Tips for climbing easy on the commute?

I’ve got a 15 km commute to work with a 4 km section at 4%. I don’t want to ruin myself before work or when I have a workout planned that day but I struggle to restrain myself, often hitting 95% of max HR. Am I overgeared (running 52/36 F, 11-28 back -FTP 238, 182cm, 75kg)? I do like spinning so it’s one thing i’m definitely looking to change.

Any tips out there for how to restrain myself on these climbs?

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Leave earlier and pedal slower, focus on your heart rate on the climb to keep it steady.

On the upside you have a fair descent going the opposite direction.

I have 10km commute and use it for practicing techniques talked about it in the TR sessions, such as body positions, rising up and down from the saddle.


I’d say you’re a bit overgeared if you want to spin without killing your legs. 50/34 on the front would see you right but you’d still have to mentally restrain yourself from powering up the climb. Would be easier to swap cassettes though if you’re using the same bike for racing/weekend blasts.

I think i’m going to swap to an 11/32 at the back see how that feels, much cheaper than going compact up front. And who knows, one day I might have the legs to switch the 11-28 back in.

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I switched my commuter over to a compact a few months ago, for this reason. My other consideration was that with commuting and training, I try to do the commute as z1-2 so my training load isn’t too high. I have one steep hill on the route, and it was impossible to get close to keep to the power targets on a 53/39.

You may also want to look into the 11-34 cassette Shimano makes if you are going to go 32. Maybe overkill for a 4% grade, but depends on how fast you want to spin.

Make sure your rear mech is long enough to accommodate your current chainrings with a 32 sprocket.

All this.

I’ve built into my commute a ~1km 4% hill (both ways). I could go on a flat route but use the hill to focus on my position, technique, and control. On the downhills I get to practice high RPM spinning.

I’ve got a single speed commuter (46x16 I think) and a HRM. I go slow enough to keep HR in Z2. It only takes me ~25% longer to get to work.

Enjoy the ride!

More a psychological tip - see it as a challenge to see how LOW you can keep your heart rate.

Can you pedal slowly enough to keep it below 85%? Great, then tomorrow see if you can keep it below 83. Gamify it.

Other tip is, breathe through your nose. If you have to breathe through your mouth, go easier. I’ve done 4-hour rides using this to control my power.

Oh, and instead of seeing someone overtake you and thinking “I need to catch him!” think “If this was a race, he wouldn’t even see my back wheel”.


If you have a 36 up front, I’d venture you have a compact, minimum chainring on a “standard” (130mm BCD) setup is 38. What crankset do you have, with what BCD/bolt pattern?

My suggestion is to carry the absolute minimum on your commute. I’d leave a stash of food and clothes in your place of work. Think of the training benefits of the climb, just take your time. I did a route like that for a decade.



The first time you’ll snort like a bull, get snot everywhere and at some point open your mouth.

The third time you’ll ride easy.

Probably not what you are looking for, but I got myself an e-bike for commuting (I’m in Europe, so the assist is limited to 25 km/h). I still get two (really) easy recovery spins per day, but I feel much fresher to hit it hard in training.



My e-bike is the best recovery tool I own. I have a hilly commute, 800ft gain in 13 mi. The e-bike comes out on days where I’m tired or lazy and just gets me spinningthe pedals. Those rides usually don’t crack 120bpm (IF 0.6) and is 1.5 hr of recovrlery riding and overall total of 3-6 hr of volume per week!


I’m a couple of kilos heavier and with a slightly higher ftp so we’re kinda similar, and I don’t think it’s just me but a 36x28 should have you spinning easy up a 4% grade?
I think someone’s alluded to it, maybe you’re just going to hard, maybe so you’re not late for work? If possible just resist the urge and give yourself wiggle room on the time it takes!

I’m running Shimano 105 52 / 36 up front. I was under the impression that was semi-compact.

It’s a nice idea but I think I’d rather spend my Cycle to Work Scheme money on a new Gravel / CX bike. Maybe when i’ve paid that off i’ll consider looking at e-bikes.

around 90 rpm and I would say i’m at RPE 8 (No power meter yet) by the end of the climb, hitting ~90% max HR. I think leaving myself more time and restraining myself so I don’t work the climbs might get me to and from work a bit fresher.

That’s a 110mm BCD with 4-bolts offset setup - there’s a 32T and a 34T chainring that fit, but with the 52 it’s a pretty big jump when shifting. In any case, you could turn that into a 50/34 or 50/32 for the cost of 2 chainrings. I see the 34 for 25 CAD on Amazon… The pair of chainrings is probably close to the price of a cassette.

A “semi-compact” is a compact setup with a large chainring >50T. It’s still a 110mm BCD crankset.

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Oh nice one. I didn’t really think of that as an option. Cheers!