Hills are my enemy.

By | April 30, 2010

mountainI don’t live in a particularly hilly neighborhood. At least, I didn’t think so before I bought the long john. Now, all I see is hills. I could probably tell you to the nearest degree all the different slopes in a 3 km radius.

My biggest problem with the hills (other than getting up them) is they force me off the bike. I can generally get myself about half way out of the ravine before I have to dismount and push. I hate pushing my bike. It feels wrong to push my bike.

The good news is I’m learning how to use the gears to my advantage. I know, I know…. “you didn’t know how to use your gears before?” No, I didn’t. I learned to ride on a fixed speed. I got a ten-speed road bike when I was twelve, and no one taught me how to properly shift gears.  I played with them a bit, but ultimately found that I liked riding better when I wasn’t fiddling with the gears. When I was 16, I got an eighteen-speed hybrid, and only ever used the front derailleur. Sad, yes. I never really had a firm grasp on the concepts of gears and torque and really didn’t care. I only rode the bike for fun, and I had plenty of fun in one gear.

Now, it’s a whole new world. A hilly world.

I’m learning the hard way about things like cadence and momentum. I have to think about what I’m doing whenever I start pedaling. I feel like I’m learning to ride all over again. I even have a memory aid (a chant) so that I remember to keep my fingers on the shifters, and USE THEM!

The other thing I’m learning is that I am much more comfortable on the road, behaving like a vehicle, than I am borrowing the sidewalks from pedestrians. Actually, I really don’t like using the sidewalks at all. I end up using them going up hills, and turning left at busy intersections. If I can gain enough strength in my legs to go up hill, then I’ll also have the strength for a good start-off in the left-turn lane.

And that would make me really happy.

Enjoy this beautiful Friday!


Joe T. on April 30, 2010 at 8:35 am.

Tracy is a one-gear person… I should have bought her a single-speed.

Maybe someday you can teach her about gears… she may listen to a lesson about the usefulness of gears from someone other than hubby. haha.

Todd Tyrtle on May 1, 2010 at 7:29 am.

I’m getting better at hills with practice. The St. Clair hill sits between me and work so I do that one several days a week now and it hardly bothers me now.

What *does* bother me, though, is wind. There’s something about a strong headwind that’s more frustrating even than a hill. Maybe the simple fact that if you’re heading in the same direction you’re stuck with that headwind for the whole trip whereas eventually you’ll crest the hill. This was a pretty bad week for headwinds, I must say. (Though to be fair, they all became nice tailwinds on the way home!)

Cat B on May 1, 2010 at 8:54 pm.

I find hills do get easier as the season gets warmer and more biking happens. I’m not much for winter biking, so every spring, I have to build up my hill muscles again… but they come back!

Stephen Da Cambra on May 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm.

It always amazes me how seemingly flat roads become positively Himalayan when you get on your bike.

But I agree with Todd, I prefer hills to headwinds. Even though they can be tough, hills are predictable and eventually end.

Gusty headwinds knock me back and forth and sideways, making it hard to find a rhythm, which you can find on a hill.

Joe T. on May 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm.

Agreed. It’s crazy how much difficulty even a small 20 km/h headwind can give me. I am no fan of hills, but they are avoidable if need be. Wind isn’t avoidable. haha.

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