Are you filled with dread when you have to ride your bike up or down a hill? You might feel like you’re about to exhaust yourself. Or, like you’ll move too fast and lose control of your ride. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s how you can tackle the biggest climbs and descents.
1. Stay seated first.
Keep your rear on the seat and your pedaling cadence high. Then you’ll have maximum transfer of energy into power. The most efficient cadence is 70 to 90 revolutions per minute. You can amp it up. Just drive your rear to the back of the seat as you push on the downstroke. Lean forward and keep you elbows flexed. And pull on the handlebar opposite your downstroke leg.
2. Stand up for more power.
The hill might be too steep and you need even more power. As you begin the downstroke, lean your bike away from that foot. Keep your body in a straight line over the foot. Lean forward on the handlebars but keep your elbows loose. As you finish that stroke, transfer weight to your other foot. Use your bike as a lever to do this.
When your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke, move it back like you’re scraping something off your shoe. Pull up on the pedal and step forward until you’re ready to deliver another stroke. Practice this as much as you can. Then move to the other leg. When you’re comfortable, you can use them both to climb the hill.
Stronger and fitter bikes will climb in a higher gear while keeping their cadence up. If you’re a beginner, use a lower gear. Keep your cadence consistent through the whole climb. When it starts to slow down, switch to an easier gear. Let up on the pedals while shifting to take the pressure off the chain.
1. Get the right body position.
The steeper the hill, the more weight should be on the back saddle. That will help with braking and cornering.
2. Go straight downhill.
Get low and aerodynamic. Have a relaxed grip and keep your hands on the drops near the brakes. Bend your elbows and tuck them in toward your sides. Raise your rear slightly off the saddle to improve your balance. Your feet should be at the 3 and the 9 o’clock positions. That will keep you centered on your bake.
3. Prepare for corners.
Drive down the outside leg and lean on the inside drop. Keep your outside elbow close to your body, and your head and shoulders level. Then your tires will stay in contact with the road.
4. Use the brakes.
Keep light pressure, move your weight back, and apply both brakes evenly. You might reach an obstacle or rough ground patch. Send your weight back, then move it forward when you reach that area. Your feet should be in the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Keep a firm but relaxed grip on the bars. Then you can absorb the shock. Lighten up on the brakes when you have poor traction.