Today, July 25, 2009, we had the inaugural Northern California Bikeforum King of the Mountain Challenge. The mountain we were climbing is Mt. Diablo. How appropriate that we have our local epic climb, on the same day that the Tour de France has the epic Mont Ventoux stage. I was watching Versus this morning, and they were describing how much of a beast the climb up to the bald mountain at Mont Ventoux is. This reminded me, to a smaller degree, of Mt. Diablo. The vast hill side, just seems like such a long journey, and it seems to never end.
The main idea behind this KOM challenge is interesting. Previously, we submitted estimates of our personal best going up Mt. Diablo. Then, our start times were staggered, in such a way that if our times were accurate, we should arrive at the top at about the same time. So in a way, this was a climbing time trial. Is this cool, or what?
My start time was at 8:58 am. I was all ready and prepared to start off, and I was adjusting my computer, but then I lost my balance, and …. oops! I took a spill. I estimate I was going around 5-10 mph, and I hit pavement. The bulk of the impact was on my right knee, braced the impact with my left hand, and I believe my face hit the ground too. This was mostly embarrassment, but this did sting quite a bit, first on my right knee, but also on my left pinky. Man, what a way to start off this climb.
As I climb, I am able to grip my handle bar fine, but the left side was a little tender. I’m still able to power my way up the hill, but I was cautious going up, as this is a long climb up, and the top is up at 3840 feet.
The top thought on my mind was to make sure I didn’t get passed by anyone starting behind me (although everyone behind me are stronger climbers). I was feeling good, and the sting in the legs didn’t really bother me too much. I got to the ranger’s station, and no one from the KOM challenge did pass me yet. I did see Tricia resting at the Ranger’s Station, and I yelled out hi, but wanted to continue up to the peak. I did not stop … needed to get the momentum going.
A little bit after continuing the climb, I did get caught. AlainP passes me up, followed by Tricia a little bit later. Although I got passed, it didn’t bother me. My goal was to get to the Ranger’s Station without getting past … this was a good day. Near the top, I see Ruth, and she was getting a bit tired. She had to stop and rest, meanwhile I continued on. Eventually, about 1 mile from the top, more riders start passing me. First, Michael, then Chris, then Ramon.
About 3 switchbacks from the top, my lower back is starting to wince in pain. This is expected, even if I didn’t have my tumble in the parking lot. I started to alternate between sitting during the climb, and standing up. I decided to start down shifting a couple cogs when I stood, then shift back to my granny when sitting. That seemed to be working, as the pain in my back seem to subside. Then, I see the fork in the road, indicating about 500 feet left, and the climb pitches up. At this point, it’s time to push it up the final climb. I see Marco climbing up, and out of the corner of my eye, I see Alex walking the final hundred feet of the climb. I need to make it all the way, and even though everything is aching, I need to push the pain deep down, and exert all the energy I have and just turn the crank over. I have no idea how much speed I was going up this climb, but my HRM showed something to the effect of 187 bpm.
Later on, everyone was commented on how I’m able to sprint up the last 500 feet of such a long and steep climb. I guess I’ve always had the burst of energy to do this, and I just wanted to get it over with.
My final time was a little longer than my original estimate. When I eyeballed my Garmin, I estimate the final time up to the top was 93 minutes, but later, when looking at the data, it showed up as 95 minutes. Oh well … I wonder how much time the fall affected my climbing time.
There was a good turnout for this. After everyone got up to the top, we got a nice group shot. Very good representation of the BF group. This was a fun ride and event. I can’t wait for the next KOM challenge. Big kudos to Richard for putting this together.