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It could be argued most rough days are a direct result of inadequate preparation. Whether or not we know that we're unprepared for the task at hand really only affects our surprise at the outcome!
Welcome back, folks. Yesterday marked the first race in the Sierra Nevada Hill Climb TT Series, which is a rather cumbersome and non-descriptive euphemism for "voluntary bicycular corporal punishment." The venue was Kingsbury Grade, the friendly little stretch of asphalt between the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe. Last September, Kingsbury was the last event of the Series, which really only means that everybody was already in shape. I've only put in about 6 hours (!) on the bike in the last 3 weeks, including yesterday, so my hopes were not high, and I rooted my entire race strategy in "residual fitness," "ability to tolerate long periods of suffering," and "Red Bull." I mean, come on, I haven't even gone for a climb since the day I crashed, what, 6 weeks ago?
Yesterday also marked record high temperatures in many pockets of Northern Nevada, and by the time the first rider went off at 10am, east-facing Kingsbury was smoldering away. About the only thing I really had going for me was that I wasn't the 5th rider off like I was last time, which quickly had me out in front with no one to chase down. I was 27th off yesterday, hopefully supplying me with more people to catch, although certainly not guaranteed with my level, no, trough of fitness.
One unfortunate feature of Kingsbury is that all the free speed opportunities are at the bottom, dictating that those periods of high effort can't be saved for later in the climb (the steepest section is the top, too). Yesterday was only my 3rd time up Kingsbury, and I'm not familiar enough with it to gauge how well my climb is going based on intermediate times or speeds. All I could do was go hard and use riders in front of me for motivation!
My jersey was wide open within the first few minutes, which allowed my heart more room to fervently plan its gleeful escape from my chest. I pushed hard for the free speed sections and kept the effort pretty much pinned everywhere else. I could feel the strength emigrating from my legs to the land of distant memories after about 20 minutes, but it was at least passing through the realm of proper pacing on its way out. (Translation: I hadn't gone too big too early.)
I watched my time from last September tick by with a few hundred meters left to go, and crossed the line about exactly 2 minutes slower (40:18 vs. 38:16). Really no surprise at all, but still disappointing. I'd also say that my effort was higher this time around (if such a thing is possible), as I went a little fuzzy and had to lie down in the shade for a bit.
Last time, Speedy Li'l Max took 3 minutes out of the course record for 35-flat, but he was nowhere to be found yesterday. However, this dude (executive summary: pro rider, "Specialty: Climbing") showed up and took another 2 minutes out of the record, resetting it at an astounding 32:59 and averaging well over 14mph up the 6.1% grade.
Also notable was the dude Alan I mentioned last time, looking trimmer yet, who I don't think had exactly the day he wanted but was still 2 minutes faster than September. Huge props to him for persevering and making the commitment to improve his life.
Therapeutic visits to both frigid Tahoe and delectable In 'n Out followed.
I'll post more soon that includes some photos from the stuff that's made me a stranger to the bike lately ;).
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