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The Expert: If you want to learn to climb technical terrain--fast--just get on Georgia Gould's wheel. Or try to, anyway. Gould (LUNA) became the second woman ever (Juli Furtado was the first) to sweep the National Mountain Bike Series, often by blasting the competition right from the start. Simply put, Gould is fast, regardless of the terrain. And chances are, it's because she's so aware of what it takes to climb well: practice.
"I still have things I work on," Gould says, "and I think I always will. It's part of growing as a rider."
If you're interested in growing your uphill-riding prowess, follow Gould's advice for tackling the technical sections that often bring hard-charging climbers to a halt?as well as the best way to restart if you do get stalled on a climb. If it works for Gould, it's gotta be gold.
Roll Over Rocks: On rock-strewn climbs, shift into a harder gear. It will prevent you from spinning out, and provide extra power for clearing bigger obstacles, says Gould. "Plus," she says, "it boosts your speed, which keeps you from getting snagged on smaller stuff." The downside: The increased effort will spike your heart rate, making it tough to sustain for long periods. When the trail smoothes out, spin in an easier gear to ease your suffering.
Loft Over Logs: The trick here, says Gould, is learning to throw your bike forward. "I get my front wheel on top of the log first," she says, "and then push my momentum into the bike to get it over." Start from a seated position (again, in a big gear). As you approach the log, give your forward pedal a stab and lean back quickly but slightly to pull the wheel into the air and onto the log. As the front wheel hits, stand on the pedals as you push the bike forward with your hands and let the saddle move forward under you. The front wheel should just touch the log before proceeding; you'll end up over the log, pedaling from a standing position, slightly behind the saddle.
Groove Over Gravel: Use that same harder gear, but position your weight on the rear so it doesn't slip while keeping enough weight on the front that it doesn't wander. "I move forward on the saddle and drop my torso so I'm closer to the bar," Gould says. "You end up in this perched position that's halfway between seated and standing; it lets you keep pushing the pedals and still shift your weight."
Start Over Midclimb: So you had to put a foot down, and now you're trying to get going again. Keep it simple: Without changing gears, point the bike up the trail, sit on the saddle, clip one foot in for that first powerful stroke up, and go for it. Don't start from standing, and don't worry about clipping in the other foot. "If you're standing, there's a good chance you'll just spin out when you try to start," says Gould. As for the unclipped foot? "I don't even worry about it until I'm back in a rhythm and climbing smoothly."