As you know, human mind and body are connected and work together. The “mental” preparation, or state of mind, influences the way in which your body responds to various physical tasks. Your mind can “trick” your body into “believing” that something is more or less difficult than it really is. There have been known cases, when people recovered from physical pain just by applying proper mental meditation. Modern medicine and psychology have confirmed this phenomenon. How does it relate to cycling? Here is what I discovered:
On long climbs, when I look up and forward, and “see” the hill in front of me, my legs and my body get tired pretty fast, as if realizing the effort ahead and getting overwhelmed.
However, I noticed consistently, on many occasions, that when I look at the ground, say 5 to 10 feet in front of the bike, and the hill is not in sight, after a few seconds my mind starts registering this visually as riding on a flat, horizontal surface, and my body becomes less tired. I am pedaling as if I was riding on a level road and this is how it physically feels.
If you apply this technique, you will still see far enough to avoid running into obstacles or bumping into other bikes in front of you. But you should not see the horizon or any long stretch of the climb ahead. The “shorter” you see, the better. You don’t ride very fast, while climbing, so it is not really dangerous. When you only look at a small spot on the road in front of your bike, without relating it visually to the surrounding area, it does begin to look (and feel) like a level course. Miracle? Not really.
It’s a matter of PERCEPTION. Here is how it works:
Perception creates expectation. Your mind recalls similar experiences from the past and responds accordingly by creating a physical perception of effort. It is automatic. Cause and effect. Trick. Illusion that modifies the mental perception of the road in your mind, and then, translates it into a physical perception of effort in your body. It is all happening unconsciously.
I also noticed that it works better, when I turn my mind off, while pedalling and looking at the ground in front of the bike like a mindless dummy. Thinking does not help, maybe even interferes with the unconscious process that is running in the background.
And you have to avoid looking up and forward to see how far you are from the top of the hill. At all times, during the climb, you only “know” what is now, you don’t know what lies ahead.
This is serious, I am not kidding, it does work. I was able to climb long hills that I had had problems with before, and I was not tired at the top. My legs did not hurt. Actually, arriving at the top felt like an unexpected surprise.
Maybe you need to train yourself over a certain period of time to actually experience this phenomenon fully, but it unmistakingly is a fact. The feeling is so clear that it is impossible to deny it. Try it, maybe you will find it useful.
I have not tested it on really steep climbs, so I don’t know to what extend it would work there, but on long, medium grade climbs it does work every time. I also did not climb imagining that I am riding downhill, to see if the bike would roll all by itself, but I suspect that this would not work 🙂