By Laurel-Lea Shannon
This summer I cycled with a couple of clubs two evenings a week — and loved it. As well as having the social and safety benefits of cycling buddies, I learned helpful tips along the way.
Cycling with more experienced riders improved my overall strength and speed. For the most part, I hung onto the group and benefited from drafting, but sometimes, on hilly terrain, I got dropped. As I churned and gasped my way to the top, the better (and usually younger) riders zoomed up and away, leaving me to play catch up on the other side.
To level the playing ground, I did some interval training. But I also learned a few climbing tricks to help propel me over the hills. If climbing hills is challenging for you, try this approach on smaller, rolling hills:
At the bottom of the hill, shift one gear lower (easier gear) than you would normally use. Stay in your saddle and and spin fast up the first two thirds of the hill. This saves your legs for the hardest part of the climb. When you approach the final third of the hill, shift into a higher gear (harder gear), and stand and pedal. You should have plenty of zoom left in your legs to motor over the top of the hill and hang on to the pack on the other side.