The biggest determinant of success when riding in hills is your power to weight ratio.
The first half of that ratio is your cycle power output, or how hard and fast you can pedal, measured by a FTP test. The second half of that ratio is the combined weight of you, your bike, your clothes/shoes and anything you’re carrying (like bottles).
When it comes to your power to weight ratio you can improve your chances of success in two ways.
- Gradually improve your FTP by intelligent, progressive training over a period of several months
- Reduce total bike and rider weight
Aside from your power to weight ratio, the next biggest thing is gearing. When you’re riding a long hilly route, you need to pace yourself carefully. There’s nothing worse than running out of gears when your legs are already tired. This causes muscle micro trauma and lactate build up, both contributing significantly to your overall fatigue.
Therefore you need to set your bike up with easier gears, so you can ride at your normal cadence up the hills and at an appropriate power output.
If you have a 53/39 chainring on the front, you will need a 27, 28 or even 32 or 36–tooth sprocket on the back. If you have a 50/34 chainring on the front, you might still want the option of a 28 or 32-tooth sprocket on the back. Your legs will thank you for it.
You also need to keep on top of your nutrition. We would recommend consuming around 20g or carbohydrate per 20-25 minutes. This is the equivalent to one energy gel. Stay hydrated with water and energy drinks (some find energy drinks sickly when combined with gels, sweets and bars). SaltStick salt tablets (1 or 2 per hour) are useful if you're sweating a lot, in order to aid hydration.
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