I hate people cheering me on up hills and here’s some thoughts about why

hills4Lots of people think I’m really nice. And I know I seem nice most of the time. I work very hard at “nice.” But my thoughts aren’t always nice and sometimes they spill out in sporting contexts. I guess I’m tired then, and sometimes–hot, and hungry–I can kind of snap at people. What’s that word again? Right, “hangry.” I can be that way.

I did that on the first day of the bike rally when people cheered me on up a hill. I’m sorry. I really am. But I thought I’d sort out here some of my thoughts about what got me.

It was on the last hill, a substantial one, though really–and this depends on where you ride and what your perspective is–there aren’t any hills on the bike rally. Gentle inclines, yes. Actual hills, no.

We’d been sweeping all afternoon, that is, riding behind the slowest rider so that bike rally support vehicles can identify the back of the pack. We wore broom bristles attached to our helmets so the people in the van could spot us. It’s an important support role on the ride and team leaders took shifts, each pair sweeping a half day on the ride. We chose the first day to get it over with. Here we are with our broom helmets!



It was hot. And we waited at lunch a very long time after the last rider left to give the slow people a good start. We knew things were going to be tough when we met the slowest rider just 5 km out of town. It felt liked we’d waited for hours. How on earth could it be that we caught them at 5 km from lunch? But caught up with them, we had.

It was a long afternoon but finally after waiting a lot and riding slowly a lot we were just 7 km from camp. We’d started riding at 9 am and it was now nearly 530 pm. Road safety had asked us to stop and wait because between us and camp were more than a dozen riders slowly climbing the last hills before camp.

So when we hit those last hills we were hungry and tired. But it mattered to me a lot that people knew that we were that slow because we were sweeping. My heart rate for the day barely left zone 1. This had been an exercise in patience. Riding slowly is super hard.

So when the bike rally volunteers started cheering, “You can do it!” on that last hill, I needed everyone to know that of course I could do it. Of course I could ride up those hills. I could ride up them, down them, and up again.

It’s ego, isn’t it?

Yes, I’m big. But there’s no question of me making it up the hills. I didn’t need cheering on. I was riding up them slowly for a reason, because I was sweeping. Grrrr!

I’m laughing now but I was grumpy that afternoon, hungry, hot and tired too. I don’t think of myself as having a lot of pride and ego invested in hills. Hills aren’t my friend, traditionally. But on that day, I saw that in some circumstances I didn’t want encouragement. I wanted acknowledgement. It had been a long day. “Thank for you sweeping,” was what I needed to hear.

I’ll think about that when a “you can do it!” is about to cross my lips. Because sometimes, of course you can do it. It’s just a hill after all.






3 thoughts on “I hate people cheering me on up hills and here’s some thoughts about why

  1. Another place where our inner selves meet — I find it perversely annoying to be cheered along on a hill — and I know it makes me contrary and cranky. I also have a high need for the world to know when I’m sweeping or otherwise slower than I would be on my own. I think it has to do, for me, with being read as a mediocre rider because of my age/body shape. I really struggled with that with my guide when I did my trip in Vietnam — he kept telling me about other older clients he’d had who were such fantastic riders, but ignoring my capacity to keep up and keep going. It annoyed me to no end, lol.

    (Also, on that hill on Day 1 of the rally, I was also annoyed by road crew honking and encouraging us generally — I think I was tired and ready to be done and not Enjoying Other People’s Enthusiasm. That said, I was grateful they were there. Paradox R Us.)

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only person who gets annoyed by others cheering “You can do it” … I really don’t like races very much (I’m very much a solo exercise person), but I have done a few races, and I’m always thinking “How do you know if I can do it? You don’t even know what my goal is for this race, how much I’ve trained, etc. Let me run in peace!” Now, the people handing out water (or, on one occasion, beer)? I am very grateful to those people!

  3. You’re right that it’s ego, but it’s not only ego (how much does it even matter that complete strangers know and appreciate that your range of abilities includes being able to climb hills?). There is something really condescending about the “you can do it” cheer from the sidelines. But I don’t want to generalize about cheering from the sidelines in general. In Kincardine this year, when I was getting close to the end (the other “cheer” I hate is, “You’re almost there” when you’re NOT almost there because they have no idea what “almost” means to me) and one of the volunteers said, “don’t forget to use your arms!” and that was just what I needed to hear. I had forgotten my arms. And when I added them into the mix it made the last leg of the run so much easier.

Comments are closed.