Climbing Steep Inclines On a Bike: Essential Guide

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As a passionate cyclist, I know firsthand the challenges of climbing steep inclines. It takes a lot of practice and dedication to build the necessary strength, technique, and mental focus to conquer these obstacles.

When climbing hills and steep inclines, it’s crucial to maintain proper form and use the right gear to avoid losing traction and momentum. Seated climbing and utilizing a smooth pedal stroke can help distribute your effort more evenly, preventing your rear wheel from slipping.

In this guide, I will provide essential tips, techniques, and training strategies to help you master the art of climbing steep inclines. From building upper body strength to choosing the right gear, you’ll learn everything you need to know to tackle even the steepest sections with confidence.

Key Takeaways:

  • Climbing steep inclines requires proper form and the right gear to maintain traction and momentum.
  • Seated climbing and a smooth pedal stroke can help distribute effort evenly.
  • This guide will provide tips, techniques, and training strategies to help you master the art of climbing steep inclines.

Why Climbing Steep Inclines Matters

As a cyclist, climbing steep inclines is a challenge that cannot be ignored. It is not just about conquering an uphill battle, but it is also about building your physical and mental strength. When you climb hills, you build endurance, power, and technique. However, when you climb steep inclines, you push yourself beyond your limits, and you become a stronger and more skilled cyclist.

Climbing steep inclines requires a different skill set than regular hill climbing. You need to understand the challenges, build upper body strength, master the climbing technique, and fuel your body properly. If you are not well-prepared, you can quickly lose traction, momentum, and confidence. Climbing steep inclines requires focus, determination, and a positive mindset.

When you climb hills regularly, you become a better cyclist, and you challenge yourself to reach new heights. Climbing steep inclines takes this challenge to a new level and opens up a whole new world of cycling opportunities. You can explore new routes, conquer new summits, and achieve new personal records. Climbing steep inclines is not just a physical challenge, but it is also a mental challenge. It requires discipline, perseverance, and a desire to push yourself beyond your limits.

So, why does climbing steep inclines matter? Because it is a challenge that will make you stronger, both physically and mentally. It is an opportunity to explore new cycling adventures, to test your limits, and to build a better version of yourself. So, embrace the challenge, train hard, and climb to new heights.

Understanding the Challenges of Climbing Steep Inclines

When it comes to cycling, climbing steep inclines is one of the most challenging aspects. It requires a combination of physical and mental strength, endurance, and technique.

Steep climbs can vary in length and gradient, but they all have one thing in common: they demand a lot from your body. The effort required to maintain a steady, efficient climb up a steep hill can quickly exhaust even the most seasoned cyclist.

To prepare for climbing steep inclines, it’s important to understand the specific challenges you’ll face. First and foremost is the increased resistance you’ll encounter as you pedal uphill. This resistance comes from both gravity and wind resistance, which can make even a short climb feel like an eternity.

Another challenge is maintaining traction on the rear wheel. As the gradient increases, your weight shifts forward, which can cause the rear wheel to lose traction and spin out. To combat this, you’ll need to rely on a combination of proper technique and equipment, such as maintaining a consistent pedal stroke and using a gear that allows you to maintain power without losing momentum.

Perhaps the most significant challenge, however, is mental. Climbing steep inclines requires focus, discipline, and mental toughness. It’s important to stay positive, both in your self-talk and in the company you keep. Surround yourself with supportive, experienced cyclists who can offer encouragement and advice.

By understanding and preparing for the challenges of climbing steep inclines, you’ll be better equipped to tackle even the toughest of hill climbs.

Building Upper Body Strength for Climbing Steep Inclines

When it comes to conquering steep inclines, it’s not just about leg strength. Upper body strength is also crucial, as it helps with balance, stability, and power output.

As a copywriting journalist who has covered many cycling events, I have seen firsthand the importance of building upper body strength for climbing steep inclines. Here are some tips:

Exercise Muscle Groups
Push-ups Chest, shoulders, triceps
Planks Core, shoulders, back
Pull-ups Back, biceps, shoulders
Dips Triceps, chest, shoulders

These exercises can be done with just body weight, or with added weight for more resistance. Aim to do 3 sets of each exercise, with 10-12 reps per set, 2-3 times a week.

In addition to these exercises, focus on maintaining good posture on the bike and engaging your core muscles. This will not only help with upper body strength, but also with breathing and overall power output.

Mastering the Technique of Climbing Steep Inclines

Climbing steep inclines can be daunting for many cyclists, but with the right technique, it can become a challenging but enjoyable part of your rides. The key to a successful climb is to maintain a steady pace and avoid losing momentum. Here are some essential techniques to help you master the art of climbing steep inclines.

Seated Climbing Technique

One of the most effective techniques for climbing is seated climbing. This involves staying seated on your saddle, rather than standing, which can cause you to lose traction and tire more quickly. When climbing in a seated position, make sure to keep your weight centered over the bike and use your glutes to power your pedal stroke. Focus on keeping a steady cadence and avoid bouncing on the saddle, which can cause you to lose momentum.

Pedal Stroke

The key to an efficient pedal stroke is to use a circular motion, rather than just pushing down on the pedals. This engages more muscles and helps distribute the effort across your legs, reducing fatigue. During the climb, focus on pulling up on the pedals as you push down, using your hamstrings to generate power.

Rear Wheel Traction

Ensure that your rear wheel maintains traction during the climb by shifting the majority of your weight over the rear wheel. This will give you more control and help you maintain traction on steep sections. Additionally, avoid sudden or jerky movements that can cause your rear wheel to lose traction and cause you to lose momentum.

By mastering these techniques, you can tackle even the steepest hills with confidence and enjoy the challenge of climbing steep inclines.

Mastering the Technique of Climbing Steep Inclines

When it comes to climbing steep inclines, technique is everything. Proper technique not only helps you climb more efficiently, but it can also prevent injuries and make the climb safer. Here are some essential techniques that can help you climb steep inclines with ease:

Climbing Technique

When climbing steep inclines, it’s important to maintain proper form and posture. You’ll want to shift your weight towards the front of the bike, keeping your elbows bent and your upper body relaxed. This posture helps you generate more power and maintain traction. Focus on maintaining a consistent cadence and using a smooth pedal stroke throughout the climb. When seated climbing, keep your weight centered over the bike to avoid losing traction. When standing on the pedals, engage your core to help you maintain balance and control.

Power Output

To climb steep inclines effectively, you need to generate a high power output. To do this, try shifting into a lower gear before reaching the steepest section of the climb. This helps you maintain momentum and prevent losing speed or traction. You can also try using a bigger gear when climbing longer inclines to generate more power. However, avoid using too big a gear too soon, as this can lead to muscle fatigue and a loss of power.

Lose Traction and Lose Momentum

One of the biggest challenges when climbing steep inclines is losing traction or momentum. To prevent this, keep your weight centered over the rear wheel, and avoid standing up on the pedals too early in the climb. If you do lose traction, focus on maintaining a smooth pedal stroke and shift your weight forward to regain traction. If you lose momentum, try shifting into a lower gear and maintaining your cadence to build momentum again.

By mastering the technique of climbing steep inclines and focusing on generating a high power output, you can climb hills with ease and confidence. Practice these techniques on both short and long climbs to build your endurance and strength. With time and practice, climbing steep inclines will become second nature!

Training Strategies for Climbing Steep Inclines

When it comes to climbing steep inclines, there are no shortcuts–it takes hard work and dedication. But with the right training strategies, you can build the strength and endurance needed to tackle even the toughest climbs.

Aerobic capacity is key for climbing, as it allows you to maintain a steady effort over a long period. Focus on building endurance with longer rides and interval training that incorporates climbs. Training your muscle groups can also make a huge difference. Incorporate high-intensity intervals and hill repeats to build muscle and improve power output.

The big gear method is a popular training strategy for steep inclines, as it targets the muscles used in climbing. Find a steep incline and ride in your biggest gear, focusing on maintaining a steady cadence and keeping your heart rate up. This can help prepare your body for steep sections where you may lose momentum if you shift down too quickly.

Shorter climbs can also be incorporated into your training to build strength and endurance. Find a gradient that challenges you and incorporate these climbs into your regular rides. Over time, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your climbing ability.

Training Strategies for Climbing Steep Inclines Benefits
Aerobic capacity Improved endurance and ability to maintain effort over long periods.
Muscle groups Increased power output and improved efficiency in climbing.
Big gear method Targets climbing muscles and prepares the body for steep sections.
Shorter climbs Builds strength and endurance for steep inclines.

Remember to always listen to your body and take rest days when needed. Overtraining can lead to injury and slow down progress. Be patient and consistent with your training, and you’ll soon be conquering even the steepest of climbs!

Choosing the Right Gear for Climbing Steep Inclines

When it comes to climbing steep inclines, having the right gear is essential. Not only does it help you conquer steep sections with ease, but it also ensures that you ride safely and effectively. Below, I’ve outlined some key points to consider when choosing your gear for steep hill climbs.

Understanding Gear Ratios and Their Importance

Gear ratio is the relationship between the number of teeth on the front and rear gears of your bike. On a climb, lower gear ratios are necessary to help maintain your momentum and power output. The lowest gear on your bike is typically the combination of the smallest chainring on the front and the largest cog on the rear cassette. This will allow you to pedal at a higher cadence, meaning you’ll spend less energy and avoid muscle fatigue.

On steep sections, you’ll want to shift into the lowest gear possible to ensure you have enough power to get up the hill. It’s important to note that you should always try to shift before the climb gets too steep, as shifting under load could cause your chain to skip or even fall off.

Choosing the Right Bike for the Job

If you’re planning on doing a lot of hill climbs, it’s worth investing in a bike that’s specifically designed for that purpose. Climbing bikes are typically lighter and have smaller gears to make tackling steep inclines easier. Some bikes also have wider tires, which can provide better traction on loose or slippery terrain.

Consider Your Riding Style

Your gear choice will also depend on your riding style. If you prefer to stay seated while climbing, you’ll need lower gears to maintain your momentum. If you like to stand up and pedal, you’ll need higher gears that provide more resistance. It’s worth experimenting with different gear ratios to find what works best for you.

Using the Right Technique

Your gear choice is only one part of the equation. You also need to use the right technique when climbing steep inclines. Seated climbing is the most efficient way to climb, as it helps you conserve energy and maintain your momentum. You should focus on maintaining a steady pedal stroke and avoid jerky movements that could cause your rear wheel to lose traction and your momentum to falter.


Choosing the right gear for climbing steep inclines is important, but it’s only one part of the equation. You also need to use the right technique, choose the right bike, and consider your riding style. With the right approach, you can conquer even the steepest hills with ease and enjoy the thrill of the climb.

Techniques for Mental Preparation and Focus

When it comes to climbing steep inclines, mental preparation and focus are just as important as physical training. As I tackle the toughest hills, I know that staying mentally strong will help me stay focused and successful, even when my muscles are screaming for me to stop. To help you develop the mental resilience needed for mastering steep climbs, here are some tips:

Set achievable goals and focus on them

Before taking on a steep incline, I always set reasonable goals for myself. For example, reaching a certain point on the climb, or keeping a consistent cadence throughout. Once I set these goals, I make sure to keep them at the forefront of my mind, focusing only on achieving them. This helps me stay motivated and prevents me from being overwhelmed by the difficulty of the climb.

Stay positive and visualize success

Positivity is key when climbing steep inclines. Instead of thinking about the pain, focus on the rewards of completing the climb. Visualize yourself reaching the top, feeling strong and accomplished. This helps me stay in the right mindset and prevents negative thoughts from taking over.

Control your breathing and stay aerobic

Proper breathing is crucial for staying focused and calm while climbing. I take deep breaths and focus on my form, ensuring that I’m staying aerobic and not pushing myself too hard too fast. By maintaining a steady pace and conserving energy, I’m able to stay focused and push through the tough sections of the climb.

Practice mental exercises off the bike

Developing mental resilience isn’t just about training on the bike. I also incorporate mental exercises into my daily routine, such as meditation and visualization. By practicing these techniques regularly, I’m better equipped to handle the mental challenges of steep climbs.

Remember, climbing steep inclines is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. By staying focused, positive, and mentally prepared, you can conquer even the toughest hills and enjoy the ride of your life. So, keep these tips in mind and stay strong!

Importance of Proper Fueling and Hydration

As I tackle steep inclines, fueling and hydration are two crucial factors that I must consider to maintain my performance and ensure my safety. Climbing hills can put a lot of stress on the body, and proper nutrition and hydration can help me avoid oxygen debt, maintain my aerobic capacity and power output, and avoid bonking altogether.

Climbing steep inclines can be a long and arduous process, and maintaining proper energy levels is crucial. To avoid losing momentum and power output when climbing hills, it is essential to fuel the body adequately. I find that eating a balanced and nutritious meal 2-3 hours before the ride helps keep my energy levels stable. If I need to eat right before the ride, then I opt for light, easily digestible food such as fruit, yogurt, or a granola bar. During the climb, I make it a point to snack on foods that are easy to eat and carry, such as energy bars, gels, and sports drinks. These foods provide my body with quick and efficient energy that helps me power through the climb.

On long rides, dehydration becomes a major concern. Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and dizziness, among other symptoms. Proper hydration during the climb can help me avoid these symptoms altogether. I always carry a water bottle with me and sip on it frequently during the climb. If the weather is hot and humid, I make sure to take in more fluids than usual to replace the fluids I lose through sweat. In addition to water, I also carry an electrolyte replacement drink to help replenish the electrolytes that I lose through sweat.

When climbing hills, it is crucial to stay focused and maintain a level of endurance. Proper fueling and hydration help me achieve these goals. By keeping my energy levels up and maintaining proper hydration, I am ensuring that my body can perform at its best and avoid hitting any physical limits that can arise from not fueling and hydrating correctly.

Strategies for Conquering Steep Inclines in a Group

Group riding can be an excellent way to tackle steep inclines, as it provides both motivation and support to help you stay strong and focused. Here are some key strategies to keep in mind:

Stay in Aerobic Zone

When climbing steep inclines in a group, it’s important to keep your effort level in the aerobic zone. This will help you conserve energy and avoid burning out too quickly. You should be able to carry on a conversation with your fellow riders without feeling out of breath. If you find yourself struggling to keep up, drop back and regroup at a slower pace.

Communicate with Your Group

Effective communication is key when tackling steep inclines in a group. Make sure you are clear about your intentions and communicate any changes in speed or direction to your fellow riders. This will help everyone stay safe and avoid collisions.

Plan Ahead

Prior to tackling a steep incline with a group, take the time to plan and prepare. This includes assessing the terrain, selecting the right gear, and fueling up with proper nutrition and hydration. It’s also a good idea to establish a group strategy, such as taking turns leading the pack or sticking together as a team.

Use Drafting Techniques

Drafting behind other riders can be a useful technique for conserving energy when climbing steep inclines. You can take advantage of the slipstream created by the rider in front of you, which can reduce wind resistance and help you maintain a steady pace. However, be sure to maintain a safe following distance and avoid sudden braking or swerving.

Avoid Sudden Changes in Pace

When riding in a group, sudden changes in pace can disrupt the flow and cause accidents. While it’s important to keep up with the group, avoid sudden bursts of speed or slowing down abruptly. Instead, try to maintain a consistent effort level and make gradual adjustments when needed.

Stick Together

Finally, remember that climbing steep inclines in a group is a team effort. Stick together, encourage one another, and celebrate your progress along the way. With the right mindset and strategies, you can conquer any hill and enjoy the journey.

Safety Measures for Climbing Steep Inclines

When it comes to climbing steep inclines, safety should always be a top priority. While it can be thrilling to push yourself to new heights, it’s important to do so in a way that minimizes the risk of injury or accidents.

Stay Aerobic

One of the best safety measures you can take when climbing steep inclines is to stay aerobic. This means keeping your heart rate within a safe and sustainable range, rather than pushing yourself to an unsustainable level. By staying within your limits, you can reduce the risk of exhaustion, muscle fatigue, and other issues that can make it difficult to maintain control and balance on steep climbs.

Wear Proper Gear

To climb steep inclines safely, it’s important to wear the right gear. This includes a properly fitting helmet, durable shoes with good traction, and comfortable clothing that won’t get in the way of your movements. Consider investing in gloves, elbow and knee pads, and other protective gear as well, especially if you plan to do a lot of intense climbing.

Take Breaks

Another important safety measure is to take breaks as needed. Climbing steep inclines can be incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally, so it’s important to give your body and mind a chance to rest and recover. Take a break whenever you feel tired or overwhelmed, and don’t be afraid to slow down or take a different route if you feel like you’re pushing yourself too hard.

Bring Enough Water and Snacks

Proper fueling and hydration is essential when climbing steep inclines, and it’s important to bring enough water and snacks to keep your body energized and hydrated. Aim to drink at least one liter of water per hour of climbing, and bring along high-energy snacks like bananas, energy bars, or trail mix to keep you going.

Plan Your Route

Finally, it’s important to plan your route carefully when climbing steep inclines. Make sure you’re familiar with the terrain, and choose a route that’s appropriate for your skill level and physical abilities. Be aware of any potential hazards along the way, such as loose rocks or steep drops, and take steps to avoid them whenever possible.

By following these safety measures, you can enjoy the thrill of climbing steep inclines while minimizing the risk of injury or accidents. Remember to stay within your limits, wear proper gear, take breaks as needed, and plan your route carefully, and you’ll be well on your way to conquering even the steepest of hills.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Climbing Steep Inclines

As with any physical activity, there are several common mistakes that cyclists make when climbing steep inclines. These mistakes can make the climb more difficult and lead to fatigue or even injury. Here are some things to avoid when attempting steep climbs:

  • Starting too fast – It’s important to pace yourself when climbing. Starting too fast can cause you to burn out quickly and lose momentum.
  • Standing up too often – While standing can provide a burst of power, it also uses more energy and can cause you to tire out faster. Try to stay seated as much as possible to conserve energy.
  • Pushing too hard of a gear – Using too high of a gear can put unnecessary strain on your muscles and lead to fatigue or injury over time. Focus on using a comfortable gear that allows you to maintain a steady cadence.
  • Forgetting to breathe – It’s natural to hold your breath when exerting yourself, but this can lead to oxygen debt and make the climb more difficult. Remember to take deep breaths and exhale fully.
  • Leaning too far forward – Leaning too far over the handlebars can put strain on your back and neck muscles, leading to discomfort or even injury. Keep your back straight and your weight centered over the bike.
  • Focusing too much on speed – While it’s satisfying to push yourself to go faster, focusing too much on speed can distract you from important cues such as your breathing and pedal stroke. Instead, focus on maintaining a steady pace and staying within your limits.
  • Not staying aerobic – It’s important to stay within your aerobic zone when climbing steep inclines. Going anaerobic (or using too much energy too quickly) can cause fatigue and slow you down.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can make your climbs more efficient and enjoyable. Remember to pace yourself, stay seated as much as possible, use a comfortable gear, breathe deeply, keep your posture upright, focus on maintaining a steady pace, and stay within your aerobic zone. With practice and patience, you’ll be able to tackle even the steepest of inclines on longer rides.

Overcoming Plateaus and Pushing Limits

Climbing steep inclines can be a challenging and rewarding experience. However, it’s normal to reach a plateau in your progress and feel stuck. Don’t let this discourage you! With the right mindset and strategies, you can overcome plateaus and push your limits.

One effective way to break through a plateau is by incorporating interval training into your routine. This involves alternating between high-intensity efforts and periods of recovery. By challenging your body in new ways, you’ll build endurance and improve your overall climbing ability.

Another strategy is to focus on proper form and technique. This includes maintaining a steady cadence, using your upper body for balance and support, and staying seated during steep climbs. When you have good form, you’ll use your energy more efficiently and prevent unnecessary fatigue.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Try tackling longer and steeper climbs, gradually increasing the difficulty as you improve. As you push your limits, you’ll not only become a better climber but also gain confidence and mental toughness.

It’s important to remember to stay aerobic during your climbs. This means maintaining a pace that allows you to breathe comfortably and sustain your effort for longer periods. By avoiding oxygen debt, you’ll be able to climb more efficiently and enjoy longer rides.

Everyone has their own unique journey when it comes to climbing steep inclines. Some days will feel harder than others, but with persistence and hard work, you can continue to improve and reach new heights. So, embrace the challenge and enjoy the ride!

Embracing the Joy and Freedom of Climbing Steep Inclines

As a passionate cyclist, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of conquering a challenging hill climb. Whether it’s a short, steep incline or a long, grinding ascent, the rush of adrenaline and sense of accomplishment is unbeatable.

For me, the joy and freedom of climbing steep inclines comes from the opportunity to push my limits, both physically and mentally. It’s a chance to leave behind the distractions of daily life and focus solely on the climb ahead.

Staying aerobic is key to enjoying longer rides, but it’s also important to listen to your body and know when to push harder and when to back off. When you’re in the zone and feeling your power output rise, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to stay properly fueled and hydrated.

But with careful planning and preparation, climbing steep inclines can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Whether you’re riding solo or in a group, it’s an opportunity to embrace the beauty of nature, challenge yourself, and enjoy the freedom of the open road. So grab your bike, hit the hills, and feel the joy of conquering those steep inclines!


In conclusion, mastering the art of climbing steep inclines takes dedication, practice, and patience. But the rewards are well worth the effort. With proper training strategies, focus, and technique, you can conquer even the steepest hills and experience the joy and freedom of climbing.

Remember to build upper body strength, master your technique, choose the right gear, and fuel and hydrate properly to maximize your power output and aerobic capacity. Also, keep in mind the importance of mental preparation, focus, and safety measures when climbing steep inclines.

Avoid common mistakes and push past plateaus by pushing your limits and embracing the joy of climbing. And don’t forget that climbing steep inclines is even more enjoyable when done in a group, so find like-minded riders to climb and stay aerobic with on longer rides.

So, take on the challenge of climbing steep inclines with confidence and determination, and enjoy the exhilarating experience of conquering the hill climb. With practice and perseverance, you’ll become a pro at climbing steep inclines in no time.


Q: What are some tips for efficient climbing on steep inclines?

A: Some tips for efficient climbing on steep inclines include maintaining a steady power output, perfecting your climbing technique, using the appropriate gear, and staying focused to avoid losing momentum.

Q: How can I build upper body strength for climbing steep inclines?

A: Building upper body strength for climbing steep inclines can be achieved through exercises that target the relevant muscle groups, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and planks. Additionally, incorporating body weight exercises and practicing seated climbing can help improve your climbing ability.

Q: What are the challenges associated with climbing steep inclines?

A: Climbing steep inclines can present challenges such as maintaining traction on the rear wheel, avoiding loss of momentum, and dealing with the increased physical demand and fatigue that comes with climbing hills.

Q: How do I choose the right gear for climbing steep inclines?

A: Choosing the right gear for climbing steep inclines involves selecting the appropriate gear ratio that allows you to maintain a comfortable cadence while still having enough power to conquer the hill. It’s important to find the balance between the lowest gear for steep sections and the ability to generate high power when needed.

Q: What are some training strategies for climbing steep inclines?

A: Training strategies for climbing steep inclines include focusing on improving aerobic capacity, targeting specific muscle groups, incorporating hill repeats and long climbs into your training routine, and practicing climbing in a big gear to build strength.

Q: How can I mentally prepare and stay focused while climbing steep inclines?

A: Techniques for mental preparation and focus while climbing steep inclines include setting goals, visualizing success, staying positive, maintaining a steady rhythm, and focusing on your breathing to stay aerobic, especially during longer rides.

Q: What are some common mistakes to avoid when climbing steep inclines?

A: Some common mistakes to avoid when climbing steep inclines include starting too fast, using improper climbing technique, not maintaining a consistent power output, not fueling and hydrating properly, and letting negative thoughts hinder your performance.

Q: How can I overcome plateaus and push my limits when climbing steep inclines?

A: Overcoming plateaus and pushing your limits when climbing steep inclines can be achieved by varying your training routine, seeking new challenges, setting realistic goals, and continuously pushing yourself to improve.

Q: What are some safety measures to consider when climbing steep inclines?

A: When climbing steep inclines, it’s important to ensure your bike is in good working condition, wear appropriate safety gear, be mindful of traffic and road conditions, and communicate with fellow riders when climbing in a group.

Q: Why does climbing steep inclines matter?

A: Climbing steep inclines is an essential skill for cyclists as it improves overall strength, endurance, and climbing technique. It allows you to tackle challenging terrain, conquer hills with confidence, and experience the joy and freedom of climbing.

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daniel in queenstown with mountain bike

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