Giving it hell for a half-mile


You won’t hear many people recommend bicycling as training for mountaineering — it’s not very similar to hiking uphill at high altitude with a pack on your back. But it’s how I get to and from work (and the grocery store, and the library, and dinner with friends, and coffee shops, and REI), and I am not a gym person, so it’s my twice-daily opportunity to get some exercise before and after sitting at my desk in the BCM office, getting flabby all day.

So for about three and a half minutes every morning on my way to work, I hit this hill, in Cheesman Park, and I pedal as hard as I can. I’m usually wheezing and gasping for air by about 2/3 of the way up it, legs burning — not unlike the feeling of trying to hike up a high-altitude ridgeline or snow slope. It’s only 115 feet of elevation gain over a half mile, but on a bike, you can never beat a hill. You can only get up it a little faster.

Many of us participating in SFS live in areas where we don’t have a mountain right out our back door, so we can’t exactly replicate mountain climbing. But it’s important to exercise, and at a high intensity, to prepare for the high-intensity workout you’ll get on your climb.

As you might note in the below video, Kelly Cordes does a bit of his mountaineering training on an exercise bike. And as he says, “I do some high-intensity circuit-type workouts … you think ten minutes — that’s nothing, but sometimes, you’re on the verge of puking …”


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