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Riding smart is the key to having fun on the most challenging rides. (Jay S. Hardcastle photo)Here some of the common mistakes you can make when riding the Hilly Hundred Weekend, especially if you are a first timer.  Yes, it is a challenging ride, but these tips for riding smart will help you keep it fun. 

1. Some folks attack the bottom of the hill way too hard – going promptly into oxygen debt. Remember – meet the hill aggressively, but as soon as your cadence begins to drop, shift into an easier gear and settle back into a comfortable rhythm. Scoot back onto your saddle and strive to maintain a steady cadence of 70-80 rpm.

2. Newbies tend to wait too late to start shifting for that hill climb. So when they do begin shifting, their cadence has slowed so much that the chain ties up. This tie up brings cadence even lower and momentum is lost. Try to anticipate those shifts so that your shifts are early, clean and quick. This will keep cadence and therefore momentum up.  It is much easier to recover from shifting too early than waiting too long.

3. When standing on hill climbs, many folks lean out over the handlebars in a horizontal position. What you actually want is to keep your body vertical – pushing your weight down through the pedals. This vertical position will also facilitate breathing.

4. Some begin to lose focus in the last 20% of the hill climb, letting cadence drop way down. Try to avoid this. Stay focused throughout, keeping cadence elevated up and over the top.

5. After all that work, the tendency is to settle into a well deserved coast the whole way down the other side. However, with fall temperatures sometimes on the chilly side, this risks allowing your knees to cool down and/or the muscles to cramp up. Try spinning easily occasionally through that downhill run, so the knees stay warm and the muscle stay pliable – both ready to assault the next climb.

For more tips and links, visit the Bicycle Garage Indy Hilly Hundred Resource Page.

Bicycle Garage Indy now has three locations to serve you; Bicycle Garage Indy North (Indianapolis, in the Clearwater area on 82nd St.),  South (just west of I-65 on County Line Rd, Greenwood), and the new BGI Downtown, in the Indy Bike Hub YMCA at City Market, the perfect stop for those last minute items before you leave work on Friday.