Cycling up steep inclines requires a bit of knowledge in choosing the right gear. As well as several other tips to help reduce the amount of effort required for getting up hills and not feeling tired once you’ve made it.
Choosing the wrong gear will substantially increase the effort required with gravity working against you to slow you down. A low gear although means you’ll be going slower will help you massively in climbing the hill with little effort. Enough practice and you’ll adapt to the becoming an efficient climber.
Everything from the bike itself to the fitness and mindset of the rider is factors that can either make cycling uphill easy and requiring little effort. To be the hardest thing you’ll do that day, feeling like you’ll never make it to the top of the hill.
The first thing you need to do is to choose the right gear. Higher gears allow for higher speeds but also require a lot more effort. For short climbs, if you feel you’ve got the energy to maintain the RPM then you should stick in the higher gears.
But for longer climbs choosing a lower gear although will reduce your speed. Pedalling will be a lot easier and although it may take longer to climb the incline, you’ll get to the top without feeling tired.
Remember the story about slow and steady wins the race. This is a prime example I like to use when I see people struggling to get up steep hills.
Your mindset can play a big part in getting up the hill without feeling tired. You must tell yourself you’re able to do climb that hill. It can be quite a challenge but not being in the right frame of mind and believing that you can do it, will only make it even harder.
Have a goal in mind. Sometimes you don’t need to get to the top of the hill at the beginning. But over a few tries and practising you’ll get further and further and feel less and less tired.
Keeping momentum is essential for getting up the hill with little effort. This doesn’t mean pedal as hard as you can at the bottom because you’ll not be able to keep that momentum all the way up. But keep the momentum that you’re comfortable with and over time you’ll learn what you’re capable of doing and the right speed you need to be to maintain that all the way up.
Sitting back with a bent back and arms straight out definitely aren’t the way to approach any incline.
A study found that having a straight back with bent elbows has the advantage of lowering your center of gravity.
This will also open your chest to improve your breathing.
Bend a the hips. Straight back. Elbows bent. This means you’ll be leaning forward but it’s far better for climbing hills and getting up the hill with less effort thus making you less tired.
It also makes you more aerodynamic so you’re not fighting with the wind as much as you would with sitting up with your arms straight.
Bikes are getting lighter and lighter. But if you’re still using an older steel frame bike then you’ll find it more difficult to climb hills.
Although carbon-framed bikes are lighter there also really expensive and not affordable for everyone.
Choosing an aluminium frame bike will more than likely be lighter than a steel bike.
Weight plays a great role in climbing hills, and you must find a good weight to power ratio. Making sure your bike is light enough so your power in your body can improve the efficiency of your climb.
You should remove all unnecessary equipment attached to your bike. And if you’ve got some cash to spend swap out any heavy components such as seats, handlebars, forks, wheels that increase the weight.
We can also talk about the weight of the rider. The lighter you are the easier it should be to climb hills. But the reason you’re riding a bike is to lose weight so overtime climbing hills will become easier.
Don’t give up. You’ll achieve your goal sooner with a good mindset as we mentioned earlier.
Hold your position
Keeping your momentum is one of the top factors for getting to the top of the hill with minimum effort. If you keep changing your position, standing up, sitting down, moving on your seat. This will lose your momentum straight away. And you’ll find it much more difficult to get up the hill.
Now finding the right position comes with practice. Everyone is different. Some people find standing up helps. But on steeper inclines standing up isn’t always the best option.
But over time and the more hills you tackle, you’ll know what position you need to hold and maintain for that hill to reduce the effort required and ultimately reduce the tiredness you’ll feel at the top.
Practice makes perfect. The common saying. And it really is down to practice. The more hills you tackle the more you’ll know. You’ll choose the right gears, right position, right momentum.
So the main tips for stating out is to:
- Choose a low gear
- Keep a good mindset
- Breath in a rhythm
- Keep the momentum
- Don’t GO TO QUICK.
The more you practice the better you’ll get. It’s as simple as that.
4 Common Mistakes
Over/undernutrition is one of the common mistakes cyclists will find when becoming tired quickly on their bike. Not fueling your body with enough nutrients is obviously going to affect the amount of performance you can achieve. And climbing steep inclines requires the body to be well fueled.
Not practising. I hear so many people say they cannot ride up hills without getting extremely tired. And when I ask them. They say they don’t ride up many hills… How are you supposed to get better and feel less tired of riding up hills if you are not practising?
Hyperventilating is also a common mistake people make. Not only does breathing keep you oxygenated but breathing properly in rhythm helps boost your mental state. Heavy breathing will only be a downfall to your success in climbing hills. So make sure you breathe in and out at one pace.
Not staying focused. Ever heard of people say to look at something ahead of you to run in a straight line? This has a similar effect when cycling. Concentrate at something at the top of the hill and don’t take your eyes off of it. It will help you keep focused, maintaining your momentum and position to climb the hill more efficiently making you feel less tired once you get to the top
Will cycling uphill burn more calories?
Cycling on flat terrain is obviously far easier than riding uphill and thus riding up steep inclines helps you to burn more calories.
Livestrong found out that a 175lbs person will on average burn around 353 calories an hour if they’re travelling at 15 mph.
But the same person travelling at the same speed up a 3% incline will burn just under 3 times more calories at 984.
Obviously it’s hard to maintain the same speed on an uphill incline that it would be on flat terrain but even if you lowered your speed slightly you’d still burn twice as many calories cycling uphill than you would on flat terrain.
How to prepare for uphill cycling?
Safety should be your number one priority whether you’re cycling uphill or just going for a normal ride. Making sure you’re wearing a correctly fitted helmet with appropriate eye protection. As well as proper shoes for cycling.
You should also make sure you’ve got a bottle of water at hand whether it’s attached to the bike itself or in a backpack to make sure you stay hydrated. Not staying hydrated will only make it harder to cycle up a steep incline. Being dehydrated will also lead to use losing stamina which will ultimately make it a lot harder to cycle uphill.
Keeping a snack in your bag is also useful to keep your nutrients topped up. If you’re cycling uphill you’ll require more energy and thus using nutrients quicker than riding on a flat surface.
Before any bike ride, you should make sure your bike has been maintained. Make sure that your tires are inflated to the correct PSI, as well as making sure your brakes are working as they should and your chain is well lubricated to avoid any unexpected mishaps.
Carrying a bicycle pump and puncture repair kit could also come in handy.