Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Hill-emental block

Since I've been taking a serious look at riding, one nemesis I've always had were the hills. Hated them when I was younger and rode everyday, hate them now, even though I don't ride everyday.
What's been the "mental block" when it comes to hills? I'm not really sure. Maybe its the lactic acid pain in my legs, maybe its the actual work. I'm not really sure.
When I was in school, my ride was an old Murray 10 speed frame, no brakes, and a Columbia 3 speed rear wheel sitting 26" tall. Now, I couldn't change gears, so it was stuck in the highest gear. Which is probably the reason why I don't like hills so much.
Fast forward to 2013. My ride is a '12 Giant Defy 5 Triple with a 700x25 wheelset. But what's this triple, you may ask? Its the front sprocket. There are 3 of them, alledgedly making hill climbing so much easier.
So they claim.
Well, I'm here to tell you that, in fact, that third little sprocket does indeed make climbing hills much easier.
Much easier.
However, there are some hills that just laugh at the fat guy in spandex, and snickers at him as he dismounts and walks the rest of the way up (thank you St Charles).
But, that's a story for another day.
There is a hill at one of the entrances of my subdivision that during the winter time dares cars that don't have all wheel drive to attempt the climb. Even the SUVs have a struggle. And during the warm weather, cyclists are often seen walking their rides up the hill, heads hung low, panting. I wanted to climb this hill to prove that I can conquer it. It intimidated me. It dared me to fail. It was taunting me. And I was afraid.
During this past weekend, my daughter wanted to get a 5 mile jog in and wanted me to ride next to her for moral and water support. Any chance to ride the Giant is a welcome time.
So I donned the gear, all except the shorts; it was a quick ride, who needed them, I thought. Always wear your cycling shorts. On your road bike.
She said she wanted to go up the hill. I asked her why she was trying to off me so close to Father's Day. She giggled. Oh boy. Hope I can make it.
As we approached the crossing point to get into the subdivision, I looked up the hill. This is going to be tough, but you need to support your daughter, I thought. We crossed the busy road, she kept walking, and I stopped to clip back in, and take a deep breath, anticipating the burn.
She started jogging, and I started pedaling. I was already in the lowest gear, so I didn't have to fiddle with the shifters.
As I caught up to her, she was having a difficult time. Halfway up the hill, she was in agony. I shouted encouraging phrases like "you're doing great, just keep moving..." and so on. We moved around a couple who were walking, but my daughter kept jogging, in agony. She was doing great! I was so proud of her.
As we reached the top of the hill she said she wanted to walk, I told her to keep going until we reached a sign up ahead that was maybe 10 yards away. She kept going. Legs burning and all.
Funny. My legs weren't burning at all. In fact, I wasn't even out of breath! I could tell because I was still encouraging my daughter without gasping for air!
As we reached the next intersection, I rode ahead, got the water bottle out for her and told her to stretch a little and rest. She did so, face all red and scrunched up.
I turned and looked back at the hill. I was amazed that I was standing at the top, looking back, breathing normally.
This day broke the block. It tore down the wall that kept me from achieving so much. I compare it to the scene in "The Right Stuff" where Chuck Yeager saddles up the X-1 and takes it past "that 'ol demon in the sky". Corny, but yeah, that was my demon.
The Hill.
Now, the block is less intrusive. The block is a discomfort, not a disabler. The block is welcomed, so that it can be chiseled away some more.

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