I Came. I Saw. I CONQUERED!!!

Posted in Cycling on September 25, 2011 by Allen Smith

Today.

Today was a grand day. I woke up this morning in a great mood. My Clemson Tigers beat Florida State yesterday, the sun was shining bright this morning, and the birds were singing their little hearts out. Today was going to be a great day. I could feel it in my bones.

Today…today was just another day for most of you, but not for me. As I woke up, I knew that I was going to ride today. My plan was to ride the Silver Comet Trail for 5-10 miles and then relax for the remainder of the day. That didn’t happen. What DID happen was that I sat around and watched the Saints beat the Texans. I sat here and thought about riding and then decided to go and ride the neighborhood.

I got my bike out, put on my gear and set out. I got to the end of my road and had a choice…go straight and ride some rolling hills or take a left and try to ride the monster that beats me every time I try. I headed straight. As soon as I crossed the highway, my front wheel took a hard left and I was facing my nemesis…The HILL.

Trekkie, my bike (2011 Trek 7000), started whispering to me.

“If you take it slow and put me in the right gear before we start up, I’ll get us there”, he said.

But this hill has beaten me every single time I have tried it, except in a car, I thought.

Again, I heard him whisper to me. “If you take it slow and put me in the right gear before we start up, I’ll get us there. Remember what you have learned from the forums. Remember what everyone has told you. Put me in the right gear BEFORE the hill. Just DO IT!”.

Ok…here we go. I take it easy towards the hill. About ten to twelve miles per hour. I got near the hill and dropped the gears to 1 – 4. Started climbing and it got a little slow. Dropped the gears to 1 – 3. Climbed more. Saw the steep part of the hill in front of me and decided at that point to go to the lowest gear I had and take it slow…remembering the words that Trekkie whispered to me – “If you take it slow and put me in the right gear before we start up, I’ll get us there”

Slow and steady. I was almost to a point at one time that I thought I was going to have to put my foot on the ground to keep the bike upright. I kept pushing. My legs were burning. My lungs were on fire, but I could still breath. I felt my heart beating in my chest. I felt my legs starting to fatigue, and then it happened. What I never thought that I would do…I saw the crest of that hill. It was about seventy-five yards ahead of me.

I struggled mightily, but I refused to give up. I was too close to the top. The stop sign at the top of the hill was getting larger and I was pumping my legs harder. I thought my quads were going to explode. I could feel my glutes as they were starting to burn as well. Pushing harder than I ever have. Breathing fire. Thinking there was no way I would make it.

“C’mon, PUSH!” I was thinning to myself. Or was that my bike yelling at me?

“PUSH! You got this!”

Thirty yards. Twenty yards. Ten yards…I crested the top! I actually crested the top. I did it! I had WON!

I stopped and turned around and looked down, just to make sure that I did this. I had! There is a MUCH different prospective from the top of this thing. It actually looked steeper from up here!

I rested for a minute (or twelve), trying to get my heartbeat down and trying to catch my breath. Rejoicing in the fact that I had just beaten my mortal enemy! Letting it sink in a bit before heading forward. I couldn’t believe that I had done it, but I had. I had beaten the unbeatable, in my eyes. I took this hill down and whooped him like a red-headed step child. It was harder than anything that I have yet to do on a bike, but dadgummit, I DID it!

After I reveled in the glory and had my own personal ticker tape parade while standing beside my bike, I patted it on the seat and told it what a great job it had done getting me there.

“Wasn’t me”, he said. “It was all you! YOU were the one pushing ME!”

I thought about that for a while. I then got back on him and we rode forward a little further. I decided to turn us around and we headed back. The ride back down that hill was a LOT of fun! I rested my feet on the pedels and just rode the bike. It felt like I was flying. I decided to go and do the loop that I wanted to do to begin with. That loop has rolling hills and I did them each with a smile on my face. I did them breathing hard, but with a smug sense of accomplishment.

I had done it. I beat it. I took that hill down. I did it with him screaming and kicking me the whole time, but I was relentless. I wouldn’t give up, and finally, the hill DID give up. It was a done deal.

I’m now going to relax for the rest of the day and contemplate this whole thing. It still hasn’t sunk in. I still can’t believe that I did what I did.

If anyone asks me what I’m going to do now that I have beaten the Hill, I’m going to tell them, “I’m going to DISNEY WORLD!!!”

More later, guys…keep moving those legs!

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Hills, Hills, HILLS!

Posted in Cycling with tags , , , on September 23, 2011 by Allen Smith

It seems like Im always talking about hills. Well, I live in NW Georgia near Atlanta and unfortunately, hills are what we have here. I dont like them, but I can’t do much about them except to ride them and get used to them.

So, today, I went on a ride on a loop around my neighborhood. It has some pretty moderate hills. These are hills that I tried on the second day of owning my bike and they kicked me in the head. I couldn’t make it up ANY of them at that point. Today, however, I went up all of them without stopping. It was a rough ride and I definitely thought about stopping and walking them, but I refused to let myself.

After I was finished, I thought I was going to die! Heart felt like it was gonna beat out of my chest and my legs were sloppy. The entire ride was a little shy of two miles, but I was spent!

I would have never been able to do this without the advice from the guys at The Clydesdale/Athena forum at bikeforums.net as well as the advice from the Beginners forum at bicycling magazine Forums. Without those guys helping me with learning to change my gears and when to change them, I would have been walking up those hills today as well. I could not have done these hills without the advice from those guys regarding my gears. Im getting better with them, except when trying to switch my front ones into the lower gear on the way up at the bottom of the hill. TWICE today, I switched the front gears into 1 and the chain decided it didn’t like me and popped off. I think I need to get that adjusted. Will probably take it to my local Bike Store tomorrow to get them to look at it.

More later…

Good little workout tonight…

Posted in Cycling with tags , , on September 21, 2011 by Allen Smith

I was going to try to defeat the hill that I tried last night. You remember, the one hill that is my mortal enemy…my nemesis. I was going to. But, I wimped out. I wanted to ride a little flatter today. My wife knew of a trail not far from our house so we loaded up the bike and headed out. She dropped me off at the beginning of the trail and I took off.

This trail was hilly, but not so much that it was tiring me out too much. I did get the opportunity to change the gears to cable me to climb the hills easier. This is what I needed. I needed to practice changing  the gears and getting used to WHEN to change them. I will admit that it helped me with climbing them.

I also wanted to make sure to try to get a cadence going and staying in that range. I actually up-shifted to make it feel like I was pedaling going downhill as well, instead of coasting and letting gravity pull me down the hill. This gave me such a good workout.

I didn’t go FAR, today, only a little under three miles, but those three miles were as intense as I have ridden since I have had the bike. I am going to try to ride for time, I think, and let the miles be what they may.

More later.

I Fought the Hill and the Hill Won!

Posted in Cycling on September 20, 2011 by Allen Smith
Today, after a rest day yesterday, I decided to tackle a big hill just down from my house. I had planned on taking that hill and then riding for another 4-5 miles on the other side where it is flat. Big mistake.

I was psyched up…pumped…on FIRE ready to tackle this hill that had been my nemesis in my walking and running. I thought about this hill all day. I KNEW I was destined to beat this hill today. Not tomorrow…not next week…TODAY!

I got home and put on my lightest tech shirt and shorts…strapped on the iPhone to my arm, put on my gloves and donned my helmet. I was high fiving myself as I rode out of my yard…feeling great.

The clouds above me covered the sun and it was decently cool. I was hearing the birds chirping in the oak tree in my front yard as I passed. Pedeling harder until i reached the downhill in front of my house and coasted to the stop sign. Took a left and headed out.

The hill that was my enemy was in front of me. I could see it about a half mile down the road. I cursed at it and peddled harder, my teeth clenched in anticipation of beating this hill…this monster that has defeated me in everything but a car. Today, however, I was ready for it. I was on a brand new, 5 day old Trek 7000 bicycle and this hill was NOT going to beat me today.

Here it comes…Im at the bottom of it looking up and I took a deep breath, cursed it again, then changed my gears to one that would let me climb this beast as easy as I could. I charged up this hill like the troops storming the beaches at Normandy. All out, balls to the wall, I put everything into my peddling as I started up. So far, so good. I made it a third of the way up and was feeling great!

I could see the top at the half way point. My legs were on fire and my lungs were working overtime trying to get the air into them and out of them again. I felt like I was breathing hot air.

At just over the halfway point the hill finally spoke to me. Apparently, he hadn’t noticed me climbing his back until now. He yawned, bored with me, and then he slapped me. It HAD to be the hill that hit me because I looked and there wasn’t a brick wall anywhere around.

Suddenly, my legs slowed. I tried to change the gears on my bike, but it was no use. My legs were being grabbed by the hill’s scrawny hands and they would not let me turn the pedals. I stopped and got off of my bike, pretending I had a problem with my chain, so the hill wouldn’t think that he had gotten the best of me.

At this point, I had hoped that the hill had started ignoring me again and I jumped back on my bike and started back up. I heard a faint laugh from the top of the hill as he chuckled at me. again, he reached up and grabbed my legs and wouldn’t let me move.

My only choice at this point was to turn around and head back home…beaten and rejected. Again!

I was beaten. I was put in my place once again by my old enemy. I lost another battle today. I lost another battle, but I have NOT lost the war! There will be other battles, because I left him to fight another day. He didn’t kill me, though I thought he would.

One day, my friend…one day, I WILL beat you. Just not THIS day!

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