Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Irish National Hill Climb Championships

After the physical detonation that was last weekend, the training for the week before the national hill climb championships was pretty obvious – very very little. Recovery was the name of the game. I had overreached enough and my body wanted the time to rebuild and super compensate (those last two words I really like). I took it easy with only a few short sharp sessions to remind the body what hard work was and by the time Friday came along, my legs where itching to tear the pedals off the cranks.

I drove down to Tralee on Friday evening for the Saturday evening race – the plan was to go for a ride up the hill that evening but torrential rain (and rivers flowing down the climb) convinced me otherwise. The race was to start at 4pm on Saturday which meant lots of time for a spin up the hill in the morning to open up the legs. The climb was 3.9km long climbing 300 meters on a rough road surface. The first 1.8km averaged almost 8% but was pretty undulating. Then came a flat (2-3% gradient) 800meters followed by the final cruel 1.3km averaging 11% but again, very undulating with pitches of 20%. Pacing would be a little tricky as it was not a constant grade but with my Powermeter and Garmin 500, I knew I would be able to keep myself in check for the start.

With only a few seconds to go, I was held in place on the start ramp – my plan was simple, stay under 460W for the first 4-5 minutes and the rest of the 12 minute climb would sort itself out. Go hard on the easy (flat) bits, go harder on the hard (steep) bits. With the pacing strategy, the first few minutes where pretty easy physically and mentally, I perform intervals in that power range often at the 5 minute mark and the temptation would be to push a little harder – but I knew, 5 minutes is a hell of a lot shorter than 12 minutes! The pain would come...

Photo from Darragh Crowley

Knowing the climb would have helped and my only real mistake was taking it too easy on the flatter section – I finished strong with the last 90 seconds being over 500W (for your calculations, on the morning I was 72.5kg)

The Lightweight Wheels felt amazing climbing

You don't really notice as you race, or at least, if you are noticing, you are not going hard enough, but our climbs where held under torrential rain with a block headwind – record times for the climb were not going to be set on the day and I crossed the line a touch over 12 minutes after starting. I really wasn't sure if I had done enough for the win, the main challenger in the race, 5 time champion and defending champion, Paul Griffin, is based in the area and is one of the best Irish climbers in our generation.

After a good cool down on the bike, it was back to the signon venue and I found out that I had become the new National Hill Climb Champion. I edged out Paul by 14 seconds and am obviously very happy with the new green jersey.

Many thanks to the Earl of Desmond Hotel for the hospitality during my stay in Kerry, the Tralee Bicyle Club who ran the event smoothly and at a great venue and also to Paul Griffin. I have ridden with Paul on the road a lot this year, and every time I have learned something new – he has been a great mentor and a worthy adversary (last year he kicked my butt up in Donegal at the champs).

There is another report up with some photos here.

1 comment:

Donncha Cuttriss said...

Well done Ryan on your win.Great blog.