So the summer season of cycling is fast approaching and you are far from fast going up hills. How nice is it to head out into the hills on a summer's day but never tackle it in fear of those climbs taking its toll on your legs and risk blowing up. This can be resolved though, don't give up at the first hill. Remember one is one more hill than none. Break it down into manageable chunks.
So you need a strategy to actually get you climbing better. Let's face it no one wants to go out and race up every hill. That's not an awful lot of fun, is it? However, hills can be very rewarding and very interesting rides.
When planning your route, pick four hills at least two to eight mins long not too far from home so not to over face yourself. Ride up them at the same constant speed and no matter how you are feeling or how tired you are, when you get nearer the top, make sure you make a little extra effort 100 meters from the top. This will really strengthen your legs and help to make you a better climber. This stretches your lungs and makes your legs work that little bit harder at the top. also this way you know you are near the top and are close to being able to rest. This technique lures you in nicely. When you get to the top roll over the top and take a break. Enjoy the view from the top and take a photo! You have to make your effort worth it right!
That's right. We are sorry to state the obvious but climbing more will only make you better, naturally. Don't avoid them. If it helps mentally to get you out into the hills you can do fewer miles because its harder. So where you would need to go out for a 3 hour 50-60 miles bike ride, you can do a 25-30 miles ride in the hills and get the same results. Just by simply getting used to climbing will naturally increase your ability. There are some technical aspects to climbing so just ride up them and you will soon find a style that suits you.
Increase your cadence
Unless you have a coach who has planned in some overgeared hill efforts, find a cadence that means your not overgearing yourself but not spinning so fast that your heart rate shoots through the roof that you find yourself panicking. Finding a rhythm will really help. Slightly higher cadence will help with fatigue and give you a better chance of climbing at a constant speed. If you are struggling to find a gear that suits you going up climbs it may be worth looking at a different gear set up. A common set up for climbing on a road bike is a 50/34 front chainset with an 11/28 cassette 11-speed groupset.
Don't panic, stay relaxed
When you see the sign that says 20% you may start to panic a little! Well, the key is to stay calm. Pace yourself, and commit to being on the climbs. The more you tense up and worry about it the more you will struggle to breathe and stay in a rhythm. Tensing up only creates more lactic acid build up and will make it more uncomfortable for you.
Use Strava or time yourself
By timing yourself doesn't mean you are racing yourself or anyone else for that matter, but this does help you see improvements in yourself to help you keep going. It is nice to see that you have gotten either a few seconds or even a few minutes quicker with the extra practice. A comparison from month to month or year to year can help keep you motivated. Don't forget to take into consideration wind conditions though. It's easy to feel disheartened if your time one day is slower than a previous day. There may have been a big headwind that day that slowed you up or you were having a tired day, we are all entitled to an off day! If you are training quite heavy you may need to replenish your carbohydrate stores with some recovery food.
If you have any suspected heart conditions you should not be attempting to overstretch yourself. If you are concerned you should see a doctor.