Cycling, Exercise

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2008 #1: Montebello Road

Adam up Montebello Road

The 2008 Low-Key Hillclimbs started today with the usual climb up Montebello. Unlike the last two ascents up 5.3 mile road in Cupertino, the weather was decidedly cooler and wetter. Rain threatened the start of the race and only began to come down near the end of the ride for me.

While I have been running and swimming this summer, I have not been doing any cycling. As the weeks ticked down to the start of the LKHC series, I wondered how my fitness level on the bike would be after a steady diet of 3, 6, and 12 mile runs. Let me tell you right off the bat, running is no substitute for hill climbing on a bike!

I decided to take it “easy” up Montebello today, since I didn’t want to hurt myself seeing this was my first climb of the year. Other people, like Murali, Stephen, and Richard have been cycling throughout the year, so I knew they would do great. Murali completed the Death Ride this year and the California Triple Crown (three double-centuries). He certainly looked much fitter than last year, and I predicted a stellar time of 40:30 for him. Stephen, as always, looked very strong, and I calculated he would fly up Montebello in 37 minutes. Richard was humble about his training, but I knew the tiger was waiting to pounce on the hill; for him, I guessed 43 minutes.

As for me, I would be happy with 45 minutes, though I knew that would be difficult to accomplish. As the climb began and I saw Murali, Stephen, and Richard fading in the foreground, I knew I was in for a long, wet day in the saddle. I sat back and just chugged my way up Montebello. Once again, the false summits fooled me, as I continually thought I was closer to the end only to see another hill appear before my very eyes. As the clock ticked passed 45 minutes, I knew that a reasonable time would now be 50 minutes. Sure enough, according to my clock, I just made it under the 50-minute mark. I suspect the official time will be right at 50-minutes. That’s a far cry away from my personal best of 39:30, but hey… not bad for someone who hasn’t been riding all year!

As for Murali, Stephen, and Richard, they almost to the second hit the times that I predicted. I wish those skills would have come in handy last week before the whole stock market meltdown!

At the top, it was cold and very wet. Stephen and I took our dear time getting down to the base. My hands hurt so much as they were on the brakes nearly the entire time. I’ve never liked wet roads, and so the combination of the steep descent with the rain made for an unenjoyable descent. Before the ride, we paid our respects to the two cyclists who were killed very close to the start of the ride earlier this year. When we lived in Cupertino, Rae and I used to ride by the spot of the accident all the time. Life is precious… enjoy every second of it!

This year, I won’t be able to complete all of the climbs, breaking my two-year streak. I’m off to San Diego for a wedding next week, and I’ll be volunteering on Quimby Road the week thereafter. That said, there’s still the possibility that I can snatch the Endurance Award this year!

Photo of me finishing Montebello by Josh Hadley

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