Time for the hill climb! When the hill climb came around, I was still high from the previous race, which was a good thing. It was a 9 mile climb, I wasn't sure about the elevation gain. I had seen the switchbacks the day before, and likened it to a couple of climbs around SB that I enjoy very much. So I was trying to think of it as fun, as I used to think I was a climber (before I met my teammate Susie who can drop me like a rock on climbs). I spun out as I was supposed to, and I was pretty psyched for it.
It was pretty warm when it started. It is a bit deceiving. The first few miles before you even get to the 'climb' were still uphill! My bike has a beautiful set of gears with an 11-26 spread! This gives me the climbing gear to spin up all but the steepest sections (I don't even use it that much...but it can help to be able to spin a 70 cadence on really quite steep slopes), but yet gives me that extra bottom end for the descending that I love so much.
I led the group up to the cattle crossing at the turn. It wasn't that windy, so I didn't feel like I was doing that much extra work, and the lack of stress associated with not have to follow a potentially sketchy wheel while climbing was ll worth it. I knew that I was just going to take the climb at my own pace. A group of us started up, and I think there were 6 or 7 in our group. I felt fine and in the groove for the first couple miles, but then I realized that I was working a bit hard in this section, and I needed to back off. I have the desire to nearly outride my ability (thus potentially puking, blowing up, bonking....anything can happen) so at least I realized it this time before it happened! I backed off, and watched a few of them get a leg up on me. However, as my coach said it would, I started reeling them back in. I passed the water stop nearly on my own, and didn't take water. I was in a groove, and still had too much water (feeling lame for bringing 2 water bottles), but the 'wow, you're a stud' comment from the feeders didn't hurt the old ego :-). I kept thinking about breathing, hearing the energetic songs from my warmup ipod track still thumping in my head, spinning easy, rhythm, etc. Soon I caught up to a metromint girl, who I knew was just near the lead pack. WE climbed together...we were really similar in climbing ability that day. We shared the climbing for the last couple of miles. We were reeling in the leaders by this point. I had been informally timing them as they passed landmarks to see what the time gap was (ever the engineer...geeky as usual), and we were cutting it... The 1 mile to go sign was nice..but it really was more than 1! Sarah (metromint) and i had some choice words for that when a mile was up and the finish was not in sight! When I finally did see the finish, the adrenaline rush allowed me to ride away from Sarah and zoom for the line. That was fun to look at on my ibike file!
I didn't win, but I finished strong...and that made me pleased. And the descent down the mountain, well, that was amazing. I love descending, and that was a fun one. I held back quite a bit due to all the other riders, but it was still fun!
The cold water at the top was most excellent, too!!
Ciao--one report to go...that one will have to wait for tomorrow...