CatMan would tell me to just put it in a lower gear, but it didn't really seem to help. No matter what gear I was in, it just seemed like my legs would burn out as soon as I started climbing.
Then one day I had a bit of a revelation. I was riding up a steep hill, and for some reason there were a bunch of beetles crossing the bike path, and I didn't want to squash them. So instead of looking up at the top of the hill, I was looking down at the path to avoid the little critters.
I suddenly realized, that when I was looking up at the top of the hill that I had to climb, the task just seemed impossible. And no matter how hard I pedaled, it always felt like I wasn't going anywhere.
But when I looked down at the path, I could see my tires moving and watch as each block of cement rolled past. I could see that I actually was making progress, even though it might not be as fast as I wanted it to be.
It was a real epiphany of sorts. My hill problem wasn't really that I "just wasn't strong enough" to get to the top, the problem was that I was trying to get there all at once.
It sorta reminded me of something John Elway used to say. (Yes, I am a hopeless Bronco-maniac.) Elway used to say that one of the things that always got him in trouble was that he'd get too excited and try to win the whole game on the first play.
I think I've always had this problem. I'm not very patient, and when I can see the place that I want to get to, my first reaction is to get angry and frustrated that I'm not there yet. Then I try to will myself to get there all at once, and it just doesn't work that way.
In fact, when I was a little kid I was in great shape, and could run and play for hours on end without getting tired. But whenever we'd have races at school, like in field day or whatever, I'd always come in last.
It took many years, and one very observant friend to figure out what was going on. It turned out that I'd get so worked up about how I had to "run really fast" that I would actually hold my breath!
So, I've gotten a whole lot better at climbing hills recently, and ironically enough, I did it by slowing down and not trying so hard. Instead of gritting my teeth, holding my breath and pushing so hard that I'm burnt out after a minute or two, I'm learning to pace myself.
I have to tell myself to slow down, breathe, and settle in for a long climb. And whenever I start to feel like I'm not getting there quickly enough, I look down at my tires to remind myself that even though I may be moving slowly, I am still moving, and that's the important part!
I'm thinking that perhaps I should try to apply this lesson to other areas in my life!