The Art of Climbing

By Mara Miller, Double Star Coaching LLC

So, what’s the first thing most of us do when we are on a ride and we approach a big climb?  We psych ourselves out before we even start climbing with thoughts of, “it’s going to be hard”, “my legs are going to burn” or “I’m never going to make it to the top.”  Climbing is just as much a mental accomplishment as it is a physical achievement.  Next time you are out on the road and you reach a climb, change your climbing mantra to something positive, “I’m going to make it up this climb and I am going to be light and strong in the process.”

Once you’ve gotten your mind in the right place, its time to work on your positioning.  Sit up on your bike, which will change the way you distribute your power to the pedals.  By sitting up it rotates your hips allowing you to achieve maximum power out of your gluts and quads.  Place your hands lightly on the top of your handlebars, as if you were playing the piano.  This will help you to relax as you climb.  If you can wiggle your fingers, as you proceed up the hill, you have achieved the correct hand position.

So, your thinking positive thoughts, you’re sitting up and feeling relaxed, so what gear should you be in?  Well, gear selection can differ from person to person.  Find a gear that is comfortable for you.  If it is a long climb, stand up periodically to stretch out the legs and back.  When you feel like standing, shift to a harder gear so that you will have some resistance on the pedals as your position changes to climb.  Stand for a few minutes and then shift back to your original gear as you sit back down.  If you want to challenge yourself up a climb, find the gear that is comfortable for you and then shift to the next hardest gear.  This will challenge and strengthen the muscles; so that the next time you start a climb you will be able to get to the top faster and stronger.


Climbing is an art and we can learn how to do it better, it just requires us to “be relaxed, sit up and think light and strong.”

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