I think sometime in the past I have told y’all I live on top of a hill in a Seattle suburb called Mountlake Terrace. This means no matter what ride I am on, I am left with a 2-3 mile climb at the end. Let me tell you, there has been more than once when I have struggled to get my sorry butt up that road.
The road up is NOT my favorite, its narrow, not much of a shoulder and in places, no place for cars to pass. And let me tell you, sometimes those people in the cars get GROUCHY!
So Monday as I commuted home, enjoying the recently tuned up bike (I was keeping up a good 2 mph faster with a head wind along the trail!, but I digress) I got a wild hair. There is a side road I pass every time I come home. I have always meant to see where it went, so I decided to try it out.
It climbed steadily up hill, but not to severely, there was a good shoulder and little traffic! Cool! just what I asked for. It then ran smack into the road I was hoping it would hit! Even cooler. So I hung a left…. And in front of me was a hill steeper than anything else on my way home. This thing looked straight up and down! I never did learn to convert degrees to percent grade. But this was a good 40 degree angle.
Well I hit it and at the top I found a steep downhill, then another climb before leveling off….This was NOT what I ordered, but I was damned if I turned around. So I kicked it in and made it home.
Fast forward to yesterday after work! Once again I flew down the trail. No pain, great average speed. Then I started thinking ahead….Which route would I take home? Now I should mention, I am inherently lazy! If I can find an easier way to do something, I am ALL over it. Some people call it efficient, I go with lazy!
I could take the simple route. Ride on the sidewalk if needed. No need to worry about that hill… Yep take the easy way… However, later this year I have signed up to ride this:
Remember the old Coors commercials? (This aint no downstream beer, this aint no city beer, this aint no flatland beer, its Coors!) (oh yeah, totally showing my age!) Well anyhow, this aint no Flatland Bike ride! This ride is one huge hill. So I better damn well be ready.
It would be easy to say “Well I have been pushing it hard all the way home, increasing speed and keeping up the cardio, no need to do hard hill too!” However, I firmly believe, that if I don’t ride hills during training, then I will never make it in my real rides! Plus I am cocky, I have only once met a hill that I had to stop and take a break on. I LIKE hills (downhill is more fun, but up hill is more satisfying!)
I also know that to get better, and stronger, you need to continually challenge yourself. Riding longer and longer distances, the more saddle time the better. When there is no time for a long ride, then kick it hard on a shorter ride, keep up the speed and heart rate for a fast 20!
Finally, if there is a route with a big assed hill, or one without… hit the hill and hit it hard! So I did!! Felt great!!
So no matter what we are talking about, running, hiking, biking, hell even work or school. Keep challenging yourself, it is the only way you will get better. HOWEVER, only do this if you are going to give it all you have. If you take the harder route, project or class, but you only give it a half-baked effort, you won’t do yourself any good at all!
If you don’t succeed, it’s not failure, it’s just your first attempt! So think about something you’ve been hesitant to do and remember what one of my Dad’s favorite actors said:
So Saddle up ladies and gents! Its time to ride!!