I Hate Hills by Nancy Botkin

I really hate hills, yet I love riding all over San Francisco. How is this possible? It's because I've devoted hours to figuring out how to get around hills or finding the easiest route up them. Armed with my favorite tool, the SF Biking/Walking Guide (SFBC members get maps or see www.sfbike.org), which indicates street grades, I can plan my routes using the gentler slopes. My tips for beating the SF hill blues:

  1. Get a bike with a granny gear and use it.
  2. Enjoy the downhills. While pedaling uphill, sing: "What goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel, round and round."
  3. Follow the bike route signs. They tend to follow flatter streets.

Why I Love Climbing by Anna Sojourner

Therese Madden conquers 15th Streets most challenging slopes. Photo by Sam Laser
From the time I was 2 years old, my family vacationed by backpacking in the Sierras. I learned early how to carry heavy loads, pace myself, and to stop to snack frequently. As an adult, I've found I really love climbing up a long hill on my bike. The way I deal with big hills is this: I slow to a comfortable crawl that I can sustain all the way up. I stop to rest when I want, even if it's every 100 feet, and I refuse to feel like a wimp for that or for going slower than the people I'm with. (I also bristle at the praise as I climb, taking it as condescending, because I really am happy, though it may look like I am struggling). You don't have to start life as a backpacking toddler to enjoy climbing hills. You just have to enjoy a challenge, and listen to your body and not your machismo.