18 Jun

Tips for Riding Uphill

Assuming you don’t have an e-bike, and you plan to ride an old-fashioned, human powered bike, then you might want a few uphill riding tips and tricks to make the ride faster and more comfortable.
Here are my top 5 uphill riding tips…

Sitting all day – your sitting bones might be made of steel but few cyclists are unbothered by long hours in the saddle. Don’t sit all day – get out of the saddle and rest your sitting bones and allow blood to return to the area. If you are in a seated climb however, slide back on the saddle a couple of centimetres to lengthen you legs.

a row of riders ride uphill
Change up, stand, lower your cadence

Pull up – When you are seated however make the most of it. SPD pedals will allow you to pull up and engage your hamstrings and save your quads. Because you are pushing and pulling at the same time you can afford a harder gear. Once you are in a gear that suits you, now make it smooth and regularly using both legs evenly and keeping your upper body very still. This is important for multi-day riders.

Avoid the grannie gear – the maths just doesn’t add up: you’re at the bottom of a steep 12-kilometer winding climb eg. Haast Pass or the Crown Range. You sit and drop down to your lowest gear and head off up the pass, saddle or peak. But wait, the top speed in your lowest gear is max 4 kmph and you have 12 kms ahead = 3 hours of very slow grind.
What do you do? Counterintuitively, you change up 2 gears, stand, lower your cadence (to the same as walking up stairs slowly) get your chin up to open your airway and get your eyes focused on the top.

Stand and deliver – some riders avoid standing on the pedals, but there are a couple of ways to ride standing up.
Standing 1: stand and push your hips close to the handlebars, now simulate walking up stairs. Don’t allow your legs to get lactic acid burn, stay just below that level.
Standing 2: there is a small rise ahead of you, only a mound but don’t change gears, stand and do 6 quick revolutions to take you up and over.

Use your momentum – riding dips efficiently can save a lot of energy and time. Let’s say the dip is clock and 6 o’clock is at the bottom dip. Get maximum speed from 2 to 6 o’clock. From 6 to 7, stay seated and drive your legs, then from 7-10 stand and pump your legs, driving down hard and going fast uphill. Sit at 11 o’clock and ride out of the top of the dip – your mates stay seated and have lost ground.

Backing off – confronted with that mountain or pass, don’t back off! You’ve come this far, you’ve got this. Do the All Blacks ever take a step back, nope. Let them be your inspiration.

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