Find a Club

MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.

University of MN Cycling Team

Contact:  Ken Hum
Website:  umct.org

 
Loon State Cyclists
Contact:  Mike Delaney
Website:  Loon State Cyclists
 

Category 6 Racing Squad

Contact:  Drew Ruggles
Website:  c6rs.com

 

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Climbing - Keep It Regular

Climbing, especially over long distances, mandates a smooth and steady approach.  The smoother your climbing, the more efficient you will be.

FIND YOUR SPEED AND RHYTHM

Climbing should always be done in your comfort zone. Ride at your own pace - Know your limits and listen to your body. If you become anaerobic, you won't recover, so let faster riders go. It's a common mistake: Trying to keep up with better climbers on the lower slopes, then reaching your limits and losing big hunks of time. Take it a bit easier and you have a much better chance of catching them later. You don’t want to over exert and go anaerobic. If you're nearing your red line on that hill, slow slightly, breathe deeply and continue at a speed within your ability.

Use the right gears and shift early to balance the work of your muscles and aerobic system. New riders often make the mistake of pushing their muscles until they cannot push any more. When they decide to shift to an easier gear -- if they have one -- it is often too late. The muscles are exhausted and unable to continue.

KEEP THAT CADENCE UP

Think about this. If you ride up the hill in two minutes at 60 rpm, you've divided the total work into 120 pieces (consider each revolution of your pedals as a unit of work). But if you spin at 90, there would be 180. As you've done the same elevation gain, but now broken it into smaller bits, there will be less work (and strain on the knees) with each revolution. (And if you do have knee problems, take a break and stand during hills - which will change the biomechanics and give your knees a break).

Gear down before the hill. The goal is to avoid producing large quantities of lactic acid and then pedaling through the pain. You want a sustainable rhythm. Try to keep your cadence above 70 -- any slower puts excess stress on your knees. The optimum spin rates for efficient pedaling are somewhere between 70 and 80. One rider reported that he actually went faster as he increased his cadence in a lower gear. For example, he would maintain 6.5 mph at 50 rpm in one gear and then, as he geared down, he found he maintained 8 mph at 70 rpm without a perceived increase in effort. If you find that things are going well, you can always shift to a harder gear later.

Try to find the cadence that would let you "climb all day". You are pushing too hard if you can't keep a smooth pedal stroke or are panting or breathing irregularly.  Ride your own pace. The energy you save may help you catch someone who started too fast near the summit.

BREATHING

If you start to breathe irregularly, take a deep breath and hold it for a few pedal strokes. Try synchronizing your breathing with your pedal stroke - start by taking a breath every time one foot (your right one for example) reaches the bottom of a stroke. Then try 1 1/2, and finally every two strokes. You will actually deliver more oxygen to your system with a controlled rate than an irregular panting or gasping one.

Stay tuned for some training tips and workouts that can help improve your climbing.



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