A nasty case of hill work

Feeling great – like having a tailwind! Get up, potter around doing everyday Fucius household stuff. Check the training programme. Two words to take the tailwind out of those sails: “hill work”.

Actually what is says is: “45 mins warm-up; hills 2 x 15 mins (10 mins seated at 80/85 rpm cadence, last 5 mins standing); total recovery between the two climbs; 45 mins confortable speed warm down.”

Kind of quirky and all I have to do is:

  • go out and find 15 minute hill;
  • go up;
  • go up again;
  • go merrily home.

Now round here, hill work is fairly relative – actually I think I did exactly the above yesterday without meaning to. So what to do? I decided to go for a particularly nasty one nearby with some 20%s in there and which I normally save for much later in the year when feeling at the top of my game.

So what did I learn?

  • it is a Good Thing to do something that you think is maybe too hard. Actually you may find you can do it.
  • standing up for five minutes (in cyclefucius’s currently electronics-free world about 300 Mississippi) is something that needs training. This is worth doing even if you wouldn’t actually “in realĀ  life” (see next points).
  • unless you are Sr. Contador or Chris Horner standing up is not very efficient – you will lose form and cadence and, if not on the road, then traction as well.
  • however, there is such thing as “standing up for a rest” i.e. to bring in other muscle groups.
  • warming down gradually helps (i.e. continuing to pedal rather than stopping suddenly) – not just for your legs but maybe even more for your heart.
  • unless you are really a pro or have chosen your hill very carefully, you will forget about cadences and heart rates – it may just be about survival (a sensible bit of “pushing it” seems to me OK and inevitable) [legal says this is where you tell them you are not a doctor etc. – Ed.]
  • while doing hill work it is almost impossible to enjoy the view, think sweet thoughts, compose blog posts etc. You are definitely training not riding. The only thoughts you are likely to have are how your body feels right now and how ‘future you’ will be grateful. This kind of takes away some of the point of getting out on the bike. It’s only a little Zen – living simultaneously in the present and the future.

So “hill work” done. A necessary evil? Hope so. Motto of the day: easier than yesterday and not as easy as tomorrow.


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