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The 10 emotional stages of a big climb

The ups and downs of biking uphill

Photo by: Unsplash/ Coen van den Broek

Ups and downs are what make life exciting—the same can be said for ups and downs in cycling. When a non-cyclist asks you, “wait, you actually want to ride somewhere hilly?” and you reply “yes, those are some of the best rides!” what you probably don’t mention is how it feels to be mid-way through the hardest climb of your life, the top of the hill out of sight as the knowledge that it’ll get steeper on the next turn looms over you. It’s a love/hate relationship but cyclists always come back to the hills. Here are the 10 emotional stages you go through when you take on that local big climb:

1. The run up to the climb

“I’m gonna PR on this attempt, I’m feeling good, the road is clear and conditions are perfect,” you tell yourself as you watch your heart rate increase slightly with excited anticipation.

2. Certain victory

As you move up the first part of the climb you almost feel bad about stealing that KOM/QOM already.

3. Pacing

You’re going to be smart about how you use your energy—this time you’ll pace yourself perfectly (even though you feel like you should maybe just start hammering and get it over with).

4. Slowing down a little

“Oh, my ride buddy is still chatting,” you think, “we’re still at the chatting point of the climb I guess. Maybe I should’ve eaten a gel before I started, they seem a lot more energetic than me”

5. Crushing realization you’re not nearly as far as you thought you were

One line from the Frozen soundtrack plays on repeat as your brain taunts you.

6. The thick of it

You fill your air with the maximum amount of air as you wonder, “Why is it so hot?” and  “How embarrassing would it be to unclip and just walk the rest of the way?”

7. The comeback/second wind

You have no idea where this burst of energy is coming from but you don’t ask any questions as you let it propel you forward.

8. The last steep pitch

“THE TOP! I SEE IT!” You think, as you let out a grunt of happiness (the most articulation you can muster at this point). You then realize that that was just the first top—the real top is at the end of this last steep pitch.

9. The amazing feeling of finishing a climb

This is why you do it—for the sense of accomplishment you feel after pushing yourself through the discomfort and reaching the top of the climb.

10. (Eventually) the descent

What goes up must go down. As you coast with the wind in your hair you think to yourself, “that wasn’t that bad,” as your prep for the next climb on the ride.