Climbing and Cornering
Climbing hills is a vital skill to learn early on in your cycling so that your riding will be more enjoyable.
Please have a read of these points are ask your coach if you have any questions. Improving your Climbing:
Simply riding more hills will make it easier for you. You will learn quickly what you need to do, from when to change gears to when to get out of the saddle. Riding in a straight line is important to your safety and that of your fellow cyclist so resist the temptation to weave up the climb.
Practice using a higher cadence (spin your legs more). You will climb faster than pushing big gears most of the time. (There are some exceptions to the rule). The timing of your gear changes is vital to your climbing. Changing to an easier gear too early or too late can make all the difference to staying with your group so listen to your coach and practice, practice, practice
Break the climb into smaller goals. For example, in the saddle to a landmark, out of the saddle for 15sec bouts, etc. This helps you mentally conquer the climb, as climbing can be as mentally tiring as it is physical.
Power to weight ratio. Losing a few kilos off your bike and/or off your waist can really help your climbing. If you can lose the weight and maintain or improve your power output, then you should travel uphill quicker. Remember to be careful not to lose muscle when trying to lose weight. Consult a dietitian to help you lose weight effectively.
Position is a very individual thing. However, there are a couple of things to remember. Keep your upper body relaxed. Your hands should loosely grip the bars with your thumbs on top. Remember the more relaxed the upper body is the less energy you will expend. Your body weight should be over the saddle not over the front of the bike, allowing your front wheel to roll up the climb.
Your breathing, needs a lot of attention, you need to stay focused on your breathing as it’s a good way to monitor your effort and develop your maximum potential. You need focus and technique to minimise your energy and maximise your effort.
Training. Like any skill you need to practice in the hills, with specific training to develop elements of fitness required to be a good climber, or at least be more comfortable. Use your core to stabilise yourself on your saddle so you can pull up and over on the pedals as well as use your thighs to push. This way you can pedal in a circular motion and climb more effectively. Remember at the bottom of the stroke it should feel like you are scrapping gum off the sole off your shoe.
There are a few different types of climbs you will encounter. Some of these you will find around Brisbane and surrounding areas.
Power Climbs: are usually short, fairly steep climbs (10-15%).
Long Gradual Climbs: these are normally around 4-7% and don’t necessarily suit the pure climbers. These sort of climbs are hard, but don’t always split the group and drafting can still be a benefit.
Long Step Climbs: the home of the lean featherweight cyclist, who has a great power to weight ratio, pure climber territory.
Good cornering is not only for the racing cyclists. As a serious recreational rider being able to corner properly will help ensure you are in control and get around corners safely.
Below are some YouTube videos to watch beforehand:
It takes focus, the ability to relax and a little courage!
Be relaxed. Keep breathing (if in doubt breathe out), relax your arms and the grip on your handle bars (piano fingers), relax your shoulders, in fact relax your whole body. This may be a challenge but
it’s vital. If you stiffen up you’ll lose your fluid-ness and ability to respond and correct quickly.
Brake before corners. Most of your braking should be done before you enter a corner, using both brakes, so you are in control of your speed. If you go into a corner too fast, grabbing the brakes will
most likely send you off the road.
Look through the corner. Let your eyes take you around the corner. Move your head with your eyes. Your bike will go where your eyes are looking, so look where you want to go, the exit of the
corner. You are travelling fast so think and look far ahead and pick your line early.
Weight on your outside foot. To corner safely, you need your centre of gravity to remain over your tyres and your weight distributed appropriately across both wheels. With your body weight pushing
through the pedal of your straight outside leg, you are increasing the traction your tyres have on the
Use your balance. Lean your bike and not your body. When you ride into a corner, both your body and bike lean to the inside of the turn, but you should lean the bike more than you lean your body. To
do this, plant your weight on your outside leg and extend the arm facing the inside of the corner. As you extend your inside arm, you’ll notice the bike drops into the corner and your body weight feels like
it is divided between your outside leg and your inside arm. Your outside shoulder will essentially lead you around the corner. This is a very stable position, it provides a lot of traction and enables you to
see further ahead to the next turn. Moving back a little on the seat helps too!
Use the road that is there to be used. You aren’t driving a car that takes up most of the lane so use the lane. Start from the outside of the corner and as you ride through the corner’s apex move towards
the inside of the road; effectively cutting the corner. It’s important to keep the motion smooth. By doing so you won’t need to reduce as much speed. Don’t cut the corner so much that you cross the
centre line of the road! That is very dangerous!
Jump out of the corners. When riding downhill you can lose a lot of time if you brake too early and then let gravity build your speed again. As you come out of the corner you want to accelerate back up
to your max riding speed as soon as possible. This is really important for down hills and riding faster in general.