Climbing hills is where riders can gain or lose time on a solo or group ride – some people love them, others hate them; all of us have to ride up them at some point. The good news is that, with some determination, every rider can get better at climbing hills.
Unwanted weight is the enemy of any rider wanting to climb faster or more easily, so read the lose weight page before buying a lighter bike! 85% of your energy will be spent hauling your body weight upwards, so put down the doughnut, walk away from the chippy and reach for the salad. See this GCN video on whether it’s better to have a light bike or a light body.
If you really must spend money, invest in lighter wheels (many bikes under £1,000, or even £2,000 have wheels that are heavy) as rotating mass matters more when climbing. Lighter wheels take less energy to ‘lift’ uphill and at slower speeds than heavier wheels (wheel weight matters less on flat and downhill).
Practice makes perfect – you will get better at climbing hills if you spend time and effort riding them – simple as. There is more excellent general advice on the British Cycling website and their hill-climbing training plan is effective.
For many, there is a perverse pleasure to be found in searching out the steepest hills and riding up them more quickly than before. There are formal hill-climbing events locally, such as Battery Hill, Firle Bostal and Butts Lane. The club’s Sunday ride from the Harrow usually includes a revolting amount of hill climbing. Some hills offer a special rite of passage from the ordinary club member to super-hero… Look at this happy-chappy:
So, whilst we are lucky in our area in having many flat roads, you will have to master hills at some point unless you want to spend every ride rolling up and down the seafront.