A Blog About Brian Albritton's September 2012 Cycling Ride Across Britain

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Building Up the Legs to Ride Hills

Hills scare me.  Having lived and cycled here in the flat lands of Florida, I haven't had much experience cycling in hills.  It's one thing to ride on the flats, but it is an entirely different kind of ride to do hills.  Look at the Tour de France and all the fast sprinters:  Mark Cavendish, winner of three stages, may be the fastest man in cycling on the sprint (a/k/a flat) stages, but he is at the back of the peloton when the riders hit the hills.

So, a few months ago, at the strong urging of my good friend T.J. Fitzgerald ("get a coach . . . what do you have to lose"), I hired a trainer here at the YMCA:  Yvette Wilmath.  If I didn't have hills to ride in order to gain strength, I needed to do the next best thing:  strengthen my legs.

We have been training since February; 3 days a week since March. She is a kind and gentle taskmaster.  Before we could even work a lot on my legs, we have had to do lots of work on my "core" muscles --the muscles that hold you up when you're riding.  Lunges and squats and planks and all other kinds of exhausting exercises.  Today we did legs.  As we were working on the machines, she would ask, "Are you feeling the burn?  No?  We need to increase the weight!"  Rest assured, I came to feel the burn.  With six weeks to go, Yvette wants to do even more to build the strength in my legs.  With several thousand feet of climbing on this ride, I will need all the strength I can get.  Thanks Yvette.

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