Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A bike, a chariot and a big hill

Yesterday, I headed out on my bike again. This time it was Heidi, my hybrid, rather then Bella. As much as I enjoy riding Bella, I've decided that, in the interest of occasionally seeing my husband, some of my training needs to take place during the day while I'm with the kids.

Enter the chariot:
The combined weight of my kids is 75 pounds; the chariot is about 20. With some extra food, drinks and stuff in the back, I am easily pulling an extra 100 pounds behind me. Needless to say, I go a lot slower for the same amount of effort.

Now, I'm not new to pulling the chariot. I biked a fair bit last summer, and the vast majority of it was with the kids in the chariot. And between the two of them, they have only put on a couple of pounds since then, so the effort needed is around the same. The chariot isn't really that hard to pull. I just ride in a lower gear and go slower. There is one situation where the extra weight makes a huge difference though.


There is one large hill along the pathways that I usually try to go down, but not up. There have been times I've had to go up it though, and last summer, I always did it the same way: I got off my bike and pushed.

There was simply no way I could ride up that hill. I'd start pedalling and shift all the way down, but even in the lowest gear, I'd reach a point (usually quite close to the bottom of the hill) where I just couldn't keep the pedals going around. When I started riding my bike to the pool, I discovered that I could ride up that hill without the trailer behind me. I did have to shift into the lowest gear though, and I didn't go faster then a walking speed.

Yesterday, I expected more of the same. In fact, I went down the hill knowing I'd probably have to back up. (There is still ice on the path by the river, and I wanted to see if the path would be blocked there. It was.) I wasn't avoiding the hill. I actually wanted to give it an effort and see if I could get up further then last summer. I figured it would be an extra workout to push it the rest of the way.

I started up as I always had. You can't build too much speed before the hill because it's already an upwards slope leading up to it with a turn right before. I'm not comfortable taking corners too quickly with the chariot behind me. I started to pedal.

As expected, I very quickly ended up in my lowest gear. BUT, unexpectedly, I was able to keep pedaling. The slow down and stop I was waiting for just didn't happen. I continued up that hill at about the same pace I had been doing it the previous summer without the chariot. When I got to the top, I took a moment and a drink.

I'd done it! I figured I'd be able to eventually ride up that hill a bit faster without the chariot, but I honestly didn't think I'd ever be able to do it pulling 100 pounds. I may not have spent as much time on my bike as I should have over the winter, but those trainer hours haven't been wasted! I am a stronger cyclist then I was 6 months ago.

And, continuing to pull that chariot should count as more hill training. Bring it on!


  1. WOW! I would say you are MOST definitely a stronger biker this year! I used to ride with just one kid on the back of my bike and that was p.l.e.n.t.y.

    I did have a double jogging stroller so I would often push about 80 pounds in front of me, but I can't imagine pulling a chariot. You ROCK!

  2. oh my word. you are seriously so hard. this looks SO intense!

  3. Good job getting up the hill pulling the chariot. You are definitely getting stronger!

  4. Isn't that an amazing feeling? Which hill?

  5. That's amazing!! Great job! How great does it feel to do something you couldn't do last year. Seriously congrats! That's got to be a great workout.

  6. That's an outstanding achievement! Congratulations!!!

  7. SOOOOO Impressive!! Way to rock it out Super Bike Mom!!

  8. Congrats!! That is a HUGE accomplishment!! All the running definitely helps on the bike too.