The key to cycling in the mountains is accepting that the climb is going to go on for a while and possibly be followed by others so it’s best to get into a rhythm and save energy rather than trying to emulate your favourite Tour de France rider. The best way to establish a rhythm that can be sustained is by cycling with a high cadence or spinning the pedals more quickly in a lower gear.

Anticipate the Terrain

If you look at the stem of a pro riders bike before a one day classic or mountain stage in a Grand Tour, they will have the key climbs marked out on a piece of tape or paper stuck to the stem. This is so they can measure their effort out over the course of the day and not go too hard too early

Whether it’s a club ride, a day out cycling with mates or a cyclosportive make sure you check out the route the night before

Note down the distance marker for each climb and where feed stations/coffee stops are on some tape and fix it to your stem

Measure out your efforts, use your gears as you anticipate the changes in terrain and you’ll climb the last climb as fast as the first climb

Cycling Climbing Tips

These top tips will help you maintain a high climbing cadence and conserve energy:

Stay relaxed: Monitor yourself regularly to relax and save energy; are you wasting energy by gripping the handlebars too tight? Grimacing or clenching your jaw? Holding your breath then recovering with shallow panicked breaths? All the above? Do the opposite!

Arms bent: Keeping your arms slightly bent rather than locked out it will help absorb shocks from the road and reduce fatigue

Hands on the hoods: Having your hands on the brake hoods gives you better leverage on the bars is great for when you are sitting up.

Keep seated: When the gradient allows keep seated, you can generate power more consistently over longer periods in the seated position. As your leg power and muscular endurance improves the gradient at which you are forced to get out of the saddle will increase

Change is good: Change your hand position and climbing style around during the day to give your arms, shoulder and back muscles a rest/change and to bring different leg muscles into play

Cut the hairpin: When space allows taking a line from the outside of the hairpin to the inside will often flatten the turn and give you a little breather

Stand up: When the terrain gets steep or if your body just instinctively wants to stand on the pedals for a while go with the flow – it will give your muscles a change of scene and help flush out toxins too by increasing the heart rate

Cycling Climbing Training

Your cycling training plan should have specific hill training sessions every week. It will help give you confidence and the increase in leg power will help you on the flats too. Of course what goes up must go down, so cycling climbing training will help improve your descending technique too.

Hill Training Intervals

6 minute intervals

2 minutes at a pace that stretches you but you can sustain for 2 minutes

1 minute above threshold effort

2 minutes at a pace that stretches you but you can sustain for 2 minutes

1 minute above threshold effort

6 minutes recovery