Hills! The mere mention of this particular five letter word can strike fear into the hearts of man, woman and child. On my many rides in 2012 I have encountered several, some of which I have classed as uncharted mountains! As the year went by I did start to, dare I say it, like hills!
Many people in the Brompton Club hate them. Ascending them can induce pain, hurt, sweat. Trying to go up a hill can have your legs giving up the ghost and your chest heaving, resulting in the all to common off the saddle altogether and walking. Despite all of this I love hills and I will try to explain why.
1) They will make you fitter. Cycling up a hill makes one work that bit harder. If this is done more often than not, it will build stamina and strength. You certainly won't gain as much sticking to the flat.
2) They will make you cycle that bit more swiftly. (See above).
3) They will almost certainly provide a lovely view when you get the top.
4) They will provide ample amounts of child-like fun when you freewheel down from the top.
5) They will allow you to go wheel to wheel with a roadie - for a while at least. It is simply physics that the diameter of a smaller wheel provides an advantage over the larger wheeled road bike when ascending a hill.
A few simple tips from someone more knowledgable than me is first to try and stay in the saddle as long as possible. Riding out of the saddle is less efficient and drains more energy.
Second, try and break the hill down in to smaller parts. Look for a landmark and aim for it. Once there do the same again. This way a hill of significance might not seem as bad as you first thought.
Next, make sure you choose the correct gear before entering the hill and when ascending.
I have been thinking about hills quite a bit recently. When comparing Hyde Park to Richmond Park, I actually prefer the greater demands of Richmond. This is because I know in the long run it will provide much more of a challenge.
There you have it. Have I convinced you? Do you feel any happier about hills? What do you think?