Portola State Park LKHC – Not For the Weak and Timid

 

Start of LKHC ... Also entrance to the state park

 

This week’s LKHC was interesting.  It starts out at the entrance to Portola State Park, and it climbs up to West Alpine, and continues there to the summit.  They had us all check in at Montebello Open Space Preserve, just below the summit at Skyline on Page Mill.  Then, we rode down 2000 feet at the entrance of the state park, where we waited, and waited, and waited.

I decided to ride over, via Moody then Page Mill.  Just so that I would still have legs, I took it easy going up, and left really early (around 7:30 am from my house).  It was really foggy, but the sun was starting to come out.

 

View from Page Mill overlooking Silicon Valley

 

Once I got to some decent elevation (~ 1800 feet), I climbed above the clouds, and got some spectacular views.  Leaving so early, I could tell I would be a little early to registration, so that did give me some opportunity to take some pictures.

Knowing that everyone would want to hit the bathroom, as soon as I got myself registered, I immediately headed for Russian Ridge, where they have a bathroom.  Ahhh, that felt good.  Went back to meet up with Chris, Donald, Marco, Ruth, just to head back where I was, then head down to the start at the entrance of the park.  This was a long way down, and it takes a little while to get to.  We had pretty good representation of bikeforums on this LKHC.  We had 6 members of our team, pretty good representation.  It remains to be seen how high we place as a team.

They told us it would start around 10:15 am, but by that time, we still could only see a handful of cyclists.  My bet was they were waiting above the start, so they could get some sun (it was a bit cool in the shade where we were).  Some of the cyclists were hovering in front of the state park sign, so some of the cars who wanted to enter the park didn’t know if they were at the right place.  Ooops.

 

Pack of cyclists arriving at the start of the LKHC

 

From the start, we immediately have to climb, about a 15% grade.  So already, we have to make sure we are in our granny gear.  That caused a lot of cyclists to not being able to clip in, and not go off to the greatest starts (um, like me).

I was positioned near the front, which was not the best place, since I know people will be passing my left and right, and they were.  I was just fearing I would be DFL (dead fucking last).  But there were a few people I was able to pass, so that helped build my confidence a little bit.  Marco and Ruth were still just ahead of me, and they were in my sights, so that also helped me out a little bit.

Climbing out of the park would have to be the toughest part.  It had 15% stretches then down to 8 then back up to 15%.  But at least I descended this hill first, so I know what to expect and when the climbing gets easier … did I say climbing gets easier???

 

Climbing out of Portola State Park

Now that we’re out of the park, at least we will be a little warmed up by the sun.  I’m working really hard to close the gap with Marco and Ruth, but they are still at least 1000 yards ahead of me.  I gotta somehow dig down deeper, in the pit of my gut, to get those extra watts of power to get up this hill.  I guess that’s where the face of agony comes in as evidence in the picture below.

 

Face of Agony

Showing this agony seemed to have helped.  I could see my gap shorting now to Marco and Ruth.  I finally was able to catch them, but I was really dying.  There’s only so much energy a man can muster and only so hard he can be inhaling and exhaling our out of his lungs.

I finally am able to pass them, then eventually I pass another rider.  I’m very close to the finish, as I can see with the “200 paces to go” sign.  I have just enough energy to up shift a couple of gears, and gut it all out.

 

Approaching the summit/finish

 

Coming around the corner, one of the riders off to the side was yelling words of encouragement and motivation, and that really did help a lot.  It’s amazing how much support you’ll get from your fellow riders.  Finally, I see the finish, but stupid me … I let up just before the actual line, so I actually coasted the last 100 feet.  Doh!  Well, it probably didn’t lose too much time .. maybe 5 seconds or so.  I wound up in 101st place, with a time of 40:07 (which is still a little longer than what strava is saying … it indicates 39:53).  As a team, bikeforums.net came in 6th place (just 2 points behind Penn Velo … damn, it’s that last 100 feet of coasting that probably did it).

For the whole ride, I ended up with 53.3 miles, 5067 feet climbing.  It was a great day for this ride … not too hot, not cold, and no rain … plus, I got to finish my ride by 1 pm.  Woohoo!!!!

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