12 July 2016


Looking up at the summit, you think "there's more? How can there possible be more?" You look down willing your legs to go faster, stronger, harder. You're searching for that extra gear that never comes. No matter how hard you stare at the gears another isn't going to magically appear. You imagine yourself spinning at 100 cadence ala Froome, you're most definitely not spinning up this today, but you're not giving up yet either. You dig deep, head down and keep on going. A glance every now and then willing for the summit to appear. Stroke after stroke you edge closer...

Every cyclist will have a different view on hills. Some love them, some will loathe them and some will completely avoid them. There's the natural born mountain goats, and those eager to tackle and grow in strength on climbs. There are the grinders, the spinners, those who remain sat in saddle, and those who will wiggle out and bolt it for the top. 

Not only are there different techniques, there are also different reasons to climb. To grow stronger, to push harder, to develop power, to explore new areas, to find that inner strength. And each cyclist has their own technique. To find yours the roads must increase in gradient. 

I climb hills for the views. I climb them for the achievement. And I also climb them for the pain. The good pain that when you know you're getting stronger with each peddle stroke. I climb them because I know they will make me a better cyclist, and I climb them because I'm too competitive not to give a hill a go. 

One of the other reasons I climb is because they tend to shortly be followed by descents. One of my favourite parts of cycling. The long swooping descents that take your breathe away and leave your eyes streaming when you're not wearing glasses. The descents where you question how safe this possibly is. The descents that challenge your body and make you feel at one with the bike - moving it unison as you sail along at 40mph.

But that's all the fun of it right? The fight or flight nature of humans disappears for a moment. In that time and space it's just you. Feeling at one with the bike. Moving with it. Joined as one. With climbing it's the same. You're in it together, willing the bike to be lighter, be more nimble, willing it up the road.

You can sprint, spin, grind or plod up a hill. Either way, when the gradient begins to lessen life springs back into the legs. There's a second lease of life as you think to yourself "that wasn't too bad". And then you want more. You want to climb more, you want to PB, you want to see more views.

All after a lie down first, you've toasted your legs with eagerness.

And so you find yourself plotting your next route. You don't ignore the hills or pray not to find one, you embrace them and seek them out. Waiting for the time when you can jump aboard your bike and push the limit each and every time. 

So what are you waiting for? Don't avoid the hills get out there and climb them. 

One peddle stroke at a time.

Post dedicated to Grace Lambret-Smith, who has some serious hills to climbs and just keeps going.

10 July 2016


A few photos from last night's Red Hook Crit race held in Greenwich, London.