There are few things that are as mentally tough as being out on a nice bike ride and coming across a really big and unexpected hill that you have to climb. If you’re aware of it before setting out on your ride, you have time to prepare mentally which means that it’s only your legs that will suffer, not your mind or spirit. If you’re expecting easy and flat, it can be really hard to face that hill, no matter how strong you feel. Last summer during my ride to Paris, a lot of the focus was put on the climb up the famous Mur de Huy in Belgium. But no one had told us that after that climb, there was another one which was just as long and just as steep. I heard a lot of yelling and screaming and anger when we came upon it, because when you’re not prepared, everything feels worse. I cursed silently underneath my breath the entire climb, being angry at everything from the people who had laid the route we were cycling, to the people who had created that stupid road in stupid Belgium. No offense, I really like Belgium. But you do have a lot of hills.
As my training intensifies, I’m getting to know the country roads around my home town on the west coast of Sweden a bit better. Or more accurately; for the first time I’m getting to know them as a cyclist instead of car driver. And believe me, there is a huge difference.
So let’s say that you’re out cycling, and while taking a short banan break someone stops to talk to you. You ask them about the road ahead, and they willing you tell you what you’ll be up against. Depending on who you’ve asked, you’re facing a very different outcome.
When you’re in a car, you hardly notice the ups and downs of the road. You might notice a huge mountain along the way, but rarely how long or how steep it is. Why would you? The car is doing all the work, so the hills of the road hardly affects you. This is why you should never ask a motorist about the road, because you will almost never get a correct answer.
Asking someone who has only driven that particular road in a car about what's to come, a study in expectations vs reality.
But then you might think, "but what about asking other cyclist, they must be perfect for this type of information?"
Well. They could be. Most of the time I’d trust them. But sometimes we have a slight tendency to exaggerate how difficult the ride we just did was. So when it comes to asking a fellow cyclist about the road, it tends to go the other way.
What’s your opinion, would you ask a car driver about what the road is like, or do you also mostly get “it’s completely flat” as an answer?