What's Your Rider Type - Are You A Climber?

What's Your Rider Type - Are You A Climber?

The Climber is the most romantic rider in cycling’s culture. The climber uses their unique style and body dynamics to ascend roads that most others fear. These featherweight riders seem almost as if they are dancing up the big climbs. They thrive on longer, mountainous ascents where the speed drops and drafting benefits are limited. Pacing and clearing lactate are vital. Due to their low weight, climbers are able to put in repeated accelerations to drop heavier rivals. Their high endurance levels enable them to recover quickly.

The climber is an artist, highly creative and usually the most introverted of the types. They are gifted people with all the talent in the world. Whether that talent translates into any real results is up to the individual. Some use their talents to become extremely successful, while others never sell a single piece of work.

Climbers are just fine riding alone and prefer to ride hills at their pace, their way. Each has a unique style. Preferring to plan their moves and react to terrain rather than other people, they race against the course and are not interested in other people’s opinions. They have a quiet confidence. Climbers express themselves through their bike, painting pictures on the climbs with their signature styles. In fact, you’ll rarely see two climbers with identical riding styles. Sometimes you will see climbers converting into a general classification rider, becoming the leaders of their team. These types of climbers resemble more of a musical artist rather than a painter—they’re more like a lead singer in a rock band: Think Axl Rose, Mick Jagger, and John Lennon. These riders like to put on a show. They are most comfortable when they are center stage with their bandmates surrounding them, putting on the performance of a lifetime. But there’s a lot of pressure that comes from being “the guy.”

When things don’t go their way, they can become emotional. They animate the race with their colorful personalities and flair. A lot of times you will see them hiring their friends as teammates or a family member on the team staff. Their entourage helps them feel supported, which is key to their success and sometimes failings. Climbers are arguably some of the most successful riders in the sport, but without a team of trustworthy people around they are predisposed to self-destruction.

Pro Rider Examples:

Egan Bernal, Alberto Contador, Katie Hall, Marco Pantani


Smaller stature



Physical Strengths:

Strong power-threshold zones

Strong endurance

Favors out of-the-saddle riding to develop power

Prefers explosive riding 

Able to change the rhythm to great effect 

Strong on all types of climbs

Strong multi-day recovery

Physical Weaknesses:

All time trials

Flat roads


Rough road

Sprint finishes

Mental Strengths:

High pain tolerance



Intense short and long focus

Strong mental endurance

 Mental Weaknesses:

Executes on impulse and emotion

Often overly driven on emotion

 Ideal Races/Events:

Mountaintop finish during stage races

Mountainous one-day events

Hill climbs

Ideal Race-Winning Strategy:

Attack, attack, attack! Climbers embrace pain and love to attack. They are the first to attack in the most difficult spot on a climb and then solo away. If that doesn’t work, they attack, follow, attack, follow, attack . . . until the elastic snaps.

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