I have the slightly opposite feeling to cycling in that I quite like hills, and find flat bits really hard! It does help that I started cycling in the alps and live here, but I always find cycing in the UK when I'm back really hard. here if I'm on a climb I might know roughly how long it will take me and so can adjust my pace accordingly. This is the first summer that I've been able to do a bit more here and so here is what I have learnt...
1. Do it at your own pace that's manageable for you, it really doesn't matter how long it takes. if that means that you are on your own going up it (as I mostly am trailing behind all the guys) then its actually really nice, quiet time to yourself so try to enjoy it.
2. Have the right gears - I've used a triple all summer and love it. I don't save a gear, I use which ever gear feels best for not overstraining my legs and if that happens to be the lowest one then that's the one I use. Theres no point carrying an extra sprocket around if you never let yourself use it.
3. minimise wasted energy. Whats important is putting power down through your hips and legs into the pedals and wheels and onto the road. So you want to keep your back and arms as still as possible and not let your head and upper body nod up and down if that makes sense. have your hands on the central bit of your handlebars and try not to grip them, just rest the palms of your hands. That way you won't be able to pull and push through your hands and will have to do it with your legs! if its really steep then you'll need to change this and use your arms more, but if you have done the easier bits with just your legs you won't be as tired on the steeper bits.
4. Don't be scared of them! Whats the worst that can happen? you might need a rest before the top, or will be slower than someone else. But that doesn't matter at all so just give them a go. I haven't been with anyone who minds waiting at the top yet - and if they do mind then they aren't worth cycling with anyway.
5. Look down at what you have achieved not whats still to come.
It might be tiring and hard work for a while but it will feel amazing when you get to the top!
So does anyone have some advice for me on the flats?!
I'm curious, what if it's your lungs that give out first? In my case, the legs could keep going, but I have to stop to get my breath back. My partner says I should work on leg strength - reasoning being so that my heart doesn't have to work so hard, but I'm thinking aerobic fitness is the way to go. Thoughts/ advice much appreciated.
Originally Posted by Sally
Hmmm a lot of people do say that have a higher cadence and an easier gear to work your lungs more and a lower cadence in a harder gear to work your leg muscles more. I don't find this works though as when I try and push a harder gear I generally get pooped pretty quickly and v out of breath. Probably as I am not on a low enough cadence I guess.
Maybe try to mix up being in the saddle and standing up. When you stand up make sure it is really easy so that its almost like having a breather for you - you'll be able to get a lot more air into your lungs. Also make sure that you aren't in too crouched a position as that will block you being able to fill your lungs fully. Have your hands in the middle of the handlebars as close to you as possible so that you can sit as upright as possible and fill your lungs each time.
Generally I find being steady and getting my breathing under control from the start is key. If I overcook it in the first few minutes its really hard to get back. But if I start slowly, letting the hill come to me rather than trying to charge up it to get a good start for example, I can then push a bit harder once I have found my rhythm and if theres a bit more juice in the tank.
Interesting - the not crouching over thing is a bit of a theme for me at the moment, I'm sure it's why my neck hurts as well. I'll defo try harder to change it. Standing up has always seemed like cheating (go figure!!) but I'll give that a go too.
Originally Posted by AliG
Thanks for the advice :-)
to help with the not crouching over theme - if you just rest the palms of your hands on the handlebars rather than gripping them hard it will help keep you upright, and make you put more energy/power through your legs rather than pulling lots through your arms.
Standing up is definitely not cheating, its actually less efficient than sitting in the saddle. But it changes the muscles you use a bit so is a good way to have a kind of rest... Well not a rest but a different way of doing it, and getting blood back in to your bum!
Good luck, let us know how you get on!
Gripping the handlebars.... check for that too!
Originally Posted by AliG
I'm dying to try this stuff out, but I'm parent-minding in the frozen north for the next couple of weeks. Filling my time watching the world championships and buying gear
I was trying to find a good article I found on hill climbing, I have asthma so always struggled oh hills, I get there but it takes me a couple more minutes than everyone else !
However from memory It goes like this, try to sit up as upright as possible, this is aided by sitting further back on the seat and using my glutes, which produces more effective power I also have learned to relax my grip on the handle bars also makes a huge difference. I also use all my gears and by the time I reach the top I am in granny gear ! When I first started I used to have to get off and walk sometimes but now I'm pleased to say I can face and ride any hill I have attempted, albeit slowly. I did read that standing up whilst cycling uphill uses 10-20% more energy and therefore oxygen than sitting & spinning away.
I used to think that hunching over head down and going like the clappers was the way to go but now I realise that this just resulted in blocked airway and lack of oxygen.
A bit of a variation on a theme here. I've been experimenting with all your mega-useful advice and last time out up a hill I focused on keeping my breathing under control. Until now I'd just thought about the legs, this time out I made sure I was always able to breathe. It worked!! I did 2 x 10km hills - much more slowly that I would like - but made it all the way up without stopping. Result!!
Originally Posted by AliG