Climbing Techniques

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Climbing Techniques

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    • #208742

      I got this questions the other day, had a couple simple answers like just make it a rhythm etc. but I thought I would take the question here, to the great knowledge of the forum responders! 🙂

      What are the best techniques for when it comes to climbing, (longer climbs) and how do you get better at them?

    • #208835

      I haven’t studied this a lot, but I like to think I’m pretty good at climbing (better than descending, that’s for sure!).

      My first bit of advice for long climbs would be to find a comfortable gear to spin that won’t get your heart rate up beyond that 80% threshold. You need to find a sustainable pace and stick with it to make it (somewhat) comfortably to the top.

      I also tend to pull back on the bars a bit, almost as a form of leverage, to get more out of my pedal strokes and also to get more of my weight over the back wheel. I know some people might disagree with whether this is effective or not, but it seems to help me.

      In terms of getting better at climbs, it’s just like any other endurance sport: start with a small hill, then work up to bigger ones, focusing on making it to the top without stopping. You can also do hill repeat drills where you ride up and down the same hill over and over with brief rests in between for a good workout.

    • #208844

      don’t look at the top!!! – get into a rhythm  that you can sustain, and just keep grinding away. I was always taught to stick my ass to the seat as this conserves your legs energy and allows you to ‘endure’ for longer (well at least to the top anyhow!!!)

    • #208860

      I agree with peterchapman to not look up, but focus on your front wheel as you climb, and as Jeff said, get into a comfortable gear that you can maintain your cadence without overworking your heart. Sync your breathing with your pedal stroke and move your body up or down to find your center of gravity as the grade changes. And don’t get bored riding the same hills again and again. My riding buddies does, that’s why I always beat them when its climbing time. What Id do is use a harder gear when if it feels easier, and so on. Most of all, think of the reward on the other side 🙂

    • #208870

      Intervals on shorter, tougher climbs will actually help you on the longer ones. If you can, find a hill that takes 3-5 minutes to climb and do repeats. Start with 3 or so repeats and gradually add more and increase the intensity of your efforts. Do this at least once a week, maybe twice if you’re really trying to improve your climbing, but be sure to allow for recovery in between.


    • #208873

      Thanks for the Tips guys. I we be sure to share this information with the person who asked!

      I just try to focus on the present, and not try and think about how much further to go. In santa cruz, when you climb out after the flow trail you have to do a 4.5 mile climb, and they have markers, which I think DO NOT help at all.

      Do you think stops on a climb help or do you think it is better just to keep rolling and wait till the top to rest?

    • #208877

      Theres also what they call “rest on the saddle”, just taking it easy after a long grind for a break, then go at it again. Like an interval, as aaron said.

    • #208878

      Personally, I prefer to just get to the top. Even if that means slowing way down, as long as I’m making progress. However, there are times on really long or really steep climbs where there’s just no other choice than to stop. If I have to get off my bike, I’ll continue walking. I have to be in a bad way to stop completely.

      All of that assumes I’m in a race or trying to make good time though. If it’s a fun ride, I’ll stop as often as necessary to grab a snack or check out a view.

      Alternating between standing and sitting can help too. Even a few standing pedal strokes can ease a numb bum briefly.

    • #208973

      Find a good gear that has lots of power but manageable to pedal, stay in that gear if possible, stay seated far up on the front of the seat and only stand up when needed to clear an obstacle or get up a steeper incline, just never give up till your to the top. Climbing is a pretty mentally and physically demanding part of riding so it helps to not think of the whole climb as a big daunting task, just take it small sections at a time till you clear them all.

    • #208995

      Also, one thing that’s really important on really long climbs, is pacing yourself. We are mountain bikers man, once we get to the trail we get so excited and go all out. Then we bomb out not even halfway up 🙂

      It takes experience, but once you do, it’ll be a lot easier.

    • #209188

      We don’t have a lot of long trail climbs here, but plenty of shorter, technical ones. Looking at the front wheel works for me on long road climbs, but I find it’s a recipe for failure on our rooty, off-camber, and rocky trails. At least I have to look far enough up the trail to pick out a line that’s rideable at a climbing pace.

    • #209221

      Short answer is the more you climb the better you get at it.

      To expand it a bit I’d say every advise, mentioned above, is good. Except focusing on your front wheel. Never do that. Keep your head up and look where you wanna go.

      Providing your muscles with oxygen is a very important aspect of climbing and riding in general. You should exhale as much of air (carbon dioxide) as possible to make room in your lungs for more oxygen. Your legs will start to burn later and recovery will be much faster.

      Some says to load a rear wheel, some recommend leaning on your handlebar to keep your front on the ground. I suggest to keep your body over your bottom bracket. In this scenario, no matter how steep or technical climb is, your weight distribution is more balanced and you can either lift your front over a root or further load rear on a slippery rock.

      Its better to pick a right gear and keep that one to the top then shifting midway and loosing momentum. Also cadence should be right as well.

      I am by no means an expert. Just tried to summarize some tips that worked well for myself. Hope it will help that person who asked for help.

    • #209240

      To reiterate breathing… slow and deep. Too often during climbing you breathe faster and more shallow only pulling air with the top half of your lungs. When your lungs are upright, pulmonary circulation is predominantly in the base of lungs d/t gravity. Sending more O2 to the base means better gas exchange b/c better flow. As mentioned above, this also means removal of CO2, not only from lungs, but from muscles along a pressure gradient. Breathe deeper and send air all the way down, bruh!

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