Author Topic: Hills


« on: July 02, 2008 »
Hills present cyclists with the opportunity to curse and praise the laws of physics in turn. There are three basic types:

Secret Hills. A topographical conundrum, these are invisible to the naked eye but felt in the sweaty thigh. Velo scientists even go so far as to call them nonexistent, i.e., only in the mind; when you're tired, everything feels like going uphill. They are a real phenomenon, however. If you dismount your bicycle in the middle of one and take out the plumb bob you're carrying in your panniers, you will definitely probably find evidence. They frequently occur on poorly surfaced roads, which are sensed by perceptive riders to have a measurable effect on gravity itself.[1] They can go on for quite a while, and then some. Coping mechanism: Keep pedalling.

Honest Hills. These are not subject to speculation: everyone can see them, and bitching about them will not fall on deaf ears. They range in size from  oh no  to OH NO. They can be solitary or grouped with other hills; if packed tightly enough, and suitably sculpted, each provides a helpful boost up the next one. Quite often they are pointless. Most hills are honest hills. Coping mechanism: Keep pedalling.

Hills from Hell. Not to be confused with Harry Hill.[2] A danger to low-flying aircraft, even motorists have trouble going up these. They are pure chutzpah, built by mother nature to be the preserve of mountain goats and Sisyphus. West of England and north of Hadrian's Wall provide ample stock for domestic consumption, and diabolical chevrons ramble in the Peak and Lake Districts, not to mention Cymru.[3] Connoisseurs bag them like Munros. Coping mechanism: When your altimeter breaks it's time to walk.

One time-honoured way of tackling hills is known as 'honking'. This involves getting up out of your saddle in an attempt to bring all your weight to bear on the downstroke, thus providing justification for any cakes to follow as a reward. It can be a little hard on the lower back. (But then so can everything else.) Another method is to simply pull on your handlebars for all you're worth, which comes naturally enough.

Using toeclips or clipless[4] pedals to harness energy on the upstroke will rob your legs of respite but aid in climbing.

Going downhill can present its own challenges. Ensure your brakes are working properly, watch out for bumps - baby hills, in other words - and enjoy[5] the ride.

See also


1 - Local conditions can also conspire against you.
2 - Olympic medalist, comedian. What are the chances of that happening?
3 - Wales. Itself a footnote.  Joke.
4 - Rather than platform pedals, as worn by Elton John and other famous short cyclists.
5 - For those on fixed wheel this may be moot.