I'm kicking around the idea of riding the Curadmír in the spring of 2015 (almost 600km over 3 days across Northern Ireland), a ride that would obviously have a lot of elevation changes in it (~2000m/day). A year is a lot of time to prepare for it, except for one small problem.

I live in the Netherlands.

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A country almost entirely flat and almost entirely below sea level. The biggest hill within 250km of my home is a highway overpass.

Short of getting on a train to the Kapelmuur every other weekend from October to May, how would you recommend I train for riding hills without, you know, riding hills?

  • 1
    Nice question. I have much the same problem.
    – alex
    Apr 23, 2014 at 0:39
  • Try grinding a higher gear ratio :-) ie. 52x13 (that's the highest gear ratio on my steel bike), 50x12 (if you have a compact crank). Apr 23, 2014 at 1:49

5 Answers 5


Intervals. Lots of intervals. I had a similar problem when training for the Seattle-To-Vancouver ride while living in southern Michigan. We have hills up north and I took a few trips there before the ride, but it really wasn't enough to reduce the suck. This year, I've taken to doing tons of intervals with a regimented training program. In order to keep myself honest, I've been using my bike in a trainer with trainerroad. The measurable progress is rewarding and knowing when I am slacking off is incredibly motivating.

  • 3
    I'd add that resistance is resistance and power is power. It doesn't really make much difference if it's wind, hills or whatever that's slowing you down.
    – alex
    Apr 23, 2014 at 1:03
  • The RSVP? Nice, I rode the STP (Seattle-to-Portland) back in 2005. Never got around to the RSVP though I've heard it's incredible.
    – Scott
    Apr 23, 2014 at 6:31
  • There are really no "wrong" answers to my question but I'll mark yours as "correct" since you answered first. :)
    – Scott
    Apr 23, 2014 at 6:33
  • @alex - are you suggesting a turbo-trainer or a drag chute? Or perhaps more prosaically a trailer full of rocks?
    – Chris H
    Apr 23, 2014 at 14:18
  • There are other methods of resistance you could use. I've seen runners dragging old tires behind them for added resistance. I'm sure you could do the same on a bike. Although you might want to do this on an empty road or parking lot as it would make the bike hard to maneuver. I would have concerns about a drag chute getting caught in the wheel or gears.
    – Kibbee
    Apr 23, 2014 at 15:48

Although The Netherlands is pretty flat (highest point 321m in southern Limburg), there certainly are some hills, even closer to Amsterdam:

  • The Holterberg is a short, but decently steep climb in the Sallandseheuvelrug, which is a nice area to cycle in anyways.
  • The Veluwe nature area is relatively hilly, with the Posbank hill having a steep climb from the south side (if I recall correctly).
  • Nice, those aren't too far away from me. Will definitely give those a try. Thanks!
    – Scott
    Apr 27, 2014 at 15:27

If it's not too far, try Limburg and the region around Aachen in Germany. While you won't find hour-long ascents there, riding a lot of smaller hills up and down will keep you far more fit than riding one big ascent a day.

  • I live right in Amsterdam so those spots aren't super close, but I have friends in Maastricht I can stay with so it's not entirely out of the question to get down there occasionally.
    – Scott
    Apr 23, 2014 at 6:32

Riding into a stiff headwind is pretty similar to climbing a steep hill and a lot more demoralizing. My guess is that you've got lot's of wind.

Find a loop where you're doing 20-30 minutes into a 20kph headwind and you'll physically ready for hill climbing. What will be hard to simulate is the mental parts of pacing yourself correctly over the whole climb. A headwind tends to be a constant steady effort, whereas most hills vary in grade and you need to learn to pace yourself on the steepest parts. If you're doing long days in hilly country, even just a short hard effort early in the ride can affect the whole day. You've only got so many matches, try and keep at least one or two in reserve.


I cycle a lot everyday. As the previous one said, try going to Limburg, or exercise a few hours in the Mergelgrotten around Limburg, or try some nature areas around Braband or Drente, which ever is the closest.

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