Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On climbing and struggle and lying to your body

So, today I rode up Michael Road. If you don't know Michael Road, well, it's probably difficult to appreciate what I experienced. As I wrote in the previous post, it's a long, slow climb. At least it feels that way to me. I love climbing - much more than descending, which just scares me - but it's also something that I don't do as well as I'd like. What does this mean? I need to do it more.

On the group rides I've been on, there's a long, slow climb that we take. It's where you get to see who is really in shape and who is not. I remember my first group ride taking that climb and then being told, "Wow, most people have to get off or stop sometime during that climb their first time," which gave my ego a bit of a boost, but that was quickly shattered as I realized that the climb would win the next few times.

Still, it feels good to pass people in the group, to glide by them, to dance on the pedals and achieve the top of a hill. I also know that those same people will pass me going down, but that's ok.

Today I tried to apply some basic climbing techniques. These include: relax, keep an open body posture, breathe. Relaxing your body is tough; you're struggling up a hill, which creates stress, and then you're trying to relax? Well, I think it works. The more loose you feel, the easier it is to climb. Opening up your body means keeping your arms apart on the handlebars. It helps you breathe better if you have a more open posture. Also this can keep you relaxed. Finally, taking in air, exhaling, etc. are pretty important. I focused my energy on deep breaths. I literally talked to myself at points during these climbs. I'd tell myself, "Ok, just get to that next tree. Then you can stop." The idea is that I'm not going to stop, but my body doesn't know that yet. Yes, I lie to my body.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the morning ride. It was good to be alone, too, because I didn't have the pressure of an audience. I love riding with others, because there's safety in that, but sometimes struggling - and therefore, climbing - needs to be private...until I write about it on my blog.

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