Silent Suffering: My First Cypress Climb

It was the Sun Run last weekend and I’ve never done it so I was really looking forward to my first time but the race came too quickly and I never made the time to train for it… so instead, I did another first that day: a Cypress climb! In my biased opinion, this is way better than the Sun Run anyway … only because I suck at running and I’m kind of awesome at cycling (just kind of).

My First Cypress Climb

Stanely Park + Cypress Bowl Road Lookout

Here is my first Cypress climb experience in dramatized and rambl-y pointform:

  • Woke up to a sunny day and sipped my coffee while watching waves of Sun Run people running down West Georgia from my apartment window. Super excited that it was going to be a nice day!
  • Packed all my “just in case it gets really damn cold and pours like shit” gear and decided not to bring it last minute. Damnit. I am a Vancouverite and should have known what was in store for us. But really, I was just lazy and stupid because I like to travel light while cycling. And it was really really nice out. *shakes fist*
  • Made a quick breakfast of egg wraps and then hopped on our bikes, got on the Sea Wall towards Stanley Park to meet with the group.
  • Warmed up with some small hills; Stanley Park Drive, Lions Gate, West Vancouver, Hwy99… finally arrive at the base of Cypress. Yay! I was so excited! Now for the 12km of uphill…
  • First couple kilemeters up to the Cypress Mountain Lookout went by quicker than I thought. The last kilometers were very consistent with a gradient averaging to 8%. I saw it jump to 10-12% at some points but those were pretty short segments.

    @ Cypress Mountain Lookout

  • I was passed by a lot of semi-pro looking people and looked longingly at their backsides wishing I could catch-up… but I really didn’t want to or try to. I know, I didn’t push myself okay. Not that I could’ve caught up anyway but you know.
  • Since this was my first time biking up Cypress, I was trying to conserve my energy because I wasn’t familiar with the climb so I did NOT push myself at all. This is one thing that sometimes holds me back from any sport; I’m afraid of running out of energy and not making it. Bad. Mentality.
  • Especially with my clipless pedals because if I stopped to break, that meant I’d have to clip in on a slope and that is something I still suck at.
  • The way up, I was thinking how it sucks for cyclists to suffer in silence as we climb these torturous mountains (which we have no one to blame but ourselves). Or maybe that’s just me because I’m a total loner and if you try to talk to me while I’m in the middle of a hard workout, I will tell you to STFU. But not because I’m mean… it’s because I’m struggling to breath.
  • I remember thinking, “man this is hard!” It was definitely one of the tougher rides I’ve been on. I need to go on more rides! Boo.
  • My heart was going pretty fast but I wasn’t huffing and puffing like a dying penguin like I usually do (because I was going slow and steady). Do penguins huff and puff?
  • I was actually proud of myself because I rode all the way up to the top and there was never a point where I wanted to die or give up. And I was the first one up too!
  • Again, I’m sure it would’ve been different if I pushed myself harder. Next time, I’m sure I’m going to die and Boyfriend will probably have to push my bike and I up while riding along side of me. I’ve seen my friend’s husband effortlessly push her up with one hand on her back up on a steep hill (while I was struggling to bike up beside them). Pretty badass, I tell ya. Now I have really high expectations for my boyfriend. He better have my back.
  • I felt I was extremely prepared mentally because I already knew this was going to be a long and hard climb and instead of being scared or anxious, I was seriously… Really. Excited.
  • Physically, my legs did tire out but I used my usual techniques for getting through any hard workouts: focusing on something else to forget about the pain (breathing, my pedaling, drafting this blog post in my head…).
  • And I must thank my tough workouts like our killer Burpee-Kettlebell Swing Pyramid and the thousands of squats and lunges.
  • 15km and 730m of elevation later, we were at the lodge and it got pretty chilly but the sun was still shining and all was good.
    Being the awesome girlfriend that I am, I stopped before the lodge to take a picture of Boyfriend coming up... BEHIND me. He later told me that he wanted to pass me but decided not to so I can get up first. Yeah right. Since he was pretty far back. Muhahaha.

    Being the awesome girlfriend that I am, I stopped before the lodge to take a picture of Boyfriend coming up… BEHIND me. He later told me that he wanted to pass me but decided not to so I can get up first. Yeah right. Muhahaha.

  • We took a couple pictures when we re-grouped and lo and behold… the clouds came rolling in out of nowhere and we were suddenly caught in The Perfect Sh!tstorm. Since nothing was opened, we decided to start our descend and this is where we entered hell…
  • 30 minutes of pure misery: huge chunks of ice and hail smashing into your face as you descended at 50km/hr while being 100% exposed on a bicycle. Frozen fingers, soaked feet and being blinded by the rain as it got in your eye was the cherry on top. I remember hoping that a piece of ice wouldn’t smack into my eye…
  • But 30 minutes of pure misery I would go through again if that’s what it means to have to climb up Cypress. Okay… thank god it’s not though.
  • The entire way down I was telling myself, “fuck this shit, I got my eyeliner tattoo.. I can handle this!!” My entire way up and down was filled with cursing because of my potty mouth.
  • The pain of the ice hitting my face reminded me of when I got my eyebrows tattooed— which was like a needle pricking your eyebrows a billion times, but in this case, it was like your entire face was being tattooed (and man, that would’ve been a hideous tattoo). And the rest of the elements made it 100x worse!
  • But maybe not as worse as getting your eyeliner tattooed… twice. Just maybe!
  • Comparing your situation to a situation you’ve been through that was a lot worse really helps you get through tough times!
  • By the time I got to the bottom, I could not stop shaking. Being lean sucks when it’s cold— we all need some fat in us (which was why we had a poutine that night).
  • We took the express way back to West Vancouver on the highway and down a super steep  and scary hill to Marine Drive. I thought I was going to die because I was shaking so bad, my fingers were frozen and I could smell my brakes burning as I was hugging it down along with all that traffic… in the pouring rain. Okay, being totally dramatic for the blog but still. Biking in those conditions require a lot of concentration!
  • I bombed down the mountain in the descent despite the weather because all I wanted to do was go down… then I later realized that the roads could’ve iced up and it could have been a bad situation. What a stupid mistake. Must be more cautious next time.
  • We finally found a Starbucks and I finally warmed up hours later while waiting for Boyfriend to get our car with the bike racks so we can take the drive of shame home (whose lovely brother + family picked him up). I had great conversations with my fellow-riders and learned some interesting things which I should really blog about next time. It’s nice to hang out with people who are passionate… about cycling and fitness!
    Drive of Shame

    Drive of Shame: Stuffing our bikes into the car for the “ride” home.

  • We originally planned to bike to Lions Bay to make this ride a total of 110km but no one was in the mood for it at that point.
  • But it’s just so Vancouver that the sun came out and made it seem like that horrible misery of ice, hail and rain was all just a dream! I wanted to continue our ride but oh well, we are definitely rescheduling it.
  • The climb was hard but fun and challenging, the arrival at the top was amazing, the descent was pure misery but I would do it all over again in the same conditions! Plus the group we went with was awesome, everyone was infectiously positive and did a great job!
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    What’s Wrong With Fitspiration?

    Fitspiration or fitspo is a double-edged sword. While it’s great for motivation, it can make you feel pretty awful about yourself. Getting fit and living a healthy lifestyle is a journey and takes time for you to really get into it and getting caught up with fitspiration maybe detrimental to your mental health because while it can make you want to hit the gym at 2am, it can also make your life extremely miserable.

    Here is what’s wrong with Fitspiration:

    • You see a lot of beautiful people in fitspo photos— athletes, competitors, models and just the normal committed people but you do not see the full story.
    • Fitness competitors competitors go through rigorous training and strict diets before their competitions. This is not sustainable in real life and that’s why in their off-season, they tend to look like normal people with a healthier body-fat percentage.
    • Athletes dedicate their life to training and are sponsored by huge names. How realistic is that for your lifestyle?
      Nike's Make Yourself Campaign

      Nike’s Make Yourself Campaign: beautiful, fit and commited elite female athletes who dedicate their life to training.

    • Models are paid to look beautiful and “toned” …but that doesn’t mean they’re happy and don’t have a multitude of problems such as depression, self-confidence issues, bad health due to unhealthy diets, drug and alcohol abuse and many other problems.
    • I’ve read many experiences about fitness competitors and how great they look but how miserable they are because of exhaustion and extreme diets. Again, this is why it’s NOT sustainable. Why would you want to live with deprivation? Everyone needs a treat here and there.
    • Images you see in magazines are 99% Photoshopped.
      Park Soo Hee

      I’m sure Park Soo Hee has an amazing body but I’m sure there’s also a lot of bronzer on her abs!

    • A lot of fitspo you see contain really stupid and senseless messages such as this stupid one:
      No Days Off .. you idiot.

      Take rest days, you idiots.

    • Everyone’s bodies are different. YOUR abs will not look like your friend’s perfect washboard abs.
    • Chiseled abs and rock solid arms are seriously not the norm. If you have it, good for you. If you don’t, do not obsess over it! These gains usually only mean short-term happiness so concentrate on living a healthy and balanced lifestyle instead.

    Personally, fitspiration has had nothing but a positive affect on me possibly because of where I am in my fitness journey. I’ve never resorted to “fitspo” when I began and wasn’t as fit as I am today because I resorted to forums and blogs and fitspo wasn’t as big back then. If I didn’t have the motivation and commitment I have now, I suspect it may make me feel terribly guilty if I ate that giant slice of cake [like I had for dessert tonight... along with a banana split].

    But I love fitspo because it inspires me to be stronger, eat clean, train mean and become a better and healthier me. Fitspo makes me excited to get up every morning because I know I am going to workout that day and exercising makes me happy.

    While fitspo is great for me, you should question whether it has any negative impact in life your life (and if you are smart enough to ignore the senseless ones) because if it does, you may want to limit your exposure towards it.

    How do YOU feel about fitspo? Has it always been inspiring to you or has it ever made you feel awful about yourself?

      2 Comments

      Friday Notes

      • I planned to ride to work a lot but I haven’t been… because I can’t get up early enough in the morning (I like to go extra early so I have time for a gym session). The rides that I did do felt awesome though!
      • I can’t believe how fast time is going by because it’s about time to cycle without leg warmers and shells. Which also means tanlines. Ugh.
      • I’ve been trying to tone down my workouts this week because my legs are tired and my hamstrings have been very sore. I’ve also been stretching and foam-rolling A LOT more than usual. Sometimes I’ll go take a break from work and if my co-workers are wondering where I am, they should know I’m in the studio lying on a foam-roller or a ball for myofascial release. It doesn’t look as awkward as doing it in the middle of the office. Plus I want to be in the best condition for a huge ride this weekend!
        ifuckinglovefitness.com
      • A couple weeks ago, we did a LOT of dancing at a music festival (x2) and I injured a muscle on the bottom of my left foot which gave me a lot of practice in walking gracefully and trying to look normal even though every step meant shooting pain. Dancing counts as execise so it’s totally a fitness related injury. That’s what you call beastmode okay.
      • I bought a heartrate monitor a couple months ago and I still haven’t used it yet. Why. Am. I. So. Lazy. See? Just because you’re fit doesn’t mean you’re not lazy. Unless it comes to cycling, burpees and wall balls, I’m uber lazy.
      • The last few weeks have been extremely taxing and full of sweat, breakdowns and pigging out but I still haven’t missed a workout session… because exercise is just a part of the daily routine and it’s my therapy.
      • I’ve been eating semi-clean…
        Clean Eating

        Meal-prep is fast, easy and convenient. And when I feel lazy, I just buy a rotisserie chicken and I have lunch for 4 days.

      • …but cheating every day. Living a balanced lifestyle is very important to me.
        Goodies from our bike ride to Trader Joe's in Bellingham. We did 96k that day so I had to be mindful of what I bought back because Boyfriend was carrying it the entire way. I know right! What an awesome girlfriend I am.

        Goodies from our bike ride to Trader Joe’s in Bellingham. We did 96k that day so I had to be mindful of what I bought back because Boyfriend was carrying it the entire way. I know right! What an awesome girlfriend I am.

        6 Comments