Do’s And Don’ts Of Tackling Hills On The Bike

There are two parts to rolling a hill: the technique and the effort.

Photo: John David Becker

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Make the most of hilly courses with these riding tips.

We’ve all seen triathletes muscle up rollers at lightning speed only to watch them reach the crest and soft-pedal, or worse—coast to the bottom.

Unless the goal of the session is a hill repeat, this is not the way to dose your effort, especially during a race. Repeatedly burning your matches uphill will not only slow you down overall, but it will cause you to tire before the end of the race.

There are two parts to rolling a hill: the technique and the effort.

Technique Don’ts

– „Don’t hammer from the bottom of the hill in the hardest gear possible.
– Don’t muscle up every climb without using the small ring.
– Don’t shift under heavy pressure.
– Don’t automatically get out of the aero position on every hill.

Technique Do’s

– „Anticipate gearing changes needed in advance and prepare accordingly to avoid dropping your chain.
– As you begin to crest the climb, shift into an easier gear and increase your cadence.
– As you roll down the other side, shift into harder gears and maintain pressure on the pedals.
– „Whether to stay in aero, sit or stand on a climb depends on a variety of factors (see article at left for more specific advice).

RELATED: Why ‘Hard” Courses Are Easier

Effort Don’ts

– „Don’t go as hard as you can at the base of the hill.
– Don’t try to keep pace with other riders’ hill climbing speeds. Remember that their strengths and execution strategy could be different.

Effort Do’s

„- Depending on factors like your event length, type and pacing strategy, plan heart rate and power limits so you will know how to best pace the hills.
– Save something for the crest of the hill and the downhill. Both are great places to make up speed!

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