TRIALS TRAINING: ascents & hill climbs
The devious bunch who plan your sections love to include steep climbs to test your traction abilities but a few key techniques will have you sailing up those hills.
body positioning for climbs
The default position is standing on the footpegs with your body to the front of the bike – you will often have your reproductive organs quite close to the handlebars when it gets very steep!
Keep your legs bent to act as shock absorbers which will help with extra traction if the hill climb is bumpy or rutted. You will also be able to rider faster which is important – momentum is your best friend on climbs.
Keep your throttle and clutch control smooth. You want to avoid spinning that rear wheel at all costs. Remember you can vary your tire pressures to suit the terrain for more grip.
Maintain momentum, the main thing behind successful hill climbing. Get as much speed as possible before starting up and choose the best gear before starting.
Having one finger always on the clutch lever is handy for hill climbs – the moment the engine starts to bog down you should be able to change down a gear quickly or slip the clutch.
Your body positioning will change on loose or slippery surfaces. If the rear wheel is likely to spin, crouch down which will shift your body weight more to the rear. This will increase the footprint of your rear tire for more grip.
Another technique for traction is hopping the bike. If there is a slippery patch in the middle of a climb, you momentarily shut the throttle as you jump on the footpegs to get the bike into a two wheel hop. As the bike comes down again, you can apply extra throttle as the tires flatten out and have a very large footprint on the loose terrain. A grade riders often hop all the way up a slippery climb using this technique – it’s poetry in motion!
saving you & your bike
We won’t always make it up that climb. The main aim is to keep you safe so make sure you dismount and worry about the bike second.
If it is very steep and you know there is no way you can make it, lay the bike down on its side with the handlebars turned away from you. With luck the bars will dig in and hold the bike in place while you make sure you don’t go tumbling down the slope.
If you think there is still a chance of making it up the climb but you need to stop, remember you can paddle the bike through using your legs which will cost you three points. Sit on the rear fender to get traction and use your legs to get you through the rest of the climb.
Copyright B. Morris 2014