Mastering Gravel Climbs in Vietnam: Training and Technique
Gravel cycling in Vietnam offers a unique blend of adventure, challenge, and cultural immersion. With its diverse topography, you're likely to encounter everything from steep, challenging climbs to rolling hills. Mastering gravel climbs requires not just physical strength and endurance but also smart training and the right techniques. Here’s your guide to training and mastering gravel climbs in Vietnam’s picturesque yet demanding landscapes.

Developing a Training Plan

Increase Your Base Mileage

Begin with building a solid foundation of endurance by gradually increasing your base mileage. Long, slow rides improve aerobic fitness, crucial for tackling extended climbs.

Integrate Interval Training

Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine. Short bursts of high effort followed by recovery periods improve cardiovascular health and increase your power output, essential for the sharp inclines you'll encounter.

Focus on Climbing Sessions

Dedicate specific training days to simulate climbing conditions. If you don’t have natural hills nearby, use a stationary bike set to higher resistance, or seek out bridges and overpasses.

Strength Training

Gravel climbing demands not only cardiovascular fitness but also lower body and core strength. Incorporate strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, and planks, into your weekly routine to build muscle endurance.

Practice Loaded Rides

Gravel bikes in Vietnam are often loaded with gear for long distances. Train with the added weight of water bottles, tools, and any equipment you plan to carry to acclimate to the extra effort required for climbing.

Trek Bikes, Checkpoints
Trek Bikes, Checkpoints

Mastering Climbing Techniques

Pacing is Key

The secret to efficient climbing is finding a sustainable pace. Start at a moderate pace to conserve energy, allowing for a stronger finish. Monitor your heart rate to stay within an aerobic zone that you can maintain.

Optimize Your Position

On moderate climbs, remain seated to maintain traction and conserve energy. For steeper inclines, standing up can provide extra power but use it sparingly as it increases energy expenditure. Adjust your bike fit to ensure comfort and efficiency in both seated and standing positions.

Gear Wisely

Use gears effectively by shifting early to maintain a steady cadence. Too high a gear can sap your energy quickly, while too low a gear may not be power-efficient. Practice shifting gears smoothly on varying inclines to find what works best for you.

Focus on Breathing

Maintain a regular, deep breathing pattern to ensure your muscles are well-oxygenated. Rhythmic breathing helps also in maintaining a consistent effort and pacing.

Mental Strategies

Gravel climbing is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. Break the climb into smaller, manageable sections, and focus on reaching one segment at a time. Encouraging self-talk and visualizing the summit can also provide a mental boost when the climb gets tough.

Recovery and Nutrition

Post-ride recovery is crucial, especially after intense climbing sessions. Adequate protein intake supports muscle repair, while carbohydrates replenish energy stores. Stay hydrated and consider electrolyte supplements to replace salts lost through sweating. Prioritize sleep and consider gentle recovery activities like yoga or foam rolling to maintain flexibility and reduce soreness.


Conquering Vietnam's gravel climbs is an ambitious goal that requires dedicated preparation in both training and technique. By building your endurance, focusing on specific climbing workouts, and mastering the art of pacing and positioning, you'll enhance your climbing efficiency. Remember, the essence of gravel cycling lies in embracing the challenge and enjoying the journey—each climb rewards you with not just scenic vistas but also a sense of accomplishment and progress towards becoming a more versatile gravel cyclist.

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