Hill Repeats (Kinda)

I woke up this morning and knew instantly that something was wrong. My throat was sore, my body ached, my nose was all stuffed up and horror of horrors, I had a headache. Generally, I like to think that I am tough when it comes to enduring aches, pains, bruises and wounds of various types. But when my head is aching? I act like a pathetic, whiny child. My head hurts, obviously I’m dying.

To combat my cold symptoms (because apparently some pathogens think it is the end of January, not the end of June) I went out for a ride in the bright sunshine. I decided to do a series of hill repeats but being in rebellious child mode, I did it my way. I climbed the same hill, four times, I just took a different route to do it each time. Yeah, four times probably isn’t an adequate amount to call it hill repeats, but I am gonna call it whatever I want to call it. (That is the kind of mood I have been in all day.)

DSC00762

This tree and my cold would make great friends; they both still think it is winter.

I am trying to  learn the proper way to descend a slope on my road bike, going into the drops feels odd and I always wonder if I am actually doing it right. On my first descent, a truck passed closely on my left and started sucking me into its “draft vortex”. I fought to maintain my position on the shoulder which made me swerve into a patch of loose sand. The bike slid a bit and then began to wobble madly. My brain passed on a bit of helpful information.

“You are going to crash.”

It used to be that at the first sign of imminent danger I would freeze up, tense my muscles and grip those brakes sharply – not a formula for success. But over the course of the winter I learned to change my reaction to panicky thoughts. I gradually taught myself that they were actually a cue to keep my muscles loose and to use my hands gently and sparingly, if at all, on the brakes. That training held me in good stead today and by simply keeping my body loose I was able to get my bike back under control.

By the end of the ride I felt so much better, my legs were burning up the last climb and it made me forget all about my headache, at least until I got home.

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10 thoughts on “Hill Repeats (Kinda)

  1. For me going down hill and picking up speed makes me nervous if I don’t know the road. Don’t know if there’s pot holes or sand, like you said, or some unknown condition. I’m constantly riding the brakes. (still squeaky brakes..driving me nutty I haven’t figured it out) If I’ve been over the road a few times I tend to get cocky and lay off the brakes. Good luck with the head.

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    • Check your brake pads, chances are you took a piece of aluminum or sand and it embedded into the brake pad. Dig it out with the tip of a razor blade. If that doesn’t do it, change the brake pads, they may be dried out.

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      • Youtube has countless videos on squeaky brakes. 1. Clean the rim and brake pads maybe with steel wool and rubbing alcohol. 2. Angle or toe in the pads so the front of the pad hits the rim first. 3. Sand down the pads kinda like what you said. 4. Change the pads. (my pads were brand new) I did all these steps and finally changed the pads even though they were new. I went over the rims again with rubbing alcohol and it’s actually better. We’ll see.

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  2. Bri, first, nice job getting out in the midst of a cold. You repeated a hill four times, that is a hill repeat, no? Yes.

    On the descents, I always like the drops… Loose arms, bend them a bit so they can absorb road chatter. Good grip but not too tight. Loose but not loose enough that an unexpected bump will knock your hands free. In the drops, you lower your center of gravity and increase stability.

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