Can you bike up a rise or a hill?
Would you like to be able to bike up a bigger and longer hill than you are currently able to ride?
Would you like biking up a hill to feel easier?
Is there a ride that you have been keen to do but there is some up hill in it that you are unsure about?
Do any these situations relate to you? If so, then lets discover how you can feel more confident and find the joy in riding up a hill.
As a women you will need to rely on efficiency and good technique to bike up a hill. They say the average female has only about two thirds the strength and power of the average male. Males can rely on that gifted power and strength to get them up a hill, but not us, ladies. We need to focus on good technique and efficiency to get ourselves up those hills. Once you have good technique then the strength, power and endurance (fitness) will come.
Lets look at what that good technique is:
Set up – the bike
- Do your 30 second pre-ride check, make sure your bike is safe to ride up the hill and then down the hill.
- The right bike gear. When riding up a hill you need to be in a gear that allows you to pedal at a comfortable rhythm. The gear you need to be in for a comfortable rhythm will vary between riders and also be dependent on the slope or the steepness of the hill. See more at ‘The right bike gear at the right time’.
Remember the general rule for hill climbing is: small chain ring at the front, large sprocket at the back.
Set up – the rider
- Riding position – You need to ride in the ‘A’ position with a strong core and loose limbs. Your chest should be open and your arms in the relaxed ‘C’ shape. Your legs need to be loose and relaxed to allow for movement at the hip, knee and ankle joints. Basically you are using your chi riding platform. See Tip 1 – Riding position, Tip 2 – Core control, and Tip 4 – Breathing. Your chi riding platform applies whether you are riding seated on your bike seat (your 3 points of contact with the bike – hands, bottom and feet) or if you choose to ride up the hill, at times, with your bottom off the seat and two points of contact with the bike, your feet on the pedals and hands on the handlebars.
- Riding line – Your head needs to be up and you need to look ahead (1 to 2 metres) and be choosing your riding line. Look where you want to ride.
Now that your set up is sorted, lets get into the task of riding up a hill.
Riding up a hill
If you are set up in the correct riding position, your chi riding platform, with strong core and loose limbs, it allows you to use the correct muscles for pedaling – that is the big leg/butt muscles that work during the push phase of a pedal stroke (between the 12 – 5 on a clock of both the left and right leg). You will need to maintain this position for the whole duration while you ride up the hill so these big muscles can work efficiently. For more information see Chi riding Tip 5 – pedaling.
However as we start to tire and our legs feel like they do not have the strength (even in our lowest gear) to make it up the hill our body starts to find ways to compensate and help out our tiring legs. Unfortunately what most of us revert to is not helpful at all. We tense up our hands and arms and start to pull up on our handles bars with our hands and arms. This causes a number of problems;
- Our chest closes in (it is no longer open) and this makes it harder to get oxygen to our big pedaling muscles and they tire.
- Our core control is compromised and so our big pedaling muscles can not work efficiently and they tire even more.
- By pulling on the handlebars we can loose traction between the front wheel and the ground.
When riding up the hill focus on
- Having relaxed shoulders, arms and hands. Let those shoulders go and relax. Keep your hands loose on the handlebars.
- Focus on a strong core and the push phase of the left and right leg when pedaling. See Tip 5 – Pedaling
- Make sure you are in the right gear to try and maintain that comfortable rhythm for you.
- If you start to loose traction of either the front or the back wheel (you will notice the wheel spin or lift) then you may need to make the following adjustments:
- The front wheel – make sure your arms are relaxed and loose. Keep your strong core and A position and adjust your weight slightly forward at the hips (lean forward slightly) to get more traction between the front wheel and the ground.
- The back wheel – keep your strong core and the A position and adjust your weight slightly back at the hips (sit upright a little more) to get more traction between the back wheel and the ground.
When you feel yourself starting to tire, work hard to consciously focus and practise these points. Remember if you don’t make it up the hill you have the options of walking your bike or turning around and enjoying the ride down. Well done for giving it a go. The more times you give it a go the easier it will get.
Now you have the information, go enjoy the rewards and smiles you get when you get to the top of the hill. It doesn’t matter the size of that hill feel the joy because you biked to the top, or you made it to the top. As they say the view is the same whether you bike the whole way or you had to walk your bike.
Feeling confident and comfortable riding up a hill will allow you to goRide more places, more often with a smile.
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
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