Cyclists Riding Up Squaw Pass
Bike Handling - Tips & Advice

6 Ways to Become a Better Climber

Becoming a More Proficient Climber is Within Everyone's Reach

Climbing: Many believe this mysterious skill is reserved for pro athletes, lucky, or skinny riders. This is a huge misconception as anyone who enjoys riding a bike can conquer hills with the right approach and techniques.

Sure, riding up a hill is undeniably more challenging than riding on flat land, due to gravity's resistance. This requires more effort, leg strength, fitness, and mental and physical stamina, however, there are several strategies you can adopt to make climbing feel more manageable, efficient, and enjoyable.

1. Climb Regularly: Just like anything in life, the more you do it, the better you'll get at it. Climbing regularly is the best way to see improvement.

2. Master Climbing Out of the Saddle: Being able to climb both seated and standing, allows you to change positions, use different muscles, and breaks up the climb. Many times, riders stay seated throughout climbs thinking that standing will wear them out quicker. The trick to standing and pedaling effectively is to shift into slightly harder gears before standing. This allows you to maintain a steady pace and utilize your body weight to apply force to the pedals.

Cyclist Ascending Squaw Pass
Cyclists Riding Squaw Pass

3. Vary Hand Positions: Experiment with different hand placements while climbing, including the hoods, tops, and drops of your road bike. There is no need to stay still when climbing.

4. Adjust Cadence: Altering your cadence by alternating between pushing a big gear and spinning a small gear can make climbs more manageable. This technique allows you to engage different muscle groups and energy systems throughout the climb.

5. It's All About Pacing: When tackling longer climbs, pacing becomes crucial. Start the climb with a slightly conservative effort, allowing you to sustain a strong performance throughout and finish on a high note. Avoid starting too aggressively, which could lead to fatigue and a decline in performance as you progress.

6. You Will Get Uncomfortable: Climbing involves fighting gravity, requiring significant effort, leg strength, fitness, and mental stamina. Embrace the fact that climbing will be challenging and uncomfortable. It's alright to feel some discomfort, experience heavy breathing, and endure tired legs during the ascent.

Mastering climbing is within reach for every cyclist. Consistent practice, learning to climb out of the saddle, and accepting the challenge of discomfort will lead to more successful and enjoyable climbs. Best of luck, work hard, and conquer those hills!

For every climb, there is a descent. Check out our descending tips so you can become a better descender.