Aaron West is Loving the Hills
Thanks to Aaron West for supplying this guest post about his love for climbing hills on the bike. I hope you all enjoy his story:
Loving the Hills
by Aaron West
As the group huddles together in a circle before heading out on the evening ride, the leader asks everyone where they’d like to travel tonight. There are always some mutterings of here or there. Someone inevitably will say they would prefer to ride on flatter roads. I’m usually the guy who asks for the hills. Yes, I’m that guy. The others groan or chide at the suggestion, but they mostly go along with it. The thing is, I love the hills.
A passion for climbing fits me like a glove. I have long had an affinity for being in nature. Even without the bike, mountains have been a welcome respite from the bustle of city life. The times I have spent up in elevation rank among the best experiences of my life.
After sweating out a long climb, struggling to maintain enough gusto to reach the top, nothing defeats the feeling of looking down at the hundreds or thousands of feet below where you started. From my first experience at elevation, just looking at the lavish countryside, I was hooked.
In my humble opinion, climbing is the best training for cycling. Compared to others, in the time I’ve been riding, I have improved beyond my wildest expectations. As I speed away from someone on the sprint segment of my local group ride, I can thank the mountains. The more climbing I do, and the better fitness I achieve, the more opportunities to achieve other heights (literally!).
I’m fortunate to live close to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and have traveled to the Rockies. I love discovering new places, and always have my camera ready to snap something new. Part of this is because I want to capture the memory. This is also my way of planting a flag. Been there, done that, and have the picture to prove it.
There will be other trips, including someday in France to tackle the same legendary monoliths as the pros. My plans are to eventually complete the Haute Route, one of the toughest endurance events in the world. With a bicycle and some hills, the possibilities are endless.
Perhaps the best part of the climb is the descent that follows. My first descent was a chaotic, nerve-wracking experience. As with anything, the more you do something, the easier it gets. I have since come to love descending, although I still make sure to do so safely. Nothing feels better than screaming down a mountain, banking around tight corners with the wind in your face and the sun above your head.
Those descents would not happen without the climbs. They are the payoff, like waiting in line two hours for a roller coaster, only this time you get fit and healthy in the process. Is it worth it to grunt up a steep mountain for an hour in order to descend for 15 minutes? If you ask me, absolutely, unequivocally, yes!
I love the hills!