Decision Time

We’ve all been there, grinding up a hill that just doesn’t seem to end. Looking ahead to see what appears to be nothing I_Quit_Malebut endless miles of uphill brutality. It’s at this point when you have a decision to make.

I had to make that decision last week when I was at Coed Llandegla. I was riding the black route there and I was on one climb which, in my world at least, was very steep, long and gruelling. In reality it probably wasn’t that steep, that long or that hard at all, but at that specific moment it felt like a mountain. It was decision time – Do I get off and push or do I keep pedalling?

Generally, I’m not one for quitting, but whatever the reason, that hill seemed to have the better of me and I was already practically at a standstill. Without being totally aware of the decision I made, I found my feet hitting the ground and the saddle became a vacated area.

When I pushed past the top several minutes later with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, I stopped to contemplate the climb and I realised something important.

In the late 1970’s, a film called ‘Pumping Iron’ was released. It focused on the lives of many bodybuilders in the run up to the 1975 Mr Olympia contest, with the main focus surrounding Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepared to defend his title.

I’ve seen the film and I developed a certain level of admiration for the athletes. Not for their Adonis style physiques, but for the determination, commitment and sheer volume of training they undertake. It’s argued that most of the bodybuilders use drugs to achieve their physiques. Even if they do, there’s still a phenomenal amount of effort and training required for the results to appear – you don’t get huge muscles from watching TV.

It was the thought of the movie struck me at the top of the hill. The great Arnie wouldn’t have taken the easy option. He strived for perfection and honed his physique into something that caused men to look on with envy the world over – he would have kept pedalling.

You see, by quitting and taking the easy option, I realised that I’m depriving myself of any beneficial effects. The tough climbs are there to test you, but, ultimately they are the best way of improving your bike fitness, stability and even control.

I bet Steve Peat and Lance Armstrong wouldn’t have quit either – they would relish the burning limbs that accompany a hard climb and would probably have gone as hard up the hill as they do going down.

So I done the only thing I could.

I rolled back down to the bottom of the hill, had a long swig of water and began pedalling back up again. My legs were aching by the time I returned to the car park and I felt beyond the point of exhaustion.

But next time I’m there, the climb that caused me to give up once, might only seem like a minor obstacle.

I’m looking forward to my next ride now, and I’ll have the words of Arnie in my mind.

“Failure is not an option”

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