The Mount Hamilton RR has been on my “bucket” list for 10 years and with the threat that this year may be the last I decided to enter 10 minutes before registration closed. I entered the 45+ Cat 3/4 as I thought this would be a safe and fast group and as a bonus my mate Bill was also riding this category. I am not really a climbers build and also not the most confident of descenders so a race like this doesn’t really suit me. A course like this on the other hand is too awesome not to attempt at least once.
The race started pretty fast after the neutralized zone with someone on the front trying to set a Tour de France style pace to chase down an early solo break. It was pretty frustrating in the bunch as people were wandering from side to side and there was little room to move up when people were slowing. One guy in particular seemed to be trying to ride the entire climb out of the saddle and his swaying from side to side was really annoying. About half way up the first part of the climb the bunch split and I ended up in the wrong half and despite my polite requests for people to get out of the way I simply couldn’t get through to chase. Eventually a little window opened and I managed to sprint across to the lead group although this left me vulnerable for a while.
The second part of the climb was hard on the legs as it followed a fast descent and I began to have a few worries about my ability to hang on but I made it and was still in the group as we hit the final hardest section of the climb. About 2 miles up the last section the rider that had been out of the saddle for most of the climb went to the front and the speed jumped. Me and about 5 other guys simply couldn’t respond to this acceleration and dropped slowly backwards. At this point I realized just how cold it was on Hamilton and how windy it was. I am not proud of it but for the rest of the climb I drafted a strong Taleo rider and one of his teammates. I was simply unable to contribute to the pace making.
I crested the climb with 3 other riders (one of whom I heard say was a demon descender) with a personal best time of 1h21m and when we hit the icy wind I was glad of my arm warmers. I got dropped by the other 3 riders on the long and bumpy descent and when I got to the bottom I was on my own but I could see the other 3 riders in the distance on the climb. I rode the next climb hard which hurt a lot and closed the gap but didn’t manage to bridge. I kept on chasing hard for about another 5 miles but fatigue started to set in and I wasn’t getting any closer.
About 2 miles from the junction I was caught by a bunch of 5 riders from my race and we hammered along into a nasty cold headwind. As we hit the junction my legs started to feel really tired and unfortunately me and one other guy got dropped on the climb. I settled down into my own pace and managed to keep a reasonable pace on the junction climbs but didn’t relish the idea of riding the remaining 20 miles or so into a nasty cold headwind so I backed off a little. The other dropped rider caught back up to me and we worked together for the remainder of the race. Thanks very much Alan for working so well.
I ended up in 23rd Place (14th CAT 4) with pretty tired legs. I don’t ever want to do that race again but SJBC have to be aplauded for putting on such a well run event.
Strava Data for the Ride
I got two Personal records in today’s race.
Mount Hamilton Hill Official . (1h21m18s – Previous best 1h35m53s)
SAV bump after downhill . (3m32s – Previous best 4m16s)