Last Friday (July 10th), I met up with my friend Kenny in Couer d'Alene to ride the Olympic triathlon bike course (he's doing the race next month). It's a pretty hilly course, and one that I've never ridden. In fact, I've never ridden east of Coeur d'Alene at all. We set out from the park, by the beach, and rode east along the north shore of the lake, turned around and worked our way up some pretty challenging climbs. We misread part of the course and ended up going down and back up a steep climb, which added to our total elevation gain (almost 1900' total, over 26 miles).
I learned an important lesson on this ride. Instead of trying to hammer and fight my way up the hills, I geared way down and backed off the effort just enough to not get too winded, nor build up too much lactic acid in my legs. That meant slower climbing, but it also meant not blowing up. It made the climbs more enjoyable and eased the feeling of dread I usually get when there's a hill to ascend. A combination of seated climbing and standing on the pedals seemed to work well, too.
I have a long way to go as a climber, and I know there are much harder climbs that will still kick my rear, but it's nice to know that I can work the uphills in a way that doesn't wipe me out.