Today I rode in the first round of the Low Key Hill Climb series - Montebello road.
I'd never ridden up Montebello before, so I was a bit apprehensive going into the event. I'd attempted it once about 18 months ago, but turned around after about 200 yards thinking "No way!" I've lost about 30 pounds since then, gotten stronger, and added lower gears to my bike!
Between all of those factors I should be able to get up the hill, and that was my goal: Finish without stopping.
My wife graciously agreed to provide base-camp support at the parking lot near Steven's Creek Reservoir where the registration and staging were to take place. We arrived shortly after 9:00, and I located the registration table. During registration I was asked to declare my category, but encouraged to make one up if I didn't feel like anything else applied. I signed up for the Heavyweight class, since I'm 250lbs. It was generally (and jovially) confirmed all around the table that I definately had the qualifications for the class.
With registration out of the way, I rode around the parking lot of the reservoir a bit to warm up. The temperatures were quite low, but that didn't keep several folks from showing up with fishing poles. Who knowws if the fish were jumping, I had a hillclimb to focus on!
At approximately 9:45 we gathered for a quick pre-race meeting at the exit of the parking lot, and then headed off to the base of the hill. I set myself up at the back of the field, so as not to be in anyone's way, and shifted down into the granny gear. At exactly 10:00, the lead car honked its horn and the race was on! At least, I expect it was on at the sharp end of the field - I simply rounded the corner onto Montebello at the back of the long conga line and began to climb.
Montebello road breaks down into roughly three sections: Before the school, the flat middle, and the final 2 miles. Before the school is quite steep with few letups. After approximately a mile and a half, you'll encounter the Montebello School which ushers in a mile or so of flat and even downhill riding. Following this respite, the grade kicks back up, with the final mile rivaling the initial mile in steepness. About halfway up to the school, I hooked up with another rider named Craig, and we rode most of the rest of the way together. I was more than happy to have a bit of tactical expertise, and Craig's ridden Montebello many times although he claimed that his most recent trip up the hill was 20 years ago! Once we reached the school, we both shifted up to the middle ring and tried to claw back some time while the riding was easy(-er). It's always nice to have a respite in the middle of a hill to recharge your batteries and rejuvenate you for the final assault.
And assault we did, albeit at sub-10mph speeds.
About a mile into the final section, Craig pulled away from me and I couldn't follow. I managed to pass a few folks on the way up the hill, including one in the final 200 yards. It's amazing how deeply you can dig when you can see the finish line. The volunteers at the finish line told me my time, but at this point I can't recall it. Craig finished in 53', and I was probably a couple of minutes behind that. The hillclimb was a blast, with quite nice refreshments at the top. Big thanks to all involved in putting on the event, and I'll definately be back for the next round.