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How To Ride Steep Climbs Faster | GCN’s Cycling Tips

How To Ride Steep Climbs Faster | GCN’s Cycling Tips

Steep climbs are brutal, let’s face it I mean anyone could ride up a long climb. You just have to go slowly enough, right? Well steeps climbs though Si that’s when you’re really going to start to suffer but surely there are some tricks of the trade to not only help us ride them but to ride them faster. Well it’s funny you should say that Matt. Do you ride steep climbs in or out of the saddle? Well in short it depends on you. And if favour one over the other, that’s probably for the best. And the advantage of riding in the saddle are that if your gears permit you can spin an easy gear meaning that you will end up doing less muscle damage that may or may not matter. It just depends how long and how many climbs that you going to have to ride and then if the climb is really steep then it’s also gonna help you maintain traction at the rear wheel by keeping more weight over it. And I’ve never heard in a pro race a rider seated actually beating or even keeping up with riders who are riding out of the saddle on very steep climb that’s except of course for cobble climbs where you get far more traction when you’re sat down over your back wheel so it’s better to say then, depending on your fitness level that you’re gonna go far faster on steep climbs
riding out of the saddle allthough you might pay for it a little bit later because you are expending far more energy The gears that you choose to ride up steep climbs and therefore your cadence are really important so the first point is that you need to change
gears before you need to. And particularly from the big chain ring to small chain ring. Because even the most expensive gears don’t really like to shift under pressure. So shift before
you get stuck. And secondly, if your gears allow it, you’ll be glad of some lighter gears especially on longer rides so keeping a high but comfortable cadence. And what you mean by gears allowing? Well essentially having gears that are small enough so you might want to consider having a 34 tooth chainring at the front and then maybe even going up to a 32 cassette at the back. Those gears should be easy enough to peddle up just
about any tarmac. Well you should be giving it a little bit of wellie as well of course. A really short, steep climbs pacing might seem like an alien concept. If all you can do is get up the climb then you just gotta
give everything you’ve got for as long as you got. But many steep climbs are preceded by less steep sections or in fact might just be really steep for really long. So in either of those cases you’re gonna use your head as well as your legs. Yeah. If you know that a climb gets steeper on the shallow part try and go as gently as you can so that you can really dig in deep and go hard when the road pitches up and gets steep so to
quantify that – speak about it in terms of time – we could lose perhaps thirty
seconds on the shallow initial part of the climb but actually gain around a minute
on the steep section so you need to use your head for pacing that’s pretty clear what about using your head to help you try harder? well it’s a bit of a horrific cliche but
having a positive mental attitude will help you no end in cycling and that’s no more evident on steep climbs just like this one. yeah feeling positive is gonna help you dig deeper. You’ll get more of yourself and then paradoxically it’s also gonna hurt
less. I know it sounds a little bit far-fetched but from my experience when I perceive an effort to be good I go much faster than when i perceive an effort to be bad so when I’m struggling to hold a wheel for example I just feel like I’m going slowly The steeper the gradient the more that
your math will be holding you back. It’s simple physics really so if you’ve got a light light bike and you’re a light rider then you’ll need less power to get over the climbs. But there is a limit to how light you can go. So if you train on steep climbs and you’re
targeting an event that’s peppered with climbs, definitely worthwhile think
about losing a kilo or two. You’ll get a big advantage from that. Well, but if you’re a larger rider then don’t despair. Firstly just look at the Tour of Flanders, a race characterized by loads of steep climbs It tends to be won by riders from the larger end of the pro cyclist spectrum. Showing you than ultimately power can win out think about also using your natural
attribute to your advantage so pace yourself on the climb and over the top really start to turn on the gas and
try to reel in on the flat sections in the downhill as skinny climbers will have got away from you onthe steep bits. It
works in pro racing and it can also work for you. Think back to a few years ago when Thor Hushovd won a mountain stage of
the Tour de France doing exactly that. So, steep climbs then? Pace yourself, preselect your gears and then get your head in gear as well. And don’t forget you gonna need to
absolutely smash it as well. That is true. Anyway. For how to train for steep climbs how about clicking just up here. And
for a masterclass on the art of climbing itself from none other than Alberto Contador no
less click just down here. Yeah make sure sure you subscribe to GCN before going to either of those. It’s completely free. In theory you’ve just gonna click on the red globe.

100 comments on “How To Ride Steep Climbs Faster | GCN’s Cycling Tips

  1. High Cadence is all well and good, but you have to be one hell of a climber or packing MTB gears to do that on 25% plus hills.

  2. Hard to focus with Matts wild hair sticking out of the helmet. I reckon it's outside the rules??😛

  3. I've seen that hairpin from the start of the vid before on Wout van Aert's Twitter I think 😀

  4. I love this video! I recognized immediatly that climb 😁
    Now I know how I should be doing it!

  5. Lash 2 gallon jugs of water to your handlebars and do hill repeats for a month on a 60% grade. Congrats, you can climb now.

    Also, this is why I make fun of people who resist the all-powerful triple ring. You may mock me for it but I'll have the last laugh when I attack on a hard climb in a heavy wind.

  6. I couldn't focus on the video because all I could do is focus on how weird a helmet looks on Si. I vote he never wears a helmet without a cap to go peak-up again.

  7. Thanks for the great tips! Just so you know when you point to the cards on screen, those of us who are watching on our televisions cannot see them. Keep up the great programming.

  8. Questions:
    It's a simple calculation to calculate how many watts you need to get up to the top, or is it?
    If, for example cycles in a group where the speed varies, it can be much harder to cycle the same distance. How can it be when you teroretisk uses the same energy or what.?

  9. I love those slow motion cycling shots GCN does with one presenter talking and one presenter cycling in slow motion like at 0:40……Oh wait sorry that's not slow motion!

  10. si looks like a more natural efficient climber where as matt is wasting alot of energy bouncing about with upper body movement.

  11. Living in a area with short climbs, I have come to the conclusion that short, steep climbs favor the same type of riders that can sprint well. It's about being able to put lots of watts down for a short period of time. The advantages of lighter weight and power to weight ratio only come into their own on longer climbs.

  12. want to cycle faster uphill? Then stop being lazy and put some training in.
    I am always bewildered when i see cyclists doing the "walk of shame" uphill, often people whom are 20 years younger than me, or the weekend warrior with their £8000 top of th range road bike that is gold plated, has mind controlled gear shifting and weighs less than a box of bananas

  13. You guys have done some great videos on Climbing, including this one! But do you have any climbing advice for those like me riding single-speed? (Other than, "get gears") 😉 *Edit – P.S. – I think it'd be really cool if you'd put the filming/riding location in the description for these videos, I think a lot of people might be interested to know where you are. 🙂

  14. You over looked two things –

    1. Matt forgot Chris Froome who is probably faster seated than other riders are standing (apparently there's an aero benefit to sitting, even at those speeds).

    2. Folks should also check out the "How to Make the Perfect Espresso" video, as a good stiff shot at the right time can help out on those really steep sections.

  15. What about those surprise climbs you find during a new route you don't know? For me what works best is shouting COME ONNNN and wearing the CLIMB FACE. Of course, getting lost less often is good too. Any other advice? 😛

  16. My wife pointed out that you missed a summary point – Try not to cry. That's the bit she finds the hardest.

  17. I hover around 190 lbs/86 kg. A very slightly more fat Greipel physique – but with only half his power LOL. And yep, while I really love long but not steep climbs, steep sections kill me. So I hear you about mental attitude! I used a 11-32 cassette for a long time but now have a 11-34. Gives me all kinds of trouble on my Cervélo R3 but that's another story.

    Nice tips overall and I'm glad you mentioned the 11-32. For some reason, it's snobbed upon by many even though CONTADOR used that one time. If it's good for one of the best climbers ever, I can use that as a 86kg amateur! BTW I still hear Alberto's voice saying "You tired? It's not professional. You need to train more" in my head when I slow down, as per your video LOL

    On climbs I wish I was smaller, but hey, overall I prefer my physique, I admit it, an ego thing. If I were a pro rider it would be misplaced vanity, now it's just wonderful he he. It also means I do look for ways to make climbs easier. If a 10-42 cassette set with 50-34 at the front existed for road bikes I'd use it! To do the greatest TdF, Vuelta and Giro climbs at my weight and age (like Matt)

  18. Hoping u guys and answer this with just a comment or on #torqueback #askgcnything what bike computors do you use for your riding

  19. pedal in circles. never straighten the leg. lower saddle and high cadence. focusing on the downstream will decelerate the bike

  20. Tom "The Brick" Last had really positive attitude on his climb in Spain…… You could just see it on his face )))))

  21. Can anyone tell me why I am seemingly unable to get up my hearth-rate on flat ground, even trying hard with high cadence, but can do so easily on a climb? I know the answer seems obvious but consider that on a flat by trying hard my legs get tired before I even get over 110bpm (with a 90 cadence), while on a climb I can easily keep 150bpm for a while before my legs start to weaken.

  22. Unsure about 11 speed cassettes, but my favourite climbing cassette is the 30-12 ultegra (10 spd). The best part is that you can use it with a short cage with absolutely no problems. put it with a compact crank and you can tackle 25%+ gradients easy

  23. I still can't believe why even pro cyclists and long term riders don't know a thing about proper gearing for steep climbs. THE MOST IMPORTANT IS TO GET AT LEAST 32 TEETH CASSETTE AT THE BACK. Which you guys only mentioned briefly in your video and not as general recommendation. Most people will be grinding their teeth out becaue their gears don' t allow them to pedal in high cadence. Sadly mountain bikes have bigger cassettes and people would never think to put that cassette on the road bike. Why the hell are they still selling road bikes with shitty gearing, put the big mountain bike cassette on the road bike at least 32 the biggest cog, otherwise grind yourself out with low cadence.

  24. Climbing is one of the best parts of being a cyclist 😉 i love doing it but it doesn't love me back hehe!

  25. Interesting watching Moser and Brambilla battling it out up the Pinerolo. Perfect example of riding steep climbs fast! Moser smashing it in the saddle at what looked like a slightly higher cadence, and Brambilla smashing it in and out of the saddle to try and get a gap. Neither could distance the other going full gas which was great to see. My legs hurt just watching it! So I suppose do what comes naturally, as one technique isn't necessarily better than the other 🙂

  26. To add more to the positive mental attitude topic…. I think a very clear way to see how your perception of your effort is very important is comparing effort riding (for example) into a head wind vs with a tail wind….. At least for me maintaining the exact same wattage (sometimes even a lower wattage) into a head wind is much harder that maintaining it with a tail wind; even though, wattage is suppose to measure effort directly so its suppose to be equally hard (?). Can it have something to do with my perception of "how hard riding into a 35mph head wind should be". Or the fact that riding with a tailwind makes u go way faster with the same power and thus gives you the impression that you are doing much better? … either way I think its all in the head

  27. I almost always count my cadence from base of the climb to the top. Help me focus and get my mind off the pain/suffering. Even minor climbs I done hundred of time I do it, it had become a habit.

  28. I run a 53-39 on the front then a 32-12 on the back yet I feel comfortable and can spin most climbs, would it be worth dropping to a 36 or even a 34?

  29. Hi GCN,

    I just did a steep climb few weeks ago and what happen was I tend to pull handle bar towards me every pedal just to get the power to push down the pedal. Am I doing wrong?

    I remember as one of the tips, pls correct me if I am wrong to relax your arm but I couldnt avoid because it hurt my back so tendency was to pull the handle back.


  30. When you're in 36×28 and your cadence has dropped to 50 it's probably time to get out of the saddle. Also gets your weight forward which stops the front wheel going light which starts to happen once it gets over 25% or so. If it's wet however you then start slipping the rear wheel. At that point it's time to stop for coffee.

  31. Jan Ulrich is maybe the exception for the point of never seeing seated rider beat a standing rider on a steep climb 🙂 🙂

  32. my stamina is getting better the climb is easier but my time isnt improving, what should i do? im apexing instead of hugging my climb is 12% for one mile.. please help

  33. The reason why I still use shimano 10 speed road drivetrains is because i can fit a shimano 9 spd MTB derraileur at the back to accommodate an 11-36T cassette. The 34x36T combination makes climbing 20%+ grades a whole lot easier on the legs

  34. would love the know how much difference body weight would effect a climb. I get smashed on climbs at 245 lbs. Trying to drop weight and attacking hills every week.

  35. i fell inlove with bikes i even gave up my car just to ride everyday. i use fixed gear tho. ive been riding 2 years now and i want to upgrade to a roadbike.

  36. Anyone any idea which country that they are riding in? I don’t think that they are in the uk as they are riding on the right hand side of the road.

  37. Thankyouu GCN Idols . I had my long and steepest climb on my first ride . Im only 19 and 10 months in cycling but i overcome because of your tips. Thankyou and more power. Fr. Philippines


  39. I currently hate climbs but I am just a beginner so I'm working on them to become better. Thank you for the helpful videos🤗

  40. “On the climbs, the physical demands are immense. Its the same competitive challenge kids in swimming pools do. Holding their breath, who's going to give up first? Who's going to asphyxiate themselves longest until you are almost at the point of blacking out? And that's what climbing up a hill is like. And thats what Pantani could do more than anyone else. Descend into the darkness – hold it there – and then come out alive”. Quote from: Pantani – The Accidental Death of a Cyclist

  41. Only about four miles from my house to my mum's house, but about one of those four miles (divided across two sections split up by gentle undulations) sees you climb one thousand feet. Utterly brutal, even walking and pushing the bike at times. And I can't ride out the saddle. And I'm a heavyish rider (trying to address that) with a heavyish bike (can't afford to address that, yet).

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