You’d think that since I’ve worked in high tech for the last decade I’d be better at contributing to the blog. I’m trying to be better, really I am. I also don’t want to be scolded by Dennis. So here you go.
The second Low-Key Hill Climb (LKHC) took our intrepid group of eight Team Bicycle Trip members up West Alpine, starting from Sam McDonald Park. We parked in Pescadero for a crisp but beautiful ride to the start. After an hour or so, we were going at a leisurely pace when Bob Montague said, “Uh, guys, it’s 15 minutes to start time.” So we had to drop the hammer to get there on time, but it in the end it was a great warmup. I’m glad someone actually uses an electronic device to keep time, while the rest of us stare blankly at our speed and wattage numbers and have no idea what time of day it actually is.
The start was a false flat through the redwoods for a mile or so, in the big ring. Amazingly, Tim Clark, the series leader, immediately went to the front and began stretching things out single file. (I figured he would at least save himself for the steep stuff.) Nils made good on his intention to take a pull or two at the front and put everyone in a little duress. Much appreciated! I thought all this was a perfect way to gradually elevate the heart rate before the nasty bits, so it was all fine with me. But no way I was going to make an appearance at the front!
Justin Lucke had told us beforehand to look for a 15-mph sign, with an arrow, which would signal the start of the real climbing. That was helpful. Plus, someone yelled out, “Small chainring!” just before the first hairpin. With that announcement, everyone dutifully hit the left shift lever. Ker-chunk, ker-chunk went 100 front derailleurs, and the real climbing began!
I stayed in the top five or so right from the start. I could see Tim up ahead, almost all the way to the finish, but there was no way I could get to him. At one point, in the middle section, I was in second place for a quite a while. When we hit the only flat section, I tucked in behind another rider to rest a bit before the final agonies.
The last mile or so was a group with myself, Justin, Michael Grundmann (Webcor), and Thomas Novikoff (Cambio). I’d never ridden up the climb before (though I have descended it many times), and wasn’t sure where the finish was. Ignorance in this case was not bliss. All of a sudden Justin and Michael started accelerating hard, knowing the finish was coming, but it was too late for me to get them. My only consolation was that I managed to outsprint Novikoff for fourth. Tim Clark won, going away, 53 seconds ahead of me. My wattage for the 30 minutes was 356; for the 25 minutes of the actual climb, it was 397. So I was pretty happy. Mark was 11th, and the great efforts of the team has us currently in second place overall.
For dessert, we went down Highway 84, up Kings Mountain road at a blistering pace with Mark leading the way, then over Stage Road, with me, Mark, and Nils alternately attempting acts of homicide on one another. The pain was exquisite. My PowerTap gave us 56 miles on the day. Another legendary Bike Trip outing!