Monday, August 27, 2007

A Weekend of Hill Climbs - Kippure and Kilmashogue

This weekend turned out to be a weekend of timed climbing races. First off was the Team Worc Extreme Hill Climb. It was a handicapped, (small) group start road climb. The course wasn't a constant climb (see the profile) but was almost 20km long and had 748 meters of climb. Robin, James and I were the last to start so we had many 'rabbits' in front of us to catch. We worked well together for the first 'rolling' 30 minutes of the race and we started to catch some of the earlier starters from about 25 minutes in. The conditions were very windy up around the Military road so our time wasn't going to be setting any records. Into the wind for the final few kilometres before the turn off to the final ascent of Kippure I somehow ended up on the front – unwilling to put much work into the wind I cruised along at a recovery pace as we all tried to recover a little before the final steep (17% in places) ascent of Kippure. As we made the turn and accelerated towards the masts, it was James and I in contention. We ended up playing cat and mouse the whole way up... Unfortunately, I miss timed my final sprint (I thought the penultimate bend was the last) and James pipped me to the post for the fastest time of the day – with the handicaps in place, we were still a little off the overall win. The Irish National Hill Climb Championships are on in a few weeks so I might give them a go – hopefully I'll have my light wheels serviced by then as I had to ride my 'heavy' training wheels for this race.

A graph of the climb from my Garmin

After a false start on the morning spin (more about that in a later post) I ended up heading out on the Epic for an afternoon spin. This week has been mostly (race aside) about recovery so I was only going to be out for a couple of hours but I still wanted to do one hard short effort. Every time I feel like this it's good to give the Kilmashogue hill climb a go. I physced myself up for a fast time and rode half way up it for a warmup dumping my bottles and saddle bag in the ditch, rode back down and made a go for it. I went hard from the start but was careful not to over do it on the steep sections so that I would have enough in my legs to really hammer on the less steep sections. I was about 2:54 in when I turned off the road for the first time (I remember last year doing this when I was really happy if I was under 4 minutes at this point!), negotiated the closed barriers (another few seconds could be saved here) and hammered on up the hill. I tried to remain relaxed and not over cook myself but I noticed that I was riding fast – Big and 8/9 for the 2% 'flat' section. By the time I got to the quary I looked down at my watch and I was still under 10 minutes – I remembered reading a report by Robin from a few years ago when he said he was at 10:something at this point and yet he still posted the second fastest (recorded – as far as I can find) time up the climb (he did a 12:13 in 2001 - the record of 12:12 was set by Craig Brady in 1997). I put my head down and hammered the last second hopping to stay in the low 12 minute mark. I crossed the crest of the climb and hit the split button – I looked down to find 11:56 a new (if unofficial) Kilmashogue Hill Climb record. I let out a few cheers and then realized that I need to get my breath back before I fall over. My heart rate average was actually a little low for the climb (173 – my LT is usually around 178 – last year I averaged 190 up a 17min climb in the states) so I might be able to squeeze a little more time out there. The weather conditions were pretty much perfect though – dry with little wind but some fresh gravel and the closed barriers would have slowed me a bit. A great end to a recovery week :)

My HR versus the climb... The coloured bands are my heart rate zones

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