This was my third attempt at the Mount Diablo Hill Climb time trial. The time trial is from the North Gate of Diablo to just before the junction at approximately 2000ft. It is 10K long and has an elevation gain of approximately 1750ft. Unfortunately due to other commitments I didn’t get much chance to practice the course before the event but I did get to ride it twice. The first time was a really hot day and I went much too hard at the bottom which ended up in me getting a time of 32m30s. This was approximately 2m40s slower than my race pace last year and a bit discouraging. The time wasn’t really too much of a surprise, as last year I was on really good climbing form after completing the Terrible Two and Mount Hamilton Road Race. I went back a few days later for a second attempt, on a cooler day, and made a much better job of my pacing which resulted in a 2m10s improvement in my time. Pacing on this course is absolutely critical and for me I figured out that my key to a good time was to have not over extended myself before the 4 mile mark.
Race day turned out to be really hot which had me worried as I don’t do so well in the heat. When I was warming up on the trainer the sweat was absolutely pouring off me but it didn’t feel quite so bad once I got out on the local roads for the finishing touches to my preparation. The event is special in that it starts with a ramp just like in the Tour de France. The first 1.5 miles of the course are rolling and it allows you to get slowly up to race pace. I kept my gears fairly low and concentrated on not getting carried away. When I hit the climb proper I shifted out of the big ring and worked on keeping up a high cadence. I didn’t feel too good and was concerned that I was working too hard for the pace I was riding at (I think this is how should feel for a time trial). I knew that I needed to have some reserves for the first steep pitch so I didn’t push too hard. Steep pitch number one is always a real shock to the system but this year my plan was to really gear down and spin so that I would be strong on the following sections. The heat felt intense on this bit and my mouth was incredibly dry (I didn’t bring a bottle). After this I tried my best to recover to get ready for the next steep pitch but the gradient is pretty constant up to the finish. The second steep pitch is shorter but just as nasty and I was really glad to see the White Ranch fence that marked the end of the bad stuff. The section to the top is quite steep but it is broken up by switchbacks that seem to make the whole thing more bearable. Up until this point I had remained seated for the whole climb but on the switchbacks I had to get out of the saddle to maintain momentum and this action reminded me how much my legs were hurting.
I caught a few riders over the next mile who may well have gone off too hard but I was also caught and passed by a Team Fremont rider Phil Mai just before the mile to go section. [See Photo Below]
I tried to raise my game a little as he passed me and kept a fairly constant gap as we hit 1K to go. The last 1K feels really long and I was in the zone that you get when you are giving up every ounce of energy you have left. At 500m to go the gradient eased off a bit and I caught and passed another two riders and actually started to pull back my Fremont usurper but he lifted his game a sprinted the last 200m.
I finished in a time of 29m21s which was a new personal best and got me 6th place (same as last year).
1 28:06.0 160 GUDEBSKI,Jordan Unattached 0 2 28:08.7 151 BACCHUS,Jamy Berkeley Bicycle Clu 2 3 28:14.9 164 MAI,Phill Team Fremont p/b Chi 8 4 28:48.0 174 VALDEZ,Taj Unattached 42 5 28:48.3 167 MONTGOMERIE,Brendan " 6 29:21.3 162 KING,Mark Christian Cycling-Ha 1:15