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Jennifer's Climbing Tips

Jennifer Klein | Published on 6/13/2021

I love to climb hills on a bike, whether it’s in the Gaps, out West, in France, or right here in Chastain Park. For our Sorella climbing seminar, I talked about these tips, then we went for a ride! Kudos to all for being touch and taking on the hills.

Mental attitude:
  • Look forward to the climbs. No complaining. Climb with a friend and have small talk.
  • Mind games: Pick a spot up the road a bit (a sign, mailbox, tree) for a short term target, then another. Get into a zone.
  • A mantra, I love my bike! I love to climb! It’s gonna be over soon!
  • Drink as you go. On super long cimbs pop jelly beans or Clif Bloks, or salty balls to chew on.
  • Don’t approach a climb on a full stomach.
Equipment/ gearing:
  • Bike, brakes in good safety shape, good fit, tires properly inflated
  • Sufficiently low gears, such as Compact crank in front, 11-28 or 30 or 32 on back. No sense struggling
Tips/ procedures:
  • In general, climbing should be done sitting down, with a comfortable gear, hands lightly on the bars or hoods (for a quick roller at speed, fine to power over)
  • Climbing should be smooth. No rocking side to side. Can stand up occasionally for a change of pace (go up a few gears) but you’re actually more efficient sitting. Remember to shift back easier after you sit back down.
  • Balance between exertion and comfort ---- don’t blow up.
  • Climb with a friend and have them set an even pace you can follow
  • #1 error I see: riders (especially young and strong ones...) tend to go WAY too fast at the bottom and can’t sustain it and get much slower at the top.
  • OPPOSITE is the best way -- be comfortable and even with your pace. As you settle in, maybe pick up the pace toward the top. A more gradual start encourages a steadier, more comfortable, and typically faster pace.
  • Watch your RPM as guidance for gearing. I’m usually climbing in the 60s and 70s. Keep your feet moving; don’t power in too big a gear. Get a sustainable rhythm going.
  • As you approach a hill, gear down only as you feel the need. Don’t ‘sit up’ and give into the hill too early.
  • Pick a gear where you can get some traction -- TOO easy of a gear and you’ll be spinning too fast and not moving forward as much as you could
  • Pro tip...want to leave folks on the hill? Save a burst of power for the top, gear down and take off up and over while others are easing up.