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Cycling Tip: Improving Your Hill Climbing
Robert Panzera

When you’re on an ATG Tour, there is no way to avoid hills. The following tips on position, pacing, and gearing will make climbing hills more manageable and enjoyable.

Positioning yourself properly for climbing is important:

 Slide back in the saddle to provide more power from your hamstrings
 Rest your hands lightly on the tops of your handlebars to release tension in your upper body
 Sit up as straight as possible to open your hips allowing for more powerful pedal strokes

Pacing a climb is equally as important:

Start off the climb conservatively in a gear that feels extremely easy
Pick a gear that ensures you are able to spin your pedals at greater than 70 rpm throughout the entire climb
Maintain a steady speed, especially on flatter sections where you can slightly recover
Stand occasionally, but do not pick up the pace, to alleviate saddle pressure and activate other climbing muscles in your legs

Gearing on your bicycle is perhaps the most important:

Choose a compact crank (50/34T) and a 12/27 minimum rear cassette
Another option is a triple chain ring on the front (52/39/30T)
Use your gears early on a hill—never “save” an easier gear for later, because your legs may be worn out by the time you use that saved gear

Use these 3 tips to help train on hills prior to your trip. Build up your hill training over a few months. A training target should be a simulated hilly trip day about 3 weeks prior to your trip—meaning, ride a training ride, which has similar total elevation gain as the hilly day of the trip. Also, try to find a hill with similar gradients like the hilly day of the trip and be sure you have the proper gearing to climb it at minimum 70 rpm at the end of your training ride.

Robert Panzera is a Level 2 USA Cycling Coach and owner and operator of Cycling San Diego (CCSD). CCSD is designed to provide a venue of warm weather training miles in the off-season for serious touring and elite racing cyclists. For more information about Robert Panzera and CCSD, visit or contact him at

This tip was originally published in the Adventure Travel Group (ATG) monthly newsletter. For more information on ATG, visit or contact
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