Why do we climb?

Two cyclists climbing Humevale Road

Climbing is an unavoidable part of cycling. A cyclist can only get so far on flat roads before finding a hill between themself and their destination. For a lot of recreational cyclists, hills are something to be avoided at all costs and a day spent riding along Beach Road is far more enjoyable than a day spent slogging away in the Dandenongs.
But for those of us recreational cyclists who enjoy hauling ourselves up every incline that we come across, why do we do it? Are we just crazy?

For Wade Wallace, A-grade cyclist and author of the increasingly popular website Cycling Tips, it’s all about the challenge.

“There’s something deeply satisfying about climbing. Anyone can ride on a flat road and sit behind a wheel but not on the climbs. There’s nowhere to hide and your real character starts to shine when things get tough. And they will get tough”.

For a lot of recreational climbers, the feeling of satisfaction you get upon reaching the top is motivation enough. For others, major cycling events like Le Tour de France provide inspiration for cyclists to head for the hills, says Mr. Wallace.

“There’s some intense history that lays on these climbs and they’re on every cyclist’s bucket list. Most of us can only dream to ride on these climbs and quite often I find myself pretending I’m on Mont Ventoux when on Mt. Hotham”.

Victorian cyclists are in a truly privileged position with the amount of fantastic climbing available. From the gentle climbs up Mount Dandenong on the outer edge of Melbourne’s east, to the truly epic alpine ascents like Mt. Baw Baw and Mt. Hotham, Victorian cycling has it all.

As we discussed last time in our explanation of gradient, cycling uphill also requires a considerable amount of extra energy expenditure. In this way, cycle climbing can be a fantastic way for riders to get fit and stay healthy.
But before you go throwing yourself at Mt. Baw Baw, you might want to take note of the valuable tips provided by Mr. Wallace;

“Know how to pace yourself and stay out of the red zone until the time when it counts. Some of these climbs can last over an hour and there’s no sense hitting the climb at full pace only to die in the middle. Start moderately and finish with all you’ve got!”

Climbing truly is one of the most satisfying aspects of our wonderful sport and with so many great places to do so in Victoria, what are you waiting for?

A big thanks to Wade for his valuable insight. Don’t forget to check out his wonderful blog – updated daily – at http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com

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