In Week 5 of the Low-Key Hillclimbs Series we did a time trial up the backside of Highway 84 and West Old Honda road. After volunteering for the previous week, I was eager to get back onto the saddle and test myself against the clock. Unfortunately, I almost pulled a Pedro Delgado and ended up putting it one of my worst efforts. Every year, misfortune seems to befall me on one of the Low-Key climbs!
The start was at the San Gregorio Store at the near Highway 1 and Highway 84. Since I was coordinating the following week’s ride up Welch Creek, I planned to park my car up at the finish on Skyline and West Old La Honda Road. An early ride and drive up to Skyline via Woodside gave me plenty of time to descend 15 miles to the start — a good warmup plan in my mind. I parked at the Windy Hill Preserve parking lot, unpacked my bike, and… inexplicably… went left. I had thought that the intersection of Old La Honda and Skyline was to my left, but in reality, it was less than one mile to the right. I rode… up and up Skyline for over five miles before I saw the signs for Page Mill Road. I realized at that point that I was seriously lost, thinking in my mind that I couldn’t have possibly have missed the turnoff to Old La Honda.
It was already well past 9:00 am, and my time trial had already begun. I had to go 21 miles to get to the start in under an hour. Could I make it? The initial five miles back to the car was fortunately downhill. The mile to the corner of Skyline and Old La Honda — I still don’t know how I missed it while driving — was slightly uphill. By the time I had gotten to the intersection, I had a little over 30 minutes to go the final 15 downhill miles. I estimated my average speed to get there exactly at 10:10 am would have to have been 28 mph. It’s windy, not straight, down West Old Honda, so I had to manage my speed properly so as not to spin out and crash. My legs were already tiring from the effort I had given up to this point; I was openly wondering how much energy would be left in the tank for the time trial. By the time I had passed the 10:10 am mark, I was even questioning whether or not I was on the right road to get to the San Gregorio Store, as I’m not very familiar with rides on the other side of Skyline.
Fortunately, the yellow stickers on the helmets of the riders going the other direction gave me solace. These were Low-Key Riders. I even recognized them as we passed each other: Kelly, Stephen, and Tim. After my little 11 mile detour, I was going to make it to the start!
I ended up being the third to last rider to leave the starting gate at roughly 10:30 am. With such little recovery time, I didn’t have much energy left for the hammer-on-the-flats initial portion of the ride. Looking at the split time results, I came in last place, covering the 7.5 miles in 25:51. My time up 84 and West Old La Honda was a little better, and I finished the remaining 6.5 miles in 34:17. Had I not taken a 25-mile warmup, I think I could have bested both of those times by a few minutes. Next year!