cycling · racing · training

“No rest for the wicked” style workouts


It’s a term I first encountered on hill climbing workouts with the Canberra Vikings novice program. A favorite early morning workout for cyclists in Canberra, a flat city surrounded by mountains, is to ride to the base of Red Hill, Mount Stromlo, or God forbid, Black Mountain, and then ride repeatedly up and down whatever version of pain and beautiful scenery you’ve chosen. Throw in rogue kangaroos bouncing up and down with the bikes and it’s a wonderful morning cycling in Canberra.

I was often amused to hear fellow academics describe Canberra as an excellent place to ride bikes because it’s so flat. Yes, I guess, if you never actually leave the city proper it is.

See Canberra’s Hill Climb Guide for elevation and gradient info.

Obviously when riding with a group we can’t all climb together. Some people climb much more quickly than others. And hill climbing is one of those things. It’s near impossible to match someone else’s speed. But if we’re doing a set number of repeats it’s good to do them as a group. As well, it’s no good for people to sit around, cooling down at the top waiting for stragglers (hello straggler Sam! )

So on some hills, where the geography makes sense, leaders would send the speedsters back down the hill to ride up again with the slow pokes. No rest for the wicked.

I felt bad that I was making people ride the hill again but they were so much fitter and faster than me and they were very nice about it.

It’s motivational in a variety of ways for the slow pokes and there was a certain pride the first time I had to ride back down and meet people slower than me.

My partner and I also used this as a way of riding with kids and making sure we each got a decent effort in. On biking holidays with young riders one person would drop the other parent and kids and bikes on a bike trail, drive to the end of the trail, take out his/her own bike, and zoom back to meet other parent and kids. The person riding faster got in more kilometres and still got time on the family ride back to the car. It worked well with our junior cyclists though only one has stuck with it into adulthood. (Hi Mallory! )

For the past few weeks I’ve been doing training rides with Team Western getting ready for the MS Bike Tour and our Monday after work rides of 35 km are easier for some than for others. It’s a matter of fitness, biking background, and style of bikes being ridden. We all go out for a drink after but finishing times vary. I’m thinking this calls for a “no rest for the wicked” version of the training ride. Those of us who finish first should ride back and meet the stragglers. I’ll let you know if I talk any of the others into this!


Image from Visit Canberra.

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