Why Do You Climb?

07.24.2008 | 12:59 pm

Once in a while, you’ll have a day where things are so busy that you have no realistic expectation of getting in a ride. You’ve just got too much to do. Optional (i.e., "fun") stuff is going to have to wait for another day.

And then, almost by magic, a "ride window" appears. An appointment falls through. You finish the errands before you expected to. Your spouse takes pity on you. Whatever. The important thing is, you’ve got maybe 70 minutes. Not enough time for a long ride, but certainly enough time for a good ride.

That’s what happened to me last Tuesday.

I got home from work, assuming that my next task was to start dinner for the family, followed by cleaning up the house.

But dinner was made. The house was clean. Susan doesn’t let a little thing like a paralyzing tumor in her spinal cord slow her down.

So I had just enough time for a short ride before taking the family out to a play (we’re a very cultural-minded family).

The question was, what kind of ride would I want to do when I only had just over an hour?

The answer, for me, was obvious and easy: Climb one side of Suncrest, drop down the other side, and then turn around and come back. Two four-mile, 1500′ climbs.

I say the decision to do a climbing ride was obvious and easy, and I mean it. I just love climbing rides. So far, this week, my rides (all road — shoulder’s still no good) have been:

  • Monday: Up AF Canyon to Alpine Loop Summit, down to Cascade Springs, and then back again: about 6500′ of climbing
  • Tuesday: Up the South side of Suncrest, down the North side, and then back again: about 3000′ of climbing
  • Wednesday: Repeat of Monday
  • Thursday: Up AF Canyon to Alpine Loop Summit and back again: about 3500′ of climbing

Nobody’s forcing me to select these rides, and I’m not doing them because I’m training for a race. I like to climb.

But — and I get this question pretty often from friends and neighbors — why do I choose these routes, when I don’t have to?

That question isn’t as easy to answer.

Back to Tuesday
As I was climbing up the North side of Suncrest, I was pondering that question. "Why am I climbing? Why do I seek this out?"

See, climbing seems like a good idea except when you’re actually doing it. This is the grand paradox of climbing.

Then another rider turned onto the road, about 75 yards ahead of me. He looked strong. Good legs, nice bike. A worthy opponent.

"Hewwo Wabbit," I said, in my best Elmer Fudd voice. You know, because Elmer chases Bugs Bunny. And because he’s bald. And short.

Look, let’s just say I identify with Elmer Fudd and leave it at that, OK?

I stepped up my pace, the pain easier to endure now that I had a more exciting objective than merely to survive the climb.

I had prey.

The guy I was trying to catch saw me by the time I was 50 yards behind him, at which point he stood up and picked up his pace.

Ha. He had sacrificed any legitimate claim to not caring whether I caught him. He cared, all right.

In fact, he cared deeply.

Each time he looked back and saw I was closing the gap, he’d stand and put on a burst of speed. A foolish tactic. Bursts like that cost more than they’re worth. Ullrich-like, I remained seated, staying in second gear. Knowing that to him it would look like I’m going slow because my cadence is low.

Knowing that he wouldn’t get a look at my tell-tale quads until it was too late.

Hey, How’s It Going?
Eventually, inevitably, inexorably, I caught him. And by law, that meant we were required to exchange pleasantries.

I went first.

"Harsh climb, isn’t it?" The subtext, of course, being that while the climb was indeed harsh, I was faster than he was up it.

"Yeah," he replied. "And it’s just too hot to climb well." A lame excuse, because we were both cycling in the same climate.

"Have a good ride," I concluded, pulling in front of him. And then, ten seconds later, looking back to see if he had cracked.

He had.

My victory was complete.

My Answer
"This," I thought to myself. "This is why I climb." Because it’s the closest thing I’ve got to a superpower. And by "superpower," I don’t mean some lame freebie superpower like the kind you get because you were born near a red sun or bitten by a spider, for crying out loud  — "acquired by lottery" superpowers suck.


I mean the kind of superpower Batman has. And don’t believe for a second Batman doesn’t have superpowers. He has tons of superpowers. It’s just that he’s earned them all.

I climb because I can roll up beside someone on a bike, and unless climbing is also his superpower, I can surprise him.

Eventually, it all comes down to this: I climb because I can.


  1. Comment by joe | 07.24.2008 | 1:04 pm

    Being a fellow fat cyclist (fat as in 240) I take special pleasure in knowing I can climb fairly well for my size. I have caught many a cyclist on a climb, and been dropped a few times as well. I am not, however, crazy enough to go seeking them out when I don’t have to, but I do see the method to your madness.

    Win Susan!


  2. Comment by Erik | 07.24.2008 | 1:07 pm

    I climb for lunch. Less time, more quality. Then go spend time with the kid. Sweet.

  3. Comment by Thomas Brock | 07.24.2008 | 1:11 pm


    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I can’t climb for crap. In fact, I’ve got less than 500 miles on a saddle and most of those are commuting miles.

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing your blog.


    Thomas Brock

  4. Comment by john b | 07.24.2008 | 1:14 pm

    climbing give me a break from the rest of my life, and helps me put it all back into perspective. Things like $$ don’t matter as you push and push. Makes me realize the real value of things – like spending time with friends and family.

    Win Susan

  5. Comment by mark | 07.24.2008 | 1:17 pm

    Fatty, if it were me you were chasing, I would let you catch me and then try and hang on only to surprise you at the end. That way, when you did inevitably pass me, it would have been obvious I was not trying to prevent it, thus diminishing your satisfaction with the feat. Moreover, on the off chance that I did hang and pass you at the end, you’d have had that to live with without first having had the satisfaction of beating me when I was trying.

    That is how we non-climbers deal with the smugness of you climbing types.

  6. Comment by tim | 07.24.2008 | 1:21 pm

    i wish i could climb. kudos to you Elden.

  7. Comment by Bill Martin | 07.24.2008 | 1:26 pm

    Awesome post, I laughed a lot. Then there is Mark, and I have ran into his type. They let you pass then keep on the wheel. This is what I like best, because to pull away from them and ruin their plan is the best part. I love hearing the deep breathing start behind me. Sometimes I’ll keep the pace just low enough to make them suffer even more, then pull away … even more fun! lol!

  8. Comment by victoria | 07.24.2008 | 1:31 pm

    If only mtbing was just about climbing! If I could just climb up mountains (and never have to go down them), I’d be a sooooper mountain-biker. Downhills terrify me. I have no desire to go through what it would take to get over this fear, so I will just hope that one day, there will be a race (or a route) that only involves riding UP mountains and not down. Yeah– I get the joy of climbing. Where you lose me is the downhills.

    I also identify with the Elmer Fudd approach (just with running trails). Particularly as a female who doesn’t look like Deena Kastor, seeing men pick up their pace as you pass them is highly amusing.

    Susan’s amazing. Period.

  9. Comment by Bravo Delta | 07.24.2008 | 1:32 pm

    Bravo! Well said oh Fat one… I climb because I must suffer to be good (even beautiful)

  10. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 07.24.2008 | 1:33 pm

    What’s a climb? Everything here in central Florida is flat! You would scoff at what locals here call climbs. :-)

  11. Comment by leroy | 07.24.2008 | 1:33 pm

    My beard grows in white.

    You want to demoralize someone on a climb? Pass them while sporting a white beard. And if they pass you… well, hey, way to go, racing an old guy.

    Since donning a Fat Cyclist jersey, climbing is way easier because I’ve dropped over 20 pounds. I assume you never mention the jersey’s magical weight loss properties due to FTC and FDA concerns.

    But the real reason I climb the little moguls around here is because I like going downhill.

    It’s kinda like hitting yourself in the head with a 2 by 4 because it feels so good when you stop.

  12. Comment by DOM | 07.24.2008 | 1:39 pm

    Understand the words, can’t relate at all to the feeling. Maybe the guy you passed has a blog. Today I would fit in so much better there.

  13. Comment by Duane | 07.24.2008 | 1:44 pm

    Batman rules!

    I climb OK for a guy 6′3 and 201 lbs.

    Here’s the odd thing: I like climbing on my road bike – but I get all out of whack on my mtb. Then on the descent – I’m pretty cool on my mtb but skittish on my RB. Odd.

  14. Comment by Jeff | 07.24.2008 | 1:48 pm

    Awesome post.

    Personally, I’m more of a descender than a climber.

  15. Comment by chtrich | 07.24.2008 | 1:48 pm

    I climb because mocougfan can’t.
    Actually I do love to climb as well. It just adds something to the ride. Flat and fast gets old after a bit, but give me a 30 mile hill to climb and there’s a good ride.

  16. Comment by Al Maviva | 07.24.2008 | 1:51 pm

    Why do I climb? Not because I can, because Lord knows, I can’t.

    I climb because descending from the bottom of the hill sucks, but descending from the top is what I live for. IMAO, it isn’t a good descent if you hit your brakes on the way down, and if you have to hit ‘em, they should be half melted when you release and still you say “damn that was too close.” And you aren’t really going that fast unless your wheels are spinning so hard that even a slight imbalance in the rim has them hopping like a kangaroo on crystal meth, and the sound of the tires zinging on the road drowns out the sound of wind rushing by. Speedo maxed out at 60 (but you’re still accellerating), wheels hopping a little, tiny bits of gravel hitting your legs, eyes wide open, terrified of crashing, thinking about how your wife would miss you, wishing you’d eaten one less Clif bar because your stomach is starting to knot up, your heart rate is at 170 but you haven’t turned the pedals in 7 minutes, your knuckles are white because “keep a loose grip” at that speed means your elbows are loose but your hands have a death grip on the drops…

    Yeah, that’s why I climb. Can’t do any of that unless you climb first.

  17. Comment by Boz | 07.24.2008 | 2:09 pm

    Two words, Al M, chair lift. Al of the sensations you have described are heightened considerably when rding you road bike on a MTB downhill race course. You go first, please.

  18. Comment by Hamish A | 07.24.2008 | 2:23 pm

    Why do I climb? For a number of reasons. Only a couple of which are masochistic in nature:

    I love the burning you get in your lungs from pushing yourself just that little bit harder than your heart rate monitor says you should.*

    Nothing rivals a good burn in the quads and there isn’t a gear big enough to give you that feeling on the flat.

    When I climb it is all I focus on. Nothing else matters but getting up that hill. If I want to de-stress after a tough day I’ll find the nearest hill and go for it.

    And my favorite reason: If I beat myself up on a climb then I’ve earned whatever I want from the refrigerator when I get home :-)

    On this subject – I don’t realise I’m doing it but apparently I like trying to have a conversation with people I’m passing on a climb. It turns out this offends people. Does it?

    * Never, ever ignore your heart rate monitor. Ever. If it beeps a warning, find out what it is. Don’t mess around. Investigate. Seriously. My lecture is over.

    WIN Susan!!!

    Keep climbing Fatty.

  19. Comment by kentucky joe | 07.24.2008 | 2:50 pm

    FC–great post but I relate to Al M’s comment….although the real panic for me sets in if that descent coincides with a just wet road from a passing shower and the descent is so curvy that you your total concentration is locked on not overcooking one of those curves while the myriad downhill wipe out videos from the TDF file footage keeps playing in your head…now that’s fun!

  20. Comment by Heatherann | 07.24.2008 | 2:57 pm

    You rock. I will climb vicariously through you, because I am a wimp and I do not climb.

  21. Comment by Big Boned | 07.24.2008 | 3:09 pm

    Isn’t Elmer Fuddy….well…wouldn’t most call him “Chubby”?

  22. Comment by Big Boned | 07.24.2008 | 3:10 pm

    Fudd, Fuddy – same difference!

  23. Comment by Mocougfan | 07.24.2008 | 3:12 pm

    The reason you, Chtrich, and Ulrich all like to climb is because your dopers. That’s what you do.

    I’m totally jealous of your schedule.

  24. Comment by Mike Roadie | 07.24.2008 | 3:14 pm

    I live in FL, so climbing is extremely limited….unless you count bridges and former trash dumps.
    Last week I was treated to a little climb called the Metcalf Road outside of San Jose. 14% average for 1.8 miles with a max of 17%….
    Yeah…….thanks a lot Lance!

  25. Comment by K | 07.24.2008 | 3:31 pm

    I like to climb because it feels good to pass people who pass me on flats and descents. Unfortunately, I face planted while going down hill a few years back and since then, I can’t enjoy the downhill reward of my climb as much as other people can. Oh well. I’ll just have to catch them again at the next uphill :)


  26. Comment by blinddrew | 07.24.2008 | 3:37 pm

    ah climbing, went out a couple of weeks ago and had one of those random days when everything seemed to just work, i was riding well, everyone else wasn’t and Nick I’ve-just-come-back-from-a-week-cycling-up-the-alps wasn’t around. That day i was destroying everyone on the climbs, and then it occurred to me that actually, this is what Nick feels like every week… ;¬)

    While i’m here i just want to give a massive thanks to Hamish A for responding to my post a week or so ago and trying to help me get an FC jersey. No luck but i’ll try in November again. Thanks anyway :¬)


  27. Comment by rich | 07.24.2008 | 3:49 pm

    Climbing = the person
    Climbing = suffering
    Suffering builds character
    Character, not circumstance, makes the person….

    yeah, not quite sure what that means either….

    I like climbing because of it’s ability to make you forget just how bad your day was, it allows the most bang for the buck training-wise and it forces me to go to my happy place and disappear for a while…..until the downhill….that’s when it really gets fun…

  28. Comment by Lizzylou | 07.24.2008 | 4:06 pm

    I know it seems pitiful, but I cannot even comprehend what it would be like to climb 6500 feet. Despite the convenient mountain range that I live near, the longest climb available is probably just over 1000 feet. It would be immensly dull to go do the same climb 6 times in a row though. Our mountains are puny, I know.

  29. Comment by ann | 07.24.2008 | 4:07 pm

    It’s always, always a metaphor. You climb because you can…WIN.

  30. Comment by Hamish A | 07.24.2008 | 4:29 pm

    @ Mike Roadie – Metcalf Road is a doozy, isn’t it? For those not familiar with it: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/5779736

    If you’re ever back out this way drop me a line and I’ll show you some of our much more enjoyable climbs then introduce you to some real recovery nutrition :-D

  31. Comment by Teri | 07.24.2008 | 4:35 pm

    I climb because Rainier and St. Helens are right in my own backyard. I climb for the jaw-droppingly gorgeous views, the sound of snow-melt streams, the fragrance of newly-opened wildflowers, the thrill of smooth, black-ribbon winding descents, the chill of tall snowbanks that I glide past in the heat of a summer day. I climb because I’m a middle-aged woman with a fast bike and most people think I shouldn’t…it’s not proper, you know. I climb to show them I can, I will, and I do.

  32. Comment by Teri | 07.24.2008 | 4:36 pm

    Oh….and WIN Susan!! You are an honorary Fast Chick, you know….you secretly accompany me on every ride. I hope those fast mountain descents haven’t scared you too much! ;-)

  33. Comment by Carolyn | 07.24.2008 | 5:00 pm

    We should all appreciate the ability to climb. Or walk. Or take the stairs.

  34. Comment by Bike Girl | 07.24.2008 | 5:19 pm

    Bike Girl recalls a particularly empowering climb where she made it up and back 4 times before a strung-out peloton of bicycle cops made it up once…

    While wearing the jersey of a team that is in frequent conflict with the police.

    Win Susan!

  35. Comment by KanyonKris | 07.24.2008 | 5:24 pm

    I climbed north Suncrest on Tuesday. I enjoyed it, but I’m still not 100% sure why I like climbing. I’m not the fastest, it hurts, I’m slow. There’s just something satisfying about hauling my carcass and bike up to the top of something.

  36. Comment by AW | 07.24.2008 | 5:26 pm

    I climb because I live at up a big f-off hill. Doesn’t matter where I ride, if I want to get home I have a minimum 1000 ft climb. I guess I could ride to a hotel.

  37. Comment by NW | 07.24.2008 | 5:47 pm

    I climb because I like descending. Al said it well (as usual!)

  38. Comment by NW | 07.24.2008 | 5:53 pm

    WIN SUSAN!!!

  39. Comment by SHOT | 07.24.2008 | 6:07 pm

    Oh… climbing… Used to be a painful experience and I never looked forward to it… Now, after losing 20lbs+ and riding almost daily for the last 6 months I have learned to love it… Saturday, my friends and I did a 36 mile ride with 5,400 feet of climbing in the Angeles National Forest… Beautiful place and a great ride…

  40. Comment by sk8ermom3 | 07.24.2008 | 7:13 pm

    I climb painfully, nay, torturously ( sp?) slow, I’ve got alot of weight to haul up the hill, but I always get to the top on top of the bike, and watch out you 4% body fat types on the descent, because I will eat you for breakfast as I pass you as you pedal furiously in top gear, while I attain top speed with only the aid of gravity!

  41. Comment by Jaime O. | 07.24.2008 | 7:13 pm

    I think they have drugs for this climbing sickness, check with your local psychiatrist. The only thing I hate is biking into a stiff OK wind. It doesn’t sweep down the plains, it…barrels.

  42. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.24.2008 | 7:31 pm

    For me, it’s what Al said (the fast descent), and what AW said (I live on a big 18% hill). But as far as “You climb because you can”, isn’t that the same reason dogs… Well, never mind.

  43. Comment by Rox | 07.24.2008 | 7:52 pm

    Speaking of climbing, I dropped my riding buddy on Tuesday three times, all on climbs. Made me feel great, I still do, since he could drop me like a fly last year. It’s that magical powers of the FC jersey and losing 20 pounds in the last year. Oh yeah, going from a triple to a double really made me stronger. I think of you and your family every day and wish you the best.
    WIN SUSAN. ( I have that tapped on my hadlebars-yes I am a big geek but it keeps things in perspective.)

  44. Comment by Jeff | 07.24.2008 | 8:29 pm

    Is this suitable for climbing?

  45. Comment by aussie kev | 07.24.2008 | 9:03 pm

    i dont climb because i can !!!

    allez cadel


  46. Comment by Jerryz | 07.24.2008 | 9:29 pm

    I climb because the hills are in the way and there’s no way to ride without going up them unless you’re a DH sort guy riding chairlifts and wearing body armor.

  47. Comment by Flyin' Ute | 07.24.2008 | 9:56 pm

    Listen here Mr. “I’m not training for a race” Fat Cylclist. If you pass me climbing up Columbine at the Leadville RACE, because you have ridden all over these mountains while you were “not training” and getting strong and fast and say some silly thing to me like “harsh climb, isn’t it” then, then…. well then…

    I won’t have any thing to say then either. But I do like reading your blog. Well done.

    And I am 230 ell Bees so you should pass me anyway. But watch out on the down hills become I’ll be comin’ fast!!!

  48. Comment by sans auto | 07.24.2008 | 10:21 pm

    I climb because I am struggling to keep my weight over 140. The whole 9.8 meters per second squared thing works better for me on the way up than on the way down.

    WIN Susan

  49. Comment by Weiland | 07.24.2008 | 11:20 pm

    I’m a climber caught in a Large Fat Cyclist jersey, but I love to climb and I also like to ride into the wind. In fact today I did climbing repeats for lunch: http://www.weiland.net/post.cfm/3-servings-of-ladera-norte

  50. Comment by Heather | 07.25.2008 | 12:07 am

    I’ve been looking for cycling blogs recently. Thank you for writing about cycling in a way that the majority of us can relate to. I’ll be back:-)

  51. Comment by highwaymunky | 07.25.2008 | 2:06 am

    Ah! The joy of the chase!
    The sweetness of the kill!

    The only thing missing is to turn around and shout
    “In your Face”! But that’s a bit cruel really! maybe?

  52. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.25.2008 | 2:17 am

    I have no idea why climbing is so appealing. My favourite part is the descent.

    Being 100 kg is only part of that equation. My descending skills have been honed by 25 years of studying the art of going round corners (otherwise known as “motorcycling”) so I get my revenge on the chatty whippets by offering up my pleasantries while hard on the brakes into hairpins.

  53. Comment by Graham | 07.25.2008 | 3:55 am

    Great post today Fatty, totally know where you’re coming from. I spent some time mountain biking in the US before I started university (I’m from the UK), and one of the places I visited was Vail. I couldn’t be bothered with paying to use the lifts to get my bike up the mountain – I’ve always believed you have to earn your downhills! Was worth it if only for the people pointing and laughing from the chairlifts at the crazy fool riding up the mountain!

    Win Susan!

  54. Comment by Wild Dingo | 07.25.2008 | 4:35 am

    Booowhahahaha! Passive-aggressive climbing is my favorite kind. That kind of climbing is even sweetah when you’re a chick and the wabbit is a dude. And you make sure there’s no heavy breathing as you pass as you exchange “pleasantries.”

    I climb because I live on top of a mountain. There are no “flats.” I live in the mountains, because I love to climb, by foot or by bike. I climb because my astrological sign is the goat. I climb because if someone needs to punish me, it may as well be me.

  55. Comment by StrongBad | 07.25.2008 | 5:18 am

    I use the term “Elmer Fudd’ing” when I’m hunting someone down. Nothing like a little rabbit to entertain you for a bit!

  56. Comment by bikemike | 07.25.2008 | 5:18 am

    so, are you Batman or Elmer Fudd? i know there’s a fine line but i’m confused.

    going to Asheville, N.C. next week to do the Blue Ridge Parkway because we ain’t gots no mountains on the east coast of Florida. but we do have glorious unrelenting wind. invisible hills. i am ready.

  57. Comment by flossy | 07.25.2008 | 5:58 am

    I did my regular ride backwards just so I could climb more.

    Yeh to superpowers and WIN SUSAN!

  58. Comment by Al | 07.25.2008 | 6:28 am

    Amen, brother.

  59. Comment by americanson | 07.25.2008 | 7:23 am

    Fatty, as a guy who hates to be passed on climbs I would have to use my very last bit of strength to pinch you as you went by. Us wabbits are like that. Course if I’m passing no pinching is allowed.


  60. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 07.25.2008 | 7:36 am

    Had the experience this morning of being both predator and prey at the same time. I didn’t really care about catching the person in front of me as he was at least 10 years my senior, however since I could not allow myself to be caught…

  61. Comment by barry1021 | 07.25.2008 | 8:12 am

    Say, has anyone seen the Fatman and Elmer Fudd in the same room together? Hmmmm……..

    Check out “Iron Mom” on W1 in the Wall Street Journal today for a “why do we do this?’ article…


  62. Comment by Shortbus | 07.25.2008 | 8:12 am

    I don’t climb because I’d have to travel almost to Alabama to climb the highest point in FL; a whopping 345′! For now I’ll just have to climb vicariously through all you folks lucky enough to have awesome stuff like mountains.


  63. Comment by barry1021 | 07.25.2008 | 8:14 am

    Oh I forgot to mention, I climb because every time I do I get BETTER at it. At age 55, cycling is the ONLY thing that I am getting better at. Seriously.


  64. Pingback by 100 KM » Blog Archive » Cycling Links for July 24 | 07.25.2008 | 8:20 am

    [...] Why Do You Climb? – Fat Cyclist [...]

  65. Comment by Saso | 07.25.2008 | 8:22 am

    I climb because I feel very much alive at that moment.

  66. Comment by Toxteth O'Grady | 07.25.2008 | 8:35 am

    Wait…I thought Elmer Fudd mad Hasenpfeffer out of the rabbit? Or was that Yosemite Sam?

    Either way…”Have a good ride?”…you are no Elmer Fudd.

  67. Comment by Matthew | 07.25.2008 | 8:49 am

    Climbing is visceral for me. I’m just drawn to it. Despite living in Colorado, I’m constantly craving more, higher and steeper gradients. Can’t explain it, there are just so many reasons and some of them reside in a feeling that drives me.

  68. Comment by Matthew | 07.25.2008 | 8:57 am

    Wanted to add something to my already very vague post.

    Re climbing, it’s everything that’s wonderful about moving a bicycle distilled down to a pedal stroke. I CAN NOT GET ENOUGH OF IT.


  69. Comment by Tim D | 07.25.2008 | 10:02 am

    We don’t have any hills big enough for that sort of riding, but we do have lots of short (500m) sharp (25%) ones. A while back we had a guy over from Mountain View CA who was a keen rider. We knew his rides were all up thousands of feet of climbing, so when he came out with us we naturally said it was a fairly flat ride. After the fourth 20%+ climb in about 5 miles, he treated us to some choice americaisms!

  70. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 07.25.2008 | 10:15 am

    “Eventually, it all comes down to this: I climb because I can.”

    You and me are certainly twins. But not identical. Paternal twins. Your superpower (and it’s certainly all 1 word; a super[dramatic pause]power is just super, but a superpower is what real superheroes have) is climbing, mine is consuming my own body weight in simple carbohydrates every 72 hours.

    Paternal twins. That’s it for sure.

    Al Maviva,
    Your story forgot to mention that the descent isn’t long enough if you aren’t cramping between the helmet and the collar from keeping your shoulders down and your head up.



  71. Comment by Ka_Jun | 07.25.2008 | 10:28 am

    Hahahahaha…nice post. Dude I chased this morning on the commute never knew it because I couldn’t close. You escaped today, but there is always tomorrow.

  72. Comment by Asthmagirl | 07.25.2008 | 10:42 am

    I used to wish I could be a super hero bicyclist. I’m now happy just to be out on the trail!

    Thanks for a great story!

  73. Comment by Boz | 07.25.2008 | 10:45 am

    Actually, the reason I haul my fat carcass up hills is out of necessity. For me to ride anywhere from my home involves climbing, both coming and going. Even my drive way could be called a col. I believe this is a result of the cycling gods being very envious of me. I am, after all, the God of Blunder.

  74. Comment by KT | 07.25.2008 | 11:00 am

    I climb because I hate it, but it’s the price I pay for the downhill.

    I also climb because that’s how I get home. Some days, I swear I’m climbing hills to get to work and then climbing them AGAIN to get home. Stupid geography. Not as bad as Clydesteve, et al, but still. Stupid geography/geology/topology.

    Sometimes, depending on which bike I’m on, climbing is actually fun– in a “I’m torturing myself” sort of way.

    I lie, I don’t HATE climbing. I have a DISLIKE of climbing.

  75. Comment by judi | 07.25.2008 | 11:07 am

    I loved this post. I am a good climber too.

  76. Comment by Chad | 07.25.2008 | 11:25 am

    Right now I am not able to ride much, because Im in a foreign country, but I am running everyday. There is a wadi system right behind my house. I usually love to climb hills anyway, either on foot or on my bike, but right now I am running up this one ridge almost every time I go out because I am guaranteed to see at least 1 gazelle per run, have a beautiful sunset view back into the wadi, and maybe see some foxes, jackals, mongooses, or more gazelle. Its impossible to resist.

  77. Comment by Jake | 07.25.2008 | 11:34 am

    “Knowing that he wouldn’t get a look at my tell-tale quads until it was too late.”

    Do you really think he was looking at your legs (Freudians would have some fun with that one)? And does having stumpy quads (you said you are short – Elmer Fuddish) guarantee that he didn’t stand a chance? Or was that just your chance to bring up your quads again?

    This one, then, has super tell-tale quads:


    Good story, though.

  78. Comment by mtnbkrideeho | 07.25.2008 | 4:27 pm

    I climb because all the trails around my house go up. I also enjoy reeling riders in, I especially enjoy the look of misery on thier face when they look over and see a guy old enough to be their dad with a silly grin on his face asking them if they are having a good day…

  79. Comment by Maria | 07.25.2008 | 5:06 pm

    My cycling bud and I rode hills yesterday, and we usually try to encourage eachother along the way when we ride them. (We’re girls afterall, and don’t play silly challenging games.) But last night I had to stop and catch my breath. As I stopped and watched her ascend, she glanced back and I could’ve sworn I saw a hint of smile on her face. But like Flyin’ Ute, I’m a big’n and caught her on the descent. I redeemed myself on the last hill home. Superpowers indeed!


  80. Comment by joliver3 | 07.25.2008 | 8:35 pm

    Al M., your description is spot-on and eloquent as usual. You’ve nicely summarized all the reasons why….. I HATE descending! No one wants to be behind me on the trails, because they’ll be forced to go downhill at my pace, and then I’ll leave them behind on the next climb (or at least what passes for climbs around here). Good strategy for a race maybe, but not so good for a ride with the guys.

    I’ve never climbed a real mountain, but I sure enjoy going up the hills that I ride regularly — faster than all the younger guys that I ride with.

    WIN Susan!

  81. Comment by Joseph Camp | 07.26.2008 | 6:31 am

    Yeah. Hell yeah.

  82. Comment by Rod Newbound, RN | 07.26.2008 | 11:56 am

    Your writing skill left me feeling as breathless as the guy you passed. Excellent and compelling post.

    And I agree…

    Our greatest challenges and our greatest victories are the ones we have with ourselves, but a little competition makes them easier to achieve (and adds another dimension of pleasure).


  83. Comment by Anne | 07.26.2008 | 1:29 pm

    All I climb is stairs. And that’s good enough for me. WIN SUSAN

  84. Comment by drapisking | 07.26.2008 | 5:53 pm

    I climb because there are only two ways to pay for the joy of downhills, with cash or with lactic acid. working at a bike shop leaves me rather short of cash, so I pay for my descents with pain on the way up.

  85. Comment by Anonymous | 07.30.2008 | 2:08 pm

    Ha Ha Ha! You cyclists are completely twisted and waaaay too competitive..I caught up with a dawdler just last week who was lagging around on the road. I was just riding tempo and when I pulled around to pass this dolt he suddenly upped the pace and refused to be passed. Of course I was annoyed and so dropped a bit of a hammer on him . Miles later, here he comes like a freight train,complete with huffing and puffing ! Luckily I spotted him and came back to him ever so. Just as he was about to snap me back, well, of course, you know I did it again…scooted away like the proverbial hare. Some folks never learn. Couldn’t have helped matters that he was most definitely a clydie type and on top of it all, I am a mere woman! ;)
    Like I said, you cyclists are waaay too competitive-glad I’m not that way!


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