I have dedicated the last 15 years of my life to help people improve their cycling, and climbing is almost always at the top of their lists of challenges. Every rider I work with needs to improve their Climbing, from Century rides, Gravel Grinders, Cyclocross to RAMROD to STP, it is the focus for most riders. I was lucky to learn to climb early when I moved to Colorado and began racing road in the mountains, everyone who races there is a great climber. My 2nd race was the Mt. Evans hillclimb (highest paved road in US over 14,000ft) and when I was a pro mountain biker I won a WorldCup medal for 3rd place with the best in the world racing up Mammoth Mountain, so climbing has been my cycling “thesis” and major area of study since 1987.
Climbing requires more than just fitness, I have coached some of the fittest riders around and often is is more subtle techniques like mental “fueling”, pedal stroke or fueling correctly that makes the biggest difference. Climbing will test you and *can* bring out the best in you, it can also allow you to find ways to give up early.
If you are trying to unlock your best climber, start with where you are with your fitness now and accept your ability and limitations as starting points. You have a pattern of how you climb, and if you want to improve there are a number of things you can look at BESIDES your training/fitness level to be sure you are climbing as well as you can:
1. Pedal stroke optimization
2. Breathing techniques for steady and hard climbing
3. Posture and hand position
4. Bike fit to allow full power
5. Pacing tools to fit terrain
6. Shifting smooth transitions and cadence
7. Standing skills, recovery and full-gas
8. Fueling precision
9. Mental energy and conditioning
10.Bike and part selection
Let’s start with pedal stroke since that is where I believe I get my riders an extra 10% improvement over a 6 month training plan. I spent the last year studying how pedal stroke has affected riders in our indoor classes and we have designed new Indoor ICE workouts one day a week to focus on the pedal stroke with the biofeedback of Spin Scan where we measure precisely how you pedal. Riders can see how they are pressuring the pedals and the results have been impressive.
If you are “untrained” you can usually do about 50-60% of a perfectly round pedal stroke. With training I see riders able to maintain 80-85% efficiency for sustained intervals. We measure which leg is dominant, how pedal pressure responds to different loads and focus on even, full circular pressure. This is something that will help any rider improve and can give you a big bump in your riding up hills with the same amount of training, just a more precise focus.
If you missed our Hill Climbing Bootcamp and can’t make it to Chelan with us for 5 days in May, I have put together a new way to get all this knowledge in a private, one-on-one coaching package called Crush the Climbs! Unlock your Ultimate Climber. I meet with you a number of times and ride with you indoors and out to evaluate precisely where you are today on all 10 of the points above, then prescribe ways to move the needle on your “biggest bang for the buck” areas to unlock your ultimate climber. Cost is $299 for a short “introductory” time, and you will work with me personally. If you just need a tune up, a 1 hour private lesson is only $80. Email me directly for more details Craig@cycleu.com
I am excited to see how fit and energized we can get this season. At Cycle U the positive momentum continues as we upgrade all of our Classes and Coaching and focus with laser precision on being the best resource for you to get the edge on your cycling and make rapid improvements to your health and fitness. I appreciate all of you who have been on this journey with us over the years. We are just celebrating our 12th anniversary as Seattle’s “go-to” cycling experts and I honestly believe we are just getting started. As we like to say at the “U” – Get Ready to Ride!