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
School of fish. Pack of wolves. Flock of birds. Surfer on a wave. When you decide to race your bike, you are assigning yourself to this kind of obedience and lack of control. Group think, primitive reflexive response to the flow and changes of the herd and conditions. You know what I am talking about? Then maybe you haven’t raced, cause when you decide to ride with a group of riders without the formality of pacelines or ride leaders, chaos ensues and the rules of how you thought you should ride your bike are out the window, and you need to become “subject to the herd”.
The good news is that once you learn the subtle art of riding with the pack, you will enjoy it and find much satisfaction from being able to fly along at twice your normal speed for hours on end, rocketing over the hills and dales of the country until the next climb starts. You will be able to take advantage of the turbo speeds, and launch yourself to the stratosphere of bike speed and performance, there is no other way to fly. The bad news is that not everyone makes the jump to good pack riding, and some of you will give up long before you ever accumulate enough skills and experience to truly enjoy the experience. There is always racing Time Trials, Triathlon, Mountain bike and Cyclocross, so don’t worry.
Do you remember when cycling was exciting and new? When you got that little rush of excitement when you were gearing up and heading out to tackle a ride? Getting stoked on cycling is as easy as trying something new, and these days there is no shortage of new stuff to get excited about. The gear, the clothing, the electronics, the disc brakes, the fat bikes, the gravel. There are hundreds of splinter-cell cool things going on in cycling right now besides the traditional Road, Mountain, Cyclocross and Track, so pick one and get after it! You don’t have to race, you can just try out something new.
You have to be stoked and a little “in love” with the whole thing or it won’t keep you working. That is what keeps me coming back and finding fresh excitement for something I have done non-stop since 1985. I have been through 3 year obsessive phases in road racing, mountain bike racing and cyclocross racing, and that only got me to 1997. If you are starting off this season and not feeling the “Stoke” then you need to mix it up. Show up to a new ride, sign up for a new event, or try a different kind of cycling to keep it fresh and challenging. The cool thing is that when you come back to what you first loved, in my case Road cycling, it is fresh once again years later like returning from a long around the world trip to your home. Get out there and get stoked!!! – Check out Meet Up to find new things, here is our page to get you started that lists all our rides and clinics for the summer: Meet Up-Find cool groups or events to try near you
This Saturday May 2nd we do our Fix a Flat, lube your chain and basic maintenance clinic at West Seattle store 11-11:45am. We then lead a free shop ride at noon of about 20 miles with Head Coach Craig Undem. Learn to paceline and ride correctly along with finding a new route!
Sand Point shop there is a free ride at 11am, going to Seward Park and back from the shop. This is a classic “bread and butter” route that everyone needs to know, from here you can launch to Mercer Island, South end of Lake Washington or anything on the East Side. We don’t want to see anyone riding up through the Arboretum (down or North is OK if you are going fast) because there is no shoulder. Learn the right way to navigate through the North end to South Lake Washington by bicycle.
Our 11th anniversary sale also continues with everything in both stores on sale 20-60% through this weekend.
Ride with Cycle U
Other upcomming free events in May:
How to Fix a Flat and Lube your Chain, basic maintenance.
-Saturday May 2nd 11-11:30am West Seattle shop.
Try Road Racing! Clinic at Pacific Raceways. info at Budu Racing the race promoter website
-Tuesday May 5th 5:55pm AT Pacific Raceways
How to Commute by Bicycle or use it as basic transportation.
-Wednesday May 6th 6:30-7:15pm West Seattle shop.
Get Ready to Ride! safety, mechanical and fitting check on your bicycle
-Saturday May 9th 11-11:30am West Seattle AND Sand Point shops, same times at each.
Winning Cyclocross, the secrets to a winning season by Head Coach Craig Undem
-Tuesday May 12th 7:30-8:30pm Sand Point shop. Link to sign up, limited seating
Congrats to Brian Ecker and all the over 130 other riders who did the Ephrate Grand Fondo yesterday, EPIC conditions from the facebook posts for everyone who rode yesterday. Same to all that raced the Soaring Eagle mountain bike race. Great road racing was also on display yesterday in Sequim and Saturday at Mason lake with hundreds or racers testing their winter training vs. the competition.
It is all about staying warm on these Spring rides because you are going to get wet and with the wind chill it feels twice as cold. This is where you can take some lessons from Cyclocross: use Embocation, wool socks, booties and warm caps under your helmet to keep the core temp high and muscles functioning despite the cold. Stop in the West Seattle store to try on some of these heat seeking accessories.