Your guide to riding in the mountains

How to pace your climb, make the most of your descent and plan some great routes on your trip to the mountains

Photo: Antton Miettinen

Heading to ride in the mountains for your first time this summer? Find out here what clothing you need, how to plan your rides and how not to run out of puff halfway up the climbs.

Strava Local Influencer Lindsey Stopp gives her tops tips for surviving in the mountains.


L'etape recce_Antton Miettinen_1[1] copy

Photo: Antton Miettinen

"It is worth researching the climb before you tackle it – find out how how long is it and which part of the climb is steepest? Go into it knowing what to expect so you can conserve energy for the right time.

"Some of the mountains can be steeper towards the top so don’t give everything before the toughest section. Climbs such as the Col du Glandon in the Alps are 20km in length so may take over a couple of hours to climb.

"Remember to keep eating and drinking and just get into a rhythm. Try and take your mind off it by riding with other people and have a chat, it makes it much easier when you’re distracted.  And don’t forget to look up, the scenery will be spectacular!"

>>> How to master a long climb


Photo: Jesse Wild

Photo: Jesse Wild
(Image credit: Jesse Wild)

"Don’t be a hero! It’s great fun to fly down the side of a mountain at a speed you thought unimaginable, but you need to get used to descending as there is a lot of skill and technique involved. Practice as much as you can before you go, though you will never get the full experience in the the UK.

"Try and follow someone who has more experience and someone you trust, it’s really helpful to follow someone else's line and you can watch what they’re doing, but don’t get too close!

"And don’t press on the brakes too hard, if you feel the need to brake then do so gently and before you get into the corner.

"Watch out for potholes, gravel and marmots and be safe!"

>>> How to use your brakes properly

Are there many places to stop and grab a coffee or do you need to bring all your supplies?

alpine challenge

Photo: Hot Chillee

(Image credit: hot chillee)

"Some of the bigger climbs have a coffee shop / restaurant on the way up or at the top and you may find the odd water fountain if you’re passing through a village, but it’s always best to go prepared.

"If you need your coffee, have one before you leave and take enough energy bars to keep you going throughout the day incase you don’t find anywhere to stop.

"And don’t run out of water half way up a climb, fill your bottles before you head off as it can get very hot on the side of a mountain and your body will be working hard.

>>> This is what you have to eat to compete in the Tour de France

Tips for clothing


Photo: Dan Gould

"Even if it’s sunny, take warm clothing for the top of the mountain and for the descent as it can feel very cold. Arm warmers and a gilet should be fine but if it’s cold when you set out, then  you might want to consider knee warmers and gloves.

"And if it’s raining, take a good rain jacket and shoe covers. The weather can change very quickly so be prepared.

How far to ride

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Photo: Antton Miettinen

"When route planning, what distance do you recommend and what’s the best way of plotting your route? For example a 50 mile ride over there will be a lot tougher and longer than a 50 mile ride out into Surrey.

"It depends on your level of fitness and ability. A 50 mile ride out to Kent is harder than a 50 mile ride through Essex as there are more hills.

"Strava is a great way to plan and build your route around the sort of ride you want to have – the Heatmap function is really useful to find out the most popular routes in the area."

>>> Five invaluable tips to help you step up from riding 60 to 100 miles

Are there any climbs in the UK that can help you prepare for the climbs in the Alps?

"We don’t have any that match the Alps for distance, but the UK does offer a variety of climbs. Wales is good for longer, steeper climbs. Take a look at the top 100 climbs list and basically go and ride as many hills as you can before you go, the steeper the better!"

Lindsey Stopp is a Strava Local Influencer for London. To find out more about Lindsey and the other London Local Influencers click here.

Cycling Weekly's guide to climbing La Toussuire

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