Breaking down the seventh trip up the hill

Bob Blais just sent me an email I found really interesting.

“Saw the post on Strava about your warmup ride.  MAJOR BUMMER.  But, even with that time and the clear issues your ran into, including the wind, you gotta feel good about what you could possibly do on race day.  Right?”

I could never have had this observation.  Mostly because after you’re totally shelled from a day like yesterday, the last thing you’re capable of is optimism.  Especially when you’re three years removed from the last time you were even on the mountain, and five removed from the last time you felt any good up there.

But as I drove home today, I started to think about that one word question – 


I figured the way it made sense to break that down was to work backwards from yesterday’s finishing time of 1:49.

-If I hadn’t suffered the whopper mechanical at 1:41 and stopped, I would have finished in 1:44.  And of course a minute or two faster than that, because I would have been riding the bike, not running with it.

-That puts me around the 1:40 mark, which is around where I finished in 2008 and 2010.  Both of those times I recall having gone fairly well, at least in terms of weather.  Conditions were almost definitely better on those days.

-If the mountain got colder like it usually does after treeline, maybe I pick up a few minutes.

-The wind never goes away, but if it wasn’t 40-50 sustained like it was, I pick up a few minutes let’s say.

-Now we’re talking about being in the mid 1:30s.  My PR is 1:35, which was the 2008 Practice Ride; the year I rode 6 Gaps and the last time I felt unbelievably strong.

-If I had slept more than 6 hours, and not woken myself up on purpose to drink a shake, and in general slept a little better, let’s say I pick up a few minutes.

-If I had actually eaten breakfast, which I did before the Kanc, where I had absolutely zero fueling issues through 90 minutes of work, pick up a few minutes.

-Technique suffered with the downtube shifting setup.  I rarely shifted out of my easiest gear.  Had I been disciplined to shift into harder gears when standing, time is gained, no question.  It’s free speed on the hill.  Your body weight makes the change easier to tolerate than were you to just keep sitting there, mashing a harder gear.

-Now we’re talking about being under the 1:30 mark, well under my PR, and inside of ten minutes away from 1:20.

-Those are a lot of things to have gone right, but not an impossible confluence of events. 

Now consider that it’s June 2nd.  MWARBH is in mid-August.  In the scheme of hillclimb season, and really the road season in general, this is early.  

Two and a half months from now, all that additional riding and fitness – that should add a few minutes.  

Then if I was all in on the absolutely lightest possible bike with fantastic power transfer, and the most feathery wheels I could imagine taking up the hill…

…things start to look a lot less impossible than they did about halfway up that mountain yesterday.

And I haven’t even talked about the fact that our daughter just started sleeping through the night.  It only took sixteen months.

And I haven’t yet discussed that according to Strava, I ride an average of twice a week, for a total of 26 miles, for 2 hours and 14 minutes.

I say any given day in August, we could do this.

2 thoughts on “Breaking down the seventh trip up the hill

  1. It's great to have a goal, but remember to stop and smell the roses…well not stop, but smell the roses. FWIW, I've done the hill a dozen times and been between 1:20 and 1:25, but never sub-1:20, most of those times. The mountain is formidable. Against me, it always wins. But that's ok.


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