on the deep-seated trauma associated with the prospect of a hill interval session

It’s generally accepted that if you want to go quicker, you need to train hard. When I’m beaten by very quick people I tend to frame it within a certain context – their rapidity is a product of the amount of time and effort expended in training. I know how much time and effort I have available, and when coupled with a fluctuating amount of willpower find that it precludes any rewriting of the cycling record books. 

It’s also accepted that if you want to go quicker up hill, you need to train hard on hills. the key to all of this skullduggery is the nasty world of the interval session. I can’t think of anything less enticing than the prospect of a savage bout of interval training, but it is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap.

There’s not much point in going into the specific details of the sessions; you can do pyramids, reverse pyramids, 10×20, whatever tickles your fancy. Gordon Wright was the master coach of this particular dark art. The important part is making sure you are rested prior to doing a savage and unpleasant session.

I rode across the Downs and took things slowly, a gnawing sense of trepidation in the back of my mind. I was distracted for a short while by a flying cetacean and an enormous airborne tiger attacking some small children.

The sky was dotted with surreal creatures.

After the interlude – which included riding tubular tyres at 150psi across open grassland – i headed to a nearby incline to do battle. I managed 5 repetitions of a horrid loop; heading up a climb at full gas, riding across and back down and then doing it again. It was vile. Before each one I felt as though I couldn’t do another, but on starting you somehow push yourself over and above each time. There’s nothing enjoyable about it. It was made more strange by the presence of a couple walking up the hill who saw me come past 5 times.

Many years ago I used to laugh at a colleague who did ‘hill reps’. He was fitter and stronger than I was and would leave me in the dust when riding in Kent, particularly on the steep side of Toys. Things have changed, but it’s still worth laughing at people who are doing intervals or hill reps. Riding uphill is satisfying and a challenge; doing it several times in short succession and full speed is rank idiocy. They have no purpose outside of competitive bike riding. I can’t imagine that I’ll look back on my life in years to come with a wistful sigh, wishing that I’d done more hill interval sessions.


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