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Riding Tips for Road Uphill Climbing

by
author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Riding Tips for Road Uphill Climbing
Shift to a slower gear when you begin your ascent. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Riding on flat land is one thing; you can gain speed and create an effective rhythm and cadence for yourself. But once you hit a steep hill, your previous rhythm may not be realistic anymore. Since most race courses will have a variety of hills, it's important that you practice climbing uphill on roads by adding hilly areas to your training routine. By knowing when to change gears and let faster riders go ahead, you can save your energy so uphill climbing doesn't slow your race performance.

Stay in Your Seat

It may be tempting to stand up on your pedals to put the most power into your down stroke when you attack a steep hill. While it can certainly help you ascend the hill faster, standing up expends a lot of your energy, which you'll need to conserve for the rest of the course. Instead, try to stay seated, suggests the Foundations of Wellness website maintained by UC Berkeley. The uphill climb may be slower, but it will be easier on your body and your energy level.

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Assume the Power Position

How you sit and the way you pedal make a large difference on the quality and speed of your uphill climb. While you want to conserve your energy, you want to put power in your legs to continue pedaling as it becomes more difficult. First, switch to a slower gear for your new pedaling rhythm. Then, slide back in your seat and apply pressure down into your heels on the down stroke. When your heel comes back to the top of the pedal revolution, lift your heel as though you're running, suggests "Bicycling" magazine. This technique gives you the added power you need to ascend the hill.

Keep Your Rhythm

You may notice other bikers pulling ahead of you on hills. Allow them to pass and keep your own rhythm and cadence in check. It can be tempting to speed up to keep up with opponents, but if you're not used to their speed and rhythm, you may find yourself exhausted at the bottom of the hill, warns the Cycling Performance Tips website. Know that you can always make up time on flatter areas. Don't allow other bikers to change your rhythm. If it helps, hum a song or count out your cadence in your head or with your breathing to finish the hill on your own terms.

Train for Hills

Ensure that you place a few hills in your training routine so you know how to position yourself and breathe through the hills in a race. While a flat course is desirable in training to practice for speed, you'll still need to add challenging hills so that an ascent in a race doesn't throw you off guard.

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