HOW TO FLY UPHILL – 5 tricks to improve uphill in mountain biking
In the 1970s, a group of Californian pioneers started to organise downhill cycle races on dirt roads using specially adapted bikes.
Fully-fledged mountain biking emerged in the late ‘70s as a response to the need for a multi-purpose bike capable of taking on any terrain with ease, both uphill and downhill.
That’s why mountain biking has the uphill and downhill elements in its DNA.
Let’s see 5 tricks that can make all the difference in situations where many of us struggle.
- Train your core
In mountain biking your legs and arms both play a key role. The upper limbs maintain balance and distribute your weight correctly, the lower limbs push the pedals. The trick to optimise your action is therefore to strengthen the link between your upper and lower body: abdominals, back and pectorals – in other words your core. To be a good cyclist you’ve got to be a good athlete, training and developing your body in a harmonious way.
- Climb with determination
Ascents up a dirt track pose an alternation of more and less technically challenging sections, constantly forcing you to make decisions. Choosing the right line, for example, or deciding whether to stay on your bike or get off and push. The harder the climb, the more pragmatic your decisions need to be. On a steep section, for example, it’s better to get off the bike than try to stay in the saddle at all costs, only to later give up. That way you save time and both physical and mental energy.
- Be reactive
The gradient and technical difficulty often vary during a climb, so be ready to adapt your cycling style accordingly. On easier sections get your breath back, re-hydrate and don’t over-pedal. On the more technical sections look up, watch your centre of gravity, use your shoulders and arms to distribute your weight and take your weight off the back wheel to clear obstacles.
- Practice climbs
You need excellent technical and physical abilities to really fly uphill, and the fastest way to develop these skills is to practice. Alternate between long, short, technical and easy climbs: the important thing is to vary your workout, and to put as much elevation gain as you can “in the bank”
- Enjoy it
If you’re an ambitious athlete and want to improve you’ll often find that you fall short of your expectations, going slower than you hoped or being unable to nail technically challenging sections. This is perfectly normal. The trick is to never give up and to maintain your positive attitude, because this makes learning easier and satisfies your “craving to climb”!