Riding Hills – love or hate?

Riding HIlls - how to improve

Bloody hills. Hill climbing. Building muscle. Slow and steady base miles in the mountains. If you’re anything like me, these above words make you shudder.

But riding hills is good for you”


I know it is good for me and I honestly love riding hills, but for whatever reason I tend to get dropped and I’m often the last person to any peak.  That can be a little depressing.

Why?   Who knows?!

Alison Powers (from Cycling Tips) shared this about climbing hills…..

“People think it’s this magical thing that only lucky or skinny people can do. This is a misnomer. Anyone can climb.”

Ok. Thank GOD I don’t have to diet!

I can do this. YES! CAN!   I can climb hills better and not always be last.

Let me share what I currently know about my hill climbing in-abilities….

In my head?

My friends just say it’s in my head. CRAP. That’s not true.

I do often declare at the bottom of the hill “see you bee-tches at the top”, to which they will turn and say “No Cath, stay positive, you can ride with us”.   An eye roll and an internal “piss off” often happens in my head, accompanied with a giggle.

We often ride  hills during our triathlon off season, so if anything, that mental desire to push through pain is a bit subdued from the months of pushing prior to an Ironman. But I am pushing, I am trying, my head is in the game AND I still get dropped. I always seem to run out of gears.  Boo hoo.   I know!


Maybe it’s technique?   This could be true. I’ve never really been taught how to ride a road bike, although I have tried to pick up a few tips from the good riders over the years.

More hilly rides more often?

I do know that the only way to improve in the hills is to ride them more often. I guess I would be better if I always rode mountains.


This article by  Alison Powers {cycling tips)  “How to become a better climber” has given me a few things to focus on …..

  1. Climb ~ ride hills more often. I can do that.
  2. Learn to climb out of the saddle ~ ouch. Ok. I can do that.
  3. Change positions ~ this is something I haven’t thought through enough. I can do that.
  4. Change cadence ~ what if I run out of gears?  Maybe time to get a 27 🙂
  5. Be ok with being uncomfortable ~ insert eye roll.   OK!

After searching the Cycling Tips site more, I also enjoyed reading Chloe Hosking’s article “Climbing tips for non-climbers

That sounds more like me.

Climbing hills
“The non-climber”

Here are a few of her tips for non-climbers…..

1.  Work on your descending ~ you can catch up to the group quicker.  I actually suck at descending more than ascending, but I’ll give it a go.

2.  Shed some weight ~ don’t freak out. This refers to weight on your bike.  Time for new wheels.  Here I come GIANT Sunshine Coast!

3.  Suck Wheels ~ I’m the master of that. I will try to stay with the girls a little longer (as long as there is a good conversation).  Maybe I should actually try NOT talking while riding hills.  Hmmmm.

4.  Get a head start ~ if the group stops to refill water bottles, sneak through to get a head start. I like this idea because it might keep me in a positive frame of mind (because I’m not last) and then I’ll have no-one to chat too.

5.  Regroup ~ always. Our mob often descends down to the last cyclists and then rides back up with them (which is always me). It’s a simple sign of courtesy and it’s good for everyone!

climbing hills cyclist
This is where we are heading


Tomorrow I’m riding 4 hours in the hills with Bel and Kacey.

Let’s see if I can try a few of these tips, although with these two muscle machines I know I will be last,  but I have one trick up my sleeve !

When you want to slow the fastest rider down, ask them a question at the bottom (about their love life, a movie they’ve seen or a recent drama)……….. then sneak off mid sentence.

I’ve been known to do that.   Laughing all the way of course.   They’re all wised onto it now.

How do you find riding hills?  Love or hate?  Share any tips you have or suggested ways to improve in the comments below.

We’d all love to hear your practical ideas too!

If you’d like to read more, check out Cycling Tips, particularly Alison and Chloes articles —> click here to read more.

Happy hill cycling Ironchicks

Catherine Thiele Ironman Ironchick triathlon
Cath xxx



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2 thoughts on “Riding Hills – love or hate?”

  1. This is my goal next year to be able to ride up to Malaney and long hill rides but I just dont know how I will get over the fear of going so slow that I fall.