My favorite climb of the morning, an 0.6 mile 3% grade, was a half mile ahead, so I just kept pace and bided my time to see what would happen when we hit it. Sure enough, as soon as the upgrade began, he began having trouble finding the right gear. He shifted into too low a gear and began struggling. He must have had a mirror of some kind, because I never saw him look around, but he pulled over as I went around, about an eighth-mile into the climb. I never looked back, but had a great climb, cresting at about 13 mph.
Let me tell you, there's nothing that stokes your self-esteem like smoking a guy half your age on an uphill, early season or no. (I know, I know, I had the "unfair" advantage of having been riding all winter.)
This made me wonder, though, about what kind of advice was out there so I went to Google over the lunch hour and typed in "how to climb hills". The first page of links was all about cycling -- no surprise there. Right up top, I found:
- Dr. Dick Rafoth's excellent Cycling Performance Tips website that has a host of scientific fact-based information;
- A very good entry in the late, great Ken Kifer's Bicycle Pages website about the strategy of climbing;
- A typically-un-informative entry from the eHow website. (I always find eHow unenlightening. It used to be a wiki-type cooperative editing environment, maybe still is, but the entries all seem so darned obvious. Tip number one: use cleats. Tip number two: use the proper gear. Duh.)
- A quite good article on the REI web site on climbing. Funny, all the times I've ordered stuff from REI, I never looked at that little "expert advice" tab. They have a host of articles on cycling. Many of them are about the kind of stuff to buy (what did you expect, after all?) but this one was pure technique.