Climbing hurts. Period.
One approach is to minimize the time climbing and thereby minimize the hurt. Here are a couple of thoughts that people might consider when aiming to get up the incline as quickly as possible.
- Treat a hill like an interval. Don’t be afraid to push yourself. Cycling is very unique as it will let you recover while still moving. The ability to recover quickly and efficient from a big effort is a skill worth developing.
- There is more than one way to pedal. Sliding forward on your saddle ‘shortens’ your pedal stroke. Sliding back ‘lengthens’ the stroke. The focus will be on different muscle groups. Don’t be afraid to move around. The lower your cadence the further back you can move on the saddle. Don’t forget to drop your heel and really engage your lower leg. You will need a strong grip along the top of your handlebar. With a higher cadence pinch your knees in towards the top tube. It will help to keep your hips from rocking. Brimley is long enough to use two or three different approaches on any single ascent.
- There are lots of good reasons to stand while climbing but many people do so only as a last resort. They have run out of gears and have nowhere to go. Try not to let it get to that point. Stand when you still have something in the tank, pull with your arms and engage your lats to pull the bike from side to side. The handlebars are there for more than just steering. Drive your knees towards the handlebar and deliberately engage your hamstrings. This burst puts the focus on a new set of muscles and could give you the momentum to crest the hill.
- Find a rhythm. Riding up a hill with someone that is going 0.5 km/h faster is motivating to some and demoralizing to others. Finding your own rhythm doesn’t mean your legs and lungs are hurt any less but it takes the pressure off what is going on between your ears. That frees up space to think about changing your position, adapting your pedal stroke and making that final push over the top.
Thanks Shannon - we all really appreciate your words of advice