Cadence 101: Tips for riding uphill, downhill and on flatland

When it comes to cycling, Team Amino Vital athlete Derek Smith loves to switch it up and tackle any obstacle with reckless abandon! Here’s his feedback on what to keep in mind when you’re riding uphill, downhill and on flatland.

Uphill
No matter the size of the hill, how you execute gear shifts will make all the difference between getting to the next level and bonking out. It is an elementary task, but simple executions will help get over local hills, mountain passes, and even the Alps. Follow these tasks no matter what the circumstances. Do not take any hill for granted or it can be a humbling experience!

  • Stay Calm – Don’t overexert yourself during ANY part of the hill.
  • Go two shifts below your flatland gear about 200 feet before the start of the hill -Build up your cadence without overexerting yourself.
  • Find your cadence – Don’t fight the hill, go with the hill—over time and practice, this will become clearer.
  • Sync your breathing with your cadence – Your breathing and cadence is a rhythm. Find it and stick with it. You will find yourself getting stronger as you’re ascending.
  • Shift gears – This is based upon the hill and how you feel but shift gears as your ascending to find a comfortable cadence.
  • Hammer on the bike – You should only do this for two reasons — survival or improvement. Survival is your only option left to conquer the hill. You can always get off the bike and walk it up the hill as well.  Improvement means hammering on your bike is the quickest way to enter your lactate threshold, which isn’t a bad thing because this what you are trying to build for on race day. Keep chugging away but do it at your own risk!

After you conquer the hill, drink your favorite electrolyte beverage as a reward. Now, I have tried them all: Powerbar, Gatorade, Hammer, Cytomax and Amino Vital and none has helped me out more than Amino Vital. The drink is an elixir. I feel better during and after my bike ride, which is vital (pun intended) since I have to run afterwards. I recommend drinking this after your workout as it will help recovery as well. I can’t count how many times Amino Vital has saved me!

Downhill
There are two situations to consider when attacking a downhill: Training and Race Day

  • Training – Get into your big gear and hammer. That’s it; just go for it builds muscle and confidence.
  • Race Day – You can follow the training situation but I recommend you save your energy. Let gravity do the work and only pedal if you feel you are losing speed. There are very few moments in where you can recover during a race, and this is one of them. Take full advantage of it!

Flatland
This is based upon you. No one can help you with this but you. Find your cadence. Find you gear. Find your breathing. When its comes together, ride it out. You will steadily improve and push yourself. You will redeem the rewards on race day.

Additional Tips

What did some of our other athletes say? Paul Barr mentioned it’s important during a long ride to find a gear/rhythm you like and stick with it as long as your heart rate is in a good zone that you can keep up for a while.

Andrea Hutchins says a high cadence will help give you legs to run when you get off the bike.  She suggests 90 as a good target, but going higher is great if you can.  Don’t get sloppy though! Maintain smooth movement in your hips. Rocking hips may mean you’re pedaling too fast for your own good.

Thanks for the tips, Derek, Paul and Andrea. Get moving with these tips in mind. As always, make sure you have plenty of Amino to keep hydrated ! 

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