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The Term Is Flatlander…


July 2012

Folks, I am a fit freakin’ individual, it’s a well established truth. I am, on the other hand, fit for a Flatlander. I just had my first mountain climbing experience. Oh my God it was hilarious. I suppose I’ve been watching too much of the Tour because I went way too fast.

Keep in mind, we’re talking about grades in excess of 20%, we’re staying on the steepest peak (by far) in Tiger, Georgia – and the only experience I have is on expressway overpasses, so that pretty much means I have no climbing experience whatsoever…

I started off down the mountain more nervous than a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. I rode the brakes for the first half while I got comfortable. To say the road is narrow is an understatement. There’s barely enough room for two cars. As I grew more comfortable, I picked up the pace until I reached the bottom and turned around to climb back up. The goal was to climb the worst of it before I started venturing out…and our little mountain is by far the worst. We’ve got Mrs. BDJ’s road bike and that’s only got a double on it so I wanted to try the climb in my middle ring: 42t with a 12/25 cassette. Ain’t no way, and I knew it before I hit the first switchback. My heart was already racing when I dropped down into the granny ring. I pushed on from there and started on the serious climb at just shy of one mile in… And then it got tough. My legs were fine but my heart wouldn’t slow down, no matter how much I tried to slow down. I blew up shortly after that, cooked. I called Matt and explained what happened (because I had no clue) and he explained that I just went too fast.

I’ll be trying again this afternoon.



  1. Sandra says:

    Triathletes from the flatlands tell me that I should ride on really windy days into the wind, that will approximate hills. While it is incredibly challenging, as you know, it is *not* the same dynamic in muscle use! Have fun tomorrow. So what if you use the granny ring, I have a strong suspicion you won’t be by the end of the week. Good luck!
    PS. My triathlon’s biggest hills in April were the overpasses. . .i know what you mean!

  2. oh boy. i feel ya. the heart thumping is crazy. i’ve got one nasty little hill to contend with on my way home at the end of EVERY SINGLE RIDE and after six weeks, I can finally take it in the saddle. but i get to the top and it literally takes me two minutes to start breathing again. If I can hold 16mph on a 20 mile ride up here, I consider it a good day. That said, nothing compares to feeling of climbing a nasty hill and then getting to ride it back down. Have fun!

    • bgddyjim says:

      I don’t even get the thrill of the descent after… We’re staying at the top of the mountain – I have to ride down just to climb it.

  3. beechcreekproject says:

    And I thought it was just me. 🙂 If I was a betting man I’d say you’ll be tearing up that hill in no time. There aren’t many stretches that I ride that don’t have a couple steep hills to contend with. I finally nearly maintained a 16 mph pace on my mountain bike the other night but I felt it afterwards. This oppressive heat doesn’t do anyone any favors. Good luck on your next attempt and you guys be safe and have fun.

  4. Welcome to the real world! Spin at a fast cadence, relax your hands, arms & shoulders, and focus on keeping your heart rate low. You’ll get there!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks, I did go out again this afternoon and manage a decent 14 miles – and I found out why I was struggling… The average grade on our mountain drive is around 30%. On the steep sections it’s over 40%, confirmed by two disinterested third parties. It’s just too much.

  5. aaronwest says:

    Good job, and welcome to the mountains. 20% is a tall order for your first time out. I’m sure there are far easier nearby. You might head over to Helen and ride up Unicoi Gap. It’ll be a good climb, but a lot easier. Pace yourself and you won’t blow up.

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