April 3, 2022

5 tactical tips to beat your friends to the top of the climb

When you're on a social ride, it's almost impossible to resist the charge to the top of the climb. While the best way to the top of any climb is to work on your fitness, there are a few things you can do tactically to sure up your chances of taking the title on the climb.

1. Pacing yourself to the climb

Don’t go overdrawn before you get to the foot of the climb. You’ve got a couple of maximal efforts in your legs each time you ride, so don’t burn your matches on the ride out, and if you can, let your friends lead you out to the base. That said - this won't make you particularly popular.

2. Follow the wheels when you can

This goes two ways – the advantage of drafting when you’re going uphill is minimal as typically, below 14mph, there’s no benefit. However – sitting on the wheel can still provide a pacing advantage. Riding in a smooth and controlled manner is better than having empty road ahead of you, as the temptation is to attack, go deep, blow up and fall behind. Keeping with the group is the first step to taking the win.

3. Read the signs

Everyone has a tell. You probably know by now what your friends tells are – their head drops, they shift in their saddle, their front wheel begins to waver, or their gasping for air like they’ve spent the past 5 minutes under water. When you see the little signs of discomfort, make sure you’re no longer sat on their wheel – and maybe thinking about turning the screw a little.

4. Know the road

One of the best tactics, but also one of the simplest – if you know there’s a steep bit, don’t get out of the saddle until you hit it, and maybe spin up just before you roll onto it, because if a gap is built by differentials in speed, making the most of it means maximising that difference.

5. Fastest is the smoothest.

You hear it all the time – consistency, speed, time, winning. Well – it’s just true. A boring but evenly paced hill climb is a beautiful thing. Maintaining inertia and speed on a gradient is of course hard, but ploughing into the bottom of the climb at 30mph with heavy legs often means that you scrub your speed, dip to recover, and then have to rally yourself before going again. Having a metered approach is going to be the most efficient means of getting to the top at your best possible speed – so after all that, if you’re friends are still waiting for you at the top – this is the best way to improve and reduce their waiting time.

Tactics not quite enough to win on the climbs? Schedule a consultation and begin your coaching journey.