Friday, August 31, 2012

The 12 Stages of Climbing Addiction

Denial...
Hey, this climb isn't so bad. What a beautiful day it is. What a pretty little mountain.

Anger...
Damn it, this thing keeps getting steeper. And it's longer than I thought. My legs are killing me already. I am in my lowest gear. This is miserable. Why am I here?

Rationalisation...
Okay, look - The computer says it’s only a 10% grade. Nothing I haven't done before. I can keep at it for a while. Okay, so now it’s a 14% grade. But it’s unlikely to be a long climb. Yes, I am sure it will end soon.

Bargaining...
If I push extra hard on this next stretch, I bet it will flatten out just around the bend. Please let it flatten out around the bend…

Acceptance...
It's not going to flatten out, is it. In fact it’s only getting steeper. I am spent. I am nauseous. My legs are done.

Crisis Intervention...
Oh my god, I need to unclip before I fall over. Now. Right now!

Action...
Click. Thump. Pant, pant.

Shame...
Great, I couldn't even make it to the top.

Re-evaluation...
Oh wait, what? Looks like I did make it to the top!

Celebration...
I’m at the top! What a pretty little mountain. What a beautiful day. What an extremely tasty banana.

Denial Redux...
Oh that climb wasn't so bad!

Addiction...
Let’s do this again?

46 comments:

  1. It ALWAYS flattens out just around the bend.

    ...right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Exactly!

    Do you get out of the saddle?

    ReplyDelete
  3. For the true addict, usually, there's an interlude between "celebration" and "denial redux," because one rarely goes out and does the same hill again and again on the same ride.

    Also, "shame" and "re-evaluation" don't really factor.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross would be proud!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds like the "randonnesia" my boyfriend talks about; right after he finishes a 300k, he wonders why he does these things to himself and talks about how miserable it was, all the climbing, etc. A week later, he's out there again.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, climbing! I love it. Climbing is, believe it or not, one of the great joys of riding fixed.

    Of course, temper the wind to the shorn lamb: I lose my taste for climbing if the hill is too long or too steep, but moderately steep hills up to 1 mile and long hills at modest grades are where fixed riding comes into its own. In fact, there is a 7 mile long hill here in town that isn't bad in a 70" gear if the wind is at your back and if you are in shape.

    Warning: if you climb in highish gears (65" to 80") learn to stand for long periods; it may save your knees. OTOH, your knees, or at least mine, are far more resilient than one might originally imagine.

    Second, pace yourself. With a fixed gear, you cannot bail out: if you've used up your energy, your only option is to get off and walk.

    Third, walk when you want to.

    I've gotten down to 20 rpm and 4 mph without feeling I wanted to fall over.

    Now, downhills on a fixed gear are a pain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Climbing fixed sometimes involves the sudden realization that you have come up a long way and will have a leg-shredding spin down, which leads to the counter intuitive "please don't let the climb end yet!" bargaining.

      Delete
    2. My experience was that after enough years of brevets and other long rides on a fixie, I went right back to thinkinb "uphill=arduous, downhill=yay!". I'm not really built like a climber either. ;)

      Delete
    3. Well, yes Em, but not all of us are insane enough to do brevets on a fixed. Maybe a little light touring this fall, but...
      Spinning downhill is always exciting. I've clocked about 200 rpm on not-even-huge hills. Its like strapping your feet to a Cuisinart

      Delete
    4. I did a couple of hours on my old track bike recently. It's got an 88 inch gear, and expected it to be awful on the hills. To my surprise, it felt fine. The fixed gear pulls one's legs through the dead spot. Of course there is a limit to the length and steepness one can do with 88 gear inches, but it's not so limiting as I would have supposed. 88 inches is pretty decent on the descents too. However I'm not planning to fit brakes to the bike, or use larger volume tires, so it's use is going to have to remain infrequent and ceremonial. On my road bike I recently fitted a Rotor RS4X crankset. It uses a cam, linkage and bearings to cause the upper crank to be a few degrees ahead of the lower when the lower crank is at six o'clock. It totally eliminates the dead spot, and I became addicted to it in the first hour of riding. Now I want another one for my mountain bike. Ken Rasmussen

      Delete
  7. What the heck were you doing in Framingham? I know that tower very well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll give you a hint: It involves 2 wheels : )

      Delete
    2. Thats a long trip from Somerville!

      Delete
    3. I thought that looked like Brimstone Lane. I love that climb although I always have to resist the urge to go down the other side into the trails. I am not so sure that would work out well on the road bike.

      Delete
  8. Up or down, I heart Tucson's Mt. Lemmon!

    yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent! I haven't done this hill, but I checked it online and looks like a good training hill with a peak 12% grade. I'll have to remember this one.

    Closer to home, there's Prospect Hill Park in Waltham, with some similar 12% grades and a million dollar view from the top. There are several loops you can do around the park. I've done it a few times... should probably get out there more often.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yeah. Come to Pittsburgh and try the Dirty Dozen. The thirteen steepest hills here, including one that is supposed to be the steepest paved street in the world (I checked; it's only the third steepest). 25% grades and more. But still, lots and lots of people do it every year after Thanksgiving.

    ReplyDelete
  11. God, climbing.

    Around here there is always another steeper, longer climb on the ride you're hoping to get in good enough shape to go do. You get a little fitter, maybe get a little actual coaching and you find that you can now go and do some other worse climb as reward for losing 5 pounds and adding 50 miles to your weekly average.

    Anyone below the level of the local full-time pros have to avoid certain routes unless they are feeling particularly saucy. Us mortals know we'll never get to the point where we can blithely strike out in any direction and know that we're equal to the task.
    There's a woman riding in our group who really thrashes the hills, she's the classic climber, smallish, goes like a Border Collie ALL the time and is just hell to try to beat up a hill. Last wed. we ended up helping her off the bike while she hurled up a lung halfway up one of our big ones. I always assumed she loved the hills but she confided in me later that she hates climbing and hits them hard because she just feels compelled. Sounds like addiction.

    I'm pretty convinced I'm in no danger of developing this climbing addiction.
    I'm finally in good enough shape again to consider doing the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (sometime), the only local MTB. race I've never done and desperately want to finish before I fall off the bike for the last time, but damn, this year it's over 15.000 feet of climbing. But without the climbs there's no romance to the endeavor. Whatever. Next year fer shure.

    Spinndizzy

    ReplyDelete
  12. This reminds me of one of my old posts for a while back; the Five stages of bicycle advocacy. Still hate hill though.

    ReplyDelete
  13. put a smile on my face!

    ReplyDelete
  14. The thing I love about climbing is finding one's rhythm. What else is life about?

    ReplyDelete
  15. This applies to all aspects of bicycling. I'm about to head out in the rain and kinda dread the thought of being wet again but I also know when back at home and dry I'll be happy and ready to do it again.

    So, I'm getting from some of the responses that many who climb hills know the grade of each climb. Is this some sort of new technology?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, some computers tell you the grade. You can also look up the grade after the fact by mapping out the route in programs such as Ride with GPS. I am not super into all this stuff, but I do enjoy knowing the grade.

      Delete
    2. Ah, that takes all the fun out of it :)

      Delete
  16. sounds like every other block in San Francisco.. ;) xxom

    ReplyDelete
  17. What I want to know is why it always hurts the most on the last part of the climb (irrespective of difficulty).

    ReplyDelete
  18. In Portland, it's basically impossible to get out of town unless you want to do climbing (there's one major flat highway to the NW that goes for about 70 miles before it finds a nice steep hill to hurl itself up, and if you go across the river you can go about 20 miles before the steep hills start) so dealing with hills is a necessity for reasonable-length rides.

    I do not like climbing, but I need to climb, and climb fast, if I'm ever out with friends and don't want to keep them waiting at the top of one of the hills out of town, so I'll occasionally loop up one of the local buttes repeatedly, to the tune of

    (up) "Oh, this is stupid, this is hard, why am I doing this"
    (down) "Wait, was it that hard, I can't remember"
    (up) "Oh, lord, this hill's gotten steeper!"
    (down) "That wasn't that bad. I'll do it once more"
    (up) "WHAT WAS I THINKING? I'm going home right after this!"
    (down) "Huh, that was was.... No, no, home now before I die!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am at the stage where I often prefer uphills to down, because at least the handling is easier and I have an easier time keeping up with the other riders. So on the downhills I am often wishing for the next uphill.

      Delete
  19. Funny how I DON'T share this view. Everyday on my way back home I have to climb the same 13% hill. On a simple city bike (I wouldn't like it on a more sporty bike either). My next commuter bike will definitely have an electric power assist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remind me, do you ride on Park Ave or take a different approach? I enjoy the Park Ave climb on a roadbike. Would not willingly do it on a city bike.

      Delete
    2. No, I live close to the Stratton Elementary School so I have to climb either Ronald Rd or Hemlock St to the very end. It could be fun if you do it once a while but climbing it everyday... it is just a PITA. I wish hills in Arlington were flatter ;)

      Delete
    3. Velouria,
      Learn to love the downhills. You should have a wide grin on when then road tilts downward and banked turns await.
      By

      Delete
  20. Where I used to live in Watertown (NY) there was this one hill... I don't know the grade but the top 20 yards or so were so steep that you had to stand up and lean over the handlebars to keep your front wheel from lifting off the ground. I once snapped a chain going up that hill...
    I hate climbing, I'm built like a defensive lineman, it doesn't come naturally, but what I'm saying is that as much as I don't particularly miss anything about living up there, I really want to go back and ride that hill again

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, you have come so far and not on just this trip! Jim Duncan

    ReplyDelete
  22. Gosh... just like my daily ride in Seattle. Even after years I keep trying to shove the gear lever down lower thinking 'It must be stuck in 5th gear!'. But in fact it is in 1st gear but it just feels like 5th gear.

    I've never gotten used to it I'm afraid.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You are really addicted to climbing when you are in your car, on a road and it is loosing speed because the hill is steep and long …….. and you just wish you were on your bike.

    Nelson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm always amazed that when I ride up hills, they never seem as steep as I had imagined them to be when driving.

      Delete
  24. I live on a different continent and speak a different language. I'm a different gender and maybe a different age. But some things seems to be the same all over the world. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  25. I put together a ride outside of Olympia, WA for the Capitol Bike Club which takes in the only paved road in the Capitol Forest, the D Line.

    I called it the D-Line Puker. I don't know the grade of the really steep set of switchbacks to the summit, but how demoralizing it is to see only the next section, which is steeper yet, and the summit not visible.

    After a number of climbs, I was disappointed to be able to anticipate where I was and where the summit was. It removed some kind of very pure primal torture of the spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just read your post after doing a 13km climb on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Sometimes, the fear is worse than the climb itself. It turned out to be aboutnthe same as some of the climbs I do pretty regularly at home. At the end, I feel ready for tomorrow's climb as well. Maybe that's because at the top, there is an iron cross next to which pilgrims from around the world leave stones (which a accompanied by their sins). Between losing my sins and, probably, 2 pounds from the day''s ride, I feel lighter already, and ready to climb. Plus, the tour company -- Experience Plus, which has been great -- is using Van Nicholas Yukons (is this one of the models you tested, Velouria? -- which are a lot lighter, if not so comfortable, as my Riv Glorius. So I'm not exactly an addict, but I see your point.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Here in Michigan a ride called the Michigan Mountain Mayhem takes advantage of the ski slopes of northern Michigan. They immortalized the
    "Top Ten Lies" on one of their t-shirts.
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nJ1kEi5ZMR8/TfT_d4xdYMI/AAAAAAAABtg/ICBJR16wkic/s320/IMG_0961.JPG

    Marc

    ReplyDelete
  28. I think I am on step 10 - I actively seek out climbs and, in fact, was at the Niagra escarpment the other day and was wishing, most bitterly, for my bike because I wanted to get out and ride up and down the thing until my legs fell off :)

    Good list!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Cycling uphill may be addictive if you are riding on the tarmac on your 8 kilo road bike.

    But doing it on gravel and boulders on a 12 kg hardtail gets real nasty real fast :).

    ReplyDelete