If you want to climb hills better, then climb a lot of hills

@Barry Sandland/TIMB - To triathlete cyclists in Newfoundland

@Barry Sandland/TIMB – Early season miles start later in Newfoundland

“This hill here is a good four kilometres. But it is part of our regular training rides, so we know where the steep parts are and where we can rest. A few times we been to the top and then came back down and did it again. We live at the top of the hill so we have to go this way. No choice.”

Photographer’s notes: I have ridden in a few countries now and there is nothing as hard as Newfoundland. At least in Europe, the mountains are hilly and you can just stay away. But in Newfoundland, on the Avalon peninsula, you only get to go uphill or downhill. There is a flat part that runs about five kilometres, but then there is wind.

I used to do this training course three or four times a week. Long slogs of effort, it would be a challenge n any day. But, years later, I have legs that are not afraid of hills, I laugh at what most riders consider  an ascent, delight in making other people suffer on a grade. That is what happens when hills are simply the onstant. You stop complaining and get on with it.

Even now, I have a certain degree of confidence in my ability. It is a confidence that might not be so reliable any more. When this pair rode off, I thought to shadow them up the hill, riding 50m or so off their wheels. Well, 50 meters became 60 became 100 became … You get the idea. Even with the early season legs I have from Europe – and I ride every day – I was no match for a pair of local cyclists who were only on their eighth ride of the year. My hill climbing legs were a memory, even if I did a decent climb. I say this but also know my legs were wasted at the top. But I also know, do this course five or six times in a week and the legs will find you again. Next time, my arrogance and I will try and pass them…

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