Old La Honda Low Key Hill Climb

The second Low Key Hill Climb this year is Old La Honda.  Old La Honda is considered the litmus test for any hill climber in the Bay Area.  If you really want to gauge how well you are as a climber, and live in the Bay Area, this is the climb you have to do.

I left from home to the start, which is actually at Windy Hill parking lot.  I got there at around 9 am, which was way too early.  We wouldn’t actually start until around 10:15 am.  It was also a bit nippy.  Luckily, by the time we started, the sun popped out, making it a glorious day.  Still needed to keep arm warmers and leg warmers on, but didn’t need the jacket.

There were a total of 140 participants today.  There was a good mix of riders … even had a unicyclist participate …

That was just amazing.  Here are the rest of us, struggling just to make it up the hill, and here is this unicyclist making it up the hill.  I can hardly go 10 feet on a unicycle.

We also had a mom and daughter come on the ride.  So the youngest participant was 5 years old … that’s just great!

They had it set up so they would bring up 10 riders at a time, separated by a couple minutes, or something like that. I like how they arranged it in terms of how fast riders could finish the climb. The first group that went were those that could do a 16 minute climb … This was so that no one would be out there all alone, and the “endurance” riders were the last to start. I think that described me … so I waited to start last … or at least in the last group. Coincidentally, that meant I started with a bunch of women

Unfortunately, Marco and Ruth could not make it.  They had some last minute mechanical problems.  I guess they had a problem with the cassette.  I talked to a few of the Low Key volunteers, and they were really looking forward to seeing the Calfee tandem.  I guess they’ll have to wait till next week.

From Windy Hill to the official start of the hill climb has a slight downhill, so there was no hard pedaling to do to get to the start.  While riding over, I think the excitement of it all was getting to me, so I had some nervous energy, speeding down to the start.  I had my chain on my big chain ring, and when we started the climb, I was still in my big chain ring.  I decided I’ll see how long I can go on the big chain ring.  Plus, this does give me a fast start up the hill.

It was an interesting contrast, having me in the big chain ring, and I was riding behind this other rider, who was in his granny, spinning like a gerbel.  My initial thought was the way he was spinning like that, he will get himself all tired out.

I think I got up about 1 mile on the hill before I had to shift up to my middle chain ring.  It was nice to ride up in the big chain ring for a while.  All along, I know I’m really mashing the gears, and keeping my heart rate up.  I remember looking at my Garmin while doing the climb, but only thing I can remember was the elapsed time.  By the time I got passed Upenuf, it was around the 20 minute mark.  Then, I was thinking, I might actually surpass my personal best.  Final few turns, and time to shift to my granny, and pedal even harder.  My heartrate at this point was beyond zone 5 … it was gone upwards to 179 bpm.  I got to the finish, and my time registered was 24:53.

photo: j.hadley

photo: j.hadley

Wow!  24:53 … I was shooting for 29:00, so this was fantastic.  I had no idea how well I was doing.  I just hope I can keep it up.  That was a lot of fun … I felt really strong out there.  This completely made my day today!

After catching up with Ramon, Eric, Ben, and Donald, we decided to go down 84 … and while we are here, we might as well do Summit Springs.  It’s a nice short, but very steep (top grade is about 16%) out and back hill climb.  By the time we finished it all, I got in 52 miles, and 3230 feet of climbing.  Not bad for an off season Saturday ride.


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