If you're looking to go up hills that little bit faster in a more controlled manner I have some (now not so) top secret tips to share:
Exhale and inhale deeply before the beginning of the climb, this will serve to rid your lungs of carbon dioxide and gain more oxygen in the bloodstream to fuel your muscles. Whilst doing this make sure you address your gearing, changing down gears before the climb will help you maintain much more momentum. Smashing the bottom of the climb will undoubtedly make you explode later on up the climb as the lactic acid in your muscles becomes too much. Pacing yourself is crucial.
Relax your whole upper body. Don’t even strain your face with the agony… you’ll be wasting precious energy! The aim is to make your whole upper body almost limp to relax yourself ready for the effort concentrating all energy into where it matters.
Stay seated as much as possible as you can create more power by sitting slightly further back in the saddle to engage your glutes more. You can afford to sit up more to inhale more oxygen as aerodynamics will not be as important considering your reduced speed. Getting out of the saddle however is good to engage different muscles and to rest your glutes. For some it may feel more natural to be out the saddle the majority of the climb, such as Alberto Contador*.
Unless you’re name is Marco Pantani *climb with your hands on the hoods or on your top bars. This helps opening up your diaphragm enabling you to devour more oxygen! Chris Froome* takes this to the extremes sticking his elbows out.
Hitting a high cadence combined with a smooth pedaling action is the easiest way to get up a climb. When concentrating on your pedal technique concentrate on the back stroke -scooping your foot back. Pedal circles not squares. If you find even your lowest gear is a struggle on a climb then a benefit of clipless pedals is the ability to pull up on the pedal stroke. Don’t overdo this however as you don’t want to pull a muscle in your foot! Resort to pushing a slightly larger gear over if you’re getting out the saddle or you are doing a sprint effort.
If you are going around a corner or switchback on a climb you can make life significantly easier for yourself by taking the easiest, most central least steep, path by not going too wide or too hitting the apex of the corner which will likely be the steepest part of the road.
* Wikipedia Article Link
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