TURNING YOUR PEDALS IN ANGER CAN GET YOU TO THE TOP.
This is why cross training is way better than EPO. Sort of.
I“IT’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH SOCK LENGTH OR SHAVED LEGS,” my mate Moose said, after I lamented that I’d hit a hillclimbing pace impasse (an impace?). “No, the secret to smashing hills is… crosstraining.”
Cross-training? Pfffffft. Throwing up diced carrots isn’t my idea of fun, and that’s what happens when I run, lift weights or burpee.
But I pondered Moose’s words as I made my way up the six-kay climb from Camps Bay to Suikerbossie. Would being a little more strategic help me climb faster? And there and then – on my heavy, dual-sus, knobbly-tyred mountain bike – I invented ‘roadie-magnet intervals’.
As roadies bulleted past, I’d tuck in behind them, and stay with them as long as possible.
Some intervals later three roadies came past, and I slipped in behind them. After a few seconds, one of them turned to his mates and said, “What a chop. He’s wearing Joberg2C arm warmers, and Wines2Whales socks – he wants everyone to know he does the races.”
“What a chop,” said mates two and three, in unison.
I looked around to see who the chop was… and then realised they were talking about me! I was the chop.
Dilemma. Should I clear my throat and alert them to my presence, or should I just drop back and forget the whole thing?
Before I could decide, one of them spotted me. He mumbled something, his mates looked around, and
I looked around to see who the chop was… and then realised I was the chop.
an awkward tension rippled through our little peloton. We – the roadies (in matching bank- branded kit, with blueand-purple- striped socks, on shaved pins) and I – rode on, locked into our uneasiness. I was morbidly curious about how this fraught situation would end.
They picked up the pace. Suddenly, I realised how
they wanted it to end – they wanted to ride away from me. So I stuck to them. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to hang on to the what- a- choppers, but I was determined.
Though the three would often put the hammer down, the more they tried to shake me, the more cross I became. I wanted to crush them with an acerbic comment, but I couldn’t think of a sufficiently humiliating putdown.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of pain, we reached the robots at Llandudno, where the gradient kicks up a few notches for the final grind to the top. Chop, hey? I’ll show you who’s a chop, I thought, as purple fumes of fury poured out of my ears. With 500m left to the Suikerbossie summit, I made a dash for it.
My legs were screaming, my lungs were burning; but I was turning my pedals in
anger. Though they tried to stay with me, I reached the top a good 30 seconds before they rolled by, looking sheepish. I still didn’t have a witty retort, but I like to think my grin said it all.
Now, when I’m at the base of any tough climb, I think of Mr Lamont, the sadistic geography teacher who made my life hell; and Telkom’s faulty ADSL, and Vodacom’s data theft, and queuejumpers, and able-bodied jerks who park in bays for disabled people.
I think of people who don’t know how to use apostrophes, and of the hours of ‘ your call is important to us’ I’ll never get back. I think of my ex-girlfriend, who made off with my Bob Dylan CD. I think of racists who urinate in old women’s food, corrupt politicians, and a family who captured a country, and I think of Edgbaston 1999 (why didn’t you run, Donald, you chop?!).
And when people ask me my secret to conquering climbs, I smile wisely and say: “Cross training. I believe in cross training.”