Sunday, October 31, 2010

Next Race

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

This week's entry in the Low Key Hillclimb Series was a hill that I had never ridden before. The road is East Dunne Ave near the town of Morgan Hill. It is about 35 miles from home and in an area that I rarely ride in. The forecast called for rain that day, so there was a good chance that the ride would be canceled.

It was dry when I left home, but 40 minutes later when I arrived at the registration, there was a light drizzle. Normally I would have skipped the risk of riding a slick hillside, but I had already invested in a long drive to get there. Plus, the allure of a new climb was too tempting.

We had a five mile ride to the actual start location. When the time came to start, the rain had stopped and blue sky was starting to appear on the horizon. This made all the riders happy. Because the road is narrow and we had close to 100 riders, everyone was started in batches of around 2o. People self-organized with the faster riders going first. I started with the fifth (the last) group.

Because the group was dispersed by the staggered start, there was less bunching that what happened last week. Still I passed a couple riders early while a few passed me.

The grade was fairly consistent and never exceptionally steep, but I felt I was not keeping as strong a pace as I normally would. I am guessing that the cool wet weather affected me, since I tend to thrive better than most in the heat.

The promise of clearing that we saw at the start disappeared as we rose in elevation. Pretty quickly, we entered thick mist. There was intermittent rain until the end. There was a downhill stretch in the middle of the climb, but I had to limit my speed there. My brakes were wet and had lost much of their effectiveness. I had to keep a speed at which I could still come to a stop if needed.

I passed one rider and stayed ahead of her for a while, but she passed me on the downhill section and stayed ahead until the finish. A half mile from the finish, a cyclist I passed just after the start passed me again. There was one last steep climb before the finish and I passed him there. But I used all my energy and he passed me again 20 yards from the end. We both put all our remaining strength into a sprint finish. But unlike last week, I did not have enough to win the sprint.

Photo by Thomas Preisler.

My final position was similar at 84 out of 86 men, and 94 out of 98 overall. Those numbers sound weak in print, but it was a fun, challenging ride. It was a slow, wet, cold descent back to the car. The long, hot shower at home was heavenly.

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