Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by Linda Hardcastle
Moderate hills requiring patience and a smooth steady effort. The most common hills on the Hilly Hundred Weekend routes are considered to be “moderate” hills, requiring 2-4 minutes to crest. (Short hills were covered here) How should you approach these – sit or stand? It is actually more efficient to sit for the majority of this climb, since you expend about 10-12% more energy when you stand. However, you will want to break this moderate climb up with occasional stands. This allows you to recruit differing muscle groups (thus warding off fatigue) as well as maintaining your momentum. Since you will be encountering plenty of moderate hill climbs on Hilly 100, below is a detailed explanation of how to approach these hills.
Momentum is the key to a successful hill climb. Get your momentum up from the start and try to maintain it throughout. This steady momentum translates into an even cadence of perhaps 70-80 rpm.
As you approach your hill, go into attack mode in order to get your momentum up. Hold this as long you comfortably can, but as your cadence begins to fall, shift into an easier gear.
Now is the time to settle into position. Scoot back on your saddle to maximize recruitment of your powerful hams and glutes. Keep your upper body still and hands relaxed on top of the handlebars. Try not to waste any energy.
When momentum begins to decline, or fatigue sets in – take a break by popping up. This not only gives your primary muscle groups a break but also gets that cadence back up. Rock comfortably about six inches from side to side. You may or may not need to shift up first – depending on the steepness of the grade. Once momentum has been regained, sit back down and resume your rhythm. (If the hill is too steep for you to stand, you can also scoot forward on the saddle to get those revolutions up).
A final note about the crest of the hill. Many riders lose their focus in the top 20% of the climb, letting cadence fall dramatically. Don’t let this happen. Focus on maintaining that strong, even cadence all the way up and over the top.
So the trick with many of your Hilly Hundred hills will be to maintain a strong, even cadence throughout. Stay back on the saddle and drop into a comfortable rhythm. Occasionally pop up (or scoot forward), but then settle back into your rhythm. And SMILE on the way down the other side! You’ve earned it.
Visit the Bicycle Garage Indy Hilly Hundred Resource Page for more tips and links.