Monday, October 7, 2013

LKHC #1: Montebello

You know Stefano's full bore when he's out of the saddle.
By Eddie Santos

This past Saturday marked the return of the Low-Key Hill Climb series, once again kicking off with a climb up Montebello Road on a picture perfect morning. I've anticipated the return of LKHC greatly since last Fall, in which the series provided my first introduction to competitive cycling. Though I enjoyed pouring everything I had into the pedals, gritting my teeth climbing up the likes of Soda Springs Rd with a torn meniscus, the results were not pretty, and I vowed to return to the series with great vengeance.

Bike Trip had fine representation for this week's climb with Matt, Nils, Stefano, and myself present. Montebello is a very nice climb, totaling 2,000 ft of climbing over 5.2 miles. The first 2 miles are roughly 9%, the next mile is 3%, and the final two are 8% before giving way to some rollers leading up to the finish. The field had some pretty strong talent on the start list, including Chris Phipps, the recent masters national champion.

Nils shows (knows?) no pain.
The group staged in the upper parking lot, and after a rolling start to the bottom of the climb, the race was on. Stefano and Nils immediately did a great job navigating through the hordes of overly ambitious riders to get towards the front, clear of some riders who were making noises that made the rest of the pack concerned about their well-being. I followed Matt for the first mile, while he also weaved around riders who were dropping back fast. Initially, my legs (particularly my quads) felt somewhat sore after a week full of softball games, but it was only pain, and knew that they would be ready to go when I needed them. 

After clearing a large number of people, we finally got some space, and so I decided to punch it to see if I could keep Stefano and Nils in my sights, at least until the flatter, middle part. I eventually lost sight of the two of them, but managed to ride up to a pack of eight or so riders to draft as the gradient eased. I drank, calmed my breathing, and hit it hard once again once the serious climbing resumed. I dropped four or so riders, and went uphill with another four at a decent pace. The next two miles were a hammerfest, in which somehow I managed to keep pumping my legs despite my heart rate holding steady at 187 bpm (95%). I found a groove smoothly moving in and out of the saddle to let the different muscles in my legs recover.

As we approached the top, it became obvious we were getting to the rollers when the group of riders I was with attacked. In hindsight, I should've followed, but I was on the brink and unsure how much longer the climb would last, and figured I wouldn't lose too much time simply maintaining my pace. Soon enough though, I saw the sign indicating 200 paces, and gave what I had left in the tank to get to the line, scanning the scene for the refreshments as I yelled my number out to the coordinators.

Glad photos can't capture internal stress!
The overall winner was a junior, Jason Saltzman, of Team Specialized Racing Juniors, with a time of 26:08. Stefano had a sizzling time of 28:09 (score: 122.43), good for 7th overall. Nils also had a blistering time, coming in at 29:01 (118.74), for 11th place. I was the next 'Tripper, arriving in 29th place at 31:15 (110.29), and Matt was just behind me in 32nd, at 31:55 (107.95). As a team, we finished sixth with a score of 351.46, yet just 4.34 points behind the winners, The Brown Zone!
Perhaps the picture of the year.
Last year, I averaged 86.45 over the four climbs I did in the Low-Key series, so to begin this year's climb with a score of 110.29, an improvement of nearly 25 points, was very fulfilling! It definitely reflects upon the high quality of training with great teammates week in and week out over the past year, along with the great support provided by the guys at Bicycle Trip. This next week's climb brings Montevina (+ dirt), which I'm very much looking forward to, and hopefully will be joined by more than a few of you fine folks!

Official results and photos here.

2 comments:

Jim Langley said...

Man, I hate that climb! So, awesome job to crush it, Stefano, Eddie, Nils and Matt - those are some fast times and great results. Congratulations and keep it UP!

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