For the second week, the Low-Key Hillclimb Series tackled King’s Mountain. In all of my years of cycling, I’ve only climbed King’s Mountain four times, and all of them were done this year. People typically have a favorite between Old La Honda and King’s, and it’s been clear over the years that OLH has been my choice.
Earlier this year, Jorge, Richard, Derek, and I double-dipped on King’s, climbing the 4.3 mile, 1540 foot ascent twice in one day to prepare for the Death Ride. We took it relatively easy back in March, and I didn’t bother to time each ascents. Fortunately, I had the results of Jorge and Stephen’s ride up King’s last Tuesday. Jorge mentioned that it took them about 32 minutes riding at 90% capacity. 90% is 100% for me, so I figured my finishing time would be about 32 minutes.
The staging area was at the intersection of Alpine and Portola Roads, a good 6.5 miles away from the base of King’s Mountain. Like the OLH climb from last year, people were let out in groups of ten to twenty. This year, Jorge, Stephen, and I left with group number four out of six (or seven). At the start of the easy ride to the base, I already knew that I was going to get dropped; it was just a matter of how many people from groups five and six were going to catch up to me! Sure enough, once we got started climbing King’s, people started zipping away. First Stephen, then Jorge, and then the tandem. Once again, I found myself trudging up the mountain by myself, occasionally getting passed by the fast cyclists from the final starting groups.
Near the top of the climb, my left shoe disengaged from the cleat. I was pushing it to hit the 32 minute mark, and I think it cost me several precious seconds. My finishing time was a respectable 32:18, meaning I was very close to my goal. There were several sections where I could have pushed harder to break 32 minutes, but overall, I’m pretty happy with my performance.
I consider myself a decent cyclist, but the finishing times of the top dogs show how much improvement I have ahead of me. 21:15 for the top rider?!? What do I need to do to get up to that level? Let’s see… there’s the fifteen pounds of blubber that I’ve yet to shed. That alone would result in several minutes. I could drop the seatpost bag, spare tube, and bike pump for another 30 seconds. A new bike might gain me another minute. I still have a ways to go, but I’d be happy with a sub-30 time up King’s and a sub-20 time up OLH. Gotta have goals!
Next week is the dreaded Bohlman-On-Orbit. Last year, this ride was cancelled due to rain. The weekend forecast might have some rain, so there’s a chance we might see a repeat. I’m planning on riding Rae’s bike since it has a triple chainring. I don’t think there’s any way I could survive up Bohlman with just the 34-25 given my current fitness level.
See you next week!