Odd I thought, but he seemed very friendly so I laughed at/with him for being an evil spectator and thought that it takes all sorts.
And although I was in my lowest gear (having changed to a 1x system from a MTB triple I do occasionally find myself missing the bottom 3 gears on long steep hills! Especially when I’m in a rush to meet folks and I’d forgotten about the final hill!) I generally think I’ve got pretty good hillclimbing technique. My saddle is set to the correct height and front/aft position, I use all the handlebar positions available, and I pull up on my clips. It’s just my lungs and sometimes legs that tend to let me down a bit on speed.
But it turns out he’s a triathlon coach and suggests a tip that I’d never heard of before. To keep my heels low throughout the stroke rather than flexing the balls of my feet over the pedals. Apparently it uses the glutes and hamstrings rather than quads and calves. I was slightly sceptical, but figured it cost me nothing to try it. And it worked. Surprisingly well! In fact I almost feel I’ve regained one of my missing gears…
I might not yet be ready to tackle the Fred Whitton course (140miles and 7 lake district passes) in even 2 days let alone a single day but aim definitely one step nearer! So many thanks Ian the unexpected triathlon coach who offers altruistic advice to random strangers out riding 🙂