20 July 2016

Going Up, By Whatever Means

I never, ever walked my bike up a hill.  At least, I didn't for more than twenty years.

I swear, it's true!  To me, dismounting and pushing my bike up where I wanted to pedal was the ultimate humiliation--at least, as a cyclist.  Second was probably standing up to pedal, but even that didn't come close to hoofing it when I could have let the bike do the climbing.

Someone I saw today reminded me of that.  He was pushing his bike up a moderate hill.  I caught his glance, he gave me a defensive "You didn't see that!" scowl.  When I turned away from his face, I noticed that his pedals were moving along with his wheels:  He was riding a fixed gear bike.  I was tempted to assure him, "It's OK", but that probably would've made him angrier, or at least more defensive.

These days, I've become less judgmental, at least about things like pushing bikes up hills, however small.  I don't even feel a twinge of superiority when the hill isn't long or steep, or the person isn't riding a fixed gear--or is riding a bike with a "granny gear".  I guess it's something that comes with age:  I really am less judgmental about things besides willful stupidity, arrogance and malice.  Maybe understanding my own frailties and vulnerabilities--which means, of course, understanding that at my age, I'm not going to blow past some riders I might have "left in the dust" in my youth--has made me happy that people like the guy I saw today are on (or with) their bikes.

From AhPekBiker

All right:  I have a confession. (You knew that was coming, right?)  On my way back from Point Lookout on Saturday, I walked up a hill.  Actually, it's worse:  I pushed my bike up the inclined ramp to the walkway of the Cross Bay Bridge.

Now, if you've lost all respect for me, I understand: I would have reacted in the same way, in my youth, to such a rider.  In fact, I would have thought live burial was preferable to becoming such a cyclist.  But I have an excuse  a reason.  Really, I do.

Getting to that ramp, at least from the Rockaways Boardwalk or Rockaway Beach Boulevard, requires a series of sharp turns.  The worst part is that along the way to such turns, or in them, you might have to stop for traffic because the Boulevard and other main thoroughfares of the Rockaways too often become drag strips in the manner of Gerritsen Avenue, which I mentioned the other day.  And I'm not just talking about young guys in love with speed and power but no place to exercise either.  The families in SUVs are just as bad, if not worse.  I guess if I were driving a vehicle full of screaming kids and spouses, I'd probably direct my energies in a way similar to those drivers.

Sometimes they don't stop for traffic lights or "stop" signs, or even slow down for intersections and merges.  And, worst of all, when they park, they'll park anywhere, including in bike lanes--or, worse yet, on the dip in the curb where cyclists--as well as people in wheelchairs--access the ramp for the bridge.

The curb around the dip is simply too high to hop, especially if you're riding a lightweight or fixed gear bike.  I would have had trouble with it even when I had a mountain bike with suspension and was riding it frequently on, as well as off, the trails.  I saw a sliver of space between the SUV parked at the ramp entrance and the spot where the dip curves upward into the curb. I rode through it--but not after losing momentum from having to make the turns I described and stopping at a light just before the entrance.  Then, after making a disjointed snake-curve turn around the rear of that SUV, I had practically no momentum left.  In other words, I had to start at the bottom of an incline.  And, being an old ramp, it is fairly steep.

So, yes, I did walk up it.  Please, please, don't tell anybody.  And, if you push your bike up a ramp, your secret will be safe with me! ;-)


  1. I often think of bikes and assumed that I must have considered most things in my time but this has me wondering.

    I confess that I have only once ridden a fixie which I had restored for someone half a century ago, with its skinny tubeless tyres it was a scary thing to ride. How I might have hopped a curb never crossed my mind until your post, going to bug me all day...

  2. i've never encountered a hill that i couldn't walk up.

    i was riding a long brevet on a hot summer's day when i came to a road marked (Something-or-other) Hollow. (The word "hollow" on a road sign is rarely an indicator of a flat road.) As i watched the rider ahead of me dismount, i took it as a very good idea and followed suit. Sometimes it's just better to forget about appearances or style or machismo and just walk up the damned hill.

  3. I haven't had to walk one in a long time but I have had to resort to the venerable zig zag manoever a few times,hehe.

  4. Coline, Mike and Phillip--Your secrets are safe with me! ;-)

  5. My Dear, you obviously haven't ridden a single speed bicycle around a city like Seattle recently!

  6. Steve--It's funny that I was thinking about you today.

    Actually, I've never been to Seattle. I plan to go there one day.