I was recently reminded about an older article I wrote about my experiences riding a fixed gear bike. The biggest lesson I took away from riding the fixed gear bike is that there is NO coasting especially when cresting a hill! I was out on a recent coaching ride with a young man and his father who is a Track and Filed coach. His father shared something with me. He stated that he thought that competitive runners make for good climbers, tactically speaking. When I asked why, he responded “competitive runners don’t coast and they don’t give up in the hills”. I agreed that this was a great observation as his son was effortlessly climbing and picking up speed as we crested.
Now this young man has the build of a climber and the aerobic capacity of a Collegiate Cross Country Runner but there is something we can all learn from the above experiences. The next time your out riding and you need to get up a hill of any grade but especially the ones that you have tough time with see if you give up on the climb once you crest it. What I am talking about is once you get to the top do you coast in anticipation of a descent? If this is the case you are loosing valuable momentum. Instead try the following:
- As you approach the top of your climb shift into one easier gear and bring up your RPM just a bit. Not a sprint effort!
- Then as you crest the hill shift back up 2-3 gears harder as you roll over the top and down the descent.
- Doing this allows you to “roll the hill” and save valuable time approaching what maybe a descent or a series of rollers.
The first few times you do this it won’t feel very natural and you mat get a few clunky shifts or even drop your chain in the process. So be careful practicing this in a group ride. Once you get the hang of it you may notice that you have a similar felling to when your driving in a car and your automatic transmission does almost the same thing on rolling terrain.
Shift more and have a great ride!