Five things I hate about cycling: Hills

Silhouette of a man cycling uphillI don’t actually hate hills per se, just hate that I find them the biggest mental obstacle to getting out on my bike more.

In fact, I tend to savour the “burn” that hits you whilst you climb up them, and the post-exertion endorphins after the hill levels out. The feeling of achievement at the completion of a big climb is fantastic too.

The problem

What I don’t like is that when I contemplate going for a ride, the first thing that jumps into my head is “Nah, can’t be bothered”. This is probably because I live in Sheffield, erroneously renowned for being built on 7 hills, like Rome. This is wrong – Sheffield is worse, it has 8.

Leaving my house in Sheffield, I can cycle about 2 miles without pedalling, zipping down roads of seemingly ever increasing grade. The downside of this is that every single ride I ever take is followed by an ankle grinding crawl back up to somewhere high above the cloud line.

And it’s not just me. When London first trialled their cycle scheme, they had a problem with bikes disappearing from the stations at the top of hills, and the stations at the bottom being too full. The problem has been even worse in Paris and Barcelona, both cities that have more hills. In Sheffield, I suspect they would need some kind of continual conveyor belt, back up from town into Crookes.

The solution

This brings me onto the perfect solution for Hills – the city council needs to built a ski lift up to my house. Sorted.

This article is part of my Five things I hate about cycling series. Read the rest here

10 thoughts on “Five things I hate about cycling: Hills

  1. You should try moving to Kansas – There was a study a while back on it – ‘If perfect flatness were a value of 1.00, they reported, the calculated flatness of a pancake would be 0.957 “which is pretty flat, but far from perfectly flat”. Kansas’s flatness however turned out to be 0.997, which they said might be described, mathematically, as “damn flat”‘.

    1. I honestly think I would enjoy cycling somewhere perfectly flat, at least for a year or so. Then I’d miss downhills…

  2. I’d miss going down hills very quickly. Sadly, in Glasgow, I’ve never managed to hit 100kph, top speed recorded was about 87kph… damned corners. Had a brake or hit a concrete wall.

    1. 87kph?! Isn’t that like 55mph?! I’ve managed 34mph, downhill, furiously peddling as fast as possible in top gear. Don’t think it would be possible on my bike to go much faster. What gear ratio have you got?

    2. Sorry Chris, I didn’t see you’d replied to my comment. Top gear is 52/13, which means to go at 55mpt, I need to be up at about 200rpm, which downhill is quite possible.

      I’m not sure what speed I’d be able to go to before the tyre popped though!

  3. As a sweatmonster living in hills, I am surprised that you can even wear a helmet. Mine is one of the best-ventilated helmets available, and I can usually only wear it for 10 or 15 minutes before I start getting symptoms of heat-related illness. These include severe headaches, progressive alcohol-like impairment, unpredictable aggression and unconsciousness and death (which I haven’t yet experienced). The hill I live on is in Australia. My sweat is bucketsomely plentiful but unsmelly, and I used to march into work dripping wet and smelling of a cup of tea.

    Re the rest of your complaints; carry a spare, patched tube (for every bike you may ride) and swap them over when punctured. Repair puncture after replacing, wrap tube in newspaper and fold it in your bag to dry. Have you tried a mountainbike? These are a bit slower but have less punctures and are good in rough going. They make a change from a roady. Luggage racks are great for carrying your bag. Hills are great fun but slow and sweaty.


    1. Ha thanks for the comment. I love my mountain bike, but for distance nothing beats a road bike. Australia will be a wee bit hotter than Northern England I suspect!

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