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.
One of the joys of riding a bicycle is using this machine to get exactly the most amount of speed from the energy you put into it. When we teach our hill climbing bootcamps or private lessons, one of the biggest things we teach people is how to shift correctly to maintain momentum, utilize all your cycling muscles at the right cadences and to be smooth so you don’t strain yourself with sudden changes. This is the art of cycling. Using the bicycle as a machine to propel you smoothly to go faster with less effort.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. As I was riding to work, going down a steep hill which led into an uphill, I had to keep it in my big ring and my cadence slowly dropped as I was going through the bottom of the hill, and starting to go upward. I then started shifting with my right shifter 2 gears at a time to make it easier, pedaling as I went, with the goal of keeping my cadence around 80 rpm and applying pressure to the pedals to carry speed
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
I’m giving a free clinic this Wednesday night at the West Seattle Cycle U at 6:30pm: How to bike commute in Seattle. Free tea and coffee as well, finshing at 7:15pm, 3418 Harbor Ave SW, free parking as always across the street.
I love riding my bike in traffic (this is Craig talking), today on my commute through downtown I felt like I was a motocycle in Hong Kong in rush hour traffic, but it was a Sunday, and I was just riding to the West Seattle store from the Sand Point store. I arrived at work feeling 20 times better than when I had started, energized, calm and flush with good circulation. I have been a bike commuter since I moved to Colorado to start racing in 1987, and there are few things in life that make more sense than riding your bike to work. Here are the key benefits:
1. Get in better shape
2. No waiting in traffic or long lines of cars, much less frustration
3. $ No gas and the repair bills are 1/20th of a car