Silver Wheels Cycling Club, Inc. 

Bicycling For Recreation, Fitness, Fun, Learning and Advocacy

 

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Cursing 


Hill - a noun, a four letter word, a natural elevation in the earth’s surface, smaller than a mountain but bigger than a mole hill. 

Now that we have the definition, here are some hill riding tips and techniques:

  • In large groups, spread out and give yourself some space in case you need to maneuver. A cyclist that struggles with hills may ride erratically in front of you. 
  • Try to stay over towards the right hand side of the road when climbing whenever possible. After passing someone on the left, try to move back to the right in case someone else needs to pass you. Try not to pass on the right but if you do, make sure that your intentions are well known in advance of the pass.
  • Never ride in the oncoming lane of traffic, especially when going up a hill. We hate to see cyclists riding three wide going up a hill with the cyclist on the left veering towards or across the middle line. Cars and pickups have a tendency to arrive at the crest of a country hill near the middle of the road.
  • When climbing a big hill;
    • determine what your pace is going to be and then get your bike in the right gear, 
    • shift as soon as you feel the resistance against your feet, 
    • to save energy, relax your shoulders, hands, and face, and find the right rhythm,
    • bend your elbows and tuck them into your body but leave them “outside of your knuckles”, 
    • flatten your back and lower your torso to get maximum lung capacity, and
    • if you are wearing clips, pull up on the upstroke.
  • In Greg O’s "hill class" last year, he taught us to breathe deeply well before the start of a monster hill to get oxygen to your working muscles.
  • Standing on the pedals uses between 5% and 10% more energy than sitting in the saddle. Save standing for the very end of the climb or to switch the muscle groups being used for a short spurt mid climb.
  • On longer climbs, keep your muscle groups fresh by switching positions on the saddle. Sliding forward on the saddle emphasizes your quads, while sitting back on the saddle also uses your hamstrings and glutes. 
  • The first riders up to the top of a hill should always call out if there is a “car up” to warn riders further down the hill, who may have strayed too far left.
  • And be careful going down the hill too....


Our first video talks about gear ratios, spinning vs. churning, the benefits of knowing your route (RWGPS!!), food intake timing, proper clothing, and hill approach strategy. 

The second video has four tips: pacing yourself, in or out of the saddle, beer selection (just seeing if you are paying attention, that should have said gear selection) and the need to practice. Oh, and there is even a Parliament-Funkadelic reference.  

Our last video shows nine of the steepest hills in the world. These hills have substantially more grade and elevation than the typical Oberlin highway overpass.....

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