Hills!

Glasgow44

Senior Member
Is there an easy way to tackle hills? I sometimes find that I struggle on hills – when I see a hill coming up, I sort of dread it, so I don’t know if its psychological. Because I have noticed that some hills seem easier than others – what I mean by this is: I’ve cycled up some hills before that were more difficult than the ones that I struggled on – I think this might depend on the route or that particular given day. One of my cycling friends felt the same and bought an e-bike and loves it. I tried out his e-bike yesterday and was really impressed. The thought of buying an e-bike has never crossed my mind before. I don’t know if I should just persevere with a regular bike or take the plunge and buy an e-bike. I’m torn between keeping at it on a regular bike and building up my fitness or getting an e-bike.

Thanks in advance for your help.

J
 

PeteXXX

Cake or ice cream? The choice is endless ...
Photo Winner
Location
Hamtun
Don't look up the hill when you're riding it. Keep your eyes focused a few yards in front of your wheel.
 

johnnyb47

Veteran
Location
Wales
Cycling is all about enjoyment and if you're not enjoying it because of the hills buy yourself an e bike. Life is to short buddy. Personally i like the challenge of tackling hills and feel like its an achievement to get up them better than the last time, but were all different and enjoy cycling for many different reasons. If an Ebike makes you smile, go for it. 👍Edit. You can still keep fit using an Ebike.
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
There's no easy way to tackle hills so don't beat yourself up about it. A hill is a hill whether it's an easy short spin or a long, tough old grind. Some people are better at hills then you are and you're probably better then others. It's really not worth getting upset or downhearted about. We all go through it. Some day's you fly up a hill feeling as if you are a professional rider, other times the easiest climb causes your lungs to want to burst out of your chest and your legs refuse to work,
If it really is getting to you then as what Johnny said, get yourself a ebike. There some fantastic ebikes out there for sale.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Time of year? Always tougher in winter, cold, damp, slippery, dense air, bulkier clothing
Persevere through the winter and it’ll all seem better in the spring. If not, then look at ebikes

I never fly up hills :laugh: I drag my bulk up them somehow with my knackered knee
grouching at me!
Assume you have good gearing for hills? And not carrying injuries.
if so and if not, you’re a young bloke so mtfu? :laugh:
 

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
Improving at cycling up hills is a combination of three things:

Increase your fitness to allow you to maintain a higher power output for longer

Reduce your weight

Increase your tolerance to the pain, the mental problem

I find the biggest drag on cyclists and hills is mental. As you dread them, that seems to be the case with you. Not sure how you're going to fix that though
 

Donger

Convoi Exceptionnel
Location
Quedgeley, Glos.
Don't look at the crest of the climb. Take it one section at a time, aiming to pass the next tree, signpost, house etc. Just aim to get slightly further up it before taking your first rest than you did last time. Ignore how fast anyone else is cycling it and concentrate on keeping your own breathing under control. When all else fails, keep going until you have counted to 100.

I'm not one for gyms myself, but I had a really useful session in a gym once, when I was able to try out different positions/postures on the bike and different breathing techniques and to see the effect on my heart rate. I discovered that by keeping my back straight (allowing my lungs to expand more than when hunched over the bars) and rhythmically taking double intakes of air I could drastically reduce my heart rate. The memory of this has helped me to get over some rather nasty climbs over the years.

Plenty of people will suggest losing weight, and that is probably good advice .... but I'm still over 21 stone/300 pounds and have been able to enjoy some fantastic climbs in Wales, Scotland and the French Alps, so weight is clearly not the only thing. I used to go miles out of the way to avoid one local hill that nowadays barely registers as a hill at all. I have come to really enjoy climbing at my own pace and find it really rewarding. There is no reason why you cannot do the same. Good luck.
 
Last edited:
The easiest way to get better at riding hills is to just stick at it and keep riding them. If you can find a way to incorporate one of these daunting hills on a daily/regular ride, it will soon feel normal to you. Source: I cycle in very hilly Bradford.
 

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
There are a lot of different techniques you could try, but one you might not think of is ...

Start with the descents - don't change gear, but try and keep in a lower gear for as long as possible before changing to a higher gear. This will improve your cadence. When you return to the flat, you will be in a lower gear and pedaling a lot quicker. Try and keep this rhythm for as long as you can.
Then when you come to the next up hill, you will already be pedaling a bit quicker than normal and this itself will make climbing a bit easier. Then when you feel you need to change to an easier gear, try and resist and keep to the gear you are already in and start to use the strength and power in your legs to keep going. Only change down as a last resort. This will work on your "slow" cadence and strength techniques. Changing down too soon and you can lose momentum and just go slower.

An extension to this theory will be confirmed by fixed gear riders and single speed riders when you can't change gears either up or down, yet you still get up most hills!
 

icowden

Senior Member
Location
Surrey
I agree with the above, particularly @Donger .

In my case I also found that fighting the urge to try to get up the hill quickly was very helpful. It's easier to get further up by keeping your legs going at the same pace and slowly dropping through the gears, if you haven't already exhausted your legs by the end of the first 20 metres.

Your brain will try to tell you that the faster you hit the start of the hill the further up it you might get. Ignore it. Your stamina will run out more quickly if you exhaust yourself at the start of the hill. As you learn the hill, you will find out where the hardest places are and save your biggest push for those places.
 

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
Can't really add to the good advice above except to say that ...
when I see a hill coming up, I sort of dread it, so I don’t know if its psychological.
Yes. It's psychological, or a very large part of it is anyway. In my experience, at least. I can spend the best part of a ride worrying that I have to go up hill X late on in the ride. Because hill X has a mental grip on me it can overshadow everything else and detract from enjoying the ride. As soon as I arrive at hill X I'm down in my very lowest gear, crawling along, slowing down, which is not a sensible way to approach a hill and is almost admitting defeat early. It's illogical ... I wish I didn't do it ... but there you go.

I may even find myself riding up theoretically harder hills than hill X on my way to it, but because hill X is my special nemesis, that doesn't matter.
 
Top Bottom