Ever experience that feeling of the bike getting longer as the ride gets harder or as the hours progress? This is because our hamstrings and lower back muscles are tightening up.
I firmly believe that climbing on the tops is the most efficient way to climb. Period. Especially if you’re doing a long road ride or race. In recent years, when top pro Lance Armstrong climbs seated, his hands are on the hoods, but he has those bars turned way up, shortening his reach. When you’re riding on the tops, your elbows are out more, opening your chest, hence opening your lungs, giving your more power! We’re not Lance!
Also, riding with your hands on the tops puts you more upright, opening the hip angle, giving you more leverage to drive the pedals down. Top pro Jan Ullrich can be seen on TV climbing in the drops for extended periods, but 1: THIS GUY IS JAN ULLRICH and 2: he rides uphill more than we ride in a week. We’re not Jan! Stay outta the drops!
Lightweight Colombian climbers can be seen dancing out of the saddle for long periods, bouncing up the climb. But they weigh 100 pounds and need their body weight to get that extra power. I recommend any rider over 140 pounds to stay primarily seated during climbs. Although I see true benefit in climbing with a higher cadence for many reasons, pedaling speed is different for everyone. We’re not Colombian! Stay seated!
I stand on climbs excessively during the winter, but this is only because I’m trying to strengthen my hip flexors. I don’t have PowerCranks! So when I stand, I’m actually pulling up with my knees, pulling up pulling up. It’s a great hip flexor workout in addition to One-Leggeds.
If you’re doing an uphill TT, it may be more beneficial to climb on the hoods for aero purposes. But if you climb seated on the tops during the entire road ride or race, you’ll have more energy at the end and will be able to ride harder. It’s this attention to detail that allows a rider at the end of a race to make a move, or hopefully finish it, when the fin hits the shan.