LKHC#6 : Soda Springs Hill Climb

Soda springs was my first mass start low key hill climb of 2012. It was also the first climb that I had actually ridden before. Unfortunately course knowledge didn’t count for much as I rode it back in 1998 and the only thing I remember was that it was horrible.  For my build I am happiest on climbs less than 6% where my larger mass doesn’t have such an impact. Soda Springs averages over 8% so it was definitely going to be very difficult to get in the top 25 this week.

We had been blessed with record high temperatures for the preceding weeks Low Key events but for this week it was cold.  Temperatures were hovering around the 40’s and my lungs were unhappy. Due to my results from the previous two weeks I had been seeded in the second part of the group at the start which was a good thing for such a large group.

The pace set off very quickly at the start and there was nearly a big crash in front of me that caused me to have to brake really hard and almost come to a stop. I tried not to go too hard in the first mile but still managed to pick up many places.  Unfortunately at mile 1.5 I seemed to blow up and the fire went out in my boiler.  I was still riding at a pulse rate of 170BPM but I couldn’t raise my pace as people came past me and I started dropping back through the field. I was in trouble !

The constant steep gradient meant that it was very hard to recover and I was unable to jump on any of the solo riders passing me. At around mile 2.5 I did manage to hook up with one rider that I think had been drafting me for a mile or so and he was setting a good pace. I found that in order to make progress I had to up my gearing and lower my cadence so that my legs did more work and my lungs had a bit of a rest. I found that by doing this I started to feel a bit better and with a about mile to go I did my turn on the front and started winding things up. I caught a rider in front of me and was shocked to see the 200 paces to go sign. For the third week in a row I had misjudged the length of the climb but this time I didn’t really have much spare to go for the sprint.

I crossed the line in 35m49s in 36th place with my lungs on fire and feeling really stuffed. Even after 5 minutes slumped over the bars I didn’t feel much better. Despite having some warm clothing at the top I found the descent to be a chilly affair and by the time I got back to the car I felt cold and I was coughing and sneezing.  I developed full blown flu symptoms in the car on the way home and spent the whole night coughing and sneezing.  I have no idea if I caught a chill, got really bad allergies or I had some cold bug but it completely took me out of action.

After really enjoying the previous two weeks Low Key Hill Climbs this week was not so much fun.  I had a similar pulse rate to those previous two weeks but my power output felt way down.  At least I was faster than I did in 1998 (38m27s) by a pretty good margin.


I absolutely love this picture taken by Thomas Preisler.


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