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Love and hate

Climbing hurts... laboured breathing, high heartrate, lactate build-up, so why do cyclists like hills so much?

Clip in, start the Garmin, off towards the bypass.  Easy spinning along the wide roads, I know what's coming, it's 5 miles away, those 5 miles pass too quickly.  Turn off towards the hill, the gilet gets unzipped and sunglasses get put up into the helmet vents, I don't want the hassle of wiping my sweat out of them when I put them back on for the descent.

Out of the big ring and a few clicks up the cassette, take a swig from my bidon and look up at the hill.  The woodland is hiding the switchbacks, it doesn't look so bad from here... maybe it'll be easier this time.  Riding past the Logie Kirk and I click up the cassette again, I try again, there's no more gears left, this is me from here on.  I look down at my heart rate and it's already nudging 160bpm, the steep bits are yet to come. 

Scottish Mur

Into the woods, trying to stay sat as long as possible, it lasts about 25 seconds.  Out of the saddle and the rear wheel slips with the first pedal revolution, the combination of damp asphalt covered in blossom leaves me desperately searching for traction.  Up to the hair pin, the hill flattens off for a few metres, the 25% gradient is over.  Why did it look so easy for the pro's riding a similar gradient in Fleche Wallone?  There's another steep section to come, I'm out of the saddle again, my legs are on fire, my chest is making a terrible wheezing sound. 

Hunched low over the bars, keeping the front wheel down and the Garmin beeps, it's auto-paused... 0.0mph.  The combination of my body and the trees above have blocked the satellite signal.  I sit down again, I don't want any of this data vanishing, every last calorie and pedal revolution belongs to me.  The trees disappear and I'm climbing up to the bottom of Dumyat, I feel like crap.  I get to the junction at the top, still wheezing, legs burning, sweat in my eyes, there's two options: right goes up, left goes down. 

I go left 

I could be sat in the office in 15 minutes, drinking a cuppa.  Riding for 30 metres is enough to make the guilt kick in, I do a u-turn in the road and head back upwards.  The legs immediately start feeling the ascent again, I'll regret it if I turn back though.  Finally the gradient relents and the Garmin is once again showing double figures, my legs still hurt. 

Holy cow!

Round a corner and there's a Highland cow staring at me, stood stock-still in the middle of the road, looking slightly panicked (if cows can look panicked), I coo at it and tell it I'm not going to hurt it.  Christ, its horns are massive!  The pain of the hill suddenly disappears with thoughts of getting a massive horn through my ribs.  Cow safely navigated and I try to get my cadence up again, it's not coming easy today.  Someone's wild camping in a field, it's stunning up here.

Finally to the Sheriffmuir inn, I think of Hercules the Human Bear, I don't know anything about him, I really should watch the programme before it disappears from Demand 5.  Bizarre and fleeting thoughts.

Glasses back on, gilet zipped back up, 53 tooth chainring once again engaged.  Back to speeds that make me feel like I'm achieving something - I once again think of the cuppa I'm going to have when I get to work.  Drop down into Dunblane, dodge the traffic through Bridge of Allan and a warm-down as I ride into Stirling.


I really hate Logie Kirk, I'm not riding it as well as I have done in the past, I need to lose some weight, maybe I need to get a cassette with a 27 tooth cog on it again, I sit at my desk and tap out this blog, my heartrate still feels higher than it should be, maybe I just need to ride it a couple of times a week like I used to... it's got to do me some good, I couldn't hold the wheels of the scratch group at chaingang last Tuesday night, the hills were my downfall... more Logie Kirk for me.

Yeah, I hate it... I also love it.

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