We’ve talked about gears this week. Good gearing gets you up hills with less effort, but what do you need psychologically to climb hills? What is your hill philosophy? Should you adapt it?
Sisyphus (so the myth has it) was an ancient Greek who so loved life he put death in chains. This angered the Gods who released death (they wanted to be the only immortals) and condemned Sisyphus to an eternity of pushing a rock up a hill, only to see it roll back down again. What’s this got to do with cycling? Albert Camus, an “absurdist” writer, considered Sisyphus and decided that far from bemoaning his fate
“one must consider Sisyphus happy”
Some cyclists can well imagine his delight: rather than any sense of futility in the task. They deliberately set out to toil up hills, for the joy of freewheeling down them again. Psychologically it’s short term pain for a quick gain.
Others find the adrenaline rush of the downhill a bit overwhelming but like the achievement of steaming up a steep hill and getting to the top, passing Sisypheans on the way. But what do you need to get up the hill? The right gear and fuel in the tank! Preparation to be in the right gear before you need it when you see the hill coming is an investment and fuelling all ride, knowing there are hills ahead, is a wise strategy to adopt. Psychologically this is taking the long view of your journey.
Of course you could plan a hill-free route. Just go flat out on the flat. Ignorance is bliss? But if you never experience the pain of climbing you never get the joy (or a chance to rest your weary legs) of zooming down.
Finally, do you gear mash all the way on your tiptoes or sit back and spin? Or do you see the hill ahead, understand the size of the task start seated and slow and as you rise higher and higher and get nearer and nearer your goal do you change up, stand up and push for the top? That’s probably what superheroes do.