Tips to get faster going uphill on your bike!

Want to get faster going uphill on your bike?

Here are some tips I’ve learned, many of them the hard way:

First off, lose some weight, lard-ass. Yeah, I’m talking to you, “nobody noticed I had a second donut.”

In particular, men of a certain age — and I know of what I speak — tend to see their metabolisms slow and their nodonuts1appreciation of fine food grow. They also tend to have greater disposable income, creating a hysterical “arms race” (belly race?) of guys spending big dollars shaving mere grams off their carbon-fiber, aero-wheel racing machines while increasingly torturing their Spandex.

Want to cut 10 pounds off the weight of your bike the cheap way? Eat less and eat better.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the physiques of the best climbers on the pro cycling tour: Concentration-camp prisoners look healthy by comparison.

No need to go that far, of course, not when there are other ways that you can improve your climbing.

For instance, approach big climbs conservatively. Don’t go all out from the very bottom; doing so can jack your heart rate to the red line, and then you’ll have little chance of recovering and settling in. Your speed will deteriorate, and your rivals will plow you into the ground.

Instead, save something in reserve. Focus on spinning in a low, easy gear, and increase the intensity as you get to a sustainable heart rate. You want to find a rhythm in your breathing and feel fatigue — but not the burning sensation of lactic-acid buildup — in your legs so that you don’t feel like you’re ever cooked. With the summit in sight, you should be generating your maximum power and speed to rocket over the top.

And speaking of easy gears, I’m a big proponent of using a higher pedal cadence rather than mashing down a big gear and getting bogged down in an uphill grind that prevents you from accelerating and pushing through tough sections. Think about pulling up on the pedals, too, saving those quads for when you need ’em.

But when you need ’em — for a short, steep pitch or one with some technical challenges — don’t be afraid to grit your teeth, grab the bars and give it all you’ve got.

Some people like to stand on their pedals going uphill, but I tend to use that technique sparingly. On dirt, standing up risks losing traction — and efficiency — of your rear wheel. And on pavement, standing burns more energy than sitting, and often riding in a lighter gear and higher cadence will allow you to go faster than the rider pistoning from side to side on the pedals.

Finally, if you want to get faster going uphill, go uphill. A lot. Repeatedly. Throw some hill repeats into your workouts.

And lay off the frickin’ donuts.


By Steve Lipsher: Extreme Mountain Bike Racer, Local Rider, Writer, Local Celebrity and Summit’s most-eligible bachelor.

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