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Hills or flats?(17 posts)

Hills or flats?czardonic
Sep 6, 2002 1:03 PM
I'll 'fess up right now that I am relatively new to road cycling. No centuries under my belt, and no HRMs strapped to it. I paid less than $1000 for my bike, and Tiagra seems more than adequate to me.

Anyway, I consider myself fortunate to live in a hilly area. My rides start at the bottom, and vary in steepness depending on my route. I climb until my time is 3/4 up and then I coast home. Longer rides might crest one hill, but there are more waiting on the other side.

Yesterday, I decided to check out a waterfront MUT that I spotted from the freeway. It is the first flat terrain ride I have experienced that was uninterrupted by traffic, intersections and other stimuli. Other than the occasional headwind, what is there to keep you interested? Sure the scenery is nice, but I don't think it would bear much repetition. After only a mile or so pushing as hard as I could into the wind, I was just plain bored.

I know that there are many who love hills, but are there any who favor the flats? If some misfortune landed me in Omaha (no offense to the fine folks of Omaha), what would keep me motivated?
Agree, CZMXL02
Sep 6, 2002 1:10 PM
When I ride alone, hills are the only way to keep you honest and get a good workout. The flats are ok for group rides/pace lines-speed training, but really get boring when riding alone, IMHO.
Me motivates mebrider
Sep 6, 2002 1:12 PM
I've never had a problem with motivation, no matter the terrain. Generate your own interest. Be creative. Sounds like you're very externally focused. Look inward more, and I'm sure you'll find plenty to motivate.
I think I like the extremesKristin
Sep 6, 2002 1:18 PM
I like long flat stretches of road and I enjoyed riding up some larger hills this weekend. But those little rollers I hate. Its like being in stop and go traffic. I can't keep my HR contant, and my effort is always changing. I wouldn't mind riding up a mountain, and I don't mind riding on long flat stretches; but the stuff in between really sucks.
Oh, and you know that's not where your HRM goes right? (nm)Kristin
Sep 6, 2002 1:22 PM
kristen, get your mind out of cz's pants! NMcurtybirdychopper
Sep 6, 2002 1:37 PM
Just taking a bit of rhetorical license. (nm)czardonic
Sep 6, 2002 2:16 PM
that would explain why my hrm hasn't been working...(nm)allezrider
Sep 6, 2002 2:44 PM
re: Hills or flats?The Human G-Nome
Sep 6, 2002 2:20 PM
as far as my motivation, i'm constantly trying out new routes and harder terrain. where are the best hills? i'm relatively new as well (about a year), but i'm always trying to outdistance myself and out pace myself. i was able to increase my average on very hilly terrain to 18.7 mph from 17.3 just the other day on a 65 minute ride. the entire second half of the ride i was conscience of where i was at and not wanting to drop any of the new average despite the hills being worse at the end. last week, i averged about 16 mph on a 40 miles ride with lots of climbs so this week i will increase the same ride by 10 miles and also do my best to add a half a mph to the average. all this is beginner stuff i realize, but it keeps it fun for me.
re: Hills or flats?2300 Edmontonian
Sep 6, 2002 3:27 PM
I just need to be on my bike, that's motivation enough for me.
I like long straight roads too (except the wind!!!) and here in alberta we find quite a lot of those,
I like them cause the I can't really enjoy the speed and distance I get on my road bike climbing can I?, and my main objective is to improve my average speed and log some distance.
Climbs are still good though cause of the workout.
What goes up. . .czardonic
Sep 6, 2002 3:48 PM
Obviously, the companion treat to a hard fought climb is a screaming descent. And while your fitness is your limiting factor on the way up, your nerves are your barrier on the way down. Well, nerves and traffic cops.

I take your point though. I guess it comes down to a qualitative or quantitative view of miles. I'd rather wind 20 miles up a hill than 100 miles on flat ground (or what ever distance requires an equal effort). Of course, this is only my opinion.
Follow Up: Hills or flats?czardonic
Sep 6, 2002 4:15 PM
Part of this issue seems to come down to temperament. Futzing with HRMs and computers, and keeping track of average speeds and distances just doesn't appeal to me. Having to rely on that stuff to quantify my efforts seems like a chore (to me). It's just someone else's kind of fun. (On the other hand, I love to wrench. Go figure.)

Then again, maybe it has to do with attention span. As MXL02 pointed out, it is easier to stay honest on a climb. Slack off too much and you tip over. Milestones are also much more immediate. You can often see your next intermediate goal smirking down at you, poised to make a last second dash around the next bend.

brider may be right about being externally focused, but I am not sure that it is something I want to change. I sit in front of a computer all day, so when I ride I like to feel like I am out in the world matching my strength to challenges set by something other than myself.
Hills make cycling real, man!Spunout
Sep 6, 2002 4:33 PM
I just spent 2.5 hours on a 60km relaxation ride (I'm recovering from a sore tendon, so this is the first big ride in two weeks).

Ya, that is an average speed of 22km/h or 13.5 mph. Wonderful ride, I worked on my position and technique on many 1.5 km climbs around 12% grade while spinning my easiest gear, 39/29. BTW, max speed was 67.3 km/h (40mph) on a few descents, just to let you know what kind of hills I was in.

The flats I save for TT or intervals, if I need them. I'd rather the hills though.
Sep 6, 2002 4:38 PM
Flats just seem boring. Much prefer rides that go up and down. Rolling terrain is far more interesting that flats. It may have something to do with growing up in PA.
A healthy dose of both works for me...biknben
Sep 6, 2002 5:36 PM
From my house, I've got cornfields in one direction and hills in the other. I alternate to keep it interesting. Riding flats typically means long stretches of uninterupted pavement. Dial in the cadence, get in a zone, and let her rip. Hills offer the satisfaction of getting to the top and going back down.

Both have their place. Both appeal to me.
No hills where I live...fbg111
Sep 7, 2002 5:25 AM
I'm a noob too, I live at the beach in SE NC, and there are no hills whatsoever here. I motivate myself by trying to maintain the highest average speed possible. I just set my Cateye to display avg. speed, then attempt to keep it over 19mph for 20 - 30 miles. There may not be any hills here, but standard wind conditions are 10-17 knot Northeaster's. Riding into that challenging enough. It also forces me to work on finding the most comfortable aerodynamic form I can. Form makes a huge difference in a headwind.
re: Hills or flats?tigermilk
Sep 7, 2002 5:45 PM
I've been riding in flat Houston for over a year and currently moved to Boston for the remainder of this year. Having had both, I prefer hills for the challenge, but want flats for consistency. I can't train outdoors like I can back home since there's not a long enough flat stretch to do pyramid or cruise intervals. At least my time in the hills here should translate to even stronger legs in the flats when I get back.