Hill climbing is a test of your ability to suffer, not just your power on the bike

Dan Neal

Every good cyclist is able to climb, but the best make climbing effortless. In truth it’s not. Even the best suffer, but it’s their ability to suffer more and dig deeper than anyone else, that makes them stand out about the rest. That’s what drew me to hill climbing in the first place.

Hill climbing is a very different challenge from your standard road race, or even a time trial. Even though time trials and hill climbs are similar in the fact that it is one rider racing against the clock, the two efforts are very different. A time trial is a steady, continuous effort that requires the rider to find that sweet spot and be able to sit at a steady power for ten miles or more, still a very draining effort. A time trial effort allows you time to get up to speed gradually, but in a hill climb, from the moment the start clock hits zero, you are giving 100 percent. Start too slow and your chances of victory are already very low. A hill climb rarely lasts longer than a few minutes, it’s a very brutal and unforgiving effort.

I can still remember the feeling after my first ever hill climb effort. From the very start of the effort you feel every last crank rotation, every last strain as the forces of gravity work against you. But once you hit the line and the effort is over, you feel nothing. All the feeling drains from your legs as the adrenaline that was driving you up that hill, wears off and you finally realise the effect of the effort. You give everything you can just for few minutes only to spend longer on the floor trying to regain the feeling in your legs and the air in your lungs.

Hill climbs are a hard discipline to train for as the training sessions are very similar to the races themselves, send yourself up a climb as hard as you can, but instead of giving everything in one effort, the sessions involve multiple hard efforts. Hopefully, by the time the hill climb seasons rolls into view, I will be in a position where I am able to compete with the many strong riders and I will be able to do the N+1 Lindfield team jersey proud.

That’s what made being a part of this team an easy decision. It allows me to learn from and ride with some incredibly strong riders, which will help me develop and give me many opportunities to prove myself as a rider. As well as riding with the team, I’m involved being the scenes as I will also be providing mechanical support to my teammates as I am the mechanic at our headline sponsor, N+1 Cycle Workshop.

Working at N+1 has also allowed me to gain a better understanding of our many incredible sponsors such as Lindfield Coffee Works, Breakaway Digital, Vittoria tyres and Veloforte as we offer these products in store. In order to offer and sell these products I need to know what makes them so great. As a rider I know that the products we are using are the best ones available to us which will in turn help the team succeed.

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