Monday, May 25, 2009

Mt. Hamilton 45-plus Category 1-2-3-4

By Geoff Drake

Well, I think the idea of the blog is to relate our successes as well as our missteps. This may fall into the latter category.

Late last year I’d had a very good race to the top of Mt. Hamilton. I really like the climb, so acting impetuously, with one week to go, I signed up for the full Monty: the 62-mile, 45-plus, Category 1-2-3-4 race.

At the start, the lead official summarily decided to lump us in with the 35-plus 1-2-3 riders, apparently due to a shortage of support motorcycles. Suddenly, we were toeing the line with Chris Phipps and company. Jon Ornstil tried to stage a minor insurrection and have us all wait behind for five minutes and race among ourselves. But this would require absolute unanimity, and there were a few prominent dissenters, most notably Rob Anderson. So that initiative went down in flames, and we were off and hammering up the first climb from Alum Rock at terminal velocities in the company of the young mutants.

Anderson had good reason to resist our little political movement. Halfway up that climb, he escaped with three or so 35-plus guys, none of whom were ever seen again.

The rest of us settled into our own rhythm. I felt really good, riding in the top 10-15 with Ornstil, Caldwell, Elsbach and the usual antagonists. We crested the first climb, flew across the valley floor, and headed up the next two climbs. I still felt very good. But with about a mile to the top, the pace seemed a bit much, and I decided to ride my own rhythm. I went over the top with six or so others, about one minute behind the main group, but I wasn’t too concerned.

The descent was awesome. I felt smooth and in control, even over the hairy mid-apex cattle guards. Once at the bottom, I exhorted my companions to get into a smooth paceline. It was fun, we were flying!

I’ve never done Mines Road before. Silly me, I thought it was just big-gear rollers. But after the last feed, we went up a rather long switchback climb. This is where the problems began. Over the last month, I’ve had serious leg cramp issues, most notably at Wente (just ask Russ, who saw me in a state of mad contortion at the roadside). I’ve also been waking up with foot cramps, so something seems to be awry.

I could feel my quads and hamstrings beginning to knot, and I fell off the pace of our chasing group. After what seemed a VERY long time, a group with Larry Nolan caught me. I rode with them for a while, even pulling through, but when we hit the next climb, the cramps set in again. After what seemed another VERY long time, a group with John Novitsky caught me. Again, I had to let them go.

At this point I just decided it was a beautiful day, on a beautiful road, and I’d just ride it on in. Thankfully, Clark Foy gave me a ride back to the start in his Land Rover, or I’d be out there still.

Any magic bullets for leg cramps? I’m listening!


Satin Matt said...

I added an Emergen-C packet to my pre-race drink at Panoche, and managed to hold off cramps. Not sure how much it helped. Another 10-20 miles and I would have had problems...

Dennis the Mennis said...

Great write-up Geoff! And great ride... until Mr Cramps visited. Matt's idea is good. And I guess I would suggest you review your diet for the obvious culprits like low potassium intake; actually low anything-ium intake. Magnesium, selenium, sodium, plus zinc and all of that other stuff. Oh, and that H2O stuff too (hydrate enough, but not too much; I suggest 1 bottle/hour). If all of that is good then I guess you'll have to investigate in greater detail. Best wishes!