When cycling in Malaysia, you will never be short of hills and mountains. Even as a kid, you might get excited with the thrills and hardship of getting up and down those peaks. Climbs and descends can be a tricky affair, especially if it is a long, steep, and twisty one. Only to be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and maybe a beautiful bird’s eye view at the peak. Whatever it is, we can’t escape it, so best thing to do is to prepare adequately and face them with confidence. Here are some tips on how to conquer those nasty earth pimples.
1. Fitness Training
To get up those climbs without feeling you left a piece of your lungs somewhere at the bottom of the climb, you have to train and condition yourself before heading up that big Kahuna. If you’ve tried and failed, just keep training and educating yourself on training techniques or get a coach. Spend more time on climbs, eventually you will grow stronger and faster.
2. Pace your race
Riding up hill requires smart thinking. Blowing up your engine at the start of the climb isn’t a smart move. Try not to get carried away with your stronger mates speeding pass you. Best is to concentrate on your own efforts and keep it steady. If you have a heart rate monitor or even a power meter, those gadgets can be highly effective to keep you in check on your efforts. If you have a mate that is as strong as you, just stick together and you could pace each other which could help motivate you to keep a steady rhythm.
3. Do the Uphill Waltz
Climbing up hill with a bike like I’ve mentioned can be tricky. If you’ve watched some of the bike races on TV, you will see some guys getting off saddle for a bit, either attacking or just bored of sitting. Standing up to pedal has its own benefits. First you can apply more force using your body weight for sprinting. Secondly, it also gives the muscles you use for pedaling while seated a rest. Learn how to sway and off set the bike’s weight and your body weight while you power it up. Ideally you would like to stand up once every 5 – 10mins, still it would depend your suitability.
4. Enlightening for the Ups.
Weight is one big factor when you are challenging gravity. It is all about your power-to-weight ratio, this is the best and cheapest upgrade. Depending on how strong you are, the lighter you are the easier it is to keep your momentum going up a steep climb. It all boils down to how many Watts per Kilogram you would produce, that is why more and more riders are being aware of using a power meter for training and racing. So, a lighter you with a bigger engine makes you fly.
5. Spin Master
Most of us aren’t born with a climber’s naturally lean and ripped physique. Therefore, we need to be strategic about how we approach a climb. A general rule is the bigger the rider, the more important it is to sit and spin. On a longer climb, the pro peloton’s larger climbers pedal seated at 110 to 120 rpm for greater efficiency. A lighter rider might be in and out of the saddle, pushing a bigger gear at 80 to 90 rpm. Practice diligently, as starting to change your pedaling technique can be quite difficult at the start. 90 rpm would be a good number to start off with, and do give yourself adequate recovery so you can repeat the process again.
6. Do You Dare, Devil ?
After all that suffering and pain going up hill, what goes up must come down. Riding down descends can be exciting, fun, scary, exhilarating, daunting and many other emotions that come along with it. To ride down safely without shredding your ride away with less skin, do practice some drills to improve your descending skills. Even if you do not want to ride down fast, having good skills means being more confident and in control of your bike. So skill up to improve your fun and safety on the roads.
7. Mental over Mountains
There are many times famous athletes always say “it is a mental game”. It is actually quite true. Being in a calm and cool state of mind does have its benefits. Being in that state you’ll have the confidence and less anxiety when you reach those foot hills. So instead of acting like you’re gonna enter some haunted house, breathe in a rhythmic pattern, keep it nice a deep, and pedal along. Be positive and embrace the ups and downs, love it all and never give up!
Cycling & Fitness Coach
Jessen Lee is a Level 2 Sports Science Coach, specializing in cycling skills and performance, triathlon and general physical fitness. Certified by Majlis Sukan Negara, PMBIA, and ITU, he also conducts group and personal coaching sessions under The Ride School for road, off-road cycling, and triathlon for all levels. With 20 years of training, racing, and coaching experience, he passionately shares his love for sports with the community.