Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hill the Thrill

Cyclists Who Hate Hills...is how Slate's current Most Shared piece starts.

Let's take a look at this hill in question, the one Norway has outfitted with a lift to help frail and inferior people.

The hill does have portions at 20-30%, but it is extremely short: 15 seconds, in fact, for the Strava leader.  Of course, that's at somewhere around 900 Watts--if √ėyvind Persvik is of normal weight and his power meter was calibrated.

Still, we're looking at a 30-40 second climb, maybe even a minute if we're on our Capitol Bikeshare.

The brave citizens of Norway spent tens of thousands of krone to enable its citizenry, the descendants of vikings and blood of Thor Hushovd, and lords of the fjords and severely rotten fish eaters, to ascend this pesky thing?
Severely Rotten Fish: Lutefisk
Let that be the first point of this post.  Norway, you disappoint me.

My second point concerns the article and something about it that leaves me uneasy.  I'm thrilled Slate's uppity readership is interested in cycling, but the title (Cyclists Who Hate Hills) is deeply disturbing.

Every time I head to the Midwest or the Carolina coast or to Hains Point, I'm made aware of how the fun of our sport is tied to the ups and downs of the road.  Flat roads suck.

Part of my confusion about the article and its title, maybe, concerns the term "cyclist."  When I think of cyclists, I think of a particular awesome and asshole-ish kind of bike rider, not just the entire lumbering herd of beasts on bikes.  Cyclists are a notable sub-group, maniacal, masochistic bastards who have no concerns about the effect of riding practically buttnekkid in tights and scandalous apparel in pursuit of sweet hills.

Cyclists who hate hills...are there any?

Every cyclist I know loves hills, lives for hills, even the fattest wide-load buttercream cyclist--who says he hates hills, but actually loves them--willingly abandons family, faith, and financial well-being just to pursue the thrill of going up and down hills.  Love of hills, I venture to say, is precisely the thing that distinguishes cyclists from those who happen to ride a bicycle.  Cyclists actually want the suffering of a long climb; people who ride bikes just want to...

  • ...get to the Black Cat and listen to music only twenty other people have ever heard
  • ...get to Filter Coffee and drink coffee only twenty other people have ever drunk
  • ...get home from work and have a beer
  • ...look cute with their little basket and summer dress and straw hat and tweed pantaloons
  • ...hit a sweet jump
  • ...avoid hills

So what we've got in Slate's title--Cyclists Who Hate Hills...--is an oxymoron and offensive to those of us who enjoy being offensive, thrill-seeking hill-seekers: cyclists.

There is no such thing as a cyclist who hates hills.

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