My husband is coaching, and I am mentoring, the Fall 2008 Palm Beach Team in Training cycle team. We are training for the 20th Intracoastal Century Ride, which takes place on October 26th, 2008, while helping to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
We are up to 23 cyclists, so far, on the team. Many of our team members are brand new to cycling, so I like to make sure they read up on the basics of riding, to keep them safe and stay informed. Every week I email the team members information on our upcoming team ride along with any fitness and/or nutrition tips that they should be aware of.
Since this weeks ride will include a few bridges, the south Florida equivalent of HILLS, I thought I'd pass along some basic climbing tips to the team members.
BRIDGE CLIMBING TIPS
1. Lean slightly forward on your bike. One of the problems when climbing uphill is a loss of traction from the front wheel. By leaning slightly forward, you put more weight on the front wheel, which gives you better traction.
2. Come up off the seat and lean in towards the handlebars to climb extremely steep hills. The problem with climbing out of the saddle, is that you will quickly blow out the energy in your legs. Climbing out of the saddle should only be done for short distances and by strong riders.
I prefer to switch down to an easier gear and stay on the saddle when climbing. But Rob usually likes to climb out of the saddle, especially towards the steepest part of the climb. Climbing out of the saddle uses more energy but will get you up and over the hill/bridge faster. Use whichever method works best for you.
3. Keep both hands firmly gripped on the handlebars while climbing. The middle of the climb is not the time to grab for your water bottle or a package of Sports Beans.
4. Start the climb in a fairly low gear that will keep your legs spinning. Trying to change gears while in the middle of the climb can cause your gears to grind and even slip. Been there, done that, not fun.
5. Conserve your energy while riding your bike uphill and over bridges. Trying to climb too fast will cause you to tire out too quickly. Climbing too aggressively causes lactic acid to build up in your muscles, which will make your legs feel like they are on fire. Slow but steady pedaling is the most efficient way to climb a hill.
6. Remember, you can always walk. I've walked over steep bridges, such as Blue Heron Bridge, on more than one occasion. It didn't make me happy, but at least I was able to finish the ride.
GENERAL TIPS FOR RIDING DOWN BRIDGES
1. Don't keep your head pointed down while riding your bike, especially when traveling down bridges. Always look a few feet ahead of your front wheel to keep an eye out for any obstacles, such as glass, gravel or other debris, that may be coming up on the road.
2. Just after I get to the top of the bridge, I switch to a harder gear. I like to pedal down hills and bridges to help clear the lactic acid build up from my legs. Coasting downhill, without pedaling, doesn't allow you to clear the lactic acid out of your muscles.
3. Lean back, slightly away from the handlebar, to place more weight on the back tire. On steeper hills you should slide back on the seat. On extremely steep hills, you may have to slide your butt all the way off the back of the seat.
4. If you are going too fast for comfort, slightly feather the front and back brakes to slow down gradually. Sudden braking will most likely cause you to come to a sudden stop and crash. I use a bit more pressure on my back (right) brake then my front (left) brake.
Lynn Smythe AKA the Bike Diva