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Looking to tackle some climbs with your road bike? Learn exactly how to prepare for the mountains with these practical tips from Shimano-supported rider Nikky Alberts.

Dutch competitive cyclist Nikky Alberts enjoys the best of both possible worlds. She lives and works in the Netherlands, enjoying some of the world's finest cycling infrastructure. And whenever she gets tired of the flatlands, she has a place in Spain close to the training grounds of a lot of pro riders in Alicante to fly down to for some serious pre-season climbing prep.

Most importantly, Nikky makes sure she books her spot at her local Shimano Service Center well in advance. As soon as she books her trip, that is the second thing on her list so the mechanics can quickly check her bike.

Replace brake pads and bleed brakes for peak performance

In order to safely ride in the mountains, it’s wise to start with the brakes. The hydraulic system requires checking for air to ensure it works properly – and may need to be bled. Make sure the brake pads are also checked for wear and tear – and switched when necessary. Nikky prefers metal pads as she likes the more direct braking power and better heat dissipation they deliver when speeding down the backroads in Spain.

Select the right gear setup for the job

Next up: the gear setup. An 11-25T cassette in the back is fine in the Netherlands, even when the infamous Dutch mountain rears its head. But she'll need more teeth to get up some serious Spanish climbs around her second home. So, depending on the time of the year and how strong she feels, she’ll consider an 11-28T or 11-34T. Earlier in the season, the 11-34T is her weapon of choice, and when the training gets serious, the 11-28T comes along.

Use the E-TUBE App for perfect alignment

After swapping the cassette, it’s always a good idea to check the rear derailleur’s position in relation to the cassette and ensure every shift is as crisp as it should be. She uses the E-TUBE PROJECT Cyclist App on her smartphone to perfectly align the derailleur to the new cassette and ensure shifting is smooth and fast.

Checklists, pack lists, and spare parts

Finally, there is the checklist. You can find Shimano Service Centers at more and more cycling destinations, but it’s always a smart idea to carry some essential spare parts with you.

Here’s Nikky’s pack list: A 12-speed chain link, extra brake pads, a rear derailleur hanger, and an extra set of inner tubes. She also keeps an extra chain at her second home, just in case. This way, she’s prepared for anything that comes her way when tackling the mountains.

Check out the dealer locator to find a Shimano Service Center near you.


Nikky Alberts, is a competitive cyclist from the Netherlands. She is a previous winner of the Mallorca312 and works in healthcare and lives in the Netherlands together with her partner and daughter.

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