Mountain bike rider struggles up long and steep climbs.
Mountain bike rider struggles up long and steep climbs. Contributed

Get to the top without stopping

I RECENTLY received the following comment on my website from a mountain biker in Wales, who is struggling up long and steep climbs. Thought I'd share my answer in case you're doing it tough, too:

"Chris, I'm a fairly good rider... but the trails I do tend to have a lot of long, steep uphills. Usually on these hills I find myself either getting off and pushing half the way up or stopping for a rest. I find this annoying as it wastes time and, also, some of my mates I go riding with have to wait a while for me to catch up. Any tips? Thanks."

Here's my reply:

"Make this your number one rule for climbs: to succeed, first you must arrive. First, focus only on what you need to do to get to the top without stopping. Once you can do that, only then concern yourself with the speed at which you do it.

"Don't get sucked in trying to climb with faster and stronger riders. Settle into your own rhythm and pace as early as possible, even if it's very slow. Keep your breathing at a level you can hold to the top and wear a heart-rate monitor to monitor your effort.

"Forget feeling pressured that people are waiting for you as it only distracts your concentration. If they're good mates they'll be happy to wait.

"Optimise your suspension for climbs by locking out the fork (up the climb only) and run the shock at 15% sag, instead of 25% to reduce pedal bob until you nail those climbs. And maximise your traction - slipping tyres are your energy wasted.

"Ride the harder climbs earlier in your weekend ride when you are fresher. If you really want to develop your climbing endurance perform weekly training reps up a shorter climb of similar grade.

Start with just a few reps and build that number up over several weeks - just don't overdo your first session. Make each rep the same speed and time - consistent, comfortable pace is the key up long climbs, to avoid HR spiking and exhaustion. Remember, it doesn't matter how fast you can do one rep; it only matters how consistent you are at many.



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