I believe in the power of hills. For most of my life I have always been aware of the magnitude and beauty inherent of mountains, but appreciated them from mostly an aesthetic perspective. It wasn’t until a few years ago that a friend’s father informed me of the true value of hills.
We were on the streets of New York City, planning to conquer the annual Five Boro Bike Tour that encompassed 42 miles of the city. I was daunted by the masses of people around me; I barely had room to peddle. Fred told me not to worry because as soon as we hit the first hill, people would slow down. That on the next hill even more people would lag behind. He said we would ride the hills hard, and in this way get the breathing space we needed to complete the journey.
This nearly forgotten idea emerged several years later when I was on the Cross Country team in high school. Many of the courses had hills, and running up these hills seemed quite menacing during a race. Someone again reminded me about the power of hills and said I had to use them to my advantage. Everyone else would slow down on the hill and this was when I needed to charge ahead. Fortunately, it also got that segment finished faster.
It is easy to use the hill as an excuse. A justification to slow down, because hills are an accepted difficulty. Even my ’97 Ford Escort hates hills, and constantly groans each time I attempt to drive up one. Well, what I believe is not only to maintain my speed on hills, but also to accelerate. I charge them with everything I have. By working my hardest when I encounter hills is what allows me to push forward. In this way, hills can be used as an advantage.
The biggest problem with this hill philosophy is that it seems competitive. That the hill is used to get us ahead of the people behind us. I remember on my New York City bike ride, people would fall behind me but there were to many people too stop. I would hear a crash and screams from behind, but I could not turn around. I believe that charging up a hill means helping up people behind us who require assistance. I don’t think there is much I can do for those bike riders that I failed to help that time. But I guess I can apologize now, and tell them that the next time, I’ll do my best to help them up. I have been going to the gym a lot this year; I hope that makes me better at giving someone a push up the hill when they need it.
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