Monday, November 28, 2011

2011 LKHC - Mount Hamilton

And there we were, lined up for the final round of the LKHC series – the annual, Thanksgiving trip up Mount Hamilton. The 30 kilometer climb has two short descents but is a pretty steady 5-6% the whole way up with the first half being slightly shallower.

Like last year, the weather wasn't exactly playing ball – we had to wait until the morning of the event to see if it would go ahead – there was a tropical storm coming in across the area – not a problem at low altitude but it does become a problem at the altitude we climb to (and for descending afterwards). 140 riders lined up at the start and off we went. There were two plans of action I had to choose from. 1) Full gas from the the start and try and smash the record or 2) Sit in for the first half, do my turns on the front and then attack. With the weather, I decided the later option was appropriate (of course, all that can change as soon as you start racing).

The first half of the race was at an easy pace – Mel (who broke the female record last year, and will go on to break it again this year) was still with us at the start of the second part of the climb – a great ride by her – there was only about 20 riders left in the front group.

Almost exactly half way through the climb, I saw a slightly steep section – time to go – I accelerated and kept it going. Eventually, I saw that Eric Wahlberg had also escaped the front group in pursuit of me. He hovered around 15-20 seconds back for about 15 minutes. With about 5 kilometers to go, I no longer saw him and I continued on my pace to the finish line.

Photo via Christine Costa
Despite riding the first half of the course slower than last year, my pace on the second half meant I broke the record from last year (and won of course).

Conditions at the top of the mountain were bleak – low visibility, cold, windy - felt like home. Everyone grabbed their extra clothes and made it off as quickly as possible – I wish I could have been more leisurely and chatted with more folks.

Thanks again for putting on a great race and something fun that I look forward to in the winter. Hopefully, in 2012, Ireland will have a similar (if smaller) series – I know we have enough good climbs in the Dublin area!

Results are up here and my ride details are available on Strava.

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