All the roads go up


Climbing used to be my favorite thing on the bike — racing, training, or Just Riding Around. But that was before I officially became “old”, and before those extra 5 or so pounds. It’s not that I dislike climbs now. It’s more that I just don’t look forward to them like I used to.

That was going to present a bit of a problem riding around Alicante. Once you get away from the city and the coast — which you have to do to escape congestion — all the roads go up. If I was going to actually enjoy riding every day I was going to need to adjust my outlook.

It’s not too hard to change your attitude when you’re going up a climb and you look down and see paint on the road from a race — encouragements for favorite riders. Imagining what the race might have been like, it just makes you want to keep going up.

And then you get rewarded by the views from the top.

The climbs in this part of Spain are very different than what we have at home, which are usually short climbs of 3-8 minutes. Instead, I was doing climbs lasting 20 minutes to almost an hour. And then the long descents after the climb.

I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much extended time riding in the small ring. It seemed the road either was going up or going down. Which also made for some of the slowest average speeds I think I’ve ever had. I just had to accept that it was going to take me 4 hours to go 100km.

The hardest part was doing it day after day. In 8 days of riding I did about 45k feet of climbing — roughly 5500 feet each day. I have to work to get 5k feet in a day at home. But surprisingly, you just get acclimated to it.

I think I now know why the “Spanish climbers” do so well in the mountain stages of the grand tours.




Filed under cycling, travel

7 responses to “All the roads go up

  1. Jim

    I doubt that I have ever done 5K feet around here. If I have, I sure don’t remember it and I am pretty sure I would have.
    Wait until you gain another 10 years like me and you will like climbing even less.
    Glad you had a great time.

    • Brian

      To hit 5k around here I have to go out of my way to, for example, hit every climb I can on the way from my house to the Arboretum and back. Takes some conscious effort, but doable.

  2. Seems like you had an awesome 8 days in the saddle. I am starting my ninth year cycling now, but it had taken me the first 6 years to realize that if you’re not climbing, you are missing out on the best part of riding and you are really not testing yourself. Ascending and descending are my absolute most enjoyable time in the saddle. I’m looking forward to riding great majestic climbs of western and southern Europe one day. I cannot think of anything better than scaling an ascent that would take an hour or longer. The vistas and the views would be the best reward for such effort.

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