More riding, strange outcome
Working through some things in my head, so decided to do this in public.
I don’t feel like riding this morning, it feels like a chore, and I think it’s because I am hating the hills. This is going to stand in stark contrast to the DD thread, God bless those guys. I have increased my riding this year, even am close to hitting my spring target of riding to work at least once a week. I’m in marginally better shape than I have been for a while, and feeling better. But. I just don’t feel like facing the hills this morning. It’s not supposed to be a chore, right?
I have always been one to like leaving from my door to ride to where I am going. But no matter which direction I go from my house, I will have to grind out some loathesome 4 mph climb to get home. Ecch.
My neighbor woman was bitten by the biking bug this year. For the past 4 months, she has been putting her bike on the car, driving to the trail, and riding 20 or 30 miles every morning before work. Every morning. This is awesome. She is riding much more than I am because she is putting the bike on the car. There are no easy rides in Pittsburgh, except on the trails, there are no rides that you don’t have to be the reincarnation of Marco Pantani to go 10 miles. Since I am more prone to ride than the average person, it seems any future of getting more Pgh’rs on bikes is going to involve more bikes on racks on cars, maybe that’s just the way it is. More bikers = better.
So maybe I’ll just face reality, stick the bike on the car and drive to somewhere that I can take an enjoyable toddling ride at 20% effort, and just get a ride in.
Again, sorry, just messy mental ramblings I decided to do out loud.
I hear you loud and clear. I feel lucky that I can ride to the grocery store and back with only the fun rolling hills (zip down one and make it almost all the way to the top without much effort, rinse and repeat) but any ride other than that and Im looking at hills I just dont want to climb. in one direction or another.
I have been throwing the bike on the bus rack and riding, which is better than no riding at all and I would much rather see people throwing their bikes on a car and riding than deciding not to ride at all.
Besides if more people do that then perhaps more people will be thinking about and looking for people on bikes when they are driving. and that can never be a bad thing.
I feel that riding should be more about “getting” to go riding and less about “having” to go riding.
ok im rambling now as well.
i can’t stand the hills either. i’m sorry, i’m from flat country. i bike for fun and to get from A to B… hills don’t factor into either
cue a bazillion posts by bike jocks who say they eat hills for breakfast….
I’ve gotten to like the (moderate) hills. However, about every 27 days my energy just plummets and I find it hard to do even basic stuff & am prone to dropping things & get heavy duty insomnia. I have a hard time cutting myself some slack, when really I should just take it easy for a few days without guilt.
If the hill-hating is masking a subtle medical change, that’d be worth checking out. Otherwise, I like what @dback says about getting to ride vs having to ride.
Yes, the subtle medical condition is untreatable, I am not as young as I once was. But really, it’s just mental. As soon as I thought things through, I feel better. I love the hills, and would not trade them for all the tea in Ohio. If I rode the flat all the time, that would get annoying. It’s the grinding sameness that gets to me. Noah, genius, I need to go find a ride to do in Ohio.
Sometimes it’s like riding in the winter – the hardest part is just getting out the door. But usually within a half mile or so you’re glad you got on the bike.
True that. Right now I’m somewhat happy I didn’t get out the door, it’s buckets outside.
Crap. Was hoping the rain would hold off for just a bit.
I’m at my folks’ in OH this weekend and today there’s a huge ride going past. No idea what it is but they’re getting totally soaked. You’ve always got the flannel ride in a few months…
September/October are just infested with rides over that way. This is brightening my spirits considerably.
If I’m by myself, it is usually 50/50 love/hate with the hills. I like to go fast, and I think mentally, plugging along at < 6 mph just drives me nuts. Sometimes I am feeling energetic and I welcome the little workout (usually not after a 13 hour work day).
If I’m with a group of people, and we’re all going up together, I don’t remember ever hating a hill. Something about 20 other people going < 6 mph makes it not so bad.
I will say, I am in a LOT better shape living in a city with a bunch of hills. I used to ride everywhere in a land of no hills, and I remember moving to Pittsburgh to be a rude awakening for my legs.
Looking for flat? I went rode in Ohio this last week with two buds, from Warren to Ashtabula round trip on a paved trail, 83 miles, trip report http://type2-clydesdale.blogspot.com/2011/08/warren-to-ashtabula-ohio-western.html. It was really a nice change of scenery and an awesome ride.
When I first moved here, I always planned my running routes to avoid any of the really big hills. After about 6 months, I realized I was really limiting myself bt avoiding them. Ever since, I just figure out the best (shortest, most scenic, least traffic) way to get to where I am going and ignore elevation changes- life is much better that way. Sometimes I will ride up Negley heading south from 5th just to show myself I can.
Whenever I travel now, I find myself saying “man, I wish I had a bike with me.” It’s just the best way to get around in so many situations.
Sometimes it’s like riding in the winter – the hardest part is just getting out the door. But usually within a half mile or so you’re glad you got on the bike.
Winter is hard for me in part just because of all the additional elements needed to stay safe and comfortable. Gloves, goggles, lights (shorter daylight hours), etc. The best is when I’m all set and I have to screw around with my gloves because I forgot something. It really makes running a bunch of errands a lot more annoying every time I stop.
But yes, definitely it’s great once I’m out and moving.
i’m sitting at around 215 pounds. hills suck. i worked out like crazy from about the time i was 14 to gain weight. football was my sport. well, i have the leg strength to show for it, but dag do i notice those elevation changes!
that said, i love hills. i spent a large portion of time last summer in flat western new york, and it was horrible. much like dwillen, i like going fast and having to plug along at such a slow pace bugs the hell out of me, but there’s just no beating that feeling of getting to the top of, e.g., a dirty dozen hill (after a few minutes, when you can see again), and knowing that you owned it.
there’s a big difference between the hills being “have to” and “want to”. sometimes i am in the mood for hills and go ride up them, including really steep stuff, just for fun. but it is a drag sometimes knowing there are hills waiting at the end of every ride.
This doesn’t bode well for my new commute… with 2 big hills in the way. I Wonder if I will actually do it consistently.
Oh, goodness italianblend, don’t let my internal weirdness forebode you. Just see how it goes for you.
The conclusions of my rumination are:
1. I can’t fault people around here for putting the bike on the car to ride if it gets them riding. Cause it’s freaking hard to ride around here.
2. I need to throw a goal out into the future to keep doing the daily grind.
3. The goal needs to involve a change of scenery to get excited.
Never did get out for a ride Sunday, but that’s ok.
The MS150 was such a nice change of scenery for me…getting out of the city and riding through farmland with no lights and barely any stop signs was a refreshing change.
I always assumed that if you commute hills every day, it would eventually get to be a breeze. I tried practicing and it has helped a bit but I still get winded and have to stop sometimes.
So…the million dollar question is: does it ever get easier?
The hills sort of get easier. They are still hard, even for us so called jocks that enjoy certain aspects of climbing big hills. You are just able to do them faster, and recover from them more quickly, once you’re in practice.
That said, much of hill climbing is a mental thing.
Thanks, Brad. Sorry for hijacking the thread, but also, do you find that commuting to work helps you lose weight? That may be a silly question, of course it will help, but I’ve found that biking isn’t as weight-hacking as running, but then again, my I haven’t also adjusted my diet that much. Just curious if commuting has helped anyone take an inch or two off the waist.
We all have times like the ones Edmonds is struggling through. Sometimes it is relatively fleeting — is your body telling you something? Cold coming on, perhaps? Sometimes it is because something we love has become an obligation, thereby taking the fun out of it. Sounds like what Edmonds is referring to. The simple antidote is to stop doing it for a while. Take the bus for a week. One day, getting off downtown, you’ll see someone on a bike and you’ll think “oh man, I wish I was on my bike” and you’ll know the time to tackle the hills once again has come. Note: this epiphany is unlikely to come on a cold or rainy day. So, relax. You’ll know when the time is right again.
+1 to what Brad said.
When I am riding for fun, I absolutely LOVE hills.
When I am commuting, I hate hills. HATE them. For example, last Friday, I rode from the South Side to my in-laws in Churchill. Up and over Squirrel Hill, then up, up, up Penn Avenue to the tippy top. This is no fun with my laptop plus other random work stuff.
Edmonds, I have no issues with doing a partial drive then commute. In an ideal world I would always have the time and energy to do the climb from downtown to SqHill, but I don’t. Sometimes I’ll wimp out and do a partial drive, and at least I get some bike time. Plus I don’t have to deal with parking:) The good thing is at least you’ll get some bike time in, even if it’s just a mental help and not really “exercise”. I say do what you need to continue to develop the habit of biking rather than driving (even if it means driving part of the way).
Italianblend, I think the hills are relative. For a trip from downtown up to the “east end plateau” it’s a bitch of a climb almost every time and I don’t think it really ever gets easier. The smaller hills within the plateau aren’t bad and the more you do them the easier they will get. At this point I don’t really even consider them hills, more like short elevations:) although the climb up out of Frick Park can be a bear, at least it’s short.
I would assume that riding to work rather than driving or riding the bus would help people to lose weight, but I have no personal experience with it. I’ve always been pretty thin, and haven’t stopped riding since I was a kid.
In terms of riding getting the best of you, I find that taking time off definitely helps. I ride all winter, but I ride way less, sometimes going a week or two when it’s really bad out without two wheels. I may feel sort of bad about driving, but I feel really good about riding come spring/summer.
Hills do get easier if you let them. I have a hill near my house that I use to go down into my granny gears to climb because it is pretty steep. Years later it’s still a hard hill to climb, but now I’m doing it five or six gears higher & faster. If I climbed it in the same low gear I started at it would probably be easy – but not nearly as fun. I think the same is true for running, or most any physical activity.
This is a pretty cool thread, and something I don’t really think about too much.
From my perspective when commuting, you just do what you can to get the job done. That said, I don’t have a (working) car and live in a valley where buses are a rarity and hills are very much real, so for me it’s a “when there’s a will, there’s a way” thing. It’s amazing what you can do with the right mental attitude, and a time constraint. It’s lessened my reliance on others, saves me money, keeps me fit, and on and on.
Don’t let the hills keep you from doing what you want to do anymore than they’d keep you from doing what you have to do.
Commuting does a decent job of maintaining fitness, and I assume, if coupled with good eating habits, will help you lose weight (assuming, of course, your commute is longer than just a couple of miles).
I do think, however, that unless you are doing other riding aside from commuting, or doing other aerobic stuff (running), you will quickly hit a point where you won’t gain more from just commuting.
Also, +1 (again) to what Brad said about breaks, especially if you have a challenging commute.
+1 what HV said… I found a few things happened when I started commuting more regularly:
1) I kept being able to get to work just a little bit faster. Like the trip would take me an average hour one week, two weeks later the average was probably about 55 minutes, two weeks later average was probably 50 minutes (and we’re only talking 8-10 miles or so here, so some pretty significant hills for me). I didn’t get to work any less exhausted. The hills weren’t easier. I walked less and less, but it was still red, sweaty, huffing hard work.
2) I didn’t lose weight. My thighs got bigger and my gut a little flatter, but in general, I didn’t drop a size or anything (and wasn’t trying). I started off a little more overweight than I’d rather and ended last summer very happy with my weight. I’m now, at the end of summer, back down to closer to what I’d rather, but I’m also not biking what I did last summer.
3) Even when I was biking everywhere, and forced myself to take a day or two off here and there for sanity and health’s sake, I still hit a wall. Wasn’t going faster on the hills. Speed wasn’t going up. Then Mick convinced me to swap out… I think it’s called the chain ring (front gear bits) for a compact one (smaller than I had). Hills stopped being as physically difficult, and I once again started improving. More important, I never ran out of gears anymore. By the time I was in the lowest gear, it was easy enough that I didn’t look for more – totally changed the psychology of hills for me. I no longer had to play the “well, I’ll start to walk after I make it to that phone pole up there” game. Yes, I was going probably slower than walking speed, but I was also as comfortable as I would have been walking. Totally changed my rides.
Note: I never seek out hills. I also no longer avoid them. I feel no shame in walking them or pausing for breath on them. Just for context.
I think that ejwme’s post hits the main points.
— keep pushing, eventually most of the hills get easier, and you stop caring so much about them.
— you may not actually lose weight since your fat gets replaced by (denser) muscle. On the plus side, your body shape will start to change (but in agreeable ways).
— make sure that you have the right gearing for hills and get in the habit of using the lowest gear that doesn’t feel like you’re free-spinning, i.e. maintain high cadence. You’ll be able to climb forever (well, you know what I mean).
— I don’t know about other people’s experience, but I find that my cycling only improves noticeably ever so often. I can’t say for a fact but it seems to be every 500-1000 miles. What I mean is that stuff suddenly gets faster/easier then stays the same for a long stretch, then it happens again.
Ahlir, good point on the fact that scales do not tell the whole story. I wonder how many exercise programs get abandoned because the scale did not recognize a 3% or more fat loss.
Yeah my commute will be about 7 miles, round trip, which isn’t very much. But after all those hills it feels like a lot more!
@Italian if I remember from another thread you and I live in the same area. So, basically every ride begins with a big climb. For months, possibly a year even every time I would ride I would curse the hill, question why I thought it was a good idea to ride, wonder if I’d get to my destination in time, and so on. And every time the second half of the ride I would realize how much fun I was having, I would make up the time and get where I was going and would be glad that I went by bike.
It took me a really long time to build up the legs to not find those hills so challenging and to mentally get over the fact that, yeah the first part of the ride is hard work.
I gained weight from riding, and honestly my vanity isn’t too pleased. I don’t like my bigger butt and thighs at all, but I do like that I’m more capable and strong. ::Shakes fist about old pants that no longer fit:: Fitness is all but guaranteed, weight loss not so much. And lots of people gain weight or don’t lose when running too, so that’s a bit of a misconception.
I recently hosted a party where two guests exclaimed “We’re over 40, we can’t do hills.”
Thanks to many of you who prove that age isn’t deciding factor in whether or not somebody can climb a hill.
Bill, do you have a triple? That might make things more enjoyable if you don’t mind spinning around for a while going up a hill. Riding a double is definitely more annoying at times. Hopefully you can take a break when it feels like a chore.
— @ejwme: Mick likely suggested either a triple or a set of smaller rings; if you have 2 rings, you have a compact. The alternative is to get a cassette with a wider cog range (say up to 32). If you do that you have to make sure that your derailleur can handle the range; I understand that a SRAM product is the common choice. Afficionadoes disparage triples because they distort the chainline. But people like you and me probably won’t notice the difference.
— @italianblend et al: This is one of those things in life that, unfortunately, is governed by “practice, practice, practice”. You can’t get to (eg) the Carnegie Carnegie without being in reasonable shape. The good news is that it’s doable. Just keep cycling and push yourself, just a bit, all the time.
Pierce, I do have a triple, maybe just not low enough! Just chilling out about the whole thing has me in a much better mood.
I think what I might do is to go out and grind some hills just for the hills own sake, without having someplace to get to. I think perhaps my destination was obscuring my journey.
I’m just happy my ramblings initiated some useful discussion and wasn’t just whining.
is 40 really old anymore? I just asked the Mr. what he thinks and he says he’s never felt better. Hmm maybe the senility is setting in after all.
At 47, I got back on the bike after many years of it sitting in the basement, after many years of pedaling everywhere I went. Hills were a bitch, but the more I did them, the more I could do them.
Your limits are more a function of lung and cardio capacity. Muscle capacity is pretty quick to adapt. Even lung and cardio will come with practice, so long as you don’t overdo it.
Hills are mental. Five years ago, I couldn’t get up Federal on foot, let alone a bike. This year alone I’ve biked up it on three different machines, and I’m now 52. I am not and never was an athlete, just a tough old bird who wouldn’t take no for an answer, especially from myself.
Never mind weight or size. You really just want to care about overall fitness. Get that in order and the rest takes care of itself.
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