Saturday, October 20, 2007

Low-Key Hillclimb: Mount Diablo

[official results] [route map] [series description]

This week's race was not as difficult as the last one. We rode to the top of Mount Diablo, which is the second-highest peak in the Bay Area — 3850 feet elevation at the summit.

The only other time I did this route was last year when I participated in an 'official' race, which was the first organized ride I had ever participated in. Back then it was a big deal for me because I was still new to this level of cycling. But this time it was just another ride for me, comparable to many of the rides I have been doing this year.

To avoid clogging the road, we started in several small groups of a dozen or so cyclists. As usual, I lined up in the last group. Everyone dispersed fairly quickly, and most of my passing and being passed happened at the beginning.

At 11 miles, this is longer than most of the other routes in the series. It is necessary to keep an appropriate pace that can be maintained over the whole distance. Although the road is never excessively steep (except at the very end), the grade is enough to be difficult for a beginning cyclist. Fortunately, I have gotten into a shape where I would not have considered this route challenging.

The road to the peak is very scenic, which is fortunate since I was on it for nearly one and a half hours. My hope was that I would post a significantly faster time than what I managed last year. It would be a good measure of how much more fit I am this year.

The finish line at the top is at the end of the only very steep section of the road. Everyone had their picture taken here, and practically all had the same pained facial expression and tight grip on the handlebars. I was no exception.

photo by Adam Tow

My final time of 1 hour 26 minutes was about 8 minutes faster than last year. This was not as much improvement as I had hoped, but still decent. I may have done better if I had gotten more sleep. I had gone to a party in San Francisco the previous night, so I went to bed at 11:30 then got up at 6:00.

I will be skipping the event for next week because Kannan is visiting us and I want to spend the time with him. Actually that route is mostly flat and I was not particularly interested in it anyhow.