The Outdoors Manual: Stand Up!
By Nathaniel Wu
Every biker can relate to a similar pain: climbing hills. Since biking works the same muscles for a prolonged period, climbs can turn a tiring ride into an exhausting one. Fortunately, there is one trick that has revolutionized climbing forever.
Standing in the saddle provides various benefits on a trip. Primarily, it eases the pain from sitting. The vast majority of saddles have little to no cushioning, so the saddle can feel like a rock after several miles. While mountain biking, standing up allows the saddle to move freely, which reduces rocking. It also involves different muscles than pedaling, providing a break for the hip area. For the rest of the blog, however, we will discuss the role of standing up to add power.
Standing up is best when there is adequate resistance while pedaling. Otherwise, the cranks rotate too fast to stay up. High resistance is most common while sprinting and climbing. When encountering resistance, stand up (straighten the leg) and lean the shoulders to the side that the pedal is traveling forward. This way, bodyweight provides torque that adds to the pedaling effort. By learning side to side, one can also improve momentum, which is key to overcoming climbs.
For those who are new to climbing, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Start on smaller hills to get used to the feeling
Standing up is tiring, so only use it for segments of a trip
Bike with a friend that knows how to climb
If you'd like to up your biking game, start with this simple adjustment and watch your endurance suddenly improve. As always, happy riding!