We cycled up the Appalachian Mountains today which is 4,800 feet of hills. In Minnesota, the IDS Tower is 792 feet, and Eagle Mountain is the tallest hill at 2300 feet. Cycling up a gradual hill isn’t that hard. Gradual hills have a “grade” of about 3%. Hills with a grade of over %10 are hard to walk up. Our hills today often had grades of 8-14%. Another factor is that the temperature was in the 80s, and I’m carrying about 60 pounds of camping and cycling gear. That’s more numbers than I normally put in this blog.
The feelings might give a better description. All of us knew this trip would have hard moments, and today’s climb is one of the hardest on the trip. Considering all that, we just stuck it out. We’re all experienced cyclists, so we knew we’d make it up the Appalachians.
When it comes to cycling, I don’t complain much because I love being on a bike so much, but today, there were hills that surprised me, by being long, steep, and often. I could tell that by looking at my cycling GPS, which shows me the height of upcoming hills.
Like a lot of challenges, there were rewards and simple ways to make it easier. One simple way was taking a lot of breaks. On really steep hills, with a grade over 12%, I would cycle for about 20 yards, stop, catch my breath, gulp down more Gatorade, cycle for 20 yards more, and repeat. Another simple way to get up a steep hill was gearing all the way down and pedalling just fast enough to stay upright. That’s around 3 MPH, which is about the same speed that most people walk at.
Of course, the rewards were great. We went up and down many steep hills. One reward was going down a mountain hill on a bike. It really feels like we’re flying, even though the fastest I went was 35 MPH. Another reward was getting to the top of the last hill of the day, since we’d gone up, down, and back up many. Another reward was the view. We spent a lot of time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is wonderful.
But of course, the best reward was that we did it. We climbed the Appalachian Mountains on a bike. No climbs are harder on this trip, although strong headwinds can make an easy hill hard. We’ll learn more about that in the next few weeks. For now, I’m going to enjoy a very good night of sleep.
One last comment, I haven’t posted in my blog much on this trip so far. I love writing in my blog, but most of my previous trips were solo. This group trip is taking more time each day, in good ways. But, I hope to write in my blog more often in future days.