I’ve had my Garmin for almost exactly a year. Yesterday, using the Garmin connect site, I brought up the totals for the previous 365 days. All of the amounts were as I had expected, including elevation gain…260,000 feet. By my calculations, this is 50 miles straight up! (In a single bound?) A lot of climbing, huh? Here’s why.
First, Chico, my hometown, offers cyclists a unique mixture of riding. The Sacramento River Valley borders the town on the west. The rides in that direction are all flattish…quite beautiful through almond orchards or around rice fields. The east side of Chico couldn’t be more the opposite…all roads are in the foothills leading to the Sierra Nevadas.
Since I live on the east side of town, almost all of my rides involve hills. Even if I join a group-ride doing flats, I will gain about 500 feet just getting in and out of my neighborhood. My favorite ride (about 2-3 times a week) results in a gain of 2200+ feet from door to door.
When I chat with other riders, the topic of cycling preference usually comes up. I frequently get one of two responses:
1. Wow! With all those hills, are you a great climber?
2. Don’t you wish that you lived closer to the flats?
Strange as it may seem, my answer to both questions is “no”. Here’s why:
Just because I ride hills all the time doesn’t make me a great climber. I am simply not the typical body type of a climber. At 6-2 with a medium build, I don’t exactly burn up the roads. The best climbers that I see on the hills are smaller and much lighter…not to mention younger. The number of cyclist that I pass on a hill is about the same as the number that pass me. So, I guess that makes me a pretty much average hill climber…I can live with that.
Would I prefer to ride more flats? Not a chance!
Don’t get me wrong…when riding with a group or even a couple of friends, flats are a blast. But many of my rides are solo…or with other “hillbillies” that I meet on the road. I like riding hills because it has a way of keeping my mind active. So much of good hill climbing is mental. One is constantly engaged in the strategic process involving: gear selection, when to stand up, when to slide back or forth in the saddle, and finally, when and how to take advantage of slight “lips” of a climb.
All of this I prefer to the long lonely miles of grinding flats.
Anyway, I’m interested in your opinion.
Are you a Hillbilly or are you a Flatlander? What’s your preference? Why?