Biking down great descents generally means that you face a long, uphill climb before you can enjoy the ride down. Long climbs present a challenge for many mountain bikers but learning how to best approach them can make them a bit less intimidating. Whether you’re a novice or experienced biker, you want to be comfortable while you spin up the climb.
Decide on the gear you need as you approach the hill. Factor in your speed, steepness of the hill and the length of the climb. With some hills, you have enough speed to start in a high gear and downshift on the way up. With others, you must be in a lower gear right from the start. The only way to get a feel for what you need is with practice.
Lower your upper body so that it’s closer to the bike’s top tube and keep your elbows down. By adjusting your upper body, you’ll have an easier time keeping the front tire on the slope and getting the traction you need in the front. If the front wheel comes off the ground on a steep, long climb, your bike may topple to the side.
Move your hands to the end of the handlebars as you need to fill up your lungs. If you’re having trouble breathing, adjust to an upright sitting position. You also want to put weight on the handlebars, feeling as though you are pushing up the mountain. If you feel like you’re pulling back on the handlebars, you need to move forward.
Keep your center of gravity over the gears or crank. At the very least, you must keep your center of gravity ahead of the rear tire. For a long climb on a mild slope, you may only have to shift to the front of the saddle. For steeper climbs, you may need to move your body off the saddle, maintaining the crouched position.
Find a rhythm. Many riders go into the hill too fast and they lose momentum on the way up. If you can find a good rhythm and concentrate on keeping it, you’ll have an easier time getting to the top.
Readjust your thinking to see the climb as a good way to challenge yourself, instead of entering the climbing already dreading it. Think of the pain you feel as positive, making you a better and stronger rider.
Strength train with weights several times a week to increase your endurance and power on the uphill climbs. Training with weights also helps you build bones, helping to protect them from breaks and fractures. Aim for full body workouts, since your core is just as important as your legs.
Tips & Warnings
- If you need to drop to a smaller chain ring, you’ll need to speed up just a little and soft pedal for a full revolution. This helps prevent your derailleur from locking up or refusing to shift.