To climb, to reach, to strive valiantly…to come up short again and again…to push yourself to your limit and hold it there, balancing on the precipice of sanity and cruelty, to exercise your demons and blast away your fears of death and challenge the almighty to take you if now be the time, to go into the void of your soul and find a way to keep pushing when nothing in you wants to continue. To give everything that you have, and watch as others dance by and take the prize from you without effort or toil. Then the next to find you have the grace, the gift, the favor to be the one at the front, setting the pace, driving the machine toward the summit and able to respond and then push back on your limits again and again to a place beyond your mind and fly with the Angels toward the heavens and taste the heat of the sun as Icarus did…and yet not be burned…to fly, to be free of the chains of this devilish coil and taste the sweet refreshing dew of the high and hallowed mountains, having bent them to your might and courage and resolve as you scaled heroically the peaks on your life on a bicycle.
Hmmm, I get kinda emotional when I think about climbing, what it really means to me. I just finished our first night of Hill Climbing boot camp and I am reminded that I was fortunate to start my riding career in Steamboat Springs, where climbing was what you did on a bike. When you live in the mountains, you learn how to climb. I remember my first time getting to the top of Rabbit Ears pass, I felt like I had found a new world, the summit meadows of freshly melted of snow, the quiet deer grazing and still little ponds of pure mountain water, it changed my soul and MAN do I miss it!
I usually make the climb from the Crystal turn where we park up to Sunrise or Chinook or both, but for me Chinook is the best climb between here and Colorado.
Skip the warm-up
When the temperatures are at or above 80-90 degrees, there’s really no reason to put in much of a warm up. You’ll probably find that it won’t take long for your muscles to warm up so I would recommend trying to stay cool. Stay in the shade, pour cold water over your head and onto your shorts and jersey. In even more extreme temperatures, I have used ice in my jersey as well as in stockings stuffed down the back of my jersey.
When you’re racing in temperatures over 90 degrees, heat exhaustion is a real health concern that I’ve personally experienced and is not to be taken lightly. If you start to get nauseous, dizzy or foggy/start to black out, then you are past ‘the point of no return’ and you should stop riding immediately and get cooled off as soon as possible. No matter how acclimated one is to the temperature, there is a maximum amount of time in those temperatures one can exhaust themselves in so don’t take temperature extremes for granted under any circumstance.
Part of staying hydrated also has to do with the proper amount of electrolytes in the liquids that you’re ingesting. The hotter it is, the more sweat and electrolytes will be drawn from your body. If you start a ride, whether it’s hot or not, already dehydrated, there is no physically possible way for you to make that up during the ride. Always start any physical activity properly hydrated and again, listen to your body for how often you need to drink.
Sipping more frequently is better than gulping infrequently for several reasons: it’s easier on your system to absorb water and electrolytes if taken in smaller and more spaced out amounts and also if you’re already taxing your body in extreme temperatures, adding another ‘pressure’ of having to deal with GI distress is only going to make your body’s ability to sustain the endurance &/or effort that much harder.
For a complete description of signs, symptoms and preventive measures to take for heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat stress conditions the Center for Disease Control has a complete list here
*”Heat Acclimation improves exercises performance” published in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology
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One of the joys of riding a bicycle is using this machine to get exactly the most amount of speed from the energy you put into it. When we teach our hill climbing bootcamps or private lessons, one of the biggest things we teach people is how to shift correctly to maintain momentum, utilize all your cycling muscles at the right cadences and to be smooth so you don’t strain yourself with sudden changes. This is the art of cycling. Using the bicycle as a machine to propel you smoothly to go faster with less effort.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. As I was riding to work, going down a steep hill which led into an uphill, I had to keep it in my big ring and my cadence slowly dropped as I was going through the bottom of the hill, and starting to go upward. I then started shifting with my right shifter 2 gears at a time to make it easier, pedaling as I went, with the goal of keeping my cadence around 80 rpm and applying pressure to the pedals to carry speed
Do you remember when cycling was exciting and new? When you got that little rush of excitement when you were gearing up and heading out to tackle a ride? Getting stoked on cycling is as easy as trying something new, and these days there is no shortage of new stuff to get excited about. The gear, the clothing, the electronics, the disc brakes, the fat bikes, the gravel. There are hundreds of splinter-cell cool things going on in cycling right now besides the traditional Road, Mountain, Cyclocross and Track, so pick one and get after it! You don’t have to race, you can just try out something new.
You have to be stoked and a little “in love” with the whole thing or it won’t keep you working. That is what keeps me coming back and finding fresh excitement for something I have done non-stop since 1985. I have been through 3 year obsessive phases in road racing, mountain bike racing and cyclocross racing, and that only got me to 1997. If you are starting off this season and not feeling the “Stoke” then you need to mix it up. Show up to a new ride, sign up for a new event, or try a different kind of cycling to keep it fresh and challenging. The cool thing is that when you come back to what you first loved, in my case Road cycling, it is fresh once again years later like returning from a long around the world trip to your home. Get out there and get stoked!!! – Check out Meet Up to find new things, here is our page to get you started that lists all our rides and clinics for the summer: Meet Up-Find cool groups or events to try near you
This Saturday May 2nd we do our Fix a Flat, lube your chain and basic maintenance clinic at West Seattle store 11-11:45am. We then lead a free shop ride at noon of about 20 miles with Head Coach Craig Undem. Learn to paceline and ride correctly along with finding a new route!
Sand Point shop there is a free ride at 11am, going to Seward Park and back from the shop. This is a classic “bread and butter” route that everyone needs to know, from here you can launch to Mercer Island, South end of Lake Washington or anything on the East Side. We don’t want to see anyone riding up through the Arboretum (down or North is OK if you are going fast) because there is no shoulder. Learn the right way to navigate through the North end to South Lake Washington by bicycle.
Our 11th anniversary sale also continues with everything in both stores on sale 20-60% through this weekend.
Ride with Cycle U
Other upcomming free events in May:
How to Fix a Flat and Lube your Chain, basic maintenance.
-Saturday May 2nd 11-11:30am West Seattle shop.
Try Road Racing! Clinic at Pacific Raceways. info at Budu Racing the race promoter website
-Tuesday May 5th 5:55pm AT Pacific Raceways
How to Commute by Bicycle or use it as basic transportation.
-Wednesday May 6th 6:30-7:15pm West Seattle shop.
Get Ready to Ride! safety, mechanical and fitting check on your bicycle
-Saturday May 9th 11-11:30am West Seattle AND Sand Point shops, same times at each.
Winning Cyclocross, the secrets to a winning season by Head Coach Craig Undem
-Tuesday May 12th 7:30-8:30pm Sand Point shop. Link to sign up, limited seating