Tennessee Loves Hills

September 27, 2017

Tennessee Loves Hills

   The great state of Tennesse is known for its rolling hills and beautiful scenary. Ironically, climbing hills is one of the best reasons to ride a bike. When done properly, hills are the ultimate blend of an aerobic and muscular work out. But, there are certain aspects riders shold be aware of when making those uphill treks. Below are 4 tips to climbing hills safely and efficiently:


1.) Negative Splits

  • Our speed habits are commonly based on how we travel in a car. However, car speed is different than bicycle speed. Cars can do the same speed uphill, downhill, and on flat-land. Rider's ( fortunate or not depending on the day) cannot. Remember, hills are easier the slower you go.

  • TIP:Start the hill with less than your average speed for the climb and gradually pick up speed over the top of the hill

2.) Understanding Power: Feeling your Feet

  • During you ideal average speed, feel for the pressure that's under your foot in each down stroke. Let's call it 10lbs on the bottom of your feet during the down stroke while going your average speed on the flats. During your pedal strokes, be mindful of that pressure. This is what a power meter tells us. It;s a tool that has been gaining popularity with cyclists over the last 5-10 years.

  • Proof: I have seen a single speed mountain bike racer race for twelve hours and accumulate 10k feet of climbing, with a cadence as low as 30. The best part?  His last lap was as fast as his first.

3.) Rolling the Barrel

  • So, imagine your crank as a wine barrel. To roll it uphill, you have to lengthen your stroke, slow down your cadence, and try to get under the crank a little to give the barrell a good push. If the wine barrel approach doesn't cut it, think about scrapping mud off your feet, then driving your feet into the handle bar. Why does it matter? Cadence on average drops about 15% below average when climbing and picks up about 15% above average when descending.

4.) 70@70

  • There is something to be learned from people who ride in the mountains. They know how to relax like a pro while climbing up and down hills. Why? I believe its because they have learned how to be comfotable while climbing at 70% exertion rates (you should be able to talk and climb simeltaneously).

  • Motto: What gets measured gets done, right? Have you ever measured how much of your time you spend climbing? Would you say it's more than 50/50 aerobic (talking pace) to anaerobic (panting pace)? There is an old coaching rule that suggests riding aerobic an avereage of 70% of the time.  Instead of climbing 10% of your miles at 50/50 a week, try climbing 20% of your miles at 70/30 a week, That's when the magic will happen.

Big Picuture:

  • Ride more hills! Slow down and concentrate on your form and you WILL be a healthier, happier cyclist in Tennessee.


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