How To Ride Your Bike Up Mountains Like Tour de France Sensation Sepp Kuss

Otto I. Eovaldi
Sepp Kuss of Team Jumbo-Visma pictured in motion through phase 15 of the 108th version of the Tour de France biking race, from Ceret to Andorre-la-Vieille (191,3 km) in Andorra, Sunday 11 July 2021. Photo by David Stockman/Belga/Sipa Usa by using AP Photos


The Durango indigenous became the initial American to acquire a phase at the Tour de France in 10 decades last month. Ahead of he places his climbing prowess on exhibit all over again at La Vuelta in Spain, we questioned his childhood coach how he realized to electricity up hills.

Chad Cheeney remembers the instant he realized Sepp Kuss was distinctive.

Kuss was competing in a junior mountain biking globe championship, and Cheeney, together with other members of Durango Devo, a nonprofit mountain biking software he began in 2006, were being next Kuss’ progress on a laptop. They could not see visuals of Kuss basically pedaling, but they viewed as his assigned number on the monitoring website went from 150th place—his starting off position—to someplace in the top 50, methodically passing other bikers what appeared like every single number of seconds.

“He had begun at the again of the pack, but his lap periods ended up in the leading 15 fellas for the race,” Cheeney states. “All of us had been like holy….this child is a climber.”

Kuss, even though, would go on to turn into much more than just a superior climber. He is now one of the very best at powering up large mountains in the globe, which he proved in dramatic manner by getting to be the 1st American to acquire a stage at the Tour de France in a decade. The 26-yr-old’s victory arrived last month during a mountainous trek that finished in Andorra.

The effectiveness remaining Cheeney in tears. “I was at a different event. I just commenced crying behind my shades when I read,” he claims. “It’s so awesome that this kid is this sort of a excellent human—and he is the one that received.”

The Durango Devo coach was a single of the to start with people to educate Kuss on a bicycle, starting in sixth grade. Kuss’ father, Dolph, was the coach for the U.S. Nordic snowboarding team, but mountain biking grew to become his son’s desired sport, with Cheeney main him and a cadre of other children on two-wheelers in and around the city.

The burgeoning star would go on to gain three national collegiate mountain bicycle titles at the University of Colorado Boulder ahead of formally trading in his moutain bike for a highway just one all around 2016. Following winning a stage at the Redlands Classic that similar year, he signed a pro contract. Continued good results for the United States national staff in Europe drew the interest of the world’s best groups, such as the squad he at this time rides for, Jumbo-Visma.

But even after mastering and eventually locating fame on a skinny-exhausted bike, the roots of Kuss’ achievements lie in the hills of Colorado. In advance of his visual appearance in La Vuelta, a major intercontinental race, which takes spot in Spain commencing August 14, we asked Cheeney about his very best tips for climbing the highest peaks like Kuss—whether you’re on a mountain or highway bicycle.

Hill Searching

To start off, Cheeney indicates obtaining a significant hill or path close to you to see what your baseline stage of skill is. It can even be a stretch on a town street that you ride up and down a number of periods just to get a sense for your bicycle, as nicely as your degree of energy and endurance. Cheeney suggests part of the fun of having into climbing—and biking in general—is seeking out those routes. “You can discover superior coaching off the standard routes,” he claims. “You just have to place in a very little additional time discovering for it on your GPS or the online.”

Interval Training

If you are wanting to just take items to the subsequent level, Cheeney says to start out carrying out eight-minute intervals. “Start with a 10-moment warmup,” he says. “Then go 8 minutes at your toughest, just like all in. Then devote some time recovering until eventually you can converse, tell a tale to a mate. In excess of time, you can shorten that recovery and function on acquiring faster.”

Make a Game of It

When Kuss was coming up in the Durango Devo application, Cheeney favored to have the team’s training be competition-based. “Instead of on the lookout at a stopwatch and obtaining them do laps, we could arrive up with these minor mini-competitions to do all around town,” Cheeney claims. “Even just minute-or-underneath segments include in some pleasurable and make factors fewer of a slog.” You can liven up your very own instruction by inviting mates together for some fantastic-natured rivalry and creating worries that assistance you press through complicated climbs—and will make each individual of you greater, much too.

Locating Power off the Bike

Cheeney states the a person matter that many hardcore bikers fail to remember to do is do the job non-biking muscle groups. He endorses operating in routines that involve some lateral motion, like tennis, basketball, or volleyball. “I am biking all the time,” he says, “and that just offers me this linear muscle power. That’s how you get hunchbacks and all sorts of [knee and thigh tissue] challenges.”

Shane Monaghan

Shane Monaghan

Shane writes and edits tales for and manages 5280’s day-to-day newsletter, The Community.

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