Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Road Riding: San Jose King of the Mountain (Sierra Road)

[Note: This report is first posted to the forum. ]

The ride is actually called The Webcor San Jose King-of-the-Mountain Ride. It starts from San Jose City Hall, but only the climb on Sierra Road is timed (using timing chips the riders wear on their left ankles).

Here is the Grade & Elevation chart of this climb:

Always scared of speed on flats and downhill, uphill has become my favorite type of riding. However, I hadn’t heard of any organized ride/race just for climbing until this kOM ride. It was hard to pass up. So after I did my first ride up Sierra Road last week to make sure I could handle it, I signed up.

Couldn’t fall asleep last night though because I was anxious about the ride. First of all, I had a PR (34:47) to beat. Second of all, I’d never ridden with a bunch of other riders around me – what if I crash and fall?

Beep, beep… it’s the alarm clock. The day has begun.

The ride only accepts 300 participants. So a rolling closure of the road is enforced by the motorcade. That is awesome — running red lights! We leave the City Hall at 10 and arrive at the base of Sierra Road shortly before 10:30. After a short delay, the ride starts. As I mentioned last time, the ride on Sierra Road enters a steep climb right away. According to the instruction, there is supposed to be a sensor mat for the timing chips. So, I ride slowly and conservatively not wanting to waste any energy until I get to the start. However, after a few turns, I still cannot see a mat. “Have we crossed the mat yet?” I throw the question into the air. “Oh, yeah, way back,” some answer comes back. Dangit, I’ve missed it! I start my own stop watch nontheless.

People around me seem to be moving at a pretty good speed. I keep my head down (my typical posture on my bike) and just keep on spinning. “I like your slogan — Inch by inch, I will get there.” says a voice behind me. Oh yeah, I’ve had it pinned to my back. That’s what it takes, isn’t it?

From time to time, a rider passes me. Hearing the rythmic peddling, I envy them for being able to get out of saddle and hammer at a higher gear. But I manage to pass some people from time to time too grinding my granny gear. Push on the peddle, pull on the handle bar, spin, breathe… Then comes the short flat (slightly downhill) section where I passed Mud last time. Again, I shift up a few gears and start spinning fast. This section allows me to catch my breaths and in the mean time, I manage to pass a couple of, maybe a few, people too. Here comes another uphill section. I think I hear Mud. Oh, I’m close to the summit. Push harder, and pull harder… Now I hear some guy breathing hard in front of me. Only seeing the 3 foot patch of ground in front of me, I cannot tell what he is like. But he now is next to me. I hear him breathe harder — he does not want to let me pass. Push harder and pull harder. Suddenly I sense a little wabble and hear “F@#$!” Now his breathing sound is behind me. Looking up, I see people a hundred feet in front of me. There is the summit! I’m there! I’ve done it!

I keep my head down

Delbomber grins.

Inch by inch, I will get there.

32:15.50 — my new PR

Top male finisher – Ted Huang from Webcor (21:13.74)

Top Female finisher – Katheryn Mattis from Webcor (23:24.71)

You call this a mat? No wonder I missed it at the start. I entered the racing mode three minutes too late.