How to get a KOM (my secret tips)

You come home, you upload your ride, and you see that you’ve got a crown or a KOM/QOM (king or queen of the mountain) – And not one of those 2015 KOMs, but a complete, outright KOM. You feel great! Here are some tips to help you get even more KOMs.

1. Check the weather forecast:

If it is blowing a gale outside, it does not mean that you have to stay inside. In fact, having a backwind is probably the most helpful tool for you if you want that KOM. Having a backwind reduces the wind pressure that you are pushing against – it is like running downhill vs. running uphill – it is easier running downhill, but more importantly it is faster. In addition to the wind, you will probably want to do it when it is not raining – As well as being unpleasant, the rain causes more drag, hindering your chances of getting a KOM – It is like running through air verses running through water – It is a lot harder through water.

Cycling in rain 1
If there’s enough water it can bring you to a total standstill…

2. Pick the right segment to go for:

Pick a segment that suits your strengths – If you are pretty heavy, then segments along the flat and downhill are probably going to suit you better, than nasty, sharp, hilly climbs. And of course, vice versa; if you are light, then go for the climbs! Power-to-weight-ratio plays a large part in being able to climb well, and being light favours this ratio more, than being powerful but heavy.

Fat cyclist 1
This man should aim for downhill segments.

3. Arrive fresh and full of energy:

It does not make much sense to ride for 2 or 3 hours before doing a segment, because the chances are that you are not going to have as much energy and power in your legs than if you arrived at the segment having done a reasonable warm-up (20-30 minutes). Create a warm-up which is suitable for you as well; try out different tactics in your warm-up (best to do this on a separate ride), and decide which warm-up is best for you.

2013 Tour de France
Pro-cyclists warming up thoroughly before a prologue, which is a very short individual effort; just like a Strava segment.

4. Get a lead-out man or ride in a group:

The professionals do it, so why shouldn’t you? A lead-out man in most cases helps with your effort, helping you to save energy until you burst out part-way through and storm to victory. This is particularly useful along the flats, and sometimes up hills. If you are in a group, start your favoured segment at the back of the group, gradually making your way to the front as you get towards the end of it. This will leave you ahead of your riding mates, and hopefully you will get that KOM.

Cycling lead out 1
Peter Sagan being led out by two teammates.

5. Pick the right roads and the right times:

Roads that have been freshly stone-chipped are going to be harder to achieve the same speeds against roads that have been freshly tarmacked, or worn smooth. A smoother road means less friction between the tyres and the road, making your effort more efficient and faster – it also stops your body and your head bouncing around, which can be quite annoying (especially long segments). Also consider traffic conditions – It is a lot safer and quicker to take a segment on empty roads than it is on roads full of traffic. Generally a Sunday morning is a better time to do your segment than during Friday rush-hour.

A car approaches potholes in Priory Road, Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.
A car approaches potholes in Priory Road, Hull, East Yorkshire, UK. A road, not good for KOMs.

6. Know where the segment starts and ends:

It is quite a basic tip, but not knowing exactly where you start and finish could cost you the KOM. Knowing exactly where you start and finish means that you can time your effort extremely well. You can clearly see the start and end of a KOM on Strava by changing the type of map from terrain to satellite. Sometimes your Garmin or recording device might slightly mis-record your position due to satellite inaccuracies, and you do not want to be easing off before the segment ends.

Cyclist celebrating too early 1
Celebrating early costs this rider victory.

7. Hit it hard!

Fly into the KOM at KOM speed or faster if possible – Try to perform the effort slightly longer than needed – start a little before, and finish a little after.

Fast fast cyclist 1
Hit it hard, but maybe not this hard 🙂

8. DO NOT take any KOMs off me!

If you decide to take a KOM off me, I’ll take it personally and I’ll not stop until I steal it back 😀

Don't steal y KOM!

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