Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2011 LKHK - Kings Mountain

Like others years, it is November and I have found myself in California for some early winter training. Long rides with lots of tempo riding is on the cards – but first – there are a couple of Low Key Hill Climbs to do. I find them to be great markers for where my body is at this time of the year. Since September, I have taken a few weeks very easy (with a few cyclocross races breaking up the coffee shop rides) and last week I spent a week in Gran Canaria with my parents (of course my bike was with me) and resulted in a big week of rides – 31 hours, 18,000m of climb in 7 days.

The first hill climb I'm doing in California is the penultimate of the series – it is one of the de facto climbs in California – Kings Mountain Road. A perfect 6.8 kilometer ribbon of tarmac weaving up the mountains gaining 500 meters of ascent. The record for the climb (at least, the known record) was set in 1996 by Tracy Colwell at 19:51. I figured that this race would be a perfect 20 minute power test...

With jet lagged legs my brother and I rode over to the start – entry was closed 4 days earlier when 150 riders had signed up! Amazing. In order to keep the race/timetrial more manageable, the race would be started in waves of 15 rider groups – the first group, the fast guys, swelled to 36 riders.

Before we rolled out to the start line, the race organizer, knowing my climbing abilities, announced that if a rider wins ahead of me, he will give him $100! wow, some pressure now – and what if I punctured?? (I was riding my beautiful Lightweight G3 tubular wheels).

Like in Hicks Mountain last year, the race started at a frantic pace – the first minute was around 500 watts! Much too hard for these guys (and me) for the 6.8 kilometer climb. After a couple of minutes, the pace eased a lot, too much, so I went to the front and started riding hard. I would look around from time to time to see the line of riders behind me getting shorter and shorter, eventually there were only a few left. I eased off and Emilio Barzini went to the front – I tried to use his draft but unfortunately he was having some gearing difficulties and staying close to him was too dangerous... 6 minutes into the race, I had enough (remember, I was trying to do a 20 minute power test) and accelerated to drop my remaining companions. From there to the top I rode a pretty hard pace – I didn't feel I had good legs (all the training and flying lately still in them) but I knew I was making good pace when I passed the point I usually finish my 15 minute threshold drills and only had 13 minutes on the clock.

Photo from here

I pushed on to the line and crossed in 19 minutes – I broke the record from 1996 by almost a minute – my VAM on the 7% climb was 1550m/hr... pretty good I hear for a guy just restarting training. (A VAM calculator here)

It was great chatting to a lot of the guys before and after the race – organization was fantastic as usual and I look forward to taking part in the final round on Thursday up Mount Hamilton.

Results of the race are available here and the Strava segment is here. Garrete Lau has some nice pictures here.

The results of the power test - I'm happy with where I am at...

No comments: