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Climbing on a Road Bike

Assuming conditions are good and you have traction climbing on a road bike is a matter of getting the most power for the energy you spend. The gut reaction of any beginning cyclist is to stand in the pedals and drive each pedal forward stroke after stroke until the crest of the hill is reached or the cyclist collapses from exhaustion. But with a little technique, you can avoid burnout.

When possible, stay seated and keep your cadence high. This assures a maximum transfer of your energy into power because you aren’t wasting energy supporting your weight on the pedals.

Need even more power Slide as far back on your seat as you push on the downstroke and lean forward. Keep your elbows flexed but pull on the side of the handlebar opposite from your downstroke. This helps you use your gluteal muscles as well as your leg muscles.

Sometimes the hills get very steep and you need more power than you can generate while sitting. The danger of losing energy at the bottom of the downstroke is greater. But you can make the bike work for you.

If you’ve ever been on an elliptical trainer at a gym, you’ll notice you tend to keep your body over the weighted foot. You also move your hips and shoulders move side-to-side a little to give the downstroking leg more power.

The side-to-side motion has to be more pronounced but it is the same basic motion. Unfortunately, this means your body is moving in great energy-wasting motions. The trick is not to move your body move your bike.

As you begin the downward stroke, keep your body in a straight line over the weighted foot and lean the bike away from the weighted foot. Lean forward on the handlebars to deliver even more power, but keep your elbows loose. As the weighted foot finishes its stroke, transfer your weight to the other foot using the bike as a lever to help pull your weight to the other foot. The bike should again be leaning toward the unweighted foot and your body in a straight line above the weighted foot.

And be sure to pay very close attention to the proper pedaling technique.


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