Going up

26 05 2010

New West has a lot of hills. In fact, it’s pretty much built on a hill. And we happen to be at the bottom of it.

That means every ride must start with at least a two kilometer climb before the gradient levels out, then another short burst upward depending on the route. That’s like an instant warm up.

Now, like most cyclists who aren’t Spanish or Columbian, I’ve got a bit of a love-hate relationship with climbing. When the legs are feeling good, there’s nothing finer than grinding up a climb, tapping out a steady rhythm, feeling the thighs burn. But when the will is depleted and the spirit is weak, the thought of that two kilometer slog up hill just to get to the flat road can be enough to send me back to the freezer for another bowl of Haagen Dasz.

All roads from home go in the same direction - up!

Usually I tough it out though, and it’s always worth it.

For one thing, starting my ride with a short sharp climb like that IS a good warm up, smoothing subsequent climbs like the five km ascent of Burnaby Mountain, or the rollers along Marine Drive in West Vancouver.

Growing up in Ontario, I never really liked climbing. Or rather, with mostly flat riding there, I never developed an appreciation for it.

Even after moving West, I still avoided hills.

Then I signed on for a cycling tour of the 2003 Tour de France in which we’d get the chance to ride some of the stages before the pro took over the road in the afternoon. Our leg started in the Pyrénées and would include some storied climbs like Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Luz Ardiden and, of course, the Tourmalet (I passed on the latter, due to heat exhaustion). If I wanted to do those climbs, I had no choice; I’d have to learn to love the up.

Of course, even a slog up the road to the Seymour ski area pales in comparison to the steep, twisting switchbacks of some of Europe’s great mountains. The eight per cent slope up Burnaby Mountain is practically downhill compared to some of the 20+ per cent hairpins up Luz Ardiden or Tourmalet.

That summer, and the preparation leading up to that summer, gave me a new respect for the physical and mental challenge of the up.

That being said, one of the greatest benefits of living at the bottom of a hill is that the ride home is all about the down!

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One response

27 05 2010
Cory

I thought you guys were in belgium

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