Milton Tri Bike Course – 6th Line Hill

I’m really enjoying mixing short intense rides with long steady rides this year.  Today was a short all-out-effort ride on the Milton Triathlon bike course (ROUTE MAP) which included my nightmare 6th Line hill.  After last year‘s experience up this hill, I didn’t plan on revisiting the horror until the weather gets hot (not just warm) this year.  Too bad patience is not my strong suit.  Today reached a high of 5C; complete with full-fingered gloves, leg warmers, 2 baselayers, a long sleeved jersey, and butterflies in my stomach all morning, I braved my fear once again.


My freshly tuned-up bike was so smooth.  A quick shout-out to Skiis & Biikes for a fantastic job.  I brought Garneau in last week for a tune-up and to drop the stem.  The shifting was spectacular and they even cleaned my wheels, rims, and frame without asking.  I am indeed a very satisfied customer.  I’ll be dropping the stem by another spacer the next time I go since I didn’t feel much “slicing the air” difference yet.

Instead of riding a long haul to Milton from home like last year, pedaling began at Milton to shorten the distance.  With only 30km ahead of me, I owed it to myself to go hard without reserving any ounce of energy.  The hill was as menacing as I vividly remembered and my legs quivered as I approached it.  As I climbed, my breathing became Darth Vader-like, all my focus turned to my upstrokes as my gearing shifted lower and lower.  I purposely saved a few gears for the top part of the hill as my secret weapon for survival.  Once at the top, I learned from my mistake last year.  Rather than stopping & hunching over the bike like death and resulting in jello legs, I spun at high cadence to spin out the acid.  That felt much better and my body recovered much quicker.

With this hill behind me, I was left with rolling hills where I practiced some out-of-the-saddle climbs.  I still couldn’t balance through an entire uphill but I’ll get it one day.  It wasn’t until 20km when I truly felt fatigue but every time my speed dropped below 25kph, I panicked and tried to pick up the pace.  Near the end of the ride was the reward – the exhilarating feeling of zooming down the hill I feared.  I’m struggling to understand why I couldn’t hit last year’s 67kph down the hill; I only achieved 55kph and my hands were on the drops with body as flat as I could!  On the final homestretch, I tried sprinting but my legs were thick and all I could muster was maintaining as fast of a cadence as I could.


What a terrific ride!!  I was happy with my pace and hope to retry this route later in the season to beat this time.  With my lack of soreness post-ride, I know I can push myself harder next time.

Thanks to my buddy Garry for filming and editing the video, both you and I can view your author in action for the 1st time.  It’s certainly the best way to observe riding form.  Enjoy!

If anyone has good climbing tips that work for you (other than, “ride more hills!”), please share!!

12 thoughts on “Milton Tri Bike Course – 6th Line Hill

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  1. I think you did it well. Staying in the saddle at a high cadence is a good way to climb, especially if you haven’t climbed that much. I wouldn’t recommend out of saddle climbing until you get a nice feel for in the saddle. You can easily tire yourself and burn up toward the end of the hill. Find a pace/cadence that you are comfortable with, then try to gradually increase power while keeping your heart rate from getting too high.

    And ride more hills. Sorry. 🙂
    Seriously, the more you climb, the easier it is to get a feel for how your body handles that sort of effort. You get better with practice.

    1. Awesome, tips from the climbing master himself! 🙂 I’m definitely an on-the-saddle kinda gal, even in spin class, that’s what my focus is. The out-of-saddle for me is when I need the extra oomph to get over a real steep section or when I’m completely out of momentum on the saddle. So learning OOS for me is my key to survival. And yes, ride more hills …… definitely!

  2. Aaron is right – stay in the saddle and keep your rev’s up around 90 rpm on the small chain ring. This will engage the hip flexer muscles – very important. Keep your heart rate in zone 3 (85 – 90% of max) and once over the top recover in zone 2 Aerobic (75 – 85% of max). Keep increasing these intervals to develop your recovery speed and overall fitness.

    1. Thanks Hugh. You’re absolutely right, my recovery speed has definitely improved from staying aerobic at the top. As I went on the route & my lungs open up further, recovery becomes a lot faster as well.

  3. Glad you had a good ride. I find getting out of the saddle SO helpful – you get to use a different set of muscles, so keep at it, it’s worth it. What’s helped me a lot are squats & lunges, and the occasional spin class with lots of out-of-saddle work. Hope this helps 🙂 Oh, also, arm/shoulder strength helps with the balance.

    1. I want to eventually look like a pro as I power up near the top of the hill. Yes, strength training – I’ve completely slipped off the wagon. I need to get back to it. It was quite apparent from the video my lack of core stability. Thanks for the tips! I guess your bodypump class helps a lot in this respect!

        1. Guilty as charged. 🙂
          Brittany is right. Strength training has helped me a lot with climbing, and the stronger those muscles get, the easier it will be to climb out of the saddle. I did squats, leg press, leg extensions and a few others.

        2. Thanks guys … I shall start returning to some strength work. I find with squats though, I’ve usually burned my quads out with cycling already …. they are “ouch”!

  4. I love reading about your rides since I plan on riding semi-seriously for the first time this summer! My bike needs a tune up and the snow needs to melt. But I’m ready! I’m not sure about starting conquering uphills though lol

    1. Good for you!! Last year was my 1st year with races & I was struggling at the end of last year whether this race mentality takes the fun out of cycling or not? I actually started out this year focusing on upping the mileage, then I noticed my focus started to drift. I find with races or at least give yourself a somewhat serious “training” approach, it keeps me accountable and forces me to work on my weaknesses. Can’t wait to read about your rides once the snow goes away for good!

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