Preparing for The Hills

No such thing as a 100% flat sportive.  This is to help you in other sportives, not really Tour de Conamara!! We only have a few lumpy drags at the end! Seriously though, at that stage of the event you are feeling a bit tired and they may appear like Alpe d’Huez with heavy legs and the last 20km to cover.  Here are a few climbing tips for those hills you will encounter over the summer.

preparing for the hills

Find a steady rhythm. Once you get into a groove with a climb, it is just a question of tapping out the same pace. Choose a suitably low gear that allows your legs to keep spinning as this will help ease the build up of lactic acid.

Don’t race up the first part of the climb. Even if others you are riding with head off like Dan Martin, keep your heart rate at a steady beat. Going too hard too fast will put you in the red and you will not be able to sustain it for long which could lead to blowing up later in the climb. Focus on getting up it firstly and if you have energy to spare when you get near the top you can increase the effort.

Stay seated where possible. Some climbs may be very steep in places and you will almost certainly need to stand up out of the saddle to negotiate parts of the mountains. Climbing out of the saddle is fine and it does give the muscles a change of focus, but it also raises the heart rate which means that it cannot be sustained for long. It is sensible to stay seated where you can to ensure that your heart rate is under control when you really do need to stand on the pedals. Look ahead and spot the flatter parts to sit down and take a ‘rest’ before standing on the next steep section if necessary.

Try and eat and drink a little way before the start of the big climbs. Make sure you know where the climbs are on the route in advance if you can.  Spot where they occur on the route and ensure you are well fuelled 15 minutes or so before going up. With a high heart rate, it is difficult to eat on the way up, so ensure you are well prepared for when you hit the climb.

Have you got the right gears? With the gradient of the short sharp climbs it is wise to have small enough gears. A compact chainset with a 34 tooth inner ring is advisable on the front, whilst a minimum 27 teeth on the largest ring at the back is advisable. The good news is that this is a fairly standard set-up on sportive bike, but it may be worth counting your teeth in advance – just in case.