Every Wednesday night during "the season" some portion of our cycling group goes out to ride some challenging hills. It was Kim's idea (yes it was) that we needed to add a challenging ride to our training routine, and preferably one with hills (and lots of them). We had been logging training miles by going west of the city over flattish routes, mainly I think because the event we look forward to most during the year is the Hotter N Hell 100 ; we have tended to do a lot of training with that in mind. That event has a very flat course, but lots of wind and typically (big surprise) HEAT. However, most of the other cycling events we do have a generous number of hills. Although parts of Oklahoma are very flat it's rare to see a cycling course of thirty miles or more that does not include a variety of hills, and most of them brag about how hilly and punishing the course is. Besides the increase in our climbing skills, the Wednesday Night Hills have made us all a lot stronger - if you don't have time for a long ride you should make it a hilly one. We take pretty much the same route every time, so what keeps us at it?
Taking the same route lets you compare "apples to apples". Riding the same hills you can easily gauge your progress. Also, the route is scenic with a lot of different things to look at (and not too many dogs). We ride out into the country to Jones. A lot of cyclists are taking the same route, so we all have the benefit of riding where cyclists are often seen and anticipated - safety in numbers. We don't have to check in and plan every week because we already know where we will meet. Anyway, the same route is not the same every week in the country. We see the progression of the season week by week - the calves grow up, the crops mature, the vegetable garden on the corner in Jones springs up, with something different ready to eat as the weeks go by. We see the kittens on people's porches grow into cats, the river is low or high, the sound most heard is frogs or cicadas, we are pleasantly cool or boiling hot. Last year we were often hurrying to beat the rain. This year every time we go out we are fighting 30 mph winds. We start the ride energized or exausted, happy to be there or cranky. The ride may be over the same route, but it's different every time. Of course after blabbing on about our hills I post only flat road pictures - Obviously I am still struggling with some of them and only have the energy for the camera on the flat stretches!