It’s taken a while, but I now enjoy climbing steeper hills.
I’m the wrong demographic to be riding a bike up steeper hills. Being a 55 year old male who is still about 20 pounds overweight is not going to allow any easy or fast climbing of steeper hills. It really is a matter of strength to weight.
But, I like a good challenge. I’ve managed to lose weight and increase my cycling power during the last few years. I’ve also adjusted several factors that have made climbing easier;
1. Spinning is easier than mashing. Mashing the pedals at a slow cadence requires more energy and is less efficient than spinning at a higher cadence. Having a wide range drivetrain with a chain-wheel to cog ratio that is 1:1 or better really helps. I’ll take a triple crank-set, please.
2. A smooth cadence that produces power at all phases of the pedal stroke improves performance. Good shoes and clip-less pedals along with good technique matters. Again, staying seated and spinning is easier than standing and mashing. I will sometimes stand and mash, but I save that for the steepest part of the climb.
3. A stiff bike is better than a bike with excess flex between the bottom bracket and the contact patch of the tire. Steel might be real, but is it stiff enough for a heavy cyclist with good power output? Are the wheels stiff enough? Some aren’t.
4. Finally, the brain must be the master. It’s too easy to psych yourself out and allow the suffering to overcome the nervous system. Knowing that I can climb the hill and doing it is key. Climb hills often and it becomes routine. Controlling the pace helps, too.