I’ve had other riders make comments to me like “you climb pretty good for a big guy.” I’m sure they meant it as a compliment, but it always reminds me of my Achilles Heal: climbing steep grades. The problem is that gravity really works against me. I suppose I could break down and get a triple chain ring. However, I like to go fast and I’d have to give up my over-sized chain ring. Not gonna happen (or NGH as my wife likes to say).
There’s only one way to improve your climbing skills: you have to train on hills. I’m fortunate because I live in an area where we have plenty to choose from. In fact, there’s a annual ride here called Tour das Hugel…100+ miles of climbing. I’ve committed to do this ride, but probably not this year. So, what’s the best way to improve your climbing fitness?
One of the best videos I found was this one from Chris Carmichael.
It really works. I found a fairly steep and decent length hill near my house where I could practice. It’s actually ideal because I can ride there, traffic is pretty low, traffic speeds are 30 MPH and there’s actually a designated bike lane. At the top of the hill there’s a flat section that allows me to pedal during my recovery time to get to the turnaround. I don’t get the full 6-8 minute effect, but the grade is about 10% and I just do more of them.
I’ve already noticed a speed difference on one of my regular routes that has hills where I’m over 1.5 MPH faster on average. I also notice that I’m using higher gears on these hills. Give it a try. I think you’ll be pleased with the results.
If you’re on facebook, check out Master the Shift. It’s got all kinds of useful information and its where I found this video initially.
Good luck and maybe I’ll see you out on the road.