|Logan Street - Bottom|
You see, climbing the steeps for me is actually like living a metaphor. These past few weeks I have found that a while lot of it is physical strength, but even more of it is mental toughness, I suppose. You can train to build cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, and you can drop pounds to get close to race weight (in hill climbing weight can make a huge difference), and but at the end of the day, when you get to the hill, and look up and see it looming before you, it's how you attack it mentally and physically that matters most. It's having the belief that you can get up it, and pacing yourself and giving it your all for 1, 2, 3, 7 minutes, however long the hill takes. It's learning that the key to making it up a climb means focusing sometimes just on the few feet in front of you, because looking too far ahead may make you tell yourself the climb is too long or that it is a wall, seemingly insurmountable.
|Logan, like many of these hills, is so |
steep that the sidewalks are stairs
Finally, the next weekend, when I hit this venerable 5th hill, something clicked. I realized I had to focus on what was in front of me, and not way up ahead. Sure I was aware of what was coming, but in power climbing I have discovered it is important to focus on right now and just a few feet from right now. It was at that moment I figured out how to center my weight over my bike's bottom bracket (where the pedal cranks are attached), and pedal stroke by pedal stroke, slowly made my way up Logan. The beast was slain, and a little piece of me felt this sense of satisfaction, just for getting up a single hill. Not to mention the endorphins and this sense of pleasure that come when one experiences the view from the top of the hill afterwards.
|View from the top of Logan|
So when I climb hills on my bike on the weekends, it reminds me in a very tangible way to focus on the present moment, and go for it, and I carry that reminder with me into the week. Because at the end of the day, while we may have to study and look up at a hill for a long time, there is nothing like the view from the top.
|View after the climb looking across the Allegheny River: This is my Pittsburgh|
Postscript: This weekend introduced me to another - Canton Avenue - the steepest hill in Pittsburgh (37% grade), and cobblestoned, no less. This is the famous hill where people quite literally grind to a halt and topple over (you can find it on YouTube.) After 6 attempts on Saturday and another 3 on Sunday, but still this one eludes me.. for now. My mind is having a hard time on several levels wrapping around just how to climb it. (And not having yet figured out how to climb it, I honestly don't know what will happen next weekend when I hit the 8th hill of the DD.) But what I do I know is I'll likely dream about it during the week, give it my all, and hopefully someday soon (in fact hopefully on the day of the DD) something will click and I figure out how to pull myself up this sucker. Why? Because it's a steep, just sitting there to be conquered.
Addendum: The day of the Dirty Dozen brought snow, and given the events this past season, I pulled the plug that day. So Canton remains, but will be conquered someday.