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4 Tips on How to Climb Up Hills

By Eric Yao


We’ve all been there: you’re biking and you look up the road in front of you and realize the next five minutes of your ride is going to be painful. Sometimes trying to pedal up a steep hill feels like you’re squatting weights instead of moving pedals. Sometimes your legs just feel like lead. Either way, you might have to get off your bike and slowly walk it up the hill, watching other riders leave you in the dust as they power up the hills. How do they do it? Today I have four tips on how to climb up hills faster which I hope can improve your next ride.

#1. Learn how to stand up on bikes.

Instead of sitting back on your seat and grinding it out to reach the top of the hill, it’s time to stand up and ride out of the saddle. Balance and cadence are key - it may take a few tries to get it right. But when you do figure out how to ride out of the saddle, most of the hills that seemed daunting before will now be a breeze. Although it does take more exertion and work out of your quads, in most cases you actually end up doing less work than if you spent a much longer time pedaling up the traditional way. Plus it’s much faster. Although, you do have to be in the right gear in order for this to work, which brings us to my next tip.

#2. Get your gearing down.

Seasoned bikers know that you have to use low gear when going up hills. But sometimes you need to use high gear too. When riding out of the saddle, it is important to have a high enough gear so that you have enough traction; if the gear is too low, you’ll find that you won’t be doing any work. Generally, for hills that are not too steep and I feel comfortable simply pedaling up, gears 1-3 on the right-hand side (rear derailleur) make it the easiest; when I am riding out of the saddle, generally gear 6.

#3. Train on hills and ride with faster people.

Obviously, the best way to get better at climbing up hills is to climb up more hills. With enough practice with riding out of the saddle and enough experience with gearing, hills will seem like less and less of a barrier to you. It is also beneficial to ride with people faster than you, who can motivate you and push you to your limits and teach you their pacing, which all ultimately make you a better cyclist.

#4. Push through the pain.

Despite all these techniques, going up hills is still going to suck. The lactic acid buildup, being out of breath, and reduced performance from exhaustion (especially toward the end of a ride) all make it hard to keep going. But as any athlete knows, building up a pain tolerance through pushing yourself to your limits every time is the best way to improve.

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