5 Tricks to Help You Climb Better on Your Bike

These simple strategies will make even the hardest climb a little (or a lot) easier, You can be a walking pair of lungs atop a set of monster quads and still struggle up climbs without the right pacing, approach, and technique. Maestros of the mountains ascend with such grace and ease by employing these mental strategies along with smart technique. Here’s how to pull it all together.

5 Tricks to Help You Climb Better on Your Bike

1. Top Off at the Bottom

If it’s been a while since you’ve eaten or if you’re heading into a particularly long climb, give yourself a shot of fuel at the base before you start. Your mind and muscles will get a nice energy boost, and it’s far easier to take a bite of a banana or bar when you’re rolling easy on the relative flats than once you’re borderline hypoxic and seeing spots halfway up.

2. Think Light, Ride Quiet

Blends positive thinking with relaxed technique. As you approach the climb, think “light” thoughts—clouds, birds, angels, whatever lightens up your mental space. Then, start with your face and progressively relax your body down to your feet, being sure to release any unnecessary tension, particularly in your shoulders, which should be down and relaxed, and your hands, which should be loosely gripping the bars (not white-knuckling them). Apply the same quiet posture approach when you stand. Keep your shoulders squared and facing forward, as if you were balancing beer glasses on them. Avoid dropping them from side-to-side, which will waste energy and send you weaving up the slope like a drunken paperboy.

3. Give Your Legs Help

When the grade gets so steep that you’re sliding into standstill (and topple) territory, tuck your elbows into your sides, dip your torso toward the bars, and gently but firmly pull back on the bars with every downstroke. This lets you transfer power from your upper body through your core and into your legs to assist you in forward progress.

4. Finish Faster Than You Start

You don’t beat a giant by going after its feet; you take aim at the head. Remember that up your next monster climb. Rather than attacking the foot of the climb and petering out before you reach the summit, dial back your pace until it feels easier than you want it to, just below your lactate threshold or FTP. Then, ramp up your speed as you get closer to the top, and attack over the summit—and likely sail by everyone who is collapsing from starting out too fast.

5. Channel Your Mojo

No matter how many butterflies you visualize, happy songs you sing in your head, or how well you eat and drink, you’re bound to have spells of sinking morale on long, hard, hilly days, especially if you’re doing consecutive long, hard, hilly days in a bike tour or multi-day ride. Even pro riders will tape photos and inspiring messages to their bikes for added inspiration. ‘Splore More Article