Eff this effin’ hill.
I am a pretty good climber. Really. Put me on a long mountain pass and I do just fine, thank you.
But stick me on some short nut-kicker of 15% where everybody stands and mashes and I have to push 500w or something and it’s a great way to really hurt me. Like a 2x4 in the side of the head hurt.
Now make me do it twelve times as part of a 500’ ascent. Really good way to hurt me.
Lap one seemed perfect, nice grades for about a mile and a half. I am putting myself in ideal position as we climb and then BANG. We go around a slight bend and I see the wall. Frak. I stand up and mash it, cresting the thing at around fourth wheel. Good.
Not good. The finish line is after the crest where you come around this right-hand bend and right afterward is yet another 15% nutkicker. I shot my wad keeping up with these animals on the first one. This is not a good sign for the next five laps. Especially because every lap is a bell lap.
I hang on. At the summit I am mid-pack and settle back in.
Most of lap two is uneventful, save the Keystone Kops highjinks when we get passed by the juniors. They neutralize us. We wait for the busted-up junior field to pass. We start racing again. We pass most of the stragglers again. Then we slow down because nobody’s attacking and the juniors pass us again. We then shoot by them on hills. You get the idea.
Second time up the wall and I get gapped a bit. I end up behind the caravan and take a few deep breaths and push hard to get a bit of a draft from the SRAM car. Finally I catch him and relax a bit. I come around him and surf the cars until I can sprint back to the riders ahead. Better.
At this point there is a fast descent. It occurs after the final climb which is about a mile after the summit of the main climb. Once you crest that hill, it’s all downhill until you get to a short run-in to the first corner. I always use this spot to make up time, since I have the crazy descender gene and have no problem at all with riding a bicycle at motorcycle speeds. It is astounding how many big heavy guys I go past and end up pretty close to the front for the corner. The rest of lap two is pretty uneventful.
Third time up the wall was the last time, at least for me. This time I was so far back that the caravan was out of reach. I found a few other peloton rejects and we formed a small “survival group”. I wouldn’t call it racing, or even a “chase group”. It was a “let’s just try to get to the end of this race without falling down” group. We figured it would be impossible to miss the time cut since we stayed in contact for half the race.
Each successive ascent of the wall was done in a progressively smaller gear until I was in my total bailout gear that I almost never use in a race. I look at the powermeter and realize…..
“dang, this IS a steep wall”
you know what?
EFF this Effin’ hill.
I remain in the basement on GC.