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Whether you’re new to cycling or have been riding for years, riding a bike uphill can be a daunting task.
But, it doesn’t have to be.
What Beginner Cyclists Can Learn From Pros
While we all have our strengths and weaknesses, I think the vast majority of us can agree that riding uphill can be tough at the best of times.
As someone who has raced a bike for many years across various disciplines, eventually focusing on races that suited my strengths, I found that climbing up hills on my bike became more tricky, as it doesn’t play into my natural abilities.
I’ve even seen a sports psychologist in order to move forward from the mental block that I used to have surrounding climbing, which thankfully, is now a thing of the past.
Even if you don’t race, knowing a couple of tips to help ease any issues you have with climbing can go a long way in improving your overall riding experience, and enjoyment. Which should always be your main priority when riding a bike! Because cycling is, at the end of the day, great fun.
Why Is It So Hard to Cycle Uphill?
Riding uphill is tough due to science. More specifically, that funny little thing called gravity. Gravity is unfortunately not the kindest towards those who are a little heavier, which in racing terms crazily includes myself.
Therefore, the concept of power to weight becomes an important factor to consider. For many, the weight of the bike that they are riding is important in reducing overall weight. However for many riders, their own weight is a very important aspect too. This is because a lighter object needs less power to move at the same pace while moving uphill.
However, I would not suggest losing weight if you are a healthy individual as by and large it’s unnecessary. But if you do feel, with your doctor’s advice, that maybe you have some kgs to shed then go for it. Remember though, it’s not the be all and end all if you are commuting or riding for fun.
Over time, through riding regularly you’ll likely lose weight at a healthy rate anyway. But I would always suggest looking at where your bike could shed a few grams before you look at yourself. Which could include pannier bags that may not be in use, or any unnecessary accessories.
How to Get Better at Cycling Up Hills
If you want to get better at cycling up hills, arguably the most important approach is to ensure that you regularly ride up inclines. So although you may feel tempted to take a different route to avoid climbs, don’t – be persistent and patient. This will help you to become stronger, comfortable, and more confident.
More specific training can be a great tool in your quest to get better at climbing. For example, intense interval training done up climbs on your bike can really help to improve your power, and ability to climb.
Similarly, just riding more often, whether that’s for fitness, commuting reasons, or both, will help your overall fitness, In turn, this will help you to find riding up hills less difficult and tedious. Therefore, riding to work can be a great way to get extra riding in to help improve your fitness.
Another important factor to consider is your gearing. Do you know how to use your gears effectively, or if you’re new to cycling, do you use them at all? Having an understanding of your gears, and how to use them, is a great way to get more confident and efficient while climbing.
For example, if your bike has a small chain ring at the front, you can drop into that. Similarly, moving your chain higher up the cassette on the back of your gears to find a gear most comfortable for you. I personally rather spin a little more while climbing. But it’s largely down to personal preference: so have a play and see what’s best for you.
Last but not least, try to stay calm. If you stress yourself out before you’ve even got the climb then you may find yourself hyperventilating. And therefore unable to breathe or feel comfortable. Remember that riding bikes is fun and when there’s an uphill, there’s usually a sweet descent to follow.
How to Cycle Uphill [3 Tips]
1. Pace Yourself
Although it’s tempting, don’t just ride as hard as you can from the start. You’ll likely run out of gas so to say and then hit a wall. Therefore, pace yourself and gradually push on throughout, especially over the top of the climb.
Understanding and knowing how best to use and select your gears is paramount for getting the most out of your climbing. Ensuring you are always in a gear that is comfortable, and allows you to keep a good and maintainable rhythm is important.
3. Stay Calm
As the British saying goes: keep calm and carry on. Keeping calm will help you to stay in control and dig that little deeper throughout. Stressing can throw you off of your rhythm, which never ends well.
How Can I Cycle Uphill without Getting Tired?
If you want to ride uphill without getting tired then unfortunately the main solution is getting persistent at riding up them, as well as riding your bike in general. Your body will become more efficient and psychologically you likely be less worried by them.
However, if you were looking for a more short term fix in the meantime, then there are a couple of ways to prevent getting tired while cycling uphill.
First and foremost, invest in an electric bike! You’ll for certain be whizzing past all of your friends and fellow cyclists uphill with the support of this not so secret weapon in the war against climbs. However, it is an expensive solution, especially if you’re looking for a lightweight one.
It would be fantastic if local authorities could invest in infrastructure in order to help local cyclists in riding up steep inclines. For example, in Trondheim, Norway, they have the CycloCable escalator style bike lift, which runs up the side of a particularly steep road. So maybe that’s something to consider for future city planners?
Overall, the best thing to combat tiredness of any kind while riding (uphill or otherwise), is to ride and train consistently, sleep well and eat and drink well. We can’t combat tiredness all the time but it should help to prevent you from feeling totally worn out.