Handling long climbs when you are cycling or biking can be a real challenge. It requires physical strength and perseverance, as well as mental focus. You also have to consider whether you are attempting an arduous, lengthy climb over flat, easy terrain like a roadway, or if you are attempting a long, straight, sharply inclined off road or mountain trail. In either situation, stay well hydrated. And the more you ride the stronger you will be, so get out on your bike whenever you can.
Long Climbs on a Road Cycle
Start off slow. Long climbs on a bicycle made for road racing and cycling can wear you out if you tackle the task too quickly. A long climb means beginning gradually and thinking like a long-distance runner rather than a sprinter.
Most road cycles will have a variety of gears. Gear up or down until you reach the perfect relationship of easy-as-possible pedaling and progress. Also, if you know that your particular climb has intermittent flat spots where cycling is easy, you can push hard if you are about to experience one. Otherwise, try not to “go into the red”, meaning going physically all out in cycling terms.
You will also want to get up out of the saddle in a long climb from time to time. This gives you added body weight to push down powerfully on your cycling strokes. While it may be difficult, work hard to keep your upper body still. All of your physical and mental dedication needs to be directed towards your legs and your lower body.
Climbing Long Distances on a Mountain or Off-Road Bike
When you are biking off-road, you can absolutely fly in some downhill situations. The exact opposite is true when you are experiencing a climb of any distance, especially a long one. Biking long distances on your off-road bike is very physical, but if your mental game is not right, you are done for.
You are going to have to control yourself mentally when your legs are burning and you still have 100 yards of steep incline before a rest. So you should mentally break down your long-distance climb into sections. Focus on that weirdly shaped tree just up ahead. When you get there, mentally decide on another short section of the climb as your next challenge. Thinking about a daunting climb off-road can make it seem impossible if you picture it in one piece.
You may sometimes have to get up out of your seat for a quick burst of speed. Do not use this technique very often. You can turn your legs to rubber and become fatigued and tired very quickly. Stay seated as much as you can. Leaned forward on the horn of your seat if you need to, but try to stay seated as much as possible.
Switch to a lower gear if that is what you need to develop a good rhythm. Momentum and rhythm coupled with tireless persistence are important when attempting to conquer a long off-road climb. The old saying that slow and steady wins the race is very true in this arduous, off-road uphill climb scenario.