Saturday started out as just a chilly early spring day, sunny but 35 degrees, with another trainer ride on the schedule. But wait, I scored a half priced pair of shoe covers just two weeks ago. Let’s give them a try and head outside on the trail bike. The road bike still has the trainer tire and next week is the last CompuTrainer class of the season so no reason to change out that tire.
I head out on a familiar path, the ComEd Green Way; we have a love-hate relationship. I love it because it is so close to the house. The first mile and a half from the house north is a slow steady climb, nothing bad at all – we are in Illinois after all. But once I hit Boughton Road, there is a reason I hate this trail: The Hill. The Hill has always defeated me. For almost two years now I have tried and failed on multiple occasions to make it up The Hill still pedaling my bike and not walking beside it with my head down. My last attempt was in August 2012. I made it further up that incline than I ever had before, then bang, I dropped my chain as I tried to down shift but I was already in my lowest gear. I started to fall over away from my first clip in/out leg and toward the down slope of the hill. I unclipped just in time to catch myself. I got off the bike and pushed it the rest of the way up The Hill – defeated again. I feared The Hill after that and actually started going through the neighborhood around it to get down to the east/west portion of my favorite local trail. I wasn’t even sure if I would ever attempt to go up it again. I was defeated and almost hurt, and going up it usually means going back down it so I can continue my ride to the west. There’s really no point to do it except pride.
As summer faded into fall and then winter and we headed inside to ride on trainers, Coach Suzy, my personal coach, suggested that I try ET CompuTrainer this winter. CompuTrainer? What is this weird sounding class that I have never heard of? A class where I ride my own bike and we have an ET coach designed interval workout each week that will make you a better, stronger rider? Of course I was all over it! I love to ride; it is where I feel more myself than anywhere else. It has been an awesome winter session of CompuTrainer and I love my Wednesday night rides and have made some really good friends pounding out the training sessions. My CompuTrainer coach, Sarah, and I have talked a couple of times about The Hill and she’s given me advice for getting up it. My last attempt was after one such conversation. I had yet to conjure the courage to try it again. Oh, did I mention it has 5 switch backs, 3 of which are almost 180 degrees at a fairly good incline? It’s not a long hill but it is steep.
So here it is now almost the end of my first winter season of training and five months of CompuTrainer and a decent early spring day that I can get outside and ride. Yep, new boot covers are working great and I am having a blast enjoying the crisp air and wind in my face. Before I know it I am at the top of The Hill. Aw, heck, no reason to avoid going down. Down I go and then a quick turn to the right towards the trail head parking lot. I get there quicker than usual, but that has to be because there really aren’t any other trail users today, just a couple of walkers that I had to slow down to pass. I turn around and head back toward the other end of the trail; I am getting closer to the bottom of The Hill. A strange thought pops into my head. “Let’s go up that darn hill today.” “Who are you kidding, no way you are going to make it!” “Yeah, but why not see how far you can go?” Before I realize it I am already putting my bike into my little ring, making the sharp left turn and up, up I go. First switch back… down shift, second switch back… another down shift, third switch back… “OH, CRAP! This is where I almost fell!” Down shift again. What the heck, I’m still up right, still pedaling, and I only have the last incline left. My legs are burning, my lungs can barely get enough oxygen. I stop, look back, and realize I just won!! I am no longer defeated by The Hill. I stop, take a picture, and then head through the fast downhills of the neighborhood. I have earned them this time. 🙂