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Road Cycling

How to be a more efficient climber in 4 easy steps

Come ride the Niagara Escarpment with Bikes and Beers Adventures!

Road Cycling has a lot of challenging terrain. Climbing hills for some riders is difficult and not all that fun. The effects of gravity, type of bike, and our body type make it more difficult for some and easier for others.

The ability to become a better, more efficient climber requires improvements in technical skill.

Cycling throughout the Niagara Escarpment we are faced with several hills to conquer. If you are training for the Halton Hilly 100km then spending time learning technical skills and understanding your own personal style in climbing will be beneficial. Let's start with a few seldom discussed basics of seated climbing and selecting the right gear for hills.

Most Escarpment hills begin with about a three to four percent incline where you will start to feel your tempo dropping of - this is when you need to take some actions.

Here are a few steps to help you conquer the Niagara Escarpment Hills;

1. Your first reaction should be to shift into the right gear, maintain your RPM's and try and hold on to your speed. You want to stabilize your power with a gradual increase in effort level. The natural way to hold the power steady is to stay in the saddle.

2. Selecting the right gear will allow you not to fight the tendency to keep shifting gears as you climb the hill. Trying to find your personal rhythm “the sweet spot” where your heart rate is in check, but accept the fact that your heart rate will continue to rise.

As your speed drops and the lactic acid builds up in your legs slide back in the saddle to change the firing order of the muscles and leverage more force from your glutes and quads. Don’t forget pushing on the pedals and pulling on pedals so you get 100% of your maximum pedal stroke and focus on the LIFT in your stroke.

3. Your body position on your bike will play a key role in the outcome of the climb. Strive for a flat back with bent elbows, which will lower your center of gravity. By pulling from the contracted, supporting muscles of the core we can delay the accumulation of lactic acid in the primary muscles with bent elbows and gentle rocking from side to side while building forward momentum.

4. Maintain your focus. Some riders like to look at the top of the hill but I prefer to look 10 feet ahead of my bike and focus on my RPMs. Should a climb continue to challenge you, as they always seem to do, and your RPM drops off then you have to make some decisions. If more than 10 percent of climb is left , it may be necessary to either shift gear, increase power, or maybe leave the saddle which is always your last resort since it will increase your metabolic burn rate.

So there you have it! Four simple strategies to help climb the hills on the roads to Niagara :-)


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