For All Spinning® Enthusiasts

HILLS and MORE HILLS - BANE OR BLESSING?

HILLS AND MORE HILLS – BANE OR BLESSING?

Blog posted by Linda Freeman 6/22/2012

They are inevitable.  Unless you live in Florida or Kansas, you cannot take a ride without climbing a hill.  (Perhaps I should qualify this.  I once met a cyclist about to tackle a tough climb in Vermont.  We chatted in the parking lot and I found that he was visiting from Kansas.  Oh dear.  “NO problem,” he assured me.  Having ridden rather continuously in headwinds in Kansas, he was confident that he would be able to climb just about anything having done so many times before.  Hmmmmm.  Something to think about….)

In our Spinning® training, work in several of our Energy Zones includes hill work or rather an approximation of ascending a variety of grades depending on what kind of terrain each of us creates by using the resistance knob on our Spinners®.  We might find ourselves gradually increasing resistance to simulate a gradual climb, elevating the heart rate number by number.  We might find ourselves on a series of imagined rollers or in an all-out effort to summit a steep section of road that calls upon our reserves to get the job done.  Sometimes we visualize a known or mentally created route; sometimes we focus on the mechanics of the bike.  Always we employ climbing techniques including sliding back in the saddle, relaxing the upper body and focusing on the power phase of our pedal stroke.  In a standing climb in class we take care to place the weight appropriately so that we do not throw our weight too far forward, lean on the handle bars and thus create even more weight to push up our perceived hill.  We practice changing hand positions from 2 to 3 and back again as we transition in an out of the saddle.  We watch our heart rates soar, learn to control the intensity, and practice skills to take outside if and when the time comes to do so.

The journey from the bottom of the hill to the top is a process.  I often quip that “Patience is overrated” but, of course, that is only my own impatience speaking.  Patience combined with calm perseverance get the job done.  When we get into trouble on a hill we might tense up driving with frantic intensity.  This is counterproductive and instead acts to shut us down, to disconnect us from our power source.

In Spinning® class we stand and jump on the hill for fitness and as cross-training for cycling outdoors.  The connection is very real.  Elements of roads, trails, time trials and centuries can be found in class, each supporting the other with balanced techniques and practice.    The mind-body connection, always evident, segues into our personal history.  Each class taken, each ride completed, each hill climbed adds to our confidence.  We’ve been there; we’ve done that; and we can do it again – not by sheer grit or the skin of our teeth, not randomly, but deliberately with growing strength and understanding. 

Life is made up of hills – the climbs and the recoveries.  The hills in our class, the hills on the road, the hills in the woods and the hills in our days, weeks, months and years – all become our history.  What is at times a bane, ultimately becomes a blessing.  

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