So you’re a mountain biker. You love cycling downhill, right? … Great, but knowing how to bike uphill is what really counts in the long term. Taking on steep inclines isn’t easy, but it can make for one seriously incredible fitness session that you’ll look forward to for many months or years to come.
Ever notice how many of the world’s great cyclists can pedal up any hill? You need to work on riding long hills without getting tired. Long-distance cycling is no joke, but it can be done with some training, motivation, and the desire to push through.
Now, who doesn’t want to feel like an expert when they climb a mountain?! In this post, we’ll discuss how to bike uphill and stay in peak shape.
Quick Article Navigation
1. Train Your Legs and Back Muscles
Hills are like nothing. The best way to train for them is in the gym. A good way to prepare for racing on your bike is to sometimes do exercises designed to strengthen your legs and back muscles. Strengthening your lower body can help you during climbs and when descending the hills, while strengthening your back can help you prevent tingling and numbness while riding.
If you want to train your legs and back muscles, we recommend you hop onto an exercise bike like the OVICX Exercise Bike below. OR, you could grab your bike and turn it into an indoor exercise bike.
Check out this exercise bike from OVICX. The multipurpose cycling machine is designed to be a low-impact exercise for people of all fitness levels. Its seat adjusts, and the handlebar can be moved up and down to accommodate different riders.
When you’re ready to take on the real world, expect lots of incline changes, bumps, potholes, and other elements. You’ve learned the ins and outs of a hill training program on wheels. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to work in real-world scenarios. Expect a bit more pain during that training as you progress from indoors to outdoors.
2. Sit Properly
Once you’ve mastered the skills needed to navigate flat ground, it’s time to learn how to maneuver uphill. The key to climbing hills of any kind is simple: Sit upright, balanced upright in your saddle, and put your weight behind the seat rather than the handlebars. This not only takes the sting out of steeper grades but also ensures that you won’t collapse on an incline. This is how to bike uphill properly.
To maximize your efficiency, lean forward slightly when riding. This will allow you to take advantage of air resistance when climbing. Think of yourself as a climber reaching for the next hill. Your elbows should be bent and your shoulders back to reduce unnecessary weight on your knees.
During hill climbs, your body moves closer to the centerline of gravity and your breathing improves. Exhaling from your chest is more efficient because your lungs are stretched and open. The end result: less effort required to crest a hill, which translates to fewer break downs on the top of a winding hill.
3. Keep Pedaling!
You headed out that ridge feeling confident and in sync with your capabilities, but the farther you go, the harder going gets. Before you know it, you’ve slowed down so much you feel like giving up. And by the time you reach the summit, you’re ready for a breather.
As you make your way up the hill, keep the same pedaling speed as you work your way up. Don’t start out full-speed and then slow down half-way up the hill. For instance, don’t start out at a fast pace, and then when you are climbing uphill, slow it down over time.
You can use the same principle here in all aspects of life. Sometimes it takes more effort to maintain the same speed as you work through your daily tasks.
4. Ride with the Right Gear
An important thing for new cyclists to figure out is the right gear to use when going uphill. Do not choose high gear. It will take too much effort to cycle uphill and the gear is not necessary for that situation. You can easily avoid this problem if you are aware of it and know how to bike uphill before you ride your bicycle up an incline.
But not too much. This is important to keep in mind when it comes time to climb uphill. If you think you can maintain your pace at a high gear, then you should definitely take that risk. However, if you’re planning to slow down and adjust your gear, make sure to have a good head start going into the climb.
Having a low gear on your road bike is great for going uphill because it is easier to fit in the pedals and makes cycling easier. The thing about low gears on a bike is that it’s harder to go as fast when you are turning. Also, if you simply aren’t in a racing mood, low gears are for you. Just pedal away slowly with some effort but not too much.
5. Ride with a Lightweight Bike
What if you’ve just started cycling? How to bike uphill? What bike should you be riding? Well, you might want to look at something with a lighter frame — a bicycle that weighs less. The lightest bikes reduce fatigue and are easier to navigate going up a hill.
By the way, we compiled a list of the best mountain bikes under $1000, the best-used mountain bikes, and the best mountain bikes under $500. We all know that mountain bikes are the best companion when riding uphill. So we hope you find one from our list if you don’t own one yet.
Your bike should be super lightweight to make it easier for you to pedal up hills. Aluminum is a good option, but when you can afford more expensive carbon, do so! An aluminum frame is better than a steel frame for cycling up hills because aluminum is lighter and more durable.
For Heavier Cyclists, Here are Tips on How to Bike Uphill
If you’re on the heavier side, then it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to cycle up a hill. But you know what? It’s not just you!
Check out this video for tips on how to bike uphill when you’re on the heavier side.
Biking uphill without getting tired is something you’ll have to put in some work for. It takes time and additional training to reach the top of those hills.
Biking uphill requires the right combination of mindset and fitness. Cycling uphills without feeling tired or fatigued is just as important as having the right bike and form. A lightweight bike with proper form will provide the drive, endurance, and power to climb a hill unencumbered.