficult), but we advise against it.
You know that you’re doing a good job if you notice that your climb has a certain rhythm to it. This type of climb is harder and takes more time in order to be perfected, but it’s definitely not impossible. Experienced cyclists usually use it for longer rides (country traveling, etc.).
8. Once you’re on the outer side of the turn, take the long way
This is something that professional cyclists often use. It may sound like a bad idea. However, it lowers the chances of losing the momentum. Keep that in mind when you climb steep hills.
9. Rest when you reach the top
You can always take short pauses during your training sessions. The best time to make one is definitely at the top of the hill. If you feel that you need to rest a bit, stop for a moment, admire the view, and then proceed with your training.
10. Descend carefully
You’ll have to be extremely careful while descending. There’s a high chance that you’ll injure yourself if you don’t pay attention to your environment. Always be on guard for objects on the road, holes, crossing animals, pedestrians, and vehicles. Additionally, sit upright so that your body can help slow down the bicycle. Apply constant pressure to your brakes because you don’t want to go down too fast.