Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Biking Uphill (Not the Novel)

Today Chick Lit Plus reviewed Biking Uphill. My favorite sentence: "I found myself getting into discussions with friends over some of the topics that were talked about in the book, and I absolutely love that in a novel." 

Biking Uphill is also featured at Book Reviews and More by Dee and includes a guest post I wrote about biking hills and setting goals. And here's a little follow up secret: my husband is getting a new bike for his birthday! 

From the Genesee Hill viewpoint
West Seattle is a hill, plain and simple. A big hunk of rocky peninsula across Elliott Bay from downtown Seattle with lots of lesser hills and gorges. My husband and I live on top of that big hunk of rock in one of the lesser gorges, or gulches as they were once called when this rocky peninsula was farmland and orchards, and Alki Beach was a playground for those wealthy enough to cross the water for a weekend or an extended summer getaway.

There was a time only a few short years ago (last summer, if I'm honest) when taking a bike ride with my husband involved careful planning to figure out how to get back up the hill to our home. Sometimes we'd drop the van at the bottom so we could ride down and drive up. Other times I'd beg my husband to ride up alone and come back to get me (and my bike). Still others, we'd resort to the bike rack on the front of a city bus to get us back to the top of West Seattle.

My second novel, Biking Uphill, was published in early spring just about the time I wiped the cobwebs off my bike and decided it was time to start training if I was really going to do the 200-mile ride in August I'd signed up for with my friend, May. The title of the novel was intended as a metaphorical reference to the challenges faced by the protagonist. When I settled on that title and submitted the book for publication last year, I had no idea the metaphor would become a reality in my own life. 

The day May and I headed out on one of our first rides together and she said, "I love hills," I knew I was in trouble. The first time she suggested doing the Mercer Island loop (another hilly rock), I whined. A summer of training and a 200-mile bike ride has silenced the whining. I'm fearless now. I love hills now. I no longer avoid biking uphill.
At the Sunset viewpoint
Riding the Mercer Island loop with my biking partners and planning afternoon rides for as long as the weather holds, I mentioned all the hills in West Seattle. "You could plan a ride like the Seven Hills of Kirkland," someone suggested. "Seven's nothing," I said. "We've got a whole lot more than seven hills in West Seattle."

Yesterday my husband and I were out riding our West Seattle mini loop and he had a second flat tire in as many rides. I told him I'd go get the car (again). We were on the flats of Alki Beach. I had options. I could continue on our planned route and ride up Jacobsen. Or I could head straight up Hillcrest to the tippy top of Genesee Hill. It was a hill I had yet to conquer. "But you have to go higher than you need to and then drop down to the house," my logical husband explained. "Jacobsen won't take you so high." But he was missing the whole point. 
Hubby's Sad Bike
Last night I sat down with memory and map to figure out just how many hills there are to conquer in West Seattle. My list now includes nineteen. I've ridden up eleven of those nineteen this summer. So I have two new goals: tackle the remaining eight hills (and any others I find to add to the list), and to map out a ride for my friends that includes as many hills as possible. Certainly more than seven.


mary rowen said...

West Seattle looks so beautiful, Arleen. I hope to get there some day! And I really admire your ability to conquer hills. I live in a hilly area of Massachusetts and when I see bikers flying up the hills, I always wonder how they do it. Perhaps reading Biking Uphill will inspire me to try harder! --Mary Rowen

arleen said...

All it takes is a whole lot of training, Mary!