Sunday, October 28, 2007

Self-Taught Biking on Hills

It was a perfect day – cool and crisp and sunny. I needed to pick up a loaf of bread. I hadn’t ridden my bike in a while. What better reasons to go for a bike ride?

I invited my husband to join me. He claimed too much to do. I asked if he was really just concerned that I would ride too slowly. He finally admitted that his knee was bothering him and he was afraid of the hills on the way home from Best Buns, my favorite bread store.

So what was I, wimpiest hill biker, thinking? I pumped up my tires and set out on my own. On the way to the store, I noticed that there was a persistent clicking noise with every pedal rotation when the front deraileur was in the center position. Wonder what’s up with that? I thought.

After looking very French with my baguette and dog biscuit sticking out of my bike bag, I decided to go on over to Spokes and get some advice on the clicking noise. Getting from Shirlington on one side of I-395 to Quaker Lane on the other is a bit daunting. I opted to walk my bike so as not to further annoy the hordes of motorists who knew I had no business on that busy exchange over the highway.

I love the guys at Spokes. First of all, they always look at your bike right away when you walk in with your helmet on, knowing you are in the middle of a ride and really don’t want to leave it. Second, they never make you feel stupid when it’s something as simple as the brake cable that was causing the clicking noise. And third, they never charge anything for a simple diagnosis and repair. I guess they figure you paid them enough money for the bike originally. So my Specialized Sequoia was back in business with no more click.

Then I remembered those various hills I had to deal with on the way home. Here was the strategy I used today: (1) get up momentum BEFORE the hill, (2) lean forward and make my legs do the work, (3) don’t be afraid to shift into the easiest gear, (4) think about the great lunch I was going to make when I got home. This seemed to work like a charm. I rode, albeit slowly, up every blasted hill and arrived home to be greeted by “That was quick!”

So maybe, just maybe, I’m learning to cope with hills. However, I’m still waiting for a session with my friend who is a biker and a trainer. I’m ready to do some serious work to strengthen my legs. As much as I hate exercise, it’s a good thing to do!


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Forget best buns of steel! Your calves are going to be as hard as rocks! I'm impressed by your level of fitness in biking and am envious too! It was only 5 C and windy today so biking was out of the question. Did the indoor bike instaed.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I'm impressed. I'm all kinds of achy today. Just the thought of walking makes me want to cry. I never would have braved the hills.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- Don't be too impressed. I'm still very slow.

Kristin -- Sounds like you are a little under the weather. Feel better soon!

9:09 PM  
Blogger Ruth D~ said...

Great story of your day. Best Buns! That's a riot. Keep riding and you can pin that name tag to your butt. And will you give me a nudge to get moving on my bike? Please?

10:18 PM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

Way to go! When I'm dragging my less-than-best buns to work tomorrow, I'll take this as inspiration.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

RuthD -- I didn't even think about the other meaning of "Best Buns" when I wrote this. Ha! You can come ride with me any time.

Ulysses -- So did you freeze your best buns off on the trip in today? I think we skipped Fall and went straight to Winter!

9:42 AM  
Blogger Aileen said...

Very impressive! I am the world's worst uphill bike rider...And since I live at the top of a pretty big hill, I often have to "drive" my bike somewhere in order to enjoy a ride!!!!

12:07 PM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

Definitely shoulda worn full-fingered gloves this morning...

There was frost on the car!

12:24 PM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

Maybe you could pass some hill training ideas on to Aileen.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Aileen -- Maybe our next Blog meet-up should be a SLOW bike ride. Even better, maybe we can persuade someone who knows something about biking (you know who you are) to give us some training!

Ulysses -- Who, moi? :)

1:25 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Just tell the 'best buns' that for every uphill theres a WHEEEEE downhill as a reward! Then they'll co-operate even more enthusiastically!

9:10 AM  

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