Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 Low Key Hill Climb - Hicks / Mt Umunhum

Mel and I are currently in California for some training, a bit of family time and some work. All this while hopefully enjoying its famously good weather... Well, after 7 days, I have had 3 good weather days and 4 less nice – but the climbs are still stunning and I just love the feel of the place.

Anyway, while here, I'm taking part in the final two races in the Low Key Hill Climb series – a series of 9 very tough climbs over 9 weeks. On November 20th, my brother and I took part in the Hicks / Mt Umunhum climb – a 4.8km climb that raises 515meters with long stints at 15% gradient. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my 27 rear cassette before I left Ireland so I was going to use the 39x25 as my lowest gear – I sensed some standing on the pedals.

On the ride over (one hour fourty minutes so more than enough time to warm up) my legs felt dead and my body tired from the previous weeks training. After signon, we were ready to go – I left off my extra clothes into a car to take them to the top, stood on the pedals and said to myself, cool, my legs actually feel ... “POP” . My rear tub just punctured – a deep cut – it was toast.

Lucky break, number 1 – Brian Lucido – the current leader of the series had a spare Zipp 202 rear wheel I could use – excellent, I will actually still take part in the climb. A quick wheel change and I was off again.

Almost 100 of us lined up in what was turning into 'epic' conditions – a super steep climb (and descent on the way back down) in rain and wind. Well, with the Irish Hill Climb champs, I'm well used to these conditions.

The race started at a hard pace – I looked down a couple of times to see the power meter read 450W, 480W, 460W... These guys can't hold this up for 20 minutes (didn't see any Grand Tour contenders on the start list) so I rode my own race. Chris Phipps and Brian Lucido got about a 10 second gap on my about 1.5 km in, but it was so steep that drafting was almost useless and riding a steady pace would pay off. At the half way point, the 3 of us where together. A little while later Chris made another strong surge but with 1.5km to go, I passed him again and kept going to the finish claiming the KOM by 32 seconds with Brian finishing in 3rd.

My adventures where not over yet – on the way back down (along with a bunch of other folks) I punctured the rear loaned wheel. I couldn't really do anything but laugh... Lucky break number 2, I met Calvin, who had been taking the video of the finish, coming back down in his car and he very kindly gave me a lift back home (which was miles away). I was able to get back, warmed up and head out for the rest of my training because of him. Many many thanks – you probably saved me from getting a cold and missing out on good training! (Also, it was really nice chatting to you outside of all that!).

Getting back to the climb – I was around 72kg in the morning and put out 414W on the climb – it wasn't exactly steady, but reasonably steady - it was a good 20 minute test. (I do think my power meter is reading a little low at the moment though). VAM for the 20 minutes was 1,600 meters per hour – so pretty quick. Happy with the power output, after just 3 weeks of training for a month taking it easy although my average heart rate was really low given the effort – 173 beats per minute – I would expect 180 for that sort of effort. Now back to my diet of tempo climbing, steady on the flats...

Full results, video and photos (including the one I nabbed above) are all available here.


jacquie phelan said...

Yo, Ryan, Mel....I hope you'll get to do something cool for thanksgiving tomorrow...up here in Marin is the 35 or so annual "Appetite Seminar" around Pine mtn.
I wish I knew your email addy...I want to talk about gettig over to singlespeed worlds in Eire next year (I specialize in teaching mtb for the nervous, will do a clinic or two when there)....jacquie@batnet.com is my addy, my # is 415-459-7093 if you are in NORCAL for longer and want to visit fairfax, have some tea w/me . Ever, Alice B. Toeclips

Ryan Sherlock said...

Cool - I have replied through email.

Singlespeed worlds in Ireland - I may be getting one of those - but if I did do the race, I would be in fancy dress and taking the shot short cuts :)

VAM said...

Hi Ryan, always enjoy reading your blog. If anyone else wants to compare their climbing performances to yours but don't have the privilege of riding the same hills they can always use the VAM calculator at http://www.cyclingfitness.net/calculate-vam-watts-kg.php and they'll get a proper sense of appreciation of how you're going!
All the best.