While sitting on the couch, healing from a lower back injury, again, I was flipping through my You Tube subscriptions and came across a video of the last 20 km in stage 20 of the 2013 Vuelta A Espana. Chris Horner, who rides for Trek /Team Leopard/Radio Shack/Nissan was leading, and I watched as he pulled away from the second place rider. Not unusual in a cycling event. What got me was the way that Chris was smiling as he continued up the mountain. He hammered up that hill and continued going, like he was on auto pilot.
I first saw Chris ride in the 2012 AMGEN Tour Of California. I was just getting into cycling at that point, and had stumbled across these videos on You Tube. I started watching and he had really caught my attention, and I watched with hopes he would win. I was quite impressed with his riding ability.
The one thing I have learned during my training is that when climbing, the best way to tackle climbs is seated. The times I have gotten up out of the saddle during a climb, about killed me. My lacate threshold was quickly met with legs that felt like they were on fire. I told myself never to do that again. I have pushed the limits to the "burning" point on ocassion, but when I do get up on the pedals, it's in a gear that saves my legs.
Mr. Horner doesnt appear to take that approach to climbing. He is up out of the saddle for the majority of the climbs. It seems like he has an unlimited pain threshold, and can climb that way for what seems like hours. I truly feel this does have an advantage over staying seated. I think you can get more power output, but I'm not a scientist and cant prove this theory.
I have noticed though, that my legs are getting more conditioned and dont burn as much as they did when I first started riding. In fact, I was so afraid of the burning that the hills caused that I changed my mind on a ride because I felt it had way too many hills. That ride is local to my area, and I may have to give it a shot.
My mind was changed however, during the Tour De Farms ride back in June. My buddy Todd rode next to me during the hill climbs, cheering me on, pushing me to not stop pedaling, to use a lower gear, whatever it took to get me up the hill. One thing that helped me focus on the power was to look about 3 feet in front of my wheel at the ground and to concentrate on my breathing.
In the photo above, this was taken at the finish of my longest ride ever, seventy-five miles. That is Todd to my right. I was exhausted that day. My feet hurt, and I was on cloud nine because I was able to complete more mileage than I had ever done.
Oh, and the hills? Yeah, I aint afraid anymore. I welcome them.
I also want to wish my other riding buddy, Mike (mikebentley.com) a speedy recovery from a crash he was involved in during a ride over last weekend. Quick healing and prayers Mike!