Weeks before, I signed up to coordinate Week 6 of the Low-Key Hillclimb Series up Welch Creek Road. Three weeks prior to the race, I drove up the climb with COBA member, David B., and remarked how glad I was that I wasn’t going to be riding this one. It’s a beast at 3.9 miles and 1923 feet of climbing! Some have said that this climb is tougher than Bohlman-On Orbit, which I found to be extremely challenging.
This was my first-time coordinating a race, and Welch Creek offered some challenges from the get-go. First off, there’s no parking alongside Calaveras Road. Permit parking is only available at Welch Creek, due to the fact that the first few miles is through parkland. Thus, my first task was to find a place to stage the race. Talking to other Low-Key members, I discovered the Sunol Glen School, located about 5 miles from the start. The school offered bathroom facilities and ample parking, and it turned out to be a perfect spot to stage. There was a little confusion getting permission to use the facilities, but the school staff and I eventually squared things away after a couple of back and forth trips. Thanks to Dan and Pat for getting me the proper insurance forms to give to the school!
The second challenge was photography and videography. Initially, I had wanted to have this climb well documented in the style of the epic climbing stages in the Tour de France. Unfortunately, the narrow roads and lack of adequate turnouts up Welch Creek made accomplishing this goal very difficult. In the end, I took one car up quickly to the top of the hill and Ron “Dick Demol” Brunner, took the another car filled with three photographers to follow the action. From what he said, it was difficult to follow the action because of the roads and because the leading pack of riders, led once again by Tim Clark, was going to darned fast!
We were first to the top in the Car Division, reaching the summit in 12 minutes. We barely had time to park the car and eat a snack before Tim arrived only 12 minutes later! I had originally thought that the winning time would be 34 minutes, but I must have been thinking about my time up the hill!
The top riders are certainly working for their fast times. I was heartened to see that at the finish, everyone was huffing and puffing. Usually when I get around to finishing 10-20 minutes later, everyone looks so relaxed, sipping on juice boxes, eating pretzels and cookies, and shooting the breeze. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “They suffer too! Muahaha!” Of course, they suffer much more quickly than I do :(
Coordinating a Low-Key race turned out to be pretty fun. I’ll probably do it again next year!
Next week’s it’s time to ride a mountain bike. We’re going up the Windy Hill trail in Portola Valley.
Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make this ride possible: Marty, Howard, Helen, Genti, Kwan, Ron, Christine, and Pat! Also thanks to Genti who used my camera to take the photos in this gallery.