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How To Stay Comfortable On Long Climbs

How To Stay Comfortable On Long Climbs


(upbeat neo soul) – Climbing comfortably, hmm. Some of you might think
that’s a cruel joke. I mean, how can climbing
ever be comfortable? Well, there’s actually no reason to put yourself through
any pain or discomfort that is unnecessary when cycling, especially on a long climb
when let’s face it, most of us are going to be in a fair
bit of discomfort anyway just from pedaling uphill for ages. So this video is about how to
be as comfortable as possible on a bike uphill, so that
you can save that suffering for you cardiovascular system
and a pain in your legs. And even that pain of exertion,
if you think about it, we want to try to minimize
for a given power. We want maximum gain for our pain. I mean perhaps, if you’re
out for a long day’s riding, and you’re taking the
climbs nice and steady, you could even enjoy them, a much neglected aim in my opinion. A comfortable cyclist is a happy cyclist. (fast techno music) If your bike doesn’t fit you, it will be very hard to get comfortable, whether that’s uphill,
downhill, or on the flat. I mean yes, the human
body is very adaptable and you can get used to most things, but if your saddle is
in the wrong position relative to your bottom
bracket and your handlebars, it will be very hard to get comfortable, and you will develop niggles. And those niggles will be
magnified over a long climb, because you have to exert
power for a long time. You don’t get a break on a long climb unless you get off to rest,
which nobody really wants to do. There’s just no chance to
freewheel on a long climb. So if during training you
develop aches or pains in your knees, shoulders, neck,
back; well, I mean actually anywhere that’s not your working muscles, you should consider
changing your position, perhaps with the help of a
professional bike fitter, who will be able to look at
your physiology and flexibility, because everybody is different. And shoes and cleat position
as well as your bike setup. (upbeat neo soul) To make the quest for the perfect bike fit even more difficult, a lot
of people actually find that their position
changes on a long climb because they slide backwards
on the saddle due to gravity. Now this might mean that the saddle that you thought was
your bum’s best friend turns out to be a diabolical enemy, and you really don’t want
to be finding that out halfway up a long climb
in your target event or a week’s cycling holiday. So I would advise that if you don’t regularly ride on long climbs, you should practice
that different position. Try deliberately sliding
back in the saddle on shorter climbs, or put a big
block under your front wheel during indoor trainer sessions. If you’re lucky enough
to own a Wahoo Climb, that is perfect. And if your regular saddle
gives you problems like this, try changing the saddle
angle ever so slightly. If that doesn’t work, experiment
with different saddles. There’s no single right saddle
that works for everyone; it’s a totally personal choice. (soulful horns flourish) (spaced out chill beats) Now, I’ve said it before
but I’ll say it again, choose the right gears. I have never heard anyone complain that they had too many gears for a climb. However, so many people find
that their ride is ruined by running out of gears
and having to grind out a massive gear that hurts
their back, hurts their legs, and basically leaves them knackered. So if in doubt, go for a smaller
gear than you’re used to, and practice spinning. Now that we’ve dealt with the preparation, let’s think about what
you can do on the bike to make you feel more comfortable. (mid-tempo urban beats) Now obviously your cadence is
limited by the gears you have, but within those limits, you
can choose what gear to ride. Now there is no correct cadence. Obviously it’s related to physiology, leg length, crank length,
personal preference, but do think about what cadence you use. If for example you choose to grind out a really big gear for ages, that will cause a lot of muscular fatigue. If on the other hand, you choose to spin at a crazy high cadence, and
it’s not your usual style, well it’s going to put a lot of a load on your cardiovascular system. Neither extreme is very helpful. (funky wah wah guitar) Pace: it might sound obvious,
but don’t overcook it at the start of a long climb if you want to stay comfortable, especially in a sportive or a race. It is easy to get carried away
initially by the excitement and the adrenaline and
the people around you. Be careful though,
because you might end up paying for that later if, for example, you forget to eat and drink for too long or you use up all of your glycogen. Now if you find that you get a sore back riding out of the
saddle, it might be worth trying this trick, which
is to just stand up for short periods. It uses different musculature and it allows you to
stretch your back out. Now, not everyone likes
riding out of the saddle but for me it was the best way to stretch out my back when I was riding. And if you don’t often
ride out of the saddle, well it’s worth practicing. Overheating is not just
uncomfortable, it’s dangerous. If your body temperature gets too high, your physical ability will decrease, and at the extreme end you
could end up with hyperthermia. Now, long climbs in the summer,
especially if you’re racing, are the classic opportunity
for you to overheat. It’s uphill so you’re
not moving very fast; there isn’t much wind to cool you down. And your exertion is high,
so your body temperature is rising all on its own. So give your body as much
help as you can staying cool. If it’s going to be hot
and you get the choice, well set off early. Wear appropriate clothing. Unzip, although please do stay decent. If you’re still getting too hot, try just tipping water down your back, in your helmet, on your forearms. Just don’t use energy drink,
because that’s really gross and wasps will follow you around all day. Staying hydrated is important
for both health and comfort, because you will feel terrible
if you get dehydrated, and it increases your risk of overheating. So, try to drink little sips and often. Obviously how much you need to drink depends on how hot it is
and how hard you’re working. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink because that’s usually too late, and if you glug down a
whole load in one go, you will feel bloated and uncomfortable, and it could upset your stomach. Trust me, I’ve tried it
and it’s not very nice. If you’re going to use isotonic
drinks or energy drinks, which can be a good idea
for long events in the heat, make sure you practice them in training. Because stomach cramps
due to experimenting with a new energy drink will definitely not help
you to feel comfortable. (relaxed urban chill) Now, discomfort goes to a whole new level if you blow up and get
the shakes on a climb, as you’ll know if that’s
ever happened to you. So you need to stay fueled. On the other hand, you
don’t want to eat so much that you’re really full and bloated and you can’t breathe properly; that’s also really uncomfortable. Clearly there’s a balance;
you want to eat small amounts of fast digesting
carbohydrate, little and often. And just like drinks, you
should practice in training with what you’re going
to use on a long climb, because you don’t want any
unexpected indigestion. (upbeat urban chill) I think happiness is much
underrated in cycling. And being happy will make you feel more comfortable in a climb,
so however it works for you, maybe check out the view,
talk to your friends, think of all the cookies
you’re burning off, sing to yourself. You might be going uphill
for quite a long time so you might as well be
happy while you’re doing it. Now, training seems so obvious that it’s almost not worth mentioning, but obviously if you’ve
trained appropriately you will feel more
comfortable on long climbs. For a start, you’ll know how your body is going to respond to that exertion, and secondly you’ll have had a chance to practice some of these tactics. Now if you don’t live near
any long climbs, don’t panic; GCN has a video telling you how to train on the flat, for climbs. I hope this video helps you to enjoy your climbs this summer. Give us a thumbs up if so,
and if you want to check out how to ride steep climbs, click down here.

100 comments on “How To Stay Comfortable On Long Climbs

  1. I love climbing and oddly find it quite comfortable. My secret? Learn to ride on a 53/42 crank and 11-23, 7-speed cassette, then later in life get a bicycle with a compact crank and and 11-speed 11-32 cassette! 🙂

  2. Dehydration and over heating will kill. I tested myself one time within 100 ' of water, when I stopped sweating, the horizon started dipping up and down as I walked for water, I just wanted to sit down for a couple of minutes but I knew to get water, I was very sleepy, all this happened in about 5 minutes. It was a deadly test but I learned getting in trouble happens fast. It almost happened again a few weeks ago again on a ride. I know Emma was joking about the juice but if you have to cool off with ditch water and make it to the doctor. I hope everyone realizes there is no time when your body quits sweating, Sorry for the long comment but maybe someone live because of it

  3. Gearing!!! I've got a compact crank with 11-32 on the back. In hills events, me and my skinny legs are spinning my way past $10,000 bikes with 53-39 and 11-25 gearing, being pushed up hill or riders grinding at 40rpm with pain written all over their faces.
    For my style of riding, I don't need top end speed, and I might only need 25 or 28, but having the 32 on the really tough stuff makes my knees love me (even if my heart and lungs still hate me!)

  4. Great video. If I find the easiest way to become uncomfortable on a climb is to hit an extended ramp at 10% or over and blow up. Being patient enough to crawl up the steeper bits without overdoing it is a key skill in long climbs. The video looks like its Passo Gardena from Corvara, which the Net tells me is a 600m vert climb at 6.5% average. I have a 600m at 6% climb near me which is doable because its consistent gradient. I also have much shorter climbs of 250 to 350 vert with sections at 12% to 20%. Its those that are the killers.

  5. Simple, ride climbs often and you’ll get better at climbing. Burn off some weight and you’ll find climbs a bit easier. Try not to ride on the rougher surfaces while climbing, try to ride on the smoother bitumen.

  6. I love the comment about spinning in lower gear. I have a 32 but I get hills I can just move the pedal..i need another gear!

  7. Get a good seat get your bum measured for seat bones a padded seat does not equate comfort correct support is the more comfortable you are the more you enjoy 🚴‍♂️ practice riding out of the saddle and breathe properly from the nose and exhale from the mouth

  8. Where was this filmed? Swiss Alps? Dolomites? Wherever it was, I want to go there, and comfortably enjoy those long, scenic climbs! 🙂

  9. Wow, what gorgeous scenery! It was a bit understated (perhaps), but thanks, Emma, for pointing out the "happy" on the bike while climbing. I recall a ride in the Appalachian mountains of the United States, in Fall. The pain was surreal, but I recall looking up and being surrounded by a brilliance of color as the leaves were turning. Happiness.

  10. Thanks Emma – gave me a few things to try out – it all helps I have a lot of climbs locally that can’t be avoided so best to improve my climbing abilities.

  11. Wow you really improved your speach ! nice tone variation NAnanaNANnanNANA keeping people attention, nice energic talk ! woot

  12. Emma's fit is very good from arms to legs position against the fore arms backsides. She is riding a very small dual ring system.

  13. Perfectly timed, GCN! Thank you, Dr. Emma. I'll be climbing a few long ones next week in Colorado. I hadn't thought of singing. 🙂

  14. Anyone else getting some tips for the 2018 Triple Bypass? See y'all there! (There's still spots open in the 85 mile double bypass, Emma, btw) :p

  15. Is it me or is Pooley getting back into competition shape? Next presentor challenge…they're going to have to handicap her somehow. #notfair

  16. Amazing seeing Emma climb and yet able to talk so smoothly. Hardly out of breath. I like the Trek's frame colour, 👍

  17. I remember doing Winnats Pass last year and coming out the saddle as my quads were fried near the top, but then I was too broken to be able to sit back down without slowing to stop. Beautiful place to feel like you are about to die. Made it mind you.

  18. Forget about Strava segments. Don’t try and get up the climb in the first 500m. The hill isn’t going anywhere. Pace yourself. Don’t spin like a hamster. But don’t grind. Enjoy yourself. Don’t look at your Garmin. Stay happy.

  19. I'm a commuter and I experienced loss of energy recently while going home from work over the Queensboro Bridge. I don't like to eat close to a ride so after lunch I usually just drink water until quitting time. On this day, right before the apex of the climb, my legs gave out. I had plenty of sleep and as I said, and was well hydrated. I walked up to the zenith, re-mounted and just coasted down to the bottom of the bridge. Luckily I live in a city where there is a deli on almost every block, if not more. I got myself a couple of energy bars and took a bite or two about every mile and that slowly reinvigorated me and got me home. I'll be packing a small snack on my can't pack from now on. If you live in a suburban or rural area, I highly recommend packing a couple of Cliff Bars or Tiger's Milk bars…or whatever you like. I thought the empty stomach was the way to go but I learned the hard way that, well, people gotta eat!

  20. I agree with the bike fit . I had a few hybrid bikes and due to being quite small the sizes didn't go low enough. I found myself altering the length of the stem to make it fit but this affected the steering. After finding a road bike that is for my height and leg length ,it feels perfect even over long distance.

  21. Emma is totally cool. Could you guys please get in the habit of posting a google map of your beautiful rides ? You always go to such amazing places. Sharing is caring 🙂 Or have some web site with a collection of all these amazing rides. Please. Thank you 🙂 Keep it up. You’ve created my favorite channel on YouTube by far.

  22. I dominate the hill in my area! I can power over the interstate and enjoy the 100yd down hill ride like none other!!

  23. The best two things I did for surviving climbing: (1) I got a proper bike fit. Made a world of difference. (2) I dropped 5 kilos. Good show, Emma!!

  24. Comfortable on a climb is easy as I ride a recumbent with a very comfortable seat. I do not race and I do not care if you pass me going up a hill because I will get to the top in comfort and be looking at the scenery on the way. If you think you have to get to the top of the hill fast and you are not a pro, maybe ask yourself why?

  25. Dominican Republic here … If I want a challenge: 52/36 11-25 … Comfortable: 52/36 11-28 … Easier: 50/34 11-32 …

  26. Emma,
    watching you climb is like reading a Shakespeare Poem – all seems to fit magically well togehter.
    Natural beauty…

    Keep going!

    Watching you from Nuremberg, Bavaria, Deutschland

  27. On steep, out of saddle efforts I will shift the bike back and forth to a fairly exaggerated degree (without being dangerous) rather than attempt to keep it relatively upright, for a more distributed effort.

  28. Apart from the vital information being transmitted in these vidoes from GNC, i love the backdrop. Just magnificent!!!

  29. Great video and great advice…she's very inspiring because she makes it looks so easy up those long hills. It makes me want to take the challenge even more than ever now.

  30. I find shorter stem helps with climbing as it puts more weight on your back wheel when stood up from the saddle

  31. I would like to know if EMMA rides a bike specific to women. In general, do female pros ride women’s bikes?

  32. It's seriously hot here in Italy right now and these tips are spot on. I also find that riding without track mitts on those long Dolomitic climbs can cool you down a fraction.

  33. Surprised to see you slung so low and holding onto the brake blocks, with your bum slid back so far. Classic climbing position is upright, weight over crank spindle, hands on the bar tops at shoulder width. This position can be made more comfortable with a slightly larger frame, or failing that, adding 5-15mm to your handlebar stem so you can shift your weight forward enough on steep climbs and be comfortable on the bar tops on more moderate climbs.

    Your seat is slid all the way forward on the rails. Consider a seat-tube with zero or 12-15mm of setback, instead of 25mm. This softens up the back of the seat where you will be positioned for most of the climb. It also allows the back of the seat to move side-to-side a bit to ease back pain. The mid to forward rail position allows the rails to provide the flex they were intended to. I think you'll be surprised.

    I noticed your front brake is in your right hand. Is this a British thing? I changed mine around 10yrs ago now, after buying aerobars and wanting to keep my left arm planted while shifting or braking. When bikes had down-tube shifters the right hand was FAR too far away from the right brake lever to be effective, so the front (effective) brake was put in the left hand, which was usually left on the brake levers when shifting. This was obviously obsolete as of paddle shifters, so surprising it's still the way most people ride – despite the OBVIOUS advantage of having 11 gears and your effective brake in your right hand, since whenever you brake the very next thing you must do is shift.

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