No matter how perfectly functional your lungs are and how monstrous your quads might be, without the right pacing, approach, and technique, climbing on your bike will definitely make you struggle. Professional bikers climb effortlessly with grace by practicing these mental strategies along with smart technique.
Here is how you achieve that effortless climb:
1. Start at the Bottom
It is important to fuel yourself at the base before starting to engage yourself in a particularly long climb. Boost your mind and muscle energy by taking a bite of a banana or an energy bar while you’re still smoothly enjoying the flat roads. Do no wait to get all heated up until you start to see spots on your way up.
2. Think Light, Ride Quiet
Qigong climbing is a technique that balances positive thinking with relaxed technique. As you approach the climb, apply this technique by thinking lightly. This is to lighten up your mental space so you can think of whatever it is you want, perhaps the sound of the birds, angels, clouds, the sky, etc. Next is to initially relax your face as you reach your way to the body down to your feet. To release any unnecessary tension of the mind, the muscles, and the body, relax your shoulders and put them down. Your hands should be gripping the bars loosely instead of clutching them ever so tensely.
Also, when you stand, you must apply the same quiet posture approach. Your shoulders must be kept squared and must be facing forward as if you were balancing glasses on them.
Additionally, full and deep breaths will help in quieting your mind. This exercise will helping in delivering fresh oxygenated blood to your legs that are probably close to tired. When taking these breaths, keep your back straight and chest open. This will allow maximum airflow into the lungs. Relax your arms for your elbows to be outside of your hips. When you know it’s the perfect time to stand, click into the next larger gear, and stand on the top of the pedal stroke to minimize the loss of momentum. As you stand with your rear end over the saddle, you are keeping your weight centered over the bottom bracket you help yourself maintain balance. Do not lean forward to avoid skidding. The imbalance will cause your bike to be tossed backward, and can possibly cause serious injure or potential danger for riders who are close behind. It is important for you to maintain the aforementioned steps to keep yourself relaxed during the climb.
3. Help Your Legs
As you feel the slope getting steeper, keep your elbows onto your sides, lower your torso toward the bars, and gently but firmly pull back on the bars with every downstroke. With this execution, you are letting your power from your upper body transfer through your core and your legs to help you in moving forward.
4. Finish Faster than How You Started
Anyone who starts out too fast always end up being the one who collapses. As you take that monster climb, remember to dial back your pace rather than attacking the foot of the climb. Doing the latter will only cause you to trail off before you’ve even reached the summit.
5. Believe in Magic
Most of the time, even the happy songs you sing in your head, the happy thoughts you plant in your mind, and the healthy effect of a good breakfast cannot ease a day full of exhaustion. This is where visual aids come to the rescue. Bikers who have seemed to lose hope in finishing their goal tend to be motivated by the taped pictures of loved ones who have perhaps battled cancer. These are the things that inspire these professional riders no matter how tough-looking they may be. Professional cyclocross rider Jeremy Powers in Bicycling said that when all else fails, “this will give you something to focus on besides the pain in your legs and lungs.”