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How to Get Better at Cycling Up Hills

Updated: Jul 30, 2023

Jakes Hill Road Cyclist's Climbing on Bike in Williamson County Texas
Famous Jakes Hill Road Climb in Hutto

Hills. They can suck the joy and the fun air out of your ride sometimes. Climbing and descending are two of the most important skills a triathlete and cyclist needs to master to fully enjoy the sport. This article is dedicated to climbing/cycling up hills and aims to provide valuable tips for triathletes and new cyclists who are training for endurance events. Our focus will be on climbing effectively and efficiently.

Gearing Up for Cycling Up Hills Understanding Your Bike's Gears

One important factor to consider when preparing for a climb is gearing. Your bike's gears are designed to help you maintain an optimal cadence, or pedaling rate, based on the terrain. When climbing, you will need to use your gears to make it easier to pedal uphill.

Most bikes come equipped with two sets of gears: front and back. The front gears, also known as chainrings, are located near the pedals and are responsible for large changes in gear ratio. The back gears, or cogs, are located on the rear wheel and provide smaller adjustments in gearing.

Before starting your ride, it is crucial to ensure that your gear ratio is appropriate for the terrain you will be riding on. This means being aware of your route and knowing if there are any climbs and how steep they are. Triathletes should always set there bike in transition in the right gear for coming out of transition immediately. When facing long, strength-sapping climbs, it is better to be under-geared than over-geared. This means using the smaller chainring on the front and larger cogs on the back.

When you begin your climb, start in a low gear, such as the smallest chainring on the front and the largest cog on the back. This will help you get into a comfortable cadence and conserve energy for the remainder of the climb. As the grade increases or you feel the need for a higher gear, shift to a smaller cog on the back or larger chainring on the front.

By understanding your bike's gears and using them to your advantage, you can make climbing more manageable and enjoyable.

Rider Tip: Choose the best cycling gear combo and take on any climb!

Pacing Yourself

To climb well, it is important to pace yourself and avoid going into the "red zone" or burning all your matches. Try to maintain control of your breathing and find a pace that you can sustain for the duration of the climb. This is a skill that applies to all riders, regardless of their level of experience in triathlons or cycling in general. It is essential to find a rhythm that suits you, especially on longer climbs. On shorter climbs, you go hard, especially if you can see the top!

Rider Tip: Pace yourself to climb like a pro!

Proper Technique Cycling up Hills

Most riders shift in and out of the saddle on a climb, but it is generally more efficient to stay seated most of the time and pedal or spin a lower gear. This technique will create less stress and load on your muscles, making it easier to maintain for long periods. Try to ride out of the saddle for shorter periods to haul yourself over particularly steep sections or to relieve the back muscles if you have been sitting in the same position for a while.

Rider Tip: Master using saddle position to make climbing effortless!

Climbing Psychology

Climbing is a challenging discipline that involves pushing your body to its limits. It is easy to be mentally defeated by looking ahead and seeing a long or steep climb, especially on a bad day. To alleviate this, try breaking the climb down into easier chunks. Focus on a part of the road (a sign, tree, or landmark) around 200-400 meters ahead and ride at a controlled pace until you reach that point. Keep doing that again and again until you reach the top.

Rider Tip: Climb like a boss with the right mindset!

Climbing Tips for Triathletes & New Cyclists Conclusion

Climbing is challenging, but it can also be fun and rewarding. By following these tips, triathletes and new cyclists can improve their climbing skills and tackle any climb with ease. When racing triathlons, being comfortable with hills gives you an easy competitive advantage and an easy run off the bike. Remember to practice riding safely out on the road and you will become a climbing pro in no time!


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Mila B
Mila B
Dec 13, 2023
Rated 3 out of 5 stars.

How about just ride your bike more?

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