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Blogger, Athlete
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Cyclists aren’t flip-floppy when it comes to hill climbing; they either love it or they hate it. For me, it’s one of my favorite attributes of the sport. Since I live in the plains of Northwest Ohio there aren’t many hills to climb. There aren’t even any hills really, there more like big bumps. That’s why whenever I travel to a race in the mountains I’m pumped to get out on the road and start cranking those pedals.

It’s only after I’ve conquered that first big hill that I start asking myself “Why do I like climbing again?” Little did I know when I started ultracycling that there were hill climbing techniques that would save me a lot of strife. Over the years, here’s what I’ve learned about how to climb:

Remember the benefits of climbing a hill. Once you get to the top you get to ride down the decline as fast as you want.

Relax. When you see the next pass in a mountain race, don’t get anxious. Become aware of any tension in your body and eliminate it immediately: grip the handlebars loosely, make sure your arms are flexible, and don’t forget to sway with the bike when standing.

Practice pulling upwards after the bottom of your pedal stroke. Most of us only derive power from the down stroke which is only half of the crankarm rotation.

Know when to shift gears. If while climbing you shift down too soon you’ll lose momentum, and if you shift too late you’ll lose energy pushing too large a gear. The trick is to find the proper cadence and shift down when your RPM’s start to drop and you begin to stall. The exact number of revolutions per minute differs from rider to rider, but you should be somewhere between 70-90 RPM depending on when you feel comfortable leaving the saddle.

It’s okay to get out of the saddle. While the time when a rider leaves the saddle on a climb is personal to each athlete, a good rule to start with is if the hill is long, stay in the saddle, and if the hill is short, stand up. Or if your RPM’s drops to 65-75, get up and try to regain some momentum. You can sit up every once and a while for 30-60 seconds at a time to stretch and relax muscles you use while sitting.

Balance your body appropriately. Smaller riders will want to slide back in the saddle, which creates more power at the top of the stroke. And taller cyclists need to slide to the front of the saddle with their hips over the crank, which gives them more leverage.

Drop the heel of the foot.

Come out of the saddle on the down stroke. This reduces any loss of momentum and allows for easier shifting. Remember on steep climbs, once you get out of the saddle, there is no turning back.

Hands on top of the handlebars.

When standing, try throwing your knees at the handlebars. This allows you to pick up more power on the upstroke.

Shoulders open and torso straight.

These guidelines should make your next climb more enjoyable and want you coming back for more elevation.

Kyle Beck
passionispain.com
 

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Thanks for the good tips. My (bad) technique has been:
(1) see hill and dread it,
(2) keep going anyhow,
(3) wish I could quit,
(4) look at the road nearby and pretend the hill is not there;
(5) look up again and realize I'm only a little closer to the top;
(6) repeat (4) & (5) many times; and
(7) finally hit the top, feel good about doing it, and coast down. :)
 

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I'm not sure if I like hills yet. Where I live you cannot go 1/10 mile without a hill, and they are usually steep and windy. The downhills can be quite fun, except for the traffic who forget I have road rights too, but that's another topic. However, today was the day I conquered my current Nemesis hill. I fought it and hit the top. I felt great, only to go a new route and find 2 others just as painful. But I pushed through and made it. So, that being said, I am anxious to put your techniques to use and see how they help me.

Thanks much :thumbsup:
 

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Two skinny J's
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I hate climbing (for as much as we have in this area) as much as wind! I don't avoid hills as much as cold wind though!
 

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The only advice that applies to recumbent riders are the first 2 and half of the last one.
Everything else does not apply.

Here is how to climb a hill on a Recumbent:

There is no pulling upward on the pedal stroke. The toes point up and the bottom of the foot faces out. It is hard to describe how the pedal stroke is done on a recumbent so the best way is to actually try it and you'll understand what I mean. The best way to think about how it is done is imagine sitting in a La Z Boy recliner and constantly scrapping the bottom of your feet down against something, like you're scrapping off mud from the bottom of your shoe.

When shifting gears start out at what ever gear the rider is in at the bottom of the hill and steadily shift down as the difficulty increases until a gear is found where the rider can "spin" way up the hill. The term is gearing down and spinning. It means the cranks are turned at a higher rpm to save the knees. If a recumbent rider does not do this he or she will eventually destroy their knees from pushing to big of a gear.

Recumbent riders CANNOT get out of the saddle or stand up. There is NO gear to weight ratio when climbing a hill on a recumbent.

Balancing is done from the seated location on the recumbent, just as it is when on a flat or downhill. Again because a recumbent rider CANNOT stand.

There is also no putting hands on top of handle bars. Where the hands are placed depends on the style of handle bar used on the recumbent the rider is on.

The knees CANNOT be "thrown" at or toward anything let alone the handle bars.

Shoulders open is easy enough and does apply to recumbent riders. A straight torso is obvious to a recumbent rider. If the rider bends to far over to the left or right they will fall.

There is one very important one the OP forgot. Perhaps THE most important above all else that applies no matter what type of bike you ride:

When climbing a hill don't focus on the top, even if you can see it. Instead focus on an object a littler farther ahead than you currently are. For example a street sign, piece of garbage, a tall weed or clump of grass, street intersections, even seams and cracks in the pavement. Make such objects your goal of making it that point, then pick another a little further ahead, and another, etc. Pretty soon before you know it you're at the top of the hill.
 

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Remember the benefits of climbing a hill. Once you get to the top you get to ride down the decline as fast as you want.
That's not quite true. No matter how fast I go, I always *want* to go faster. :)

As lists go, it's a good starting point for discussion, though. I'd differ on a few points, but I want to read everyone else's opinions.
 

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The only advice that applies to recumbent riders are the first 2 and half of the last one.
Everything else does not apply.

Here is how to climb a hill on a Recumbent:

There is no pulling upward on the pedal stroke. The toes point up and the bottom of the foot faces out. It is hard to describe how the pedal stroke is done on a recumbent so the best way is to actually try it and you'll understand what I mean. The best way to think about how it is done is imagine sitting in a La Z Boy recliner and constantly scrapping the bottom of your feet down against something, like you're scrapping off mud from the bottom of your shoe.

When shifting gears start out at what ever gear the rider is in at the bottom of the hill and steadily shift down as the difficulty increases until a gear is found where the rider can "spin" way up the hill. The term is gearing down and spinning. It means the cranks are turned at a higher rpm to save the knees. If a recumbent rider does not do this he or she will eventually destroy their knees from pushing to big of a gear.

Recumbent riders CANNOT get out of the saddle or stand up. There is NO gear to weight ratio when climbing a hill on a recumbent.

Balancing is done from the seated location on the recumbent, just as it is when on a flat or downhill. Again because a recumbent rider CANNOT stand.

There is also no putting hands on top of handle bars. Where the hands are placed depends on the style of handle bar used on the recumbent the rider is on.

The knees CANNOT be "thrown" at or toward anything let alone the handle bars.

Shoulders open is easy enough and does apply to recumbent riders. A straight torso is obvious to a recumbent rider. If the rider bends to far over to the left or right they will fall.

There is one very important one the OP forgot. Perhaps THE most important above all else that applies no matter what type of bike you ride:

When climbing a hill don't focus on the top, even if you can see it. Instead focus on an object a littler farther ahead than you currently are. For example a street sign, piece of garbage, a tall weed or clump of grass, street intersections, even seams and cracks in the pavement. Make such objects your goal of making it that point, then pick another a little further ahead, and another, etc. Pretty soon before you know it you're at the top of the hill.

This is usually what I have always done even before reading this. I like hill climbing myself give me a chance to try and fully focus completely on the bike block out everything else. I am still having trouble on some hills but every time I go out and climb I do feel I am getting stronger.


Thanks for the tips
 

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Being from PA, hills are a given, one either loves them or doesn't ride.
Now mountains, well you tips were excellent for them as well, just keep pedalin', you might get there in less than a couple of hours. lol
 

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˙˙˙ʇnoʞɹoʍ ɐ ʎןןɐǝɹ sʇɐɥʇ'uʍop ǝpısdn sןןıɥ ƃuıqɯıןɔ ʎɹʇ
 

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Climbing makes me realize that I still need to lose weight...
 
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