Hill Grunts Make Fit Chicks

The countdown is on. Ready to jive with the thighs?

Imagine you’re being chased by “Godzilla” and in front of you is the open door to safety… Now place yourself on your bicycle at the bottom of a long steep hill. It is time to work on busting a lung.

5580448779_7c62f84a51_oThe first time I rode up Mt. Seymour, I honestly had no idea what I was in for. The climb seemed endless. It was before I had watched the gruelling challenge of last year’s Giro d’Italia and our own Ryder Hesjedal’s fierce determination to climb to the top of the podium. What power.

During the entire grunt up I put a lot of emphasis on my upward pedal stroke. It’s what the clips are for after all. That yank to the sky is one awesome advantage to that clip attachment to the pedal. By the way, I’ve learned that if you are having trouble releasing your foot from the pedal, it may be time to tighten up the cleat’s clip at the bottom of your foot.

So, yes if you were wondering I eventually did make it to the top. The worst part, however, was coming down. I considered calling a cab.

It was cold and I’m no gravity chick. I much prefer the ups. Grinding the breaks without a pedal stroke, hands numb from cold. My mouth was shut as my teeth were clenched. I decided three-quarters of the way down it was OK to stop and shake out the arm pump.

There’s a great coffee shop not far from the bottom, which I mistakenly headed to shortly thereafter. I’d done the dumb thing and not taken any food with me to the top. I figured a java treat might refresh my senses. Given it felt at the time that I’d completely depleted my brain cells.

I waddled in somewhat delirious. A crowd dispersed as I clomped my way to the till. Upon placing the order, I hunkered over to a corner table to dwell on my journey. Here’s the funny part.

I had trouble sitting down.

Given my core concentration going up Mt. Seymour was the pull-up motion, my muscles weren’t used to such repetitive articulation. Clearly I’d made a debacle of my butt muscle structure. It really hurt, I have to say.

Insert here: ICE. This is where ice for recovery becomes your friend.

I was fine the next day, in case you were wondering.

So why do hills? If you’re doing the RBC GranFondo Whistler, hill training is necessary. Your first test of truth is the heart rate escalator known as Taylor Way. It’s where the strong weed out the weak.

Remember the rules of the road. Fast cars pass on left; slow cars keep to the right. Keep to the right if you’re huffing’ and puffing! Others will be too so no worries, but if you want to jump on a fast moving train (code for a pace line) you’ll want to be that fit chick.

Which is why hill training is mandatory. No pain no gain. Get wired, not tired. Tune into the training plan. Keep your time in the saddle consistent. Work the core, change up the routine and include the hill grunts. When doing them, keep bum in saddle. Elbows in and upper body static.

A few years ago I rode with an amazing group in Victoria called the Tripleshots. Their weekly regime was: Tuesday=Speed, Wednesday=Hills, Friday=Long, Saturday=a Sufferfest and Sunday=Long.  Their Wednesday hills consisted of: five, four and three; which meant five long repeats of a gradual grind, four of a steep lung buster and three of a long, short and steep grinder. Total time: 1.5 hours. It was amazing! I know it made me stronger.

Train the brain to not to be afraid of the pain. Only have an hour? Find a steep curve and do repeats. Bum in saddle. That will put the power pressure on the legs. Give them the gain from the pain that they need to make you strong.

Keep in mind I am not a certified coach. I have only a curious mind and have read and asked lots of question of those in the know.

Here are my hill grunt ride reminders:

  1. Pump the tires before you.
  2. Check your brakes before the ride.
  3. Ensure there are no loose spokes by checking your wheel’s alignment.
  4. Go with a buddy.
  5. Pack some glasses. I don’t wear them on the way up as they tend to fog up too much, however you may want to on the way down.
  6. Eat at the top, something easily digestible – see Kristina’s awesome post on nutrition. I drink my electrolytes if it is a particularly long grind.
  7. Pack a light windbreaker to wear down.
  8. Keep the diet to food not bugs. Mouth shut on the descent.
  9. Don’t stop at the bottom. Spin it out for at least another 15 minutes.
  10. Remember to stretch out the hip flexors when you get home.

Care to share your hill grunt tales in the comments below?

I dare you…


4 thoughts on “Hill Grunts Make Fit Chicks

  1. Great post! I love a good climb too.

    I did my first Cypress climb a couple weeks ago and the descent was hell on earth because it started raining ICE… then fail … and then A LOT of pouring rain as we got closer to the bottom. It was sunny all day, even when we got to the top then BAM! The clouds came out of nowhere and we couldn’t go down fast enough to escape it. I’ve never been so cold and miserable and I think it took me 2+ hours of sitting at a Starbucks afterwards to warm up and stop shaking but I would totally do it all over again. Great experience. 🙂

  2. Thank you! I was just wondering what I could do to go faster up the hills,and when you shared the Tripleshots’ weekly regime I saw a way to change it up to speed up my climbs.
    It’s true. Ask and ye shall receive. 😀

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