Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 Mount Hamilton Hill Climb

Thanksgiving for me has been about two things for these last few years – a wonderful Turkey dinner shared with my brother, his wife and kids and the Mount Hamilton Hill Climb to wet the appetite.

This year, Kieran, Mel and I headed over to the base on what was going to be a very chilly ascent. Just a touch above freezing on the top with snow on the side of the road would make for a picturesque finish. But first we had to get there.

A huge group of cyclists, ranging from the competitive to the recreational trying to best their time gathered at 9:30 for the climb. It is 30km long, climbs 1,350 meters and has two short descents (about 3 minutes and 2 minutes). The climb is never steep, just long – very long – I liked it.

For the first long ramp, we rode along as a pretty big group – I'm guessing 30 riders stayed together of the close to 150 that started. As we neared the first descent, I went to the front to stretch things out a bit to make it a little safer – riders where popping off the back but it made for a relatively safe descent. At the start of the second climb, a rider attacked off that I didn't recognize – he looked dangerous, so I too left the group to cut my own path. As I tried to bridge to the rider, it didn't look like I was getting much closer – on this course, drafting helps a lot so if we were together, we could really make a good time – I couldn't quite get there, so I settled into my pace – there was only one rider ahead so they had no real advantage – the gap stayed around 10-25 seconds. With about 5km to go, I noticed I was getting closer again and with about 3.5km to go, I caught him. As I got a glimpse of the rider – things now made sense – it was Eric Wohlberg – 3 time Olympian, 8 consecutive Canadian TT Champion, Common Wealth Games Gold medalist... ehh, you get the picture. I also know Eric from riding the Wednesday group rides – to say he is a strong rider, does not give him justice! (He also lives at the base of this climb) We rode together to the top and I went for it at the final steep 200m ramp. Great fun.

I bested my time from last year, but the pace was way too low for the first 12km (and I was by myself for the remaining distance) to set a very fast time. But still, the day was stunning (but very very cold) and the views were incredible. Also, Mel, showing here amazing climbing form finished just 9 minutes after me and 12 minutes infront of the next female. In the mens race, she would have been 18th – rider of the day if you ask me!

Back to Thanksgiving – after all that, (and another bike ride when we got home) – we feasted all evening until we could barely move – it has been a long while since we did that and I felt if for the first few hours of todays ride.

Results, photos and a short report can be all found here.

Many thanks to the Low Key crew – I look forward to doing a few of your races every year – a great bunch of folks and great events.


Manny D ( said...

Many congrats Ryan, for a job well done! Very impressed with how you handled the climb, and your narrative. I've done that climb just 3x, and found it as a true endurance climb. Just curious, what gear setup were you using (i.e., standard or compact, and cogset). Nice job, and happy thanksgiving!

Ryan Sherlock said...

Hey, thanks for the comments.

I had an 11-23 on the rear and a 39x53 on the front. Most of the climbing parts I was in the 21 I think - sometimes the 23, sometimes the 19. Average cadence was around 85 but I spent chunks out of the saddle (which for me would bring the cadence down a little).

It's a great climb - never steep, just long :)

Manny D ( said...

Hey thanks that some tall gear..enjoy the rest of the four day weekend :)

Darragh said...

You call that snow - nah - this is snow...

Ryan Sherlock said...

The actual big snow had (thankfully) melted - this is California though!

@manny - not really a tall gear when you are pedaling at 90rpm :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Your so fortunate to be away from Dublin - the snow is thick on kilakee - it's ok going up the problem is stayin upright on the way down.
The trick is to ditch the cleated shoes and wear your runners that way you can go bi-training.
Were expecting the secound coming of a superhero named Thaw to arrive on Wed. the council and NRA have decided to save the Salt - maybe for their christmas dinner.

Mountain Goat

Ryan Sherlock said...

I looked at the long range weather forcast and saw that it was not getting any better soon - so Mel and I changed our flights (€€€ but hey... it's only money) to stay another week. At that point, both of us will have had a hard block of training in and can take it easy for a few days when we get back and hope a thaw starts.

We got some shoe spikes for walking/running when we get home - just in case...