Thursday, May 31, 2007

Get Up, Stand Up for your Hills

How to get up hills on a 1-gear bike?

Lets talk physics.

You got your potential energy and you got your kinetic energy. Potential energy is really energy based on the position of the object to do work whereas kinetic energy is energy when the object is actually in motion. For example, a large boulder sitting on top of a cliff has the potential to roll down the cliff and cause some serious damage to the climbers below. The rolling boulder itself is the kinetic energy.

Physics was not my strongest subject in school, but you get the general picture of energy.

Getting up hills on a 1-gear bike is all about converting that potential energy into kinetic energy. As you approach any hill, you need to increase or at the very least, maintain your speed as you begin your ascent. In other words, you need to carry your momentum all the way through and attack the hill with speed, which makes sense because momentum is just the product of mass times velocity (p = m x v).

On the road this is pretty easy to do, just crank it up and go after the hill like it’s your long lost girlfriend. Hopefully, you are topped out before oxygen debt kicks in. On the dirt, it’s a different story. It’s not always easy to build up momentum before you attack a hill. That’s why reading the terrain on a 1-gear mt. bike is so important and takes some experience to dial it in. You need to know when to rev it up and when to coast through. This makes riding single speed mt. bikes fun and challenging, too.

Free tip # 1– people talk about weaving your fixed down a hill like a salmon ski racer in order to slow down. But I say, weave your way up a hill to make it easier. Think about hiking up a mountain. Most mountains have switchbacks to make the climb easier. So on a tough hill, cut across the road to reduce the steepness of the climb. Also, practice coming out of the “S” turn at a sharp angle and you’ll pick up a little speed to see you through the next turn (kind of like pumping your skateboard on the flats to maintain speed).


Anonymous said...

when it comes to road climbing 1 gear does NOT mean 1 speed. stand & jam is 2d gear, especially with bullhorn handlebars.

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about the hill or the long lost girlfriend regarding that "topping out before oxygen debt kicks in'? ;-)

DV8 said...

This is a good blog. I'm linking you. Fuck that shift.

Squirrel said...

S'ing it going downhill....hell no...thats what skidding muscles are for:) Going up only a few hills here in Des Moines that require that...well depends on how many brews me legs have in them:) Thanks for the stickers.