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Tip: How to Bike Up a Hill

Posted June 7, 2013

This morning, I almost needed a NYC concrete contractor to come scrape me off the sidewalk on the Manhattan bridge as I biked over it. The Manhattan Bridge is a long, not very steep hill, and I have no idea why it was so difficult to pedal. Probably 30 other bike commuters passed me as I huffed and puffed my way up to the crest of the hill. So I set out to find out how what I was doing wrong.

*REI advises road bike riders to stay seated for as long as possible, and to keep cadence high. Cadence is the number of times you turn the pedals per minute.

*How Stuff Works says that good hill climbers produce a high ratio of power to body weight. OK then! They also suggest shifting to a lower gear and maintaining a high cadence. That's more like it! They also say that standing up in the saddle will cause a deceleration. Oops! That's what happened to me this morning. I decelerated at the beginning of the hill, and had a hard time getting my speed back up.

*Finally, Bicycling Magazine says that the right position for climbing hills is a straight back and relaxed arms. They also spend a paragraph explaining why tensing up and grimacing will make it harder to bike up a hill. They also advise cyclists to think light thoughts while climbing hills.

SO I THINK I SEE WHAT I DID WRONG. I stood up in the saddle, I grimaced, I was using too high a gear, and I hunched over.  We'll see if the ride home is any easier.

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