Improving climbing fitness

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.


3 responses to “Improving climbing fitness

  1. Good post.
    I had to give up my attempt at Hugel this year. I’m very disappointed, but injuries put me behind. I could probably finish 100 miles no problem, but not with that climbing. Maybe next year.

  2. Pingback: So many rides, so little time | Giant On My Bike's Blog

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