Race Report and Results: Lookout Mountain Hill Climb, Golden, CO - Vic's Espresso
Riders: Joe Paulson, Burt Henry
Author: Burt Henry
It stayed dry today, but was cold and very foggy on the upper half of the mountain. I got a really good warmup after 2 easy recovery days following Wednesday at Cherry Creek.
I rolled to the line and saw no teammates and started near the back of 40 riders. 500 meters another rider and myself were slugging it out for 40th place (no joke). I had no idea how I would do, but I approached it just like a TT. I knew riders would blow and I knew what I was capable of so I didn't get sucked in.
Sure enough before the end of the first k, I started passing riders. Then I started passing alot of riders and really fast. It was a steady stream of "on your left/right at times." This was very motivating. I saw a teammate in the distance and kept my steady power output. I can't remember, but I think Joe said something as I went past. I was completely in the TT zone.
Just before the first big left turn I caught a group of 6 riders. They were going pretty fast, so I sat in. It was hard but manageable. It looked like 3 Mix, 1 Excel, 1 Great Divide, and a Vitamin Cottage. I stayed tagged on there as the Mix riders seemed to ride at the front. I was sure Jimi was well up the road.
We then hit the less steep section and were in the fog now. This felt easy, so I actually attacked and the mix guys and the VC rider jumped on me. Wait a minute, that was Wayne Watson. What is he doing here? Having a bad day?
After about 150M I had put myself into the red and eased off. That effort had dropped the G. D. rider. At the left before the upper switchbacks I made out 3 riders through the fog about 12-15 seconds ahead. I had absolutely no idea at the time, but it was Jimi Gibson, Bruce Polderman and Bruce Hodgkins which was the front of the race. I had passed over 30 riders to get up there.
Going into the first switchback, a Mix guy was dropped so we were down to 5 now. After the first steep switchback, my large frame got me and I fell out of the bunch.
After the switchbacks, I was 10-12 seconds back on the long stretch. I dug down (oh man it hurt) and got back on! That put me into the red again and I am such a heavy breather anyway, my arrival was well forecast.
Perhaps sensing a slowdown, Wayne went to the front before the big sweeping left turn and I was bye bye. I still kept plugging away. Ahead of me the Excel rider got dropped maybe 50 yards ahead. I held him there and on the last uphill before the flat section I put it in the big ring and gave it everything while still in the saddle to keep from losing my breathing completely. I hit the flat and gained speed. The Excel rider looked back at 250 or so and saw me coming fast. He got out of the saddle to sprint but I had too much speed and cruised past still in the saddle.
I was in super scary oxygen debt at the finish, but upon cooling down and talking to the Chris Leggre and Jimi (I'm trying to learn the players) I thought I had cracked the top 10. Wow, I was estatic...My best ever hillclimb result was this race in 2000, 13th in the 35+.
I actually finished 7th in 20:09, 25 seconds behind the winner Bruce Hodgkins. Joe rolled in 21st (I think in 21:39).
It was interesting to note how riders perceive power output. At the start, nerves and adrenaline make 500 watts seem easy. This is why riders rode fast away from me at the start. 60-90 seconds later anaerobic metabolism forces them to slow, so they go from 500W to 250W or worse while suffering and trying to recover. When I was passing those riders I was producing no more watts than I was during the first 500 meters.
This is where training with a power meter is so important. If you do it religeously (I have for 8 years) and understand physiologically what is happening with your body you can get better results. I would have to think that this experience really helped me get everything out of my legs today and maybe beat some more talented climbers than myself.