Hue, who has given me permission to re-use his tips on my blog, recently sent out the following tip on cycling in hills.
The number one technique you can use to make hills easier is to attack them. What does that mean? Very often hills come in multiples. There will be a climb, then a short descent, then another climb. Even "flat" roads often have rises and falls. If you are like most people, you ride to the top of the hill, breathe a sigh of relief, and coast down-hill, trying to rest before the next hill. This is a formula for disaster. Every hill will feel like lifting weights, and every rise will be demoralizing. Instead, do the following:
1. At the top of the hill, keep pedaling as you go crest. Don't stop.
2. Put your bike in a heavier gear and pedal all the way down, gaining speed.
3. Keep that speed going as you ride into the next hill.
4. In the middle of the next hill, as you feel yourself slowing down, shift to a lighter gear and spin up to the top.
This is called attacking hills. You pedal on the down-hill to gain momentum. You keep pedaling on the up-hill. As your legs slow down, you shift to a lighter gear to keep your momentum going.
Hue, you're asking, if I wanted to screw this up, what would I do? You would not pedal on the downhill. You would coast. Coasting on the downhill lets your legs get stiff, it kills rotational momentum, and it forces your body to start a physical action (pedaling) at the same time you are losing momentum (going up-hill.) Coasting downhill is so sweet, I know. It feels like a reward for all your hard effort. But believe me - you pay for it on the next up-hill.