This weeks low key hill climb was in a different format to the previous weeks. The riders had 24 hours to do the climb and post the GPS data for timing purposes. The climb was also off road on a steep local fire road climb called the “Kennedy Trail”.
I had been looking forward to this round since the beginning of the series as I am partial to off road riding, climbing hills and timed events. I had ridden the climb once in the blazing hot summer sometime around 1998 but all I could remember about it was that it was hard and there was a steep section near the top that I couldn’t ride up. Like all this year’s Low Key Hill Climbs I was pretty much exploring as much as I was racing.
Unfortunately the weather for the event was not good. When I left Livermore it was bright sunshine but by the time I got to Los Gatos the rain was coming down at a fair old lick. I sat in the car for about 20 minutes hoping it would stop but it didn’t so I decided to go race anyways.
There were a couple of other low keyers at the start of the trail but the weather seemed to have scared most people off. The start of the climb was flat or down hill and it was muddy and slippery. Although the mud bogged you down it didn’t really stick to your tires so once things started going uphill it didn’t really impede performance much. I soon figured out that the fastest line was to avoid the smooth muddy bits and instead ride in the small streams or rocky bits. The climb wasn’t very technical but it was steep enough to be hard work.
About 1.5 miles up the climb the rain started to get heavier and the low cloud really started to cut off visibility. Just to make matters worse, my glasses also steamed up so I was left in this bizzare foggy world where the only thing that mattered was the 20 feet of visible trail in front of you. (see picture by Pat Parseghan below)
There were a couple of false flat/downhill sections on the way up that allowed some recovery time but I found that they completely ruined my rhythm. I was a little wary at pushing too hard on these bits as there was mud and rocks to catch out the unwary and this probably hurt my time. About 3 miles into the climb I was tiring and having a mental battle with myself over how much more of this I could take. I knew there was a horrendously steep section near the top and in the back of my mind I was saving a few watts so that I could clear it.
The steep wall finally came and it was really hard but the damp conditions actually helped traction and I managed to clear it. Fortunately there was not much further to go and I was surprised and happy to see the finish line suddenly appear through the fog.
This was a great fun event but I definitely could have gone faster if the weather was better. I should have waited until the afternoon when things cleared up.
- Official results
- Time: 39m02s
- Position 11th