When the terrain is incredibly steep or rough, cyclists tend to crank it out instead of walking. Walking might feel like defeat – they didn’t “clear” that section.
I have gotten to the point where I don’t mind walking when the terrain gets too steep or too rough. Walking stretches my legs, and generally is no slower than spinning in an ultra-low gear. Perhaps it’s from the days when I raced cyclocross, where you quickly learn that it’s faster to run up very steep slopes than it is to ride up them.
As a randonneur, I am not that much in a rush. I don’t run, but really focus on walking, on moving my legs differently, on the different posture in my back and shoulders. It gives me an opportunity to be aware and readjust. I probably even look around a little more.
During brevets, many will ride even the steepest bits, but they don’t arrive at the top more than a few bike lengths ahead. Whereas their legs will feel tired from the effort, my legs feel fresh after walking, and I quickly catch up. In fact, my fastest-ever 600 km brevet, ridden in 22:48 hours, included a walk up the steepest hill of the route.
Most routes are not that steep or rough, so I rarely walk. But a few times a year, usually on long rides, I get off the bike and walk a short way. My bike doesn’t have ultra-low gears, which I’d be carrying around all year, but use only once or twice.
What is your thought on walking with your bike?
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