Mt Hamilton vs Kings Mt
With Mt Hamilton RR coming up this weekend, I had the chance to go out and recon the climb the other day. Its been a while since I made the ascent and I had almost forgotten how amazing it really is. I love that it is a never ending steady and twisting paved version of the original dirt wagon trail used to bring materials up to the summit for constructing the Lick Observatory. The oaks and manzanita remind me of home, while the white domes loom over head, mocking you until your efforts finally pay off. Being the highest point in the bay area and the feeling of being far removed from the everyday grind, makes this one of my favorite climbs.
In my efforts of training for Mt Hamilton RR I decided to do my climbing workout around Woodside today. I was blessed by gods of the four winds with a perfect ride up, down, up, down, up, down … to hwy 35 via Kings Mt and some other climbs in the area. It is hard to describe just how much I love this climb. Something about the enclosure of the trees, the slightly steeper grade, the various changes from pine to oak and back to pine, the small canyons and trickling streams, and the tight switchbacks, makes this one of my favorites. When you really go full gas all the way up this climb feels like your moving through a epic montage of classical terrain. You become numb to the pain as the climb overwhelms your senses and all you want to do is push harder.
Which one do you like more???
Got dropped twice in the first thirty minutes. Chased back on twice. Got dropped a third time about thirty minutes later, and decided it was not my day. It felt like we sprinted out of the saddle, into the wind, out of every corner, from the gun. The field was so small that there was nowhere to hide. You were either strung out and chasing whoever decided they wanted to break this time, or you were off the back letting the wind beat you. I rolled over the line on my third lap defeated and angry with myself, and decided I’d at least spin one more so that I could finish half the race.
I turned the last corner on my “cool-down” and was ready to peel off when they caught me. A bunch of 700s blew by, and I hit the gas to catch up with them. It took the group nearly 30 minutes to catch me! I ended up doing the last five laps with what was left of the 3s “field”. There were eight when I jumped on. We whittled that down to three by the last lap. I won the “sprint” to get not-DFL, and rolled back to the car happy that I finished.
Scratch - Willie Myers (Marc Pro-Strava) went off with 15 to go in a 25 lap race. As the pace picked up, small gaps started to open as various riders blew up. Someone in front of Tim Tsuruda (Chica Sexy) and I gapped us off so we were forced to chase back on inside ten to go. Once we got back in, nobody in the main group wanted to chase down Willie. If nobody went, he would take it off the front. I knew that if I went, I wouldn’t win the race. If Tim went, I might win the race. I decided to go for it from three laps out. I caught Willie with about half a lap left and then three riders came over us before we hit the line. Tim won it.
Snowball - This was strung out/broken up from the gun. I think Willie won it off the front.
Points - My only goal in this race was to follow Beth Newell (NOW and Novartis for MS). She is the reigning Women’s National Points Race champion and a strong racer. I figured if I could stick her wheel, I could finish well and learn something. Beth, Willie, one other rider, and I ended up lapping the broken up field and I was able to contest a few of the last sprints in the 50 lap race. It was the first time I haven’t gotten dropped/lapped in a race that long, and I finished fourth overall. Thanks Beth!
Yesterday was a perfect day to switch things up and “press the reset button” as they say. I’ve had a bunch of family in town for my wife’s graduation, and it was a great week. That being said, I’m ready to focus again, and prepare for this weekend’s races. T-minus less than 3 weeks until Zach, Fergus, and I leave for Tulsa Tough.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day in Marin. I’m pretty sure if I lived on this side of the bridge, the usage of road bike vs mtn bike would be reversed.
Thanks for reading. -Joe
So hot. All the Red Kites have been hot, but I was feeling it more this time. I got there early enough to get in my whole warm up and then some. I set up in the grass near the start/finish, so I had a lot of time to think tactics while watching the races before ours. This weekend’s setup moved the start/finish to the backside of the original course, out of the last 90* right and just before the ‘chicane’ (more like wide open sweeper that people have real issues dealing with for some reason). If it came down to a sprint finish that last corner would be sketchy. Would be nice to get in a break with someone from Suffolk-SunPower and Leopard-Sapporo as they both had huge numbers in the field.
The last Red Kite 3/4 was hilariously slow at the beginning so I decided it was time to test them. I hit it off the whistle and brought us up to a nice ~28mph. I looked back at a strung out field behind me, but they were chasing. I was happy that the pace picked up early and stayed that way so I sat back into the back and started watching the teams move. Leopard-Sapporo had two riders policing the front for most of the race, Ansel Mills in particular. I’ve raced with him before and knew he was fast, so I marked him. The Suffolk-SunPower guys have been showing up consistently to all the flat crits, and I know most of them from last year so I already knew who to watch. Tom Edwards (Sonoma State) was also in the field. He has a strong kilo that has gotten him results before.
A bunch of small break attempts went, but nothing stuck as the pace picked up for each prime. I was stoked to see a 3/4 field go so hard for the primes as well…doesn’t usually happen like that. Fast forward to when the lap cards went up. Seven to go. I decided nothing was happening yet, so I’d wait until five to go and then move up. Five to go. Moved up. Saw my boy Al up there in position and was stoked on that. Keep it up brehhh! Another break rolled off and got a gap. I felt like it was too risky to go with them so I sat up front and let it happen. Tom, two Leopard-Sapporo riders, and my track buddy Raul Arias (SJBC) were in it and making ground on the pack. Ansel was doing a perfect job blocking the front of the pack. Nobody was answering. If nobody attacked, they were going to take it (where you at Suffolk-SunPower?!).
They were substantially away by three to go and I decided it was time to lay it down. If I was going to sprint today, I wasn’t going to do it for FIF place. I came around Ansel and pulled whoever could keep up with me. I was on the front until we caught them with less than one to go. Just like Golden State, this is where the teams with big numbers should have countered and made the race easy for themselves to win, and safe for everyone else to finish. And just like Golden State, it didn’t happen. Tom made another go two corners out, and the pack answered. It got super messy and spread out hammering into the last corner and I decided that was my race. All things considered, I had a decent race so far and I didn’t want to risk it diving a last corner to sprint for maybe top ten. Chris Leibman (Suffolk-SunPower) and his teammate went 1/2, and Ansel came in third. Good job guys!
Scratch - I lost count of the laps and thought we had one more than we did. When I realized I was failing at positioning for the sprint (already too late), I decided I should still try to make a move. I might have passed 10-15 people before I hit the line. Not sure how I placed, but I felt good. If I made that move from the right spot I would have been in the points!
Win N Out - The P/1/2 field has been so strong lately that my go-to marks and strategies are all changing. Going for first in the Win N Out is always risky because if you don’t get it, chances are you will come in last. Everyone thinks they can win second. I figured I’d keep it realistic and go for third. I paced the first two sprints and happened to rotate to the front of the line as Rob Evans (Bear Development Team) and Keith Hillier (Marc Pro-Strava) grew their gap off the front. I actually didn’t think I could close it, but I’m not one to give up. I went for it and caught them into turn three. I came around Rob through turn four and just got Keith at the line. Not bad!
Miss N Out - There were certain 3’s that elected to move up and race with us today because the 3/4 field was full. I was playing the devil the whole race, and ended up getting out because of one of those 3’s who had been out for multiple laps and didn’t know what he was doing. That’s not exactly what I want to be worrying about in the Miss N Out…try again next week. Wamp wamp.
Points - Larry called 50 laps with sprints at 5. LOL. I decided I should try and learn something so I marked Dave McCook (Team Clif Bar Cycling). He took it surprisingly easy in the beginning and slipped into the back of the pack. I slowly moved up with him through the first few sprints. He didn’t go for anything. When the sprint for either 35 or 30 came up we were near the front and everyone peeled off, including McCook. I saw the opening so I took it. I won the sprint, but I knew that would make me struggle the rest of the race. After the next two I was off the back and resigned to chugging along until I finished my laps. McCook was the first one to lap me…poetic. I think he also won the omnium. I still have a lot to learn, and new things to try every week.