Learning to Climb

OK, so not the most honest title on this blog so far, but I couldn’t think of anything better. And it makes me think of Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly.

Any of you who know Armidale well will know that the city sits in a valley, we’re bounded by hills, and there’s almost no flat road to be found anywhere. So every ride we go on, we climb.

So, what’s to learn, you might ask. You get on your bike and peddle, the uphill bits are harder.

On a single bike one can climb sitting, or you can swing yourself up and “stand” so you can leverage yourself and increase the pressure you can put on the peddles.

On a tandem this isn’t so easy, you need to coordinate both riders so that you don’t overbalance the bike. So here is where the learning comes in.

It’s been stated that being able to stand to climb is the ultimate test to working as a team. We’re not there yet, so I won’t say this is full-proof, but here’s what we’ve been doing:

  1. On a near-flat stretch of road, finish a peddle stroke with the right foot down.
  2. One of us will count down to stand: 3, 2, 1.
  3. Pushing down on the hoods, move yourself up to a stand, keeping the front of the seat between your thighs.
  4. Hold the position for a while
  5. One of us announces a sit, and we do.

The first time we did this I discovered one thing I hadn’t considered: balance. My sense of balance isn’t great, primarily because I can’t see a horizon line, leaving me to sway with the bike, rather than keeping myself upright. In the normal course of riding this hasn’t been a problem. Thinking about it after we sat back down it occurred to me that I probably need to fix on something until I found my way with this.

It occurred to me that I could fix on the one thing I could see… Dave sitting in front of me. He’s hard to miss at that distance. Once I’d figured that out I felt much better standing up.

We have had one attempt at peddling like this uphill. To our delight we succeeded in both staying upright and continuing to move forward.

From here we need to practice, practice, practice.

As mentioned above, this is considered the ultimate test to working as a team. It’s also been said that knowing when not to stand on a tandem is also praise worthy.

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