O.U.C.H. race report..Long post about a NW.. HC/TT
Sunday was the first event of one of the northwest's hillclimb series, the Oregon Uphill CHampionships. Two events of the 3 in this series are held on Larch Mountain's 3816' climb, covering 16.53 miles. The final, a more traditional short steep hillclimb, is on Mt. Hood near Timberline Lodge.
The Larch Mt. events are more uphill time trials of a sort, with the gradient starting out quite gentle with rollers, then gradually getting steeper and more sustained as you progress. Climbing is one of my weak points and TTs are something I've generally avoided through the years, so my expectations for Larch were modest. This season I'm trying to improve overall, so I've been working on improving my weaknesses. I am trying to learn to TT and to improve my climbing. Plus, being a 60+ Masters guy, opportunities to compete are pretty slim so I'm doing every available event without the luxury of choosing just the events I think I am "good" at. Saturday, knowing better, I let myself be talked into a group ride the day before the event. Two of my younger teamates were going along on the ride, so I though I couldn't be too far off going too... Now, I wasn't fooling myself into thinking I'd win anything at Larch Mt.. Not with a couple of outstanding climbers my age to race against, but I've been doing everything I can think of to maximize my performance: training with dedication and intensity and...till Saturday, pretty intellegently, I hope. Ended up doing about 5000' of climbing on Saturday, day before the hillclimb. Dumb, huh? Oh well, it was fun, and that IS why I ride..And it sure didn't seem to bother my two younger teammates much..
So, Sunday, 7am, I picked up my teamates, one who races cat 3 women's and the other a 45-49 Masters, and we went west to Portland, into cool cloudy weather, perfect for climbing. Both my compatriots are still quite tuned from the recent Mt Hood Cycling Classic where they' each finished well. Jenn, the 3-gal, is a very very good climber, and Mike is lean as a wippet and also climbs very well..Me?..I drag along behind on club training rides, but do OK for a big old guy (165# and 6'1")
We loaded extra clothes for the mountain top (Larch Mt. has a notoriously cold, long, descent) into Candy's (the OBRA cheif) little mini-cooper and warmed up around the Corbett school complex, with Jen and Mike both leaving the ramp shortly ahead of my start time.
My race went pretty well. I was hoping to break one hour 22 minutes, which I thought would be reasonable, given my climbing performances in the past, I set this goal compared to the last year's times by the real climbers in my category. I was hoping (realistically) for a 3rd, behind the two known very strong guys my age group.
The first part of the course , my lack of TT experience showed, as I found myself just dogging along a couple of times for whatever reasons. Then, I'd glance down and find my HR well above my LT and be "flogging" all over the bike..I'd "wake up", smooth out and try to get back into my zone. Repeat..
I finally settled down about 5-6 miles out and told myself "hey, I really CAN do this"..Then, as the gradient pitched up, I started re-passing some of the riders who'd eaten me up below.(riders who'd pre-registered got the first starting spots, day of the event riders were started in order of sign-up, so rider speeds were mixed out on the course) About 1.5k from the finish, my teamates came by, headed down the mountain, and hollered and goaded me into a 'feeble" sprint for the finish..I think my legs were a wee-bit tired from the (dumb but fun) day before, and from all that 'whanking around" I'd done before I got into my rythym down on the rollers near the start. For the last few K's, I just didn't feel like I had the Juice..My heart rate was in the green, my breating was OK, I just didn't have it in me to go any harder..Wassup with dat? (note to myself: Stop being such a baby!)
Anyhow, I finished at around 1:20 in 3rd, (in my class, of course) where I was hoping to be able to place, and learned that I have a lot to learn about TTs and more work to do on the hills.
My teamates? Two firsts! Mike took his win by almost 3 mins and Jen won the cat 3s by about the same large margin! I also got beat by Jude Russel, a 60+ women's phenom..And another outstanding ride was turned by my pal, Dave Zimbelman, who at 50- something came in 3rd O.A., in 58 minutes and change! Mike got remarkably close to the magic one hour mark on his first ever Larch Mt. ride, and Jen did a personal best at 1:15..
Sorry for the long report, but it was fun, and there is another on Larch Mt. middle of next month..
Any comments or suggestions?
Cannot bench own weight
Sounds great. Rest confident knowing you'd smash me in one of those types of rides (and i'm 32). Clydes don't climb well.
Good job, and thanks for the report! Saves me from having to start a thread about it.
Being a fairly light rider, I thought I would do rather well on this event, but it turns out it was more of a power-climb than a true "hillclimb" TT. It still gains nearly 4,000 feet, and it still hurts a lot. I got schooled by guys like Dave, who finished nearly 4 minutes ahead of me, but I was good enough to take the W in my category.
As we crossed 3,000 feet, the mist closed in, and I thought it rain might break out, but it turned out to simply be a low-lying cloud line. The first 5 miles of the descent were COLD -- I was shivering so much that my bars were wobbling nervously! It was a beautiful day back at sea level, though.
* If I had a full TT bike, I would use it for this course, with deep-section lightweight wheels. There are enough flat and false flat sections that I think the top finishers, who had the power to overcome the slight weight difference, gained from the aero position.
* I would NOT, however, bother to clip-on bar extensions to my road bike. The course rolls so much you are forced to shift gears often, and I don't think you'd be able to find a rhythm in the aerobars if you could not shift.
* I did not take water with me, and that was the right decision.
* To "compensate", I drank a lot of water during my warm-up. Too much, it turned out, as I ended up with unsettling stomach sloshing when the climb started.
* I ended my warm-up too soon. I should have looked at the race clock, which was some 15 minutes behind the posted schedule.
* Clearest sign of training hard: I finished 8 minutes ahead of my time from last year! I've been training for racing almost exactly 15 months now. It wasn't as though I was on a "bad day" last year, or really DID anything different. I just have more gas.
* Sustained, high-power, seated climbing uses the glutes and lower back a LOT more than my typical style. I'll need strengthen those muscles more to improve in this area.
* There was a guy on a tandem. The stoker was a blowup doll. Uh, Ivan? What are you trying to say?
A few things I'll try next month at the next Larch.
I did learn.
First, I should stick with my 'plan' for pre-event tapering. I've spent the past few seasons trying to learn to be a bit more structured, to take advantage of all the knowledge imparted by the 'Experts' like Freil, et al. I know for a fact, from documenting my own performances, that in order to perform at my max, I should not do a hard ride the day before a race,. I'd planned this event's training and tapered even more carefully than ever before..only to toss all that aside on a whim and go for a group ride..
I talked with Dave, who's an awesome racer and has done Larch Mt. since the first ever event. He says he's done it on both his TT bike and his regular bike and he says it is "a wash" If anyone has credability, it is a performer like him, and he also owns a bike shop now (Salmon Cyclery, The Dalles, Or.) with many high end bikes..And many leaders jerseys from various past stage races, National champ jerseys, state champ jerseys. etc. I guess he is someone to listen to about equipment. His present TT bike is probably lighter than my DeRosa dual..so weight wasn't his big consideration. Comfort at high effort and taking advantage of his fitness for the road probably got some consideration..but his Shop owners ride (a scott with all the good stuff) is quite light.
I ran this event with just my road frame, though I did pre-ride the course with aero clipons once..I waffeled around and took the clip on off the day before the event. I am glad I did. I ran some mid-V Reynolds wheels. Good choice, I think. I ran a 23 sprocket on a conventional FSA crankset. I think next time, I will bring my 25 and attempt, once again, to spin a bit more on the hill...I've been 'flip-flopping' between trying to spin and mashing a big gear, trying to decide which works best for me. I lean towards mashing a big gear, but it would help to have a 'spin' cog on there and at least have the option.
I took two bottles and also had stomach issues. I think I probably ate too big a breakfast and drank too much..Next time I will treat this identical to my normal Saturday group training ride. Most of those end up being just as difficult as Larch Mt..I train with a lot of very fit racers who're young, so every group ride I am usually just as maxed as if I were time trialing anyhow...
I'll take a bit more care with my diet, too. During my last week before the event, I diminished the hours of training (as per my plan} but I neglected to diminish my food intake and added about 5 lbs during the week..Not good to carry up a 4000' climb.