01 November 2015 ~ 2 Comments

Cycling Hill Climbing Tips


A recent editorial in Bicycling Magazine reminded me of some tips for climbing.

They suggest to first scoot back on your saddle, which I already do, but they also suggested to drop your heel as your foot rotates across the top of the pedal. On mild terrain (3-5% grades) I also try to lift with my foot too, but on steeper terrain, I generally just mash.

Speaking of mashing, my friend, Kenneth, as shown on a Super 600 route in Utah (600 km in 50 hours or less…375 miles with 32,000 feet of climbing) did not use clipless pedals, but rather sandals with platform pedals. He said that he likes to move his foot forward on the pedal, so his arch is right over the pedal and then mash, or just push down hard on hill climbs. There is wisdom to that because sprinters like to have their cleats mounted forward, but long distance guys, like me, have them shoved all the way back. I have even heard of some German bike fitters that put the cleats almost underneath the arch of the foot. Now I see why — on a recent hill interval workout, I wanted to pull my foot back so my arch was right over the spindle of my pedal.

Additionally, while doing steep climbs, don’t be afraid to stand up as it helps straighten out the leg and knees for additional comfort.

I also do several strength training exercises (usually twice a week throughout the year) including planks and the so-called Roman chair to strengthen my lower back,  usually with a 12 to 15 pound weight in my hands.

2 Responses to “Cycling Hill Climbing Tips”

  1. James Thurber 3 November 2015 at 12:58 pm Permalink

    Although I do like the ability to lift (pull) up on the flats the more I ride the more I prefer platform pedals. Not only does it permit your foot to move around but my adjusting your tibia / foot position you tend to take strain off the knees.

    Standing is VERY important as it straightens the back / changes the knee loading. I usually stand for a count of 25 or 30 at most unless the slope exceeds 10 percent in which case I usually have to stand.

  2. Ken 3 November 2015 at 6:16 pm Permalink

    And on the flip side, when spinning fast, I like to slide my foot back so my toes are on the pedal. Don’t know why, it just “feels” right.

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