Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Race - Mt. Hamilton Low Key Hill Climb

Well, I don't usually do much racing during the off-season, but Ryan has been raving about this low key hill climb (LKHC) series in California, timing his flights precariously according to the dates of the races (and winning most of those he managed to do), so when I arrived in California for the first time ever, I could not miss this opportunity to do one (actually the last one of the 2010 series) too.

Mt. Hamilton Observatory

The LKHCs are mass start events up some hill. There are no number plates (you get a little red sticker with a number which you shout out at the finish, similar to the Epic Club races) and announcement of the winner or awards ceremony, no prices, etc. as the name suggests. About 140 (less than usual due to very cold weather) men and women lined up (including a mixed tandem) and after a few words regarding safety and the word "GO" we set off up the hill. I knew from Ryan that the climb would be 29.6km and guesstimated at least an hour and 20min long for me, the women's previous record was 1h 21min, so I knew to take it steady from the start. Thankfully most men did the same and there was no crazy race off. It was important to stick with a fast group though, as the hill climb included two significant descents (about 4km descent after the first 10km climb and about 1.5km descent at the about 17.5km mark).

Mount Hamilton Profile

I managed to stick with the front group (the group Ryan was in!) for the first 10km but it broke up during the first descent. After the descent I tried to work my way up again to the front bunch, but couldn't make it. In the end I stayed with 2 guys that were about my speed. After a while one of the guys dropped back and the other guy and I were ding-donging until we were almost at the top. Then, with about 200m to go we had to take a sharp right-hand turn on a small road up to the Observatory for which I was not prepared and went straight ahead. The other guy (who knew which way to go) took his chance and attacked and came in just ahead of me, grrr! But I finished with a time of 1h 20min, a minute off the previous record. I was first woman and 17th overall! This also meant that I had beaten the existing Strava record and got a T-shirt! I had felt very comfortable on the climb and did not make myself suffer. Needless to say, I am very happy with how my climbing is coming along :)

Last push to the finish line

Ryan won the men's category :). The view from the top was amazing, the sky was clear and the sun was shining, but it was FREEZING COLD with snow lying about in places. I grabbed a few cookies and some juice and my Strava T-shirt and layered up to survive the looooong descent back down.

I also found out later that I was "the top single-climb scoring rider on the day" with the highest points of the season, not bad on a climb that has 2 descents! :)

Results and a report can be found here on the Low Key Hillclimb website.

Wheelsuck!!! (Pic from here)

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