The most significant determinant of success when riding in hills is your power-to-weight ratio.
The first half of that ratio is your cycle power output, or how hard and fast you can pedal, measured by an FTP test. The second half of that ratio is the combined weight of you, your bike, your clothes/shoes, and anything you carry (like bottles).
When it comes to your power-to-weight ratio, you can improve your chances of success in two ways.
- Gradually improve your FTP by intelligent, progressive training over a period of several months
- Reduce total bike and rider weight
Aside from your power-to-weight ratio, the next biggest thing is gearing. When you’re riding a long hilly route, you need to pace yourself carefully. There’s nothing worse than running out of gears when your legs are already tired. This unnecessary stress causes muscle microtrauma and lactate build-up, both contributing significantly to your overall fatigue.
Therefore, you need to set your bike up with easier gears so that you can ride at your normal cadence up the hills and at an appropriate power output.
If you have a 53/39 chainring on the front, you will need a 27, 28 or even 32 or 36–tooth sprocket on the back. If you have a 50/34 chainring on the front, you might still want the option of a 28 or 32-tooth sprocket on the back. Your legs will thank you for it.
You also need to keep on top of your nutrition. We would recommend consuming around 20g of carbohydrate per 20-25 minutes, the equivalent of one energy gel. Stay hydrated with water and energy drinks (some find energy drinks sickly when combined with gels, sweets and bars). SaltStick salt tablets (1 or 2 per hour) are useful if you're sweating a lot to aid hydration.
Click here for my article about pacing for various distances.
This article was created from our blog post: How to Cycle Faster Up Hills
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