Photo: Kurt Jambretz
Chris Baldwin was the 2003 and 2005 National Time Trial Champion and was one over-cooked final corner away from winning it again in 2006. Chris has 19 wins to his name and rides for the strong Toyota United team. We caught up with Chris and asked him to share ten tips that help him go up and down fast.
1) Climbing is all about power to weight, so minimize your weight without sacrificing power. What am I trying to say? Fast food and sweets are not the nutrition of champions. Every pound or kilo counts when you are going uphill.
2) If you are racing into a climb, use a slightly larger gear than normal. First, this will help you transition into a higher cadence as you start going uphill and begin to downshift. It will also help keep you more aerobic, decreasing the likelihood that you’ll go into oxygen debt—and build up lactic acid—when the effort really starts getting tough.
3) Keep your upper body relaxed and use your back muscles a bit by bobbing your body Slightly when you climb. Too much bobbing and moving around will cost you valuable energy when you want your momentum going forward—not sideways, or down—when you are going up.
4) When you stand, try shifting to a larger gear. Again, this might help keep you more aerobic. Higher cadences are more efficient and much easier on your muscles, but they can be costly aerobically. It’s not the same for everyone, so test out what cadence works best for you when you decide to get out of the saddle.
5) Train, train, train, train and train some more. When you train in the mountains or in the hills, try maintaining a cadence of between 80 and 100 revolutions per minute. This is a very efficient pedaling pace. Once your body accepts it as normal, you’ll feel more comfortable when the road starts pitching up.
1) Always look ahead where you want to go; the bike will follow. If you are on a twisting descent, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the road ahead so you can anticipate your next move. If you are surprised by the next turn, you won’t take the best line into the corner.
2) Weight your outside foot like a downhill skier; this will stabilize you. This decreases the likelihood that your bike will come out from under you if you travel over some rough pavement or an unstable surface like gravel or water.
3) Brake before the corner, not in the middle of it. You don’t want to lose valuable momentum when you could be putting distance between yourself and your competition. So it’s better to scrub off speed before you come into the corner.
4) Stay relaxed. Nervous riders on a descent tend to tighten up. In situations like this, all it takes is a sudden move or a tiny flinch and an accident will happen. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to slam on the brakes if things suddenly go wrong.
5) Get low. A lower center of gravity is more stable and more aerodynamically efficient on a descent. Bend your arms and try to get your torso closer to the top tube. But leave the lean-over-the-handlebars descending to the pros!