Climbing with the fattie

It has been almost a full 3 months since we purchased our mountain bikes, with mine being a plus sized bike in the form of Specialized’s Fuse. It is a monstrous bike (I even made a video about it a day after I got it), and it is almost 1.5 times as heavy as my commuter bike, a State Bicycle fixed gear I got a few years ago.

With its 10 speed, the Fuse is far from being a speedy rig. With a high cadence in the smallest ring I can pull off a respectable 30-40 kph if I spill my life into it. Up until 3 weeks ago I assumed that going uphill was definitely not going to be a battle, and I was very wrong. Very very wrong…

I made a conscious decision to ride my bicycle more after getting out of shape following our much reduced commute. This included climbing our local hill, Mont Royal. Mont Royal is a rather small hill, but is perfect for quick training sessions with a bicycle. Ever since I moved to Montreal I have maybe climbed it 100 times with my bicycle, with a few of those times being entire days spent going up and down to get in shape — I am certainly no stranger to this hill and have never been defeated by it, as it is (as I mentioned) small and easy.

The first time I tried going up the hill with my Fuse was a complete disaster! I decided to take a short ride after work as I had done many times before, and I was completely exhausted by the time I made it to the base of the mountain. “This can’t be happening!” I thought to myself… I could not possibly be so out of shape that I cannot even start the climb.

The second try was a little better, but significantly more embarrassing as I was joined by a friend in his carbon alloy bike — mind you, this is a bicycle that weights exactly half of what my fully loaded fattie does, and you could tell by how inadequate I looked when riding alongside him. This try involved me actually making it past the base of the mountain and starting the first climb, only to get too tired and stop immediately.

Today I decided not to give this another try, and instead head to the top no matter how long it took me, and I surprisingly did not take long to get to the top. In the end all that I needed to do differently was to be smarter about my riding and take my sweet time to get to the top — something that was faster once the actual climbing started, — instead of burning myself out while traversing the busy streets of Montreal. This is the sixth bicycle I have used to climb this hill for training purposes, and it turned out to be the one that I enjoyed the most, as I can really, really feel the effort that is being put into actually going up.

The near future is very predictable for my relationship with this and my other bicycles: I need to get back into shape, and once that happen — or rather — in a couple of months I will be doing a moderate 500k bikepacking trip in Ontario, so I better get ready for that to happen.

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