How to Race Successfully at Mt Tam
By Jim (did-everything-wrong-last-year) Langley
Dennis put his mini-pump against my head and forced me to write this. If you're doing Mt. Tam for the first time, please heed my advice below. If you're an expert already, please write a race report so we can learn more.
By the numbers, here's what I'd do if I was racing Mt Tam this year (I'll be at Interbike instead):
1. Warm up well - break a real sweat, get your heart rate high for a while. REASON: The start is fast and competitive. You want to stay at the front and do as little work as possible for the 4-mile flat stretch before the climb. In order to do that you need to have your engine warmed-up and ready to race right away.
2. Get to the start early and line up in the very, very front line. REASON: They're going to take off like it's a criterium and you want to be at the front for as much of a free ride as you can get so your legs are feeling great when the road tilts up. If you're anywhere near the back or even mid pack, there's a great chance you'll get bumped back further and further and end up yo-yoing at the tail end and arrive totally spent when the real race begins.
3. Focus on the road and riders and stay on the drops. REASON: The road is awful. It's narrow, twisting and rutted. The shoulder is bad, too. There's a centerline rule and maybe even oncoming traffic. Watch for snakebite-causing ruts that people don't point out (that's why you need to be in front); stay on the drops so you can keep control when you get bumped; and watch for squirrels that get pushed over the centerline and then force their way back in.
4. Try hard to be very near the front by the time you make the right turn to begin the climb. REASON: If there's a large gap or if you're back in the pack you'll lose a lot of time weaving through people on this part.
5. Go hard; don't pace yourself too much on this first climb. REASON: At the top you get a little dip where you can rest a little. It's actually a slight downhill for you to breathe easy a bit and spin lightly for the Seven Sisters to come.
6. Smile when you see the next part, the Seven Sisters: you get to ride a rollercoaster of a road. Do these like our hill repeats, powering over them seeing how many people you can catch. Wheee! REASON: The finish is right ahead and you can catch a lot of people and make some real time if you jam over each Sister and fly down the backside and repeat, all 7 times.
Good luck team! Ride smart and climb fast!