One of my most popular clinics is my climbing clinic. Even if you’re not a climber by heart, or it’s not your strength, it’s a skill worth mastering
We have all felt burning feeling not long into a hard climb. It’s plainly and simply your legs telling you, no, no, no this isn’t working. Sure, you can go all “shut up legs” but, they’re probably going to win that argument.
Everyone I take on a climbing clinic I tell them, the biggest mistake you can make on climbs is going into the red too early because they feel fresh and their heart rate is still low. But when you amp up your intensity, it doesn’t take long to generate far more lactate than you can clear and use. And once you’ve pushed past your threshold, it’s very difficult to recover while you’re still fighting the forces of gravity. Then you slow that painful crawl
Here are some tips!
Switch gears. Sounds obvious. Yet many riders roll onto a hill pushing a big gear because of that fleeting fresh feeling (or Strava feeling I call it). When you mash a monster gear your legs need to call in the fast twitch fibers, Rear is king and you should find that torque well before you hit that climb from the rear Find a gear you can spin at least 70 rpm and keep shifting to keep your cadence in that range.
Engage your core. You’ll get to the top faster and stave off fatigue longer if you climb hills with more than just your legs. Bend your elbows, flatten your back, lower your torso, this puts more power in your pedal stroke without bathing going in lactate.
Stay seated. Standing to stretch your legs BUT STAY SEATED. You use over 10% more energy jumping off saddle
Switch positions. Keep your climbing muscles fresher by shifting positions in the saddle. When you feel the burn creeping push back further on the saddle. This will recruit and leverage more force from your glutes.
You want to aim to climb right at the threshold, which is your sustainable upper limit. The best way to know you’re there is opening your mouth and saying something. If you can speak in short phrases, but not long soliloquies, you’re there. If you’re gasping for air, you’re going too hard. Save that for the end.
So, keep an eye out on our Facebook page and Strava for our PBFC short climbing clinics and our all day climbing clinic up at Skyline Drive which is an all day, all-inclusive intense skills clinic.