On Tuesday I got out and rode a few climbs in the South Bay. I went up Jefferson via Highland, which has been as close to a benchmark as I have, and managed to break the 10 minute barrier, lopping 5 seconds off my PR. I cruised through Portola Valley and since I was feeling good, took it hard across Arastradero and despite a headwind, took a few seconds off that PR. I ended up on Mt Eden and had a decent climb, cracking towards the top but was 30 something seconds faster than a year ago on a 4 minute climb. This all served to spin my legs up for Wednesday's main course.
On Wednesday myself and 7 other crazies hit the BART station at 5 AM and went out to Dublin to take on Mines Road and the backside of Mt Hamilton. I had done this ride exactly one year earlier so this would provide an interesting comparison. We rolled out towards Mines and hit the first climb shortly after the turnoff to Lake Del Valle.
I felt pretty uncomfortable on this one but that was OK because the pace was really quite fast. There wasn't a lot of chatting, and I was going to have to dig to stay with the group as we had assembled a really tough crew. I came over the top in 11:03, which is actually on the front page for the Strava segment (that won't last as there will be a lot of people riding this road very hard next week when the Amgen Tour comes through). Unfortunately this was 5 seconds off from the front 6 riders. I struggled to close the gap, and each time I got close, we'd hit some little roller and Brooks would hammer over the roller and open the gap back up. There are about a mile of rollers and by the end of them I was 20 seconds back. That meant I wouldn't see anyone for the next 15 miles or so. Fortunately Bret Lobree also got popped on the rollers so we had each other for company and even looked at a bit of the scenery. My time up that initial climb and rollers was 10-15 percent faster than the year before, so that's pretty good.
We regrouped at the junction and collected our thoughts for the test ahead. There are 2 little 1 mile or so pitches before the main event. The first one is a timed Strava climb held by Ammon Skidmore on last years ride where he really flew up this climb. Last year I was 9:12 on this climb, this year 7:27 despite misjudging the summit (my colleagues saw the true summit and attacked through the top). I felt pretty good on the second lead in as well, and we regrouped at the bridge.
I was feeling pretty worked at this point and when we started up the backside I threw in the towel and didn't try to follow the leaders. Nonetheless at my own tempo I did the 4.3 mile 8.4% climb in 39.32, 7 minutes faster than last year. I really felt undergeared (the leaders were all running compacts) - which meant I was VERY undergeared last year. I'm really pleased with this effort. Also pleased by chopping my time on the 19 mile descent from 59 minutes to 50 minutes. A lot of that was being better able to deal with the intermediate climbs but I didn't really lose sight of the lead group until said intermediate climbs. Overall a great day out on the bike and a confirmation of the hard work this year.
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