Is climbing your biggest challenge on the bike?

By Kaye Lopez

Right after the Challenge Subic reconnaissance ride, which was expertly marshalled by the boys of Hubble Multisport, all the talk was about the climbing. Discussions were divided into two camps–those who have conquered the climbs and those who were surprised at the effort expended within the first 25 kms. Veterans told their war stories and shared their top tips for newbies willing to test themselves.

1. Know the Course

You can maximize your potential by learning the course on your laptop or tablet before the event. Call the organizers, talk to experienced triathletes, or just jump on your bike in the weeks before and ride the course. Ben Allen spoke to folks behind the BI3 event before coming to Manila and brought a Giant road bike with him to the event. Nothing fancy. Not even a set of aerobars. And he rode that straight to the podium. Bring a climbing bike for a course you can measure in vertical speed rather than feet per second. You can’t go wrong on race day.

2. Tune Your Equipment

Have an expert mechanic tune your climbing bike ahead of time. Using the latest 11-speed shifting system and the greatest 11-32 cassette isn’t a solution for weak legs if you just bolt them on and end up walking the climbs because it won’t shift as well as your original equipment. Have your mechanic check the chain length, the high and low limit screws on the front and rear derailleurs, and the B-tension screw on the rear derailleur hanger. An expert will know exactly what that means, and you’ll ride up less stressed if adjusted right.

3. Have the Right Mindset

Climbing efficiently isn’t all about the equipment. You are still the motor of that vehicle. Don’t allow climbing misconceptions to cloud your judgment during recon or race day. Listen to your coach, read up on proper techniques, and bring a healthy dose of self-confidence. Follow the wheels of a good climber so you know what pace is reasonable, what gear they are using, and what can be achieved physically. If you decide to unclip, don’t let that mean you are going to give up. Walk up with the mission to get to the top quickly. Use that time on foot to eat or hydrate. It’s still a race and you are there to race it.

4. Bring Your Best Smile

When the hills are relentless, bring your best smile so you can show the crowd just how much you enjoy the sport. Climbing may seem like a challenge, but not impossible to do it right and get to the top with the best triathletes.