Monday, October 3, 2011


peter wilborn calls it riding through the top of a climb.
shannon mulder, one of my favorite power camp coaches (think Korn, raunchy jokes, drop your shoulders and consistently genuine enthusiasm) told us not to let up just because you've reached the top.

I simply describe it as don't stop pedaling as you crest, and this has been one of the best tricks in my little cycling bag.

many cyclists dread hills.
I don't; I rather like them.
I prefer them to the flat (ish) sections where men (and strong women) can outpower me significantly, where I usually find myself at the back of the pace line, heart pounding just below zone 5, trying to hang on until I eventually get dropped.
the hills are much better: the line splits up, everyone goes at their own pace, and I get there when I get there without that fear of falling off, being dropped, failing to hold on to the draft off someone's wheel.

and shannon taught me, that first year of power camp, always ride through the top of the hill because that's where people slack off. now I don't care too much what everyone else does, but this taught me a huge lesson that has benefited my training (and experiences) significantly. this is when I learned one of cycling great truisms:
you can always recover on the down.
since I don't race, it's really not about beating anyone else, being faster than anyone else, getting further down the hill before they do: it's about training your body that it can work just a little bit harder for just a few seconds longer, and then find its way to a resting place while coasting (or pedaling with much less intensity) downhill.
to stop at the top of the hill destroys my momentum. it's anticlimactic: I find myself so much more gleeful as I ride through the top and start the descent, grinning and relishing the joy of the much-deserved swoop. my heart will still be pounding as the grade slips into negative numbers, then gradually tick its way down to a hardly-working place as the scenery slips by.
I love this.

to be clear, there are definitely times when I stop at the top of a climb. brighton, alta (or albion basin), city creek, lamb's canyon, millcreek: when you reach these summits the road ends and it's time to savor your victory for a bit.
but on the climbs that are simply leading you to the next leg of your ride---whether they be 10-mile climbs or 1-mile rises---the trick of powering over the top and continuing on teaches you that you are tougher than you thought, more capable, stronger, and, I dare say, wiser.
the road will ease, you'll be given an opportunity to recover.
need I say this holds true in other aspects of life as well?
nope, didn't think so.

power on, don't stop when you reach the crest.
keep striving, keep reaching, give it a little more, and the rewards will shortly follow, when you can doubly enjoy your swoop.

PS: nineteen years ago today at this exact time I welcomed my incredible son beau into the world . . . happy birthday, big guy!

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