Guest Author: Lance “Lightning” Lowry-Climbing Hills

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This has to be everyone’s least favorite subject when it comes to mountain biking but probably the most important. How else are you going to get to that sweet singletrack decent at the top of your trail? That is unless you cheater….errr shuttler. I kid, I kid. Having ridden local trails and participated in a couple of XC races I’ve found some useful tips that really take the edge of the grueling hell that is climbing.

There really is nothing like cleaning a hill that’s stolen so many curse words and so much pride from you. So here’s a couple of tips to help get you to the top a little faster and and with a little more dignity.

1) Get that saddle up!

I think with a lot of the all mountain bikes and freeride style bikes that are out there today a lot of people tend to leave those saddles a smidge to far from where they should be for climbing if for no other reason than to avoid putting it back down for the descent. Try putting your seat up higher to get maximum forcer out of your pedal stroke. This also helps to put your body weight higher so that front end will stop trying kick up on the steeps.

2)Keep the butt on the saddle.

Weather you have a full suspension or a hardtail rig, staying in the saddle can do wonders for your ascending ability. Remaining seated keeps a steady weight on the bike that helps those tires dig in. Standing while climbing should really be reserved for those extra technical sections and should be a rarity. If you’re on a sandy climb don’t even think about getting out of that seat! You know what I’m talking about, the rear tire starts slipping, you lose your momentum then it’s off to the side and you’re walking your bike up(or worse, falling backward). So keep that butt in the seat and keep those pedals spinning…you’ll get there!

3) Pump it, pump it, pump, pump it up! (Full suspension only)

Okay I listened to too much Salt ‘N’ Pepa growing up. While having less air in your rear shock can make your ride more supple, a little extra air pressure can go a long way in stiffening up that back end. Why would I want that? Glad I asked myself! A stiffer shock gives your bike a more rigid back end and transfers more of your pedal power to were you want it. Why do you think so many XC racers swear by hardtails? The point is to give your full suspension bike a hardtail feel while keeping the perks of a fully rig.

4) Keep your head up!

No I’m not a motivational speaker. A lot of times when climbing it’s easy to let your head droop drown to help you pound it out. Keeping your head up is an easy way to help you anticipate what’s ahead of you. This way you can pick your line before you get there and avoid that big boulder or that big dip that’s going to drain your battery cells. For hardtailers, this is especially important so you can take the easy line and speed up that incline with as little resistance as possible.

Well, there you have it! I hope this helps someone with their climbing struggles. Of course, endurance always helps but for those of us that aren’t marathon runners this should help to take some of the anguish out of your climb. Remember if you wanna get down…you gotta get up! So get out there and rip up those hills…You can do it!

RL Policar

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of and Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).

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