I still consider myself an inexperienced cyclist and living in the gentle farmlands of Northeast Wisconsin I can work on distance, I can work on sprinting, but I really have nowhere near to work on climbing. Sure, I live in a hillier area but that word means we have 90 foot climbs with perhaps a few meters of 15% grade. Most of our climbs are done in about a half-kilometer. Sure, I can make them challenging by sprinting up them, but is that a mindset to have whenever the road points up? Last week my wife floated the possibility of going to Wausau which I considered a plan B, but once that plan became the plan in action, I eagerly formed a Rib Mountain climb plan.
Rib Mountain Climb — Getting Ready
How does one prepare themselves for such a feat? Fortunately, bicycles have gearing so you can shift down to make the pedalling easier, but there is a limit to how far that can take you, so proper gearing is only so helpful. I increased my off-season training and began seriously road riding earlier this year so I was reasonably confident my body was ready to do this.
Rib Mountain Climb — Doing
However, we all know the body without the mind is useless. A weak body can be offset by a strong mind and a weak mind will negate a strong body. Since I never made the climb before, my plan was to get into a comfortable cadence early and stay there. This meant getting into my little chainring right away and a moderate gear on the cassette. I downshifted further as needed and popped up a couple of gears on the couple of times I stood up. I tried to stay in the drops (when in the saddle) and I focused on my breathing to make sure I was exchanging full volumes of air.
Other than that, it was one revolution after the next, and that is what cycling is about. Take it one turn of the pedals at a time and those seemingly little turns add up! Whether your ride is 10 miles long or 100 miles long each turn of the pedals is the same 360°.
My mindset was confident and I had two scenarios, one was a moderately hard trial and the second was a real gruelling sufferfest. The reality was on the slightly easier side of the moderately hard trial. I considered a repeat but I was not prepared for the sweat rolling into my eyes and so I headed for home after my descent.
Rib Mountain Climb — Only a Moderate Climb
In terms of challenge Rib Mountain is a moderate climb, climb ratings being essentially a 1-4 scale with a fifth rating (HC or in English “beyond categorization”) indicating too tough to rate. I now know I am able to climb cat 3 hills (certainly not be the KOM of them, but I know I can do it in one go), now it is time to continue my growth and take on a cat 2 hill climb. I am told the Blue Mounds area of Wisconsin (Southwest Wisconsin) has some cat 2 climbs or climbs approaching cat 2.
However, next winter I hope to do some cycling in the Philippines which has a mountainous terrain and category 2 climbs are common. However, I need to find someone to ride with me.
I am not satisfied with the climb the other day. I want to go bigger, faster, and farther. For we are either building ourselves up or time and nature are tearing us down. Obviously, time and nature wins but I am not going down without a fight (all credit to Mary C for that line)!
Rib Mountain Climb — Build Yourself Up!
You need to take steps each and every day to build yourself up. Not just physically, but mentally too. I have found cycling and skiing both motivate me to build myself up physically and I have found ways to use those enthusiasms to take on new mental challenges too. I study each sport not just as a participant but as student as someone who wants to contribute to the industry. I take those enthusiasms and attempt to express them in this forum!
Both physical and mental training work to fight the ageing process. So rise up out of your easy chairs and fight!