Posts Tagged ‘steep hills’

killerOMG! Today was absolutely murder! They took us along the dual carriageway now that I can get up that slight incline. Remember uphill slog back in January. Well, I thought that was soooo hard but it was nothing compared with today.

I don’t know why they wanted to torture us but torture us they did!  Pedalling became very difficult. I wanted to stop but the instructor refused.  Slower and slower went the pedals.  The incline was so looooooong! But I didn’t stop.  I tried to focus and concentrate on my breathing.  It doesn’t matter how slow. Don’t stop! he encouraged.  So slowly I pedalled desperate not to stop and give up.  Exhaling and inhaling.  That worked and reallyslowly I got up the first hill.  That was a killer! 

But worse was yet to come as we turned right. Don’t look ahead  he warned.  Don’t think about it. Just pedal and breath! He knew there was another killer hill just waiting around the corner.  This is the photo of that dreaded hill. It’s all downhill from the top.  Yeah right!  I got to get to the top first! In agony I tried my best but this steep hill was soooo long and it just kept going up and up and up.  Three quarters of the way up this hill, I had to stop.  So I did.  My instructor wasn’t very pleased.  I don’t think he really understands how difficult it is. I couldn’t take any more. After a rest and a multiude of excuses, we continued where it eventually became a flat cycle path all the way to Greenwich Park. That was about 4 miles but with those two killer hills it felt like 8!

We rested at the cafe, where I asked the other learner how she got up the hills. Her reply was to take the pain.  She feels it in her stomach but I feel it in my thighs.

Back down a steep descent in Greenwich Park but then along the main A206 dual carriageway back to the base.  Nearly another 5 miles of slopes and slight inclines.  My thighs became very very tired but I didn’t stop. What a killer day! But it’s not finished yet.

new-bike-girlTraining had finished. Resting in the cafe, suddenly a swoop of about 11 cyclists descended upon the cafe. We got talking and they were a club on a easy ride day out.  They invited us to join the rest of the trip. It was soo exciting, that I forgot how tired I was. We rode together and then crossed the ferry to North Woolwich.

 Here is someone I met whilst training.  I took this photo whilst on the ferry. She has just brought her fantastic new bike and is eager to learn to ride as I am.  Another Saracen and another reason to celebrateseparate-from-the-road.


We reached the Flood Barrier along paths like this. Separate from the pavement and road, it was great!  Just like in the Netherlands!




The barriers were an awesome sight. It was fantastic.  The other riders continued their journey but I was too tired to go any further, especially as I still had to ride back home. The two of us cycled back to the base and then I rode all the way home.  


Let me tell you. I wasn’t just  knackered,   I was absolutely exhaused! ! I collapsed on the bed whilst consuming a tub of Tiramisu to take away the agony. Five hours later, I felt a bit better and couldn’t believe that I wanted to do it all again!!  What a day!

Never Mind That Bruise!


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hoorayI’m soooo elated. Guess what! Remember that terrible time I had with mhoorayy first uphill slog back in in January  Well… I managed to cycle up that same hill today without a problem!   I can’t believe it.  It wasn’t a struggle. I definitely surprised myself! 


Whether its the deep breathing (no more dizzy spells), changing into the right gears or the practise on that goddamn awful 5% gradient on Burbage Road last week, or maybe that one aerobiking class I took,  I didn’t struggle going up this particular hill!  You don’t need aerobiking classes the instructors said.  Waste of time.  Nah!  You don’t need it.  Just keep going uphill!  You need to get up those hills!


Well, looking back, I thought it was a hill but it’s not. It’s just a slope.   I must be getting fitter then.  After last week, I felt depressed, deflated and defeated.  But today I got up that hill   errr….slope.  Imagine what I could do with a few more aerobiking classes under my belt and/or just riding around as one commenter, Kate mentioned.


Today there was no separate skills lessons as such, but practise straight out onto the road all the way, on the mostly flat A206 with cycle paths, to Greenwich Town Centre.  Greenwich is such a historic and tourist area that its gets very crowded both with pedestrians and standstill traffic jams but most people know about Greenwich from the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and that its the Prime Meridian of the World (more about that in other posts).


I was well pleased with myself.  Got compliments from the instructors.  They, too, noticed the difference between today and my first attempt on that  hill slope.  They said that I found my element;  busy traffic whizzing past our ears, road works, multi lane roundabouts with loads of traffic lights!  And Yes!  The smile came back and beamed from my face.  No more contortions!  Yippee. I did enjoy today, up that slope and my first time down the A206!  Thank God for that!

Strapless Sandals in the Spring

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uphill2Today was awful.  We did a circuit that involved a very long and steep hill up Burbage Road!  Protestations did not matter as I was outvoted, I had no choice but it was deflating.


Burbage Road was very steep, about 5% they said which flattened out half way up and then became even steeper for the other half.   C‘mon, c’mon, you can do it, don’t stop, it’s all in the mind… was all I heard behind me from the instructor.  Great, but I found it hard to concentrate on traffic skills whilst trying to push and push those pedals round and round. 


It was a ‘B’ road busy with buses, parked cars, traffic and side roads at the junctions.  Wow..trying to signal, look behind, watch the traffic whilst my pedalling got slower and slower and slower up the hill was a nightmare.  Cycling uphill is sooooo depressing. 


It was not my intention when I started this journey, to cycle around with a face in contorted agony!


Look, we’re nearly there…  Keep going. You can do it.  Don’t stop!  You can’t stop now!  We’re near the top.  Yes I can and I don’t care how near the top is, I’m stopping and I did!! You’ll feel better afterwards, he encouraged, keep going.   How can I feel better afterwards?   How does knowing that its so damn hard now, make me feel any better afterwards??


Well, I stopped three or four times.  Although I got in the right gears, I was left behind as the others seemingly glided up the hill without much effort.  I tried to walk  for a bit to catch up with the others but the instructor blocked me with his bike, so I determindly pushed my bike on the pavement instead!


Then more pushing and thigh agony ensued.  Breath through your nose and out your mouth shouted the instructor – the opposite of what I was doing, catching gasps of air through my open mouth.  As soon as I took his advice, I felt dizzy!  Had to stop and then received a comprehensive account of why I should breath in through my nose……


Eventually got to the top, turned left onto another main road full of different sized hills and downs but none as much as that 5%  Burbage Road.  I would never have thought that South London was so damn hilly!  Certainly the area I came from originally wasn’t.


The descents were very scary. I held onto the brakes gently so that I didn’t fly through the air over the handlebars if the bike had to stop suddenly. Up another slope, not as steep thank God, which amazingly I didn’t struggle too much with that one and back to base via the High Street.


The High Street, by this time, was jam packed but as a group we couldn’t weave in and out of traffic as the instructors could.  Riding on the inside of traffic was OK except when the buses stopped and blocked our way!  Therefore we rode behind the cars in the middle of the lanes, blocking traffic from overtaking or undertaking but I really felt deflated and defeated. 


I was fed up.  Problems with hills weren’t in my concept base or topics of conversations or even occurred to me in any shape or form in my life until I started this journey.  But then, I suppose every journey has its downs as well as ups.  However, judging myself against the other learners I seem to be much more unfit than I originally thought I was. 


You’ll feel better afterwards, they encouraged Yeah!  Right!  Surely I can’t be the only one who dreads going uphill!

The Saga of Cycling Uphill 


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alleyEven though I was very tired, knackered in fact, I wanted to ride my bicycle  so I did.  Following the route to the Thames, I came across this path. I wouldn’t cycle that route in the dark especially as it seems to be little more than an alleyway.


I followed the route I did last week, with the narrow green cycle path, anticipating hazards e.g. ‘door zones’ of all the parked cars, glancing down minor roads. But another hazard are the bollards as cars can’t overtake with bollards in the middle of the road.  So I either slow down to let them pass, speed up or keep in my primary position until they have the space to over take.  But it was very quiet, no buses or any other cyclists and few cars.


I was pleased with myself  for looking behind three times before moving out as the road curved. As I knew the route, I lowered the gears to climb up the dual carriageway slope/bridge although I didn’t signal at the huge four way roundabout as I felt a bit wobbly but there was minimal traffic and I connected with the ‘eyes’ of the drivers as my instructors taught me.



saracenGot on the Thames path, saw the remnants of Arsenal, but it started to drizzle so I tried to find a short cut home to avoid getting soaked, (got to get some waterproofs)using one the exits of the Thames but got lost and came across this lake in the middle of another housing estate.


lakeIt seems as though there are a large number of canals and lakes around here which has something to do with the Thames and this area being a former industrial area and marshes.  There were swans and herons, birds chirping in the trees, very peaceful and quiet. But it lead to another dreaded dual carriageway.  The juxposition of the peaceful like countryside in the middle of a housing estate surrounded by the concrete dual carriageways and underpasses seems odd to me!

So I doubled back, cycled up and down the Thames Path looking for another exit, asked a policeman the way back, only to find on following his directions lead me to a monstrosity of a concrete jungle of busy dual carriageways and bridges at the top of a hill in all directions.  Too tired to face another uphill slog, I got off Saracen and walked. 


Past the monstrosity, I thought theres got to be another way home so I explored and found two short cuts under underneath those monstrosities.  Well pleased with myself but I was so tired, really knackered! All that cycling for hours but I got home just before it started to rain!

Cycling & TV Adverts

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steep1Luckily, so far I haven’t had to cycle up this road during training, but I do drive up it to go to work. It’s an alternative short cut from the awful traffic jams of the rush hour on the main road.  Its a great view, though.


Look how steep it is as well as narrow. I don’t know what the gradient is but I believe its a major barrier for me when I start to commute by cycle.  There is no getting away from the hills around here.  All the parallel roads are similar.


very-steep1Apart from the 10% hill at the top of my road, in the opposite direction there’s this steep hill! 


I’ve decided to locate all the local hills in preparation for my future commute. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, I suppose, and perhaps some sort of mental preparation.


My instructor today, said he would help me find a route with minimum hills to work and cycle along side me.  Isn’t that great.  Thanks.  They are so awesome!  A real confidence booster.  Of course when they said that, I have little excuse not to take up their offer.  But then I told them that I have to take work home and carry heavy loads.  The answer was, of course, you don’t have to cycle every day.

Claud Butler Bikers

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I made a mistake.  On my way to cycle training, I took this photo. Its seems that that hill at the junction of the top of my road, is 10% not 20% as stated in my other post.  But it might as well be 20% to me. Its regulated to the nether regions of my mind.


No wonder I’ve never seen that sign before.  It was blocked by the trees!   I saw this bloke cutting the trees down and took a quick snapshot.


 This hill will be the challenge for me, one day…

What’s in a bike

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uphillThe day after that uphill slog, I ached all over. I woke up practically bent over at every joint but it eased off fairly quickly during that day, until I went up and down the stairs. I ‘felt’ my knees. They didn’t hurt or ache but I could feel something. 


Hills have now depressed me. There are so many round here, they can’t be avoided. Goddamn it, I actually live on a hill. There’s another hill, adjacent to my road, that is so steep its practically vertical, although the sign says 20% gradient. That can’t be right. I’m sure its more!  How strange that I’ve never seen that sign before.  I’ve only just noticed it.  I’m feeling defeated but… looking back at my first posts definitely cheers me up.


So, instead of talking myself out of my next lesson, I could look on it as a challenge.  Yes, that’s it. Hills are great!  It’s a bonus that I live on a hill, and there’s a 20% hill round the corner just challenging me to cycle up it! It needs me as I need it, to get fitter!


Hill climbing could actually be my thing! I could tackle this systematically. Well, I would need some sort of measurement/scale.  Say..0-10Zero being totally unable to cycle hills to 10 being climbing the 20% hill with ease, a grin on my face and breath intact. 


So presently I must be minus one.  Then I would need a time scale to get to 10. Months (?) years (?)  Perhaps I could get the gradients of all the hills around here and attempt them one by one starting with a gentle sloping one. Mmmmm…. That’s an idea!  But where would I get all the gradients from?

Pedal Revolutions

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