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  1. #1
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    The Stud-Spud vs the Hill

    I really enjoy reading your threads, so I'll submit this contribution for your reading pleasure and simultaneously offer an introductory “hi” to the Forum Riders!!! This story is a few months old….. since other’s seem to enjoy it, I’ll share it with you good folks too:

    Today was to be a special milestone day…….The goal was to ride my Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disk non-stop up “Black Top Hill”. The hill provides canyon access via a winding single lane mountain “road” that creeps along the precipice.

    I had never even walked “Black Top Hill” non-stop before. It’s steep, more steep, even steeper, long and high for the Clydes.

    .........and now, on with the story……….. “Willie Maket-Betty Doant”

    The Ride’s planning began a couple of months in advance. It all started with the medical tests that were coming due. To help me squeak thru the tests, I started riding the bike as often as possible and eating sparse dinners of an orange and ½ cup of cottage cheese and so on!

    One fall Saturday I returned to “Black Top Hill” for the 1st time in about a year, rode down and thru the canyon for about 5 miles or so. Rain storms were entering the area, so I turned around and headed back up. Much to my surprise, I came remarkably close to riding the hill non-stop. Hmmm……. I wonder if I could…….. hmmm……. surly not ……..hmmm. Suddenly, the passion was born!

    My after-work bike rides included some hills that were miniatures of the “Black Top Hill” rigor. So, I intensified my evening route and began practicing for a non-stop climb…. A Personal Mount Everest challenge, if you will.

    In the preceding weeks, I would sometimes awaken from deep slumber concerned about failing the non-stop ascent. Is this ride actually do-able for me? I was becoming driven to ride all the way up………..a very specific date was set…..it would be a landmark day for victory!

    The day of reckoning came with rain storms, of course. Fortunately, I was able to find a clear window for the ride. I parked nearby, hung the front wheel, slammed the quick release shut and took off down “Black Top Hill” into the Canyon. Passing about 10 cyclists walking up the hill, I pondered my climb. Every single one of them looked much fitter than me. Can I do this?

    Taking the 1st right hand turn in the canyon brought me to a respectable warm-up hill. After riding about ½ way up, I turned around and started back toward “Black Top Hill”. My riding was super slow, only some spinning with minimal stress. Just barely enough warm-up to ride the hill without cramping, but still leaving enough strength for the non-stop grind. After about another 20 minutes of light riding, I finally got to the bridge at the base of the Hill. I rested there until my heart rate and breathing had slowed to almost sedentary levels.

    Punching into “stump-puller”……I was ready to launch…….. the right foot was clipped in, the left leg poised for the initial shove off, and then second thoughts washed over me. Was the warm-up sufficient, or would the legs start to cramp? More warm up? Don’t want to risk getting too tired. The heart was racing now. To fail and fall short of the non-stop goal would be a silent, personal blemish for the rest of my life. Had I set myself up for failure? I’d rather not try, than fail on this very special day. Not trying, of course, is to fail…. I’m trapped…. looks like there’s no choice now…… gotta go for it.

    A few more seconds of hesitation…… the mind races…… the heart pumps….. no pain, no gain ……. almost anything can be endured for a few minutes. ……. get over it, let’s roll ……. I shove-off and start up nice and slow ……… a very measured, deliberate pace ……… left …… right ….. left …… right…… hmmm ….. not feeling so bad after all…….jeepers this hill is steep, but I’m feeling good.

    Foot by foot the pedals go round and round……. up and up. ……… so slow the Cat-Eye doesn’t even register…. needs about 1.7 mph to indicate speed! .....gotta conserve the strength ......... Both feet are in the cleats, something I don’t normally do on a steep climb. If balance is lost, I’ll just fall right over because I can’t unclip fast enough on a hill this steep. Up and up …… riding as slow as possible to minimize the leg-stress….….. can’t cramp and still do the non-stop victory………. wow this hill is steep…… every single stroke must count ….. no coasting at all for the entire climb….. keep the pace slow so you don’t cramp.

    During the ascent different muscle groups are alternately used …. the left-right-left stomp……. The 360 power stroke….. a little more with the right leg, then the left ….. always trying to avoid the demon cramps. Up and up ever higher…… just keep up the slow plodding pace …… higher and higher up the winding road.

    The legs start to cramp, so I slow even further. I double my breathing rate trying to oxygenate ….. thankfully, the cramps back off and vanish.

    A guy resting on the side of the road notes my bizarre hyper-breathing ………….. he gawks at my amazingly slow speed. ……. “What a pathetic sight,” surely he must silently muse .…. avoid the cramps and keep climbing, climbing, climbing. He says, “The hill is steep.” “Trying to ride it non-stop,” I manage to grunt back ………… “Have you ridden non-stop from the bottom?” ….. “Yup” ……….. “You’re well over ½ way up” I thank him and make a mental note …….. I can do this non-stop for sure……... Climb, climb, climb…… slowly, slowly, slowly…….. breathe, breathe, breathe…………. Left-right-left-right…. keep the balance….. don’t lose the balance at this slow speed….. climb, climb, climb….. breathe, breathe, breathe.

    I’m pulling with my arms again and tensing the upper body, a nasty habit ……. wasted energy ebbs away …… a slide forward on the seat keeps the front wheel on the ground…….. I mentally force the upper body to relax…….. up, up, up……. Breathe, breathe, breathe…….. balance, balance, balance……. Left, right, left, right.

    I can’t believe my eyes…… is that the sign at the top? …… looks like it…… but can’t really tell for sure ……. must be only a few minutes left …… I can do this. The climb still undulates ……… steep ……. steeper ……less steep …… more steep …….. woo hoo….that definitely is the sign up there ….. it’s clearly visible …….. pick up the pace, you’ve got it made now …… sprint for the last couple hundred feet….. you cocky devil you …… the top-of-the-hill sign flashes by …….. non-stop with strength to spare….. how cool is that for a old, worn out spud-stud!

    Nobody was there to see me conquer my personal Mount Everest. I had hoped someone could take my picture, but no such luck. As the bike leaned against the summit park bench, I walked around to catch my breath, enjoy the view, and take a few pictures. Looking over the edge, I marveled at the hill just climbed ……. it was conquered…… I have won …… a miraculous transformation from chump to champ. A year ago I had a most impressive girth ...... today I rode 80# lighter!

    With this ride, I have graduated……… I am a different person now……. I’ve crossed the Rubicon with this cycling achievement while also crossing over into the next chapter of life. Today is my 60th birthday. I bask in victory’s warm, sweet glow….. …….what a perfect way to start the 60’s.
    ________________________________________


    Thanks for riding along!

    As with so much of these Forums, hopefully this story will also help inspire others to conquer their personal Mount Everests.

    “When conquering the tall hill, you begin with the 1st step.”

    Ride-on!

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Nice story and happy birthday!

    Now, go do it again.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Nice story and happy birthday!

    Now, go do it again.
    Yes, now go do it again, and keep doing it, until you get to the point that your motoring up that thing like it's nothing. Nothing beats passing a young skinny guy walking his unobtainium wonderbike him dressed in full kit, and you just riding along like it's flat ground.

  4. #4
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    Hills are 70% attitude, 30% condition.

    I love hills. I can't stand flat expanses of nothing to push against. Every time I ride with others on hills i can't help but notice that they are defeated before they even get on said hill. They see it and become completely demoralized, wallowing in utter despair at the mere idea of climbing.

    The first step on hills is finding the sweet cardio spot, which is what you did. You find that zone where your level of effort can be maintained for the duration of the given hill and ride it all the way up.

    Embrace the fact that it is not meant to get easier, you are meant to get stronger. When I climb now it hurts every bit as much as it did when I got started. The difference? I can climb longer, stepper, and a lot faster.

    Once your cardio is up to par, it is time for the next level of suck; lactic acid burn. You know how if the gear is too high and you try to pedal too hard, your legs begin to hurt from the lactic acid build up? Guess what, the longer you train at the threshold of lactic acid burn, the further you push that wall. On a long, step hill, bring the effort until it hurt just a hair, and maintain the level of effort there. Little by little you will see that for the same level of pain, you are going faster.

  5. #5
    Cat 5 field stuffer bbeasley's Avatar
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    Congratulations! Next time you are at the bottom looking up that hill will be just a tad shorter.

    Fun read, thanks for sharing.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    Yes, now go do it again, and keep doing it, until you get to the point that your motoring up that thing like it's nothing. Nothing beats passing a young skinny guy walking his unobtainium wonderbike him dressed in full kit, and you just riding along like it's flat ground.
    +1

    And Happy birthday!

    Job well done.
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

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