Here are some of its statistics:
Avg Grade: 8.1%
Elevation difference: 395m
Climb Category: 2
The first time I went up this climb was in 2010, when I visited California for the first time to get in a good block of winter training. Ryan convinced me to go for the QOM on OLH and on one of my last days over there I went for it. All I can remember was that it was very painful. My time was 19:24, I beat the record.
Then, last year, a Swedish ultra-cyclist (Catherina Berge) took the crown from me, improving the QOM by a full 20 seconds to 19:04. I was over in California again in 2011, but couldn't get myself into the right frame of mind to try to regain the crown (it hurts, you know!).
Now a tradition, I came over to the US again in November 2012. I had just submitted my PhD thesis two weeks before travelling. I had been three months off the bike to get the thesis finished before my submission deadline. I had become fat and unfit. And sick. I had been on a whirlwind trip involving four flights, a wedding in London, a gala dinner back in Dublin before taking an early morning flight back to London for a connecting long-haul to SFO, very little sleep and a bad cold before collapsing on a bed after arriving in California. I was determined to get my training in and suffered through it. I wasn't lucky with tropical storms making training very wet outside when I was just back in health and a 24hour stomach bug flooring me yet again. Finally, in the last week of my 3 week stay good health and good weather coincided and I could enjoy a super week of riding.
Still fat and only a little fitter, trying to regain my OLH crown this year was not really on my radar. I was also riding quite a lot in the last 2 days before we were due to fly back home (about 9 hours), so I just thought "another time". Instead I thought I might try to break the HWY 9 record - a rather long and shallow drag with the help of Ryan's draft. But then Ryan just said the night before we were due to fly: "Mel, you're not doing HWY9 tomorrow, you're doing Old la honda." And as soon as he had put that little voice in my head that I may actually be able to break the record, my mind was set. I had a good nights sleep and thought about OLH, visualizing the pain I'd have to endure to get up it. I have learned a lot the last few weeks about pain and suffering, not in an injury sense, but in a training sense (more on that in a future blog post), and was ready to take the suffering a record attempt would surely bring.
|Tired, but happy|
|Got the Fred Tattoo to prove it!|
I was very happy with that time, especially considering my condition and recent time off the bike. Statistical estimates suggest that drafting counts for roughly 10-15 seconds. But what I think was the real advantage to having Ryan there was his pacing. It takes a lot of confidence and constraint to go into a record attempt with such a negatively paced split.
I just noticed that there's a new 2nd place on this segment - nice to see more riders testing themselves on this climb (and I'm glad Ryan paced me for a faster time than an 18:59)!