Cycling Secrets: Hill Reps, Rollers & Wheelie Bins

If you ride up and down the same hill three times, does that count as hill reps?  As this is my blog, I'm going to say it does.  So here's my first ever hill rep session, from last week . . . .  

The hill in question is the infamous Col de Woolwich Ferry (known on Strava by the more prosaic "Woolwich Ferry to Shooters Hill"): an awe-inspiring 2.5km long, at an average gradient of 2.5%.  OK, it's not exactly Angliru, but it's the nearest thing we have in this part of South East London, and as I used to time myself riding up it every day on the way home from work it makes for an interesting fitness test: interesting in the sense that, having tested, I can confirm I am entirely free of fitness.    

So impressed was I with my own dedication in performing this feat that I repeated it two days later:


This time I was so utterly spent after three efforts that I didn't have the energy to tack the little loop on the end of the ride: I just struggled to the top of the hill and then, once I had finished crying, rode home.  

The end result: a time of 7:40, my fastest on this segment since I got back on the bike.  This compares with my PB of 5:26 (still an astonishing 8th on the all-time list! I may have mentioned this before).  To put it in perspective, it means I can barely sustain an average of 200W for less than 8 minutes.   

Clearly, more effort and training are needed.  To this end, after a false start with a set of Elite rollers which snapped when I opened them (sorted out remarkably quickly by Wiggle, to whom many thanks), I have equipped myself with a set of Kreitlers to go alongside my Kinetic turbo.  So, for training, every day I am doing 45 minutes of intervals on the turbo followed by 15 minutes skating nervously on the rollers. Strictly speaking, that's about 4 minutes skating and 11 minutes recovering and unsteaming my spectacles (for some reason I can't ride the rollers without them). 

Anyway: aren't they lovely?


As you can see, they are extremely shiny and smart (making the rest of my garage feel even dirtier and more sordid than previously), and extremely solidly built.  So though they were expensive, it does feel like they will last a lifetime - a period which, admittedly, in my case might not be very long if I keep riding on them.  This is because besides being shiny & solid they are not parabolic, making it very, very easy to slither off the end of the drums, resulting in a humiliatingly high-cadence crash head-first into the garage door.  By some miracle this has yet to happen, though realistically it can only be a matter of time.  I do have one tip, however, for the budding roller enthusiast: a standard-issue wheelie bin filled with old clothes positioned alongside the rollers provides a decent set of buffers and offers a range of different panicked grip-holds.  With the garage wall on the other side I feel almost safe.  If I can rig up a camera and get the lighting right I may even complete the humiliation by filming myself getting up to speed.  You lucky people.





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