NSPCC Tour of the South East: Hitting the Hills

According to the guys over at GCN you can train for hills without actually riding any, but for me at least, the only way to learn how to properly pace a hill is to ride some. For an event such as the Tour of the South East, where there will be hills followed by many more miles in the saddle, pacing on the climbs will be key.

In preparation for this, on Saturday a friend and I tackled a route with four main climbs including one from Simon Warren’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs book. Sure, these aren't exactly winding alpine passes, but at roughly 15-20 minute sustained efforts it’s as good as it gets in Surrey!

I may be a bit of a “flatlander” but I'm still in the top half of climbers in my club. Being a lightweight and training a lot around threshold probably helps! Usually on any solo or club ride I will use the 39T chainring and power up any hills, mixing seated with standing efforts.

For this ride however, I planned to pick a nice low gear, remain seated and spin at an effort I knew could maintain for an hour, never going into the red. This would mean I wouldn't be climbing the hill as quickly as I knew I could, but it would leave me still pretty fresh at the top and with enough energy in the tank to keep powering on with the bunch or tackle an unexpected rise in the road!

Thomas Voeckler wearing the King of the Mountains jersey (2012 Tour de France)

As the main focus was pacing, I clicked the chain down onto the 30T granny and selected a suitably cadence-happy cog on the back. The name of the game was conserving energy and settling into a rhythm. Some may scoff at the “granny ring” on my triple, but spinning away happily I found I was passing a few guys who were grinding out of the saddle in their lowest gear – plus I still had the breath to say a cheery “hello” as I went by!

Next up, time to start building more hours in the saddle.

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