We’ve all ground to a halt for some or other reason on a steep climb. Instead of dismounting and pushing your bike up the rest of the climb, here’s a step-by-step instruction from our TREAD Skills Instructor’s Manual on how to get pedalling again – from a standing start.
As with all things mountain biking, momentum is critical for restarting on a steep climb. Problem is, steep climbs make it very difficult gain momentum, especially from a standing start, so here’s the solution:
- Ensure you are in a gear that matches the slope. The steeper the slope, the lighter the gear. Stabilise yourself with one foot on the ground (the one closest to the slope), gripping both brakes and pointing your bike in the direction you want to go, bearing in mind there may be a little front wheel weave initially. Look a couple of metres ahead at where you want to go. Have your other foot on the pedal, preferably clipped in and in the 1 ‘o clock position.
- In one smooth and swift movement, let go the brakes, power that pedal downwards, lift your other foot off the ground and place it as fast as you can on it’s pedal, which is now rising. Keep looking a couple of metres a head at where you want to go. Think about momentum and that you have to PEDAL to achieve and maintain it. You may have to shift to the front of your saddle and lower your torso towards the front wheel to gain maximum force behind your first pedal stroke.
- Without any hesitation, keep pedalling – now with both feet. Don’t be concerned about getting that foot clipped in immediately, just make sure it’s on the pedal and able to push downwards. Momentum is your priority, so just keep pedalling (moving forward) and continue looking a couple of metres ahead at where you want to go.
- After a few pedal strokes you will be gaining momentum. Start trying to find a connection between pedal and shoe cleat (if you haven’t already), but don’t stop pedalling! Maybe shift to a slightly harder gear as you gain speed and don’t stop looking a few metres ahead at where you want to go.
- You’re now moving again, albeit fairly slowly, from a standing start on a climb. It’s not something many can master, but it’s a damn useful skill and worth practising on an uncomplicated grass bank before moving onto natural singletrack.