DAY 18 - Top tips for climbing mountains

Todays stage of the tour is deemed to be the hardest of the whole 2015 race. Its 186.5km of non- stop ascending and descending, taking in 7 categorised climbs, one of which (the Col du Glandon) is a HC.

The Pro riders in the Tour make climbing mountains look easy, they seem to go up hill the same speed as I go down. The sad reality is that for us mere mortals climbing a Col is a much tougher business.

We decided to speak to Chris Bland from Allons Y Pyrenees to see if he had any top tips about climbing. Chris spends the Summer months leading groups around the Pyrenees as part of his cycling training camp business. He knows the roads around the foothills, and the major and minor climbs around the area like the back of his hand. Earlier this year he climbed the Col du Tourmalet for the 100th time, so he knows a thing or 2 about cycling up-hill!

Here are his top tips :

  • "Most importantly pace yourself. The main difference between the mountain Cols and hill climbs in the UK is the distance. Initially the mountains may not seem that steep, but it’s the fact that they can go on for 20km+ that is the hardest part. Find a pace that you know you can deal with, it may be slower than you are used to climbing, but its better to be able to get faster towards to top if you have energy left, than end up having to walk the last few kms!"
  • "‘Stand up – Sit down’ make sure you give your body a break by mixing up climbing standing up in your pedals as well as just sitting. This alternates the muscles you use so will stop fatigue settting in so quickly." He tends to count 50 pedals standing up with 50 pedals sitting down when you’re on some long slopes. He also says this is a great way to get into a rhythm and helps you focus.
  • "Make sure you don’t grind up the hills in a massive gear, it may seem like you are going faster initially but it’s a quick way to tire yourself out. Stick to a medium cadence of about 80"
  • "Find your own pace and rhythm, its tempting to go off with a group and race your mates, but more often than not the people who find their own pace and rhythm end up getting to the top faster. Know how far and approximately how long you have in front of you and bear that in mind when you set off"
  • "Don’t forget to look around! Sometimes it's all about the slog to reach the top, but invariably you are in some of the most beautiful surroundings you can cycle in, and the views change at every switchback, and as you get higher and higher. Don’t forget to put your head up every now and again to appreciate the beauty of it. Remember its all blurred when your on your way down!!"

For more information on Allons Y Pyrenees visit their website

Chris and Keren will personally help plan your cycling holidays, and can cater for groups from 3-17 riders. You can have Chris guide you around the area, or just explore by yourselves. Get in touch to find out about all the options.