Saturday, January 10, 2009

San Bruno Hillclimb from Geoff

The story of my San Bruno hillclimb really starts two weeks before the actual race. While servicing my Kestrel Evoke, when I removed the rear wheel, the derailleur just dropped to the ground—with the dropout attached! The frame had finally broken completely through. Bummer! This was really dismaying, since my winter bike is about four pounds heavier than the Kestrel. Would I have to ride it in at San Bruno? The thought of adding a few pounds of bike weight to the significant avoirdupois I’d added to my gut over the holidays was really demoralizing.

Thankfully, I put out a call for a loaner and Team Bike Trip came through. Jim, who operates a veritable pleasure palace of bike parts and equipment, just happened to have a super-trick Kuota KOM he was willing to lend. Sweet! We took it for a quick spin up the coast and all seemed well—except that I had to learn a new shifting technique that went along with the SRAM Red components.

The San Bruno race would be my second ride on the Kuota, which made me a little nervous, but I was happy for the weight savings. Once at the venue, Mark orchestrated my favorite warmup—a series of short efforts with a graduated increase in intensity, using the power meter. (Matt W. was the only one with a meter, so we simply let him set the pace.) At this point I was wearing plenty of clothes and was very comfortable in the frigid cold and fog. My mistake was in shedding all those nice clothes for the race. Waiting for the start, I felt practically hypothermic. As I looked around, everyone’s teeth were chattering. Clark Foy was just in front of me, and I could see his leg (with all those crazy veins) going up and down like a sewing needle. I honestly thought I was in danger of being dropped in the first few hundred meters because my frozen legs wouldn’t go around in circles!

Once underway, we quickly separated ourselves into a lead group of about eight. This included me, Mark, Miles, Clark, Carl Nielsen, and John Novitsky. Carl set the pace. By the time we reached the brief flat portion, Mark and I were comfortable enough to be antsy, but it just didn’t seem to make sense to go to the front . As we made the turn, I changed to the big ring. I’m not familiar with the SRAM shifters, and inadvertently put on the front brake, practically sending myself over the handlebar. The challenges of an unfamiliar bike! At the same time, Carl just about took out the cement post in the middle of the road. We could have had quite pileup there!

After the turn, Clark quickly took the lead, and I glued up to his wheel, with Mark behind. After a few minutes he started to pull away a bit, and Mark went after him. The three of us pretty much rode in sight of each other for the remainder of the race, and finished in that order: Clark, Mark, and me.

Could we have done something to shed Clark or put him in duress? That was the question of the day. Perhaps we could have taken turns attacking him, but that would have risked one of us blowing up or being sacrificed. And Clark’s healthy margin at the end (he had the second fastest time of the day overall) seemed to indicate that he would have matched anything we threw at him. Plus, by riding within ourselves, we put two guys on the podium, and that’s a good outcome!

After the race, the first thing I did was give Jim his bike back. I guess you could say it’s broken in now. Thanks Jim!

1 comment:

Jim Langley said...

Great race, Geoff - and you're welcome! Glad I could help with the loan of the Kuota/SRAM Red rocket ;-)