Climbing to the Top: Page 2 of 5

Training & Health

10/15/2008| 0 comments
by John Phillips

Climbing to the Top

Climbing can be one of the toughest yet most enjoyable aspects of road cycling.

in the drops. Just like sprinting, it’s a powerful strong position. I think it can be a very effective position if you’re going for your club ride KOM points!

Climbing Tactics

There are many tricks for improving your tactics when hill climbing in a race or group ride. One of the most common for weaker climbers is to start the hill at the front of the group. Keep an effort that is not too far out of your comfort zone so that you’ll slowly slide to the back of the pack at the summit of the hill without blowing up. If your group ride is racing to the top of hills, then you’ll want to position yourself near the front for the first third of the climb. There are always those riders that hammer the pace early on a climb, but then blow up and lose lots of time before they reach the summit. Some never learn, eh? Stay ahead of them of just a few riders behind them and be ready to accelerate. Once those early leaders begin to fade you’ll want to begin moving up. Others will be trying to do the same so make sure to hold a good smooth line as you pass.

The final third of the climb is where the cream rises to the top. Keep up your hard effort all the way to the top. Don’t worry if someone latches to your wheel. The draft effect is minimal so it will be hard for them to slingshot past you like on a flat sprint. Here on the climb the leader is in the control position since it takes a huge effort to be overtaken. Be ready to accelerate to the summit as you keep up the pace. It’s much like what you see at a fireworks show. There are many sparks down low, but you want to be the star that shines the highest. Another strategy is to bolt from the group early. This is counter-intuitive to most racing logic. It can work well if you’re a strong time trialist. By attacking very hard early on the climb, you’re making a statement to the group that you are strong & confident. You’re now in control turning the climb into a time trial which is your strength. Once the gap is established settle into a steady effort all the way to the top.

How can you climb better if you are a larger built rider? Being larger is indeed a disadvantage since you have more weight to lift against gravity, but it is still possible to go uphill fast. There are some that say you need a weight to height ratio of 2lbs per inch (357grams per centimeter) to climb at a world class level. I strongly disagree as there are exceptions such as Miguel Indurain (2.36lbs per inch or 423 grams per cm) that weigh 18% more than this recommendation! With proper training, you can maximize your ability, regardless of your size. It takes time & much patience, but you can indeed develop into a


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