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Climbing the mountains

Over the weekend, before my 28-hour whirlwind tour to Lake Placid, I went for a group bike ride in East Aurora. I wanted to do a long ride and my friend Jenny complains that I don't do enough hills in my cycling workouts.

And so I went out to East Aurora, went into granny gear to get up the first climb or two.

Then we hit a section of road which was vertical.

I'm talking straight up. I'm talking you might as well get out your rock climbing gear to pull yourself up this hill. That was the incline. Or at least that's how it felt to me.

I tried to traverse the hill, that is zig-zag my way across the road to cut down the incline. That didn't work so well. I still had difficulty turning my peddles and felt like I might just fall backwards off my bike.

So I did what I hated -- I got off my bike and walked it up the steep part.

This was not a proud moment for me. Then again, falling backwards off my bike and tumbling down into traffic struck me as a stupid way for me to die. Happily, I actually got back on my bike once the incline became not quite so sharp. And I didn't get off my bike again until I was back at my car.

Climbing will make me better on flat roads, I know this, and will help give me more power and speed when I'm on an easier route -- hopefully, for example, at the Shoreline Triathlon at Hamlin Beach on Sunday.

Meanwhile, I'm catching glimpses of today's Tour de France stage which features some of the toughest climbs of the race. Personally, I'm hoping that American cyclist Christian Vande Velde can ride himself back in contention for a podium spot. Vande Velde crashed on a descent yesterday and fell more than three minutes behind the overall tour leaders.

Vande Velde rode with Lance Armstrong for years before finally coming into his own as a cyclist this year.

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