Friday, May 29

The 'Best' Cycling Hill in the Seacoast

Okay, first off, I hate hills. I mean, what we call the "King of the Mountain" sprint is only 41 feet above sea level. It's a joke. We're all about the pancake-flat coastal highways here. Wind? No problem. Hills, on the other hand, present a problem. Hills are important though, and I'll tell you why.

Force. I mean the force which is generated in your legs, not the force which is apparently generated by midi-chlorians in your blood. "Force, or strength, is the ability to overcome resistance," says Joe Friel's Cyclist's Training Bible. "It also has a lot to do with how big of a gear you can turn when you want to go fast." And the only proper prescription for training force on a bicycle is hills. Force, along with speed-skill (how fast you can turn the cranks) is the foundation of power, which is the key to sprinting. So, perhaps counter-intuitively, training on the hills can help to prepare you for sprints on the flats.

cycling bike hills hillclimb seacoast nh massachusettes amesbury climbing road mountain powwow portsmouthIt was with this in mind that with a few friends and teammates I set a course for Amesbury, Massachusettes, and Powwow Hill--the highest point in whatever county it's in. Powwow Hill is only 330 feet, and the relative rise on the sub-half-mile of roads leading to the top is 220 feet or so. That means it has about an average 10% grade, which is obnoxious. We only did three reps on it, that was enough to send us home in tears.

My rear cassette is not conducive to hill climbing. It seemed like the other guys had 27's and/or compact chain rings. I just can't take those steep prolonged climbs. Also I have the core strength of an overcooked rigatoni. That means that there's nothing for my legs to push from when applying force to the pedals. This is caused by a severe lack of situps. Another problem is that a tough, steep hill will break me a lot faster than a long one that's moderately steep. I feel like I'd get a better workout on a three-mile 5 percent grade than a half mile at 10 percent, because I could do more repeats. I don't know where to find that within a reasonable distance (15-20 miles from Portsmouth) though.

cycling bike hills hillclimb seacoast nh massachusettes amesbury climbing road mountain powwow portsmouth noreast durham exeter giles cooper tim metzgerBut whatever. I recommend Powwow Hill if you are looking for a hill that's pretty close and you're ready to get your ass handed to you. If anyone knows better, let me know.

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