Nowhere To Go But Up

I gave it another go in the "Hill Climb" discipline of bike racing again this morning. Aside from it being uphill, today's race had little in common with the Lookout Mountain hill climb I did 2 weeks ago. That one was short: just 4.5 miles and 1220 feet of climbing, and took me just over 24 minutes to complete... a "sprint" by road racing standards.

Today's race was harder. Much harder. Here are some specs for it:
- Total Elevation Gain: 3226 feet
- Average Ascent Grade: 7.6%
- Maximum Ascent Grade: 23.1%
- Start Elevation: 5509 feet
- Finish Elevation: 8426 feet
- Distance: 9.1 miles, the last 3.5 of which are on dirt. (And just in case you didn't read the post before this one, there was some rain and snow this past week, so the dirt section was a little sloppy.)

I was estimating that it would take me somewhere about an hour to do this climb, so my plan of attack was to get in my "hour effort" pace shortly after the start, and then stay as close to it as I could during the race. The hope was that by doing so, I'd be able to pick people off at the end who went out too hard. That all sounded good in my head. But reality had different plans.

I was doing a good job of keeping my effort where it should be for the first 6 miles or so, but shortly after getting on the dirt section, things began to go metaphorically-downhill. My legs lost their punch and I couldn't keep my power up. So instead of picking people off near the end, I wound up holding on for dear life. (How did the rain and snow effect the upper section? Follow this link to see some photos.) At about 1 mile to go, my legs started coming around again and I could again produce "1 hour power." By this time it was too late, however, and I shut things down a bit given that I had another race on the schedule for tomorrow. Even with shutting things down a bit before the finish, I was tired. This was the first "effort" - training or racing - since I got into the racing scene where I felt the need to take a nap afterward.

Final results: 1h 2m 17s, 25th place out of 31 racers in my category.

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