Here in the Ozarks, there is a disturbing activity among young, foolish drivers to fly over the crest of a hill so fast that they become airborn. It’s called hilltopping. It’s been going on since before I was that age, and tragically, every few years somebody gets killed because of it. It also scares me to think that those are the same roads I ride on my bicycle.
But really, what does that have to do with cycling? It’s this. I’ve repurposed the term hilltopping to be a new cycling activity. It involves climbing hills for fun! I’m not sure if I’ve got a little billy goat in me or what, but for some reason I’m relishing riding up hills this year. With my fairly small body size and decent strength, I’m a pretty good climber anyway, and it’s pretty impossible to ride anywhere from my house without hills. But, I got a little more serious about going up last summer.
We had signed up to ride the LiveStrong Challeng in Austin and people kept commenting about how hilly it was down there, so we spent the biggest part of the summer riding in terrain that I thought would be similar. Let me tell you, hauling the tandem up and down these Ozark hills all summer did the trick. We got down to Austin, completed the ride in fine shape, and I found myself thinking, “What hills? These aren’t any worse than at home.”
When Mike and I started venturing out again after the first of the year and I just about killed him with hilly rides, I realized I was unconsciously taking us places that were fun for me but challenging for him. For years, I’ve joked to Pam that “Hills are your friend. They build character and endurance. You can name your left leg Character, and your right one Endurance!” At this point, I’ve decided there was more truth to that than I realized!
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