What interview question are you most tired of?
Fans and media love asking some form of “How hard is that climb?” They want you to say that the climb in their race or neighborhood is the hardest, steepest, and longest you’ve ever done, but I have news for you: Plenty of climbs are hard, and the big ones are all about the same.* Sure, they might each have their own personality, but even the worst city planners try not to pave roads that are over 15 percent. So start there, add in a few steeper pitches, bad pavement, maybe some weather, and that’s as tough as it gets. “Hardest climb in the world” is a 500-way tie.
What makes a climb hard in a race isn’t the climb—it’s who you’re racing against and what the race situation is. Alpe d’Huez is impossible if you’re the guy trying to hang with Contador, but it’s cake in the grupetto.
* The narrative of races all claiming that they’re the “toughest” is just bad marketing.
Ask a Pro answers every question you’ve always wanted to ask about pro cycling. Recently retired pro cyclist Phil Gaimon gathers the absolute gems from his monthly Q&A feature column in VeloNews magazine into Ask a Pro and adds a dose of fresh commentary and even more acerbic and sharp-eyed insights.
See inside the book! Check out the Ask a Pro photo gallery.