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Steve Casimiro

If it involves fresh air and the threat of bodily harm, Steve Casimiro does it: skiing (50 days a year), mountain biking (120 days a year), surfing, skateboarding, climbing, backpacking. Makes you wonder how he has time to be a contributing editor for ADVENTURE (see his and Scott Willoughby's new guide to skis and snowboards) and to write and photograph for Outside, Men's Journal, Skiing, and Powder (where he was editor for nine years), among others.


Let me know when Steve posts answers!






What to do? Where to go? What to buy?

Steve Casimiro Answers Your Questions. E-mail Steve >>

Q:

I am a female about 5 feet 7 inches [170 centimeters] tall and weigh 117 pounds [44 kilograms]. I ride a dual suspension Univega 950 DS and I use clipless pedals. I have an extremely hard time gaining traction on steeply graded hills. I do stay seated as that helps give me more power and a shred more traction. I have also had both my front fork and my rear suspension adjusted on numerous occasions. Other than this I have no idea how I can really dig in and conquer those steep grades. If you have any suggestions they would be most appreciated.

—Chapel C., Chattanooga, Tennessee

You're not alone, girlie. Everyone has trouble on steeply graded hills. And you've done all the right stuff so far. But now try moving up on the saddle a little bit: Instead of sitting balanced on the saddle, shift one hip right onto the nose. This will give you more pedaling power without taking weight off the back wheel. Also, you didn't mention what kind of tires you're using or what trails you're riding, but tread and soil play a critical role. Where do you do the most riding? If you're spending the bulk of your time in places like Stringer's Ridge, where there's lots of gravel, nothing really works well, though an open tread pattern is best. If you're getting out of town to places like Signal Mountain, which has a soft, fine dirt, try a tire with a medium lug, slightly closer tread pattern. The folks at Litespeed bikes, just down the road in Ooltelwah, favor the IRC Mythos, but tire choice is intensely personal. I'm a huge fan of Tioga's versatile Factory DH and XC tires, but a lot of people find them heavy. Ask your favorite shop what they recommend.

Getting stronger will help, too. Are your riding pals making these climbs but you're not? The ability to clean a burly climb sometimes has less to do with technique or equipment and more to do with the ability to sustain intense effort. Ride more and ride harder. Practice. Make cleaning those climbs a goal—think of them as riddles to be figured out. Then just keep plugging away until you do.

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