Sunday, May 07, 2006

Town Mountain Road Hill Climb

Friday was the Town Mountain Road Hill Climb here in Asheville. This is a 5 mile course that starts right downtown and climbs up about 1500 ft. The first 1.5 miles is super steep (15%?), then it levels off and kind of stair steps up to the top. I held the record on the "new" course with 18:24. I say new course because in 2002 the course was about 300 meters shorter and that year was the revival of the race. At that time there was a $1000.00 bonus offered to the rider who could break the standing record and none other than Scott Moniger showed up and decimated it with something like a 16:09. I think I rode an 18:12 that year....for 5th place behind a bunch of pros like Chris Sheppard and Ceasar Grajales. The new course is between 20-30 seconds longer (downhill) than the old one. I set the new course record in 2004 (I think) on a beautiful spring day.

OK, enough ancient history. This year there was a $500.00 bonus on offer to break my record...which in my estimation was extremely breakable by anyone who is a real climber. I figured my fitness is at least as good as a couple of years ago and I came within about a minute of my time in training a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I could go better than the record. The question was: would anybody faster than me show up? Potential candidats were: Dan Timmerman just off his 2nd place GC at Shenandoah, Larry Perrera, or Hugh Moran. All are in the area and could come out and best me. Justin England who would surely KILL the record was out doing the Tour of the Gila.

The event got started in a steady cold rain on friday evening. Dan and Larry showed up....seeing Dan I was sure that I would not get the best time of the night...but would the record fall? I hoped that I could at least beat my old time, regardless of how much faster Dan went. I got a great warm-up and my legs actually felt supple and rested. My only complaint was that with all the pollen out lately I have had some breathing troubles.....but whatever. I put tons of warming oil on my legs and was off to the start. It was cold, but during the ride up I was completely comfortable.

I started well and did the first 1.5 miles within myself and was right on target, or even a little ahead of my goal to that point. The bike actually felt fast, my speed looked good and legs felt ok. Onto the flatter part, the air felt a little heavy with some serious fog and still steady was actually kind of epic...although you can hardly call a <20 minute event epic. As I entered the last mile or so I noticed that my power was a little lower than what I would have expected to be pushing....but I couldn't really get any more out of myself, so I just rode. I remember crossing the "old" finish line at about 18 minutes flat (which would have been exactly even with my old record split to that point) so I knew it was going to be close. I finished in 18:30...just outside the old record :( ...but I felt pretty good about the ride.

As I was heading down I stopped to cheer on Cara, and then was waiting for her to ride down. This was a bit of a mistake as I just got really cold and eventually left to go down before she showed up. The ride down was absolutely freezing...I think it was harder than going up. So Dan smashed the record with a 17:50...a good time, but I wager he will go even faster if he is around next year. I was certainly not surprised...I figured he would beat me by about 30 seconds, but it was in fact 40. Ahhh to be 23 again! Dan is on track to be a big pro road race star in the next few years, so I cetainly can't feel too bad about coming second to him.....

As per the graph above: my average power was 346 watts for the 18:30. This is a little lower than I would have expected....but not too much. At about 146lbs (66.36Kg) that puts me at about 5.21 watts/Kg. You will notice that the power/speed / cadence all fluctuate a lot over the ride. This speaks to the fact that the course in quite variable as far as grade etc.... While it IS certainly a hillclimb, it is technical in respect to pacing and gearing. I did use my mini clip-on aero bars and spent proably half of the distance (but less than half the time) in them. I think if the weather was nice I WOULD have bested my old record and considering the conditions I was relatively happy...hopefully next year I can put up a bettter time...and it is good to know that I am not getting any slower...but I don't think I will ever break 18 minutes on this course....a2

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