|You know Stefano's full bore when he's out of the saddle.|
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.|
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!|
|Perhaps the picture of the year.|
Official results and photos here.