Author Topic: What goes up


What goes up
« on: July 29, 2015 »
Signs you may be addicted to hills:
- You occasionally stop in the middle of one, ostensibly for a gulp of water, but really because you enjoy a cold start on an incline.
- You choose gearing apropriate to your pain threshold. Due to tolerances which have been pushed and pushed again over time, you don't actually know what your pain threshold is.
- You say it's OK to walk if necessary. But when you do meet a hill that forces you off the bike, you consider it the walk of shame (only applies to self, I hasten to add).
- You go up one again & again because you didn't quite get it right the last time.

I ❤ hills
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2021 »
This post has been like contemplating a hill: do I want to do it? Of course I do. Not sure why it’s taking so long. It doesn’t have to be epic. A simple paean to hills. God knows they’ve gotten enough mentions over the years. ↑

Here’s what’s going to happen. This will be a work in progress. Most posts go up well north of 90% complete and are edited until something in my brain says DONE – I MEAN IT THIS TIME. Well, I've made a start, and that's something.

Note to self: don't start thinking you can let this slide now. It's happened before.

Let's do it as a series of notes to be wrestled into shape. (Or not.)

Awhile ago I approached the Guardian suggesting a bike blog piece about hills. They weren’t particularly keen until I floated the idea of climbing what is apparently the steepest one in the UK, in Wales. The only problem was, I’d have to go to Wales. I like Wales well enough, but the pay wouldn't cover the cost of the trip unless I rode there and back and slept rough. So there’s a free idea for the taking.

That thumbnail pic is of a 4400 year old pile of chalk called Silbury Hill, in Wiltshire. It's the first thing that appeared in an image search for h i double l. Sorry, you can't ride up it.

Sisyphus had an enchanted boulder to contend with. My rolling stock is fortunately less Flinstoneish, though perhaps no less preposterous: three road bikes, all singlespeed and in the 70” range. They take me everywhere I feel the need to go. Wanting a change, I ditched all superfluous gears about a decade back. Whether or not my knees will thank me for this down the line is an open question.

Percentages could not mean less to me if they were in metric. Whatever the gradient, I’m a honker. (A more apt sound would be the one a rollercoaster makes as it’s ratcheting itself to the top.) My singular choices mean this approach is mandatory, my thighs not being tree trunks.

I like getting out of the saddle. As a kid I once spent months riding a bike lacking this particular accessory, either because I was too cheap to buy a new one despite being reasonably well compensated as a paperboy, or too lazy to fit whatever replacement came my way.

My current saddle is great, but I don’t care to sit too long. I do enough of that at home in front of Netflix.

2022, Vince & Peter? Bloody hell!

Has Saul Goodman ever represented a cyclist getting cut off or doored? One thing’s for sure, he's a real go-getter. I imagine he takes a case because it's there. Put him on a bike in front of a hill with a paying client on top and he’d be up it like a shot.

Here's a lawyer who has a VO2 max in the stratosphere. I’m guessing VO2 stands for VOir dire, a French term meaning “to see to speak” or “to speak the truth” (Google Translate offers “see say”, which sounds like a game for toddlers learning their vocabulary). The ‘2’ must mean he’s twice the price of lesser lawyer beings. Makes sense, right?

Yes, what goes up must come down. You’d think I’d be overjoyed to reap the rewards due me. Not really. If it's steep enough and dark enough, I even turn into a hillwalker – see 'Titsey' for an example. Somewhere along the line I turned into what used to be safely called a sissy/wuss. We all have our Achilles heel.

Likewise, we’re all Muhammad. These things are going to be there whether we climb them or not, and I haven’t yet gotten to the why. I can say it's a metaphor for life, or the creative act, or that I like challenges that seem pointless but aren't. Maybe all three.

Further reading for addicts:
The three basic types
Twinned hills
The unintended gauntlet
Here there be dragging ones
The Fred Whitton Challenge, by Another Cyclist