Mt. Hamilton Road Race
Mt. Hamilton RR Report, May 26
Written by: John Hawkins
45+ Cat 4/35+ Cat 4 combined
63 mi: Alum Rock to Livermore outskirts
Epic course with the main long drag (about 4% - 6%) 20 miles, 4k feet climb from the start line. Gritty descent on the back side (steep, lots of hairpins), and then the sinewy run in for about 40 miles of rollers on not-so-smooth pavement. Freaky, chilly day, but perfect for racing in my opinion. What was not perfect imho was the freakin block headwind on the backside of the course, no sun entire ride, and periods of rain and even hail!! Yes, HAIL! A light rain began just as our field of 17 riders were lining up for 9:20 am start.
My perspective of the race action:
Begin rollout under rainy, chilly conditions. I rode on the front the entire first segment of climb to set pace to my liking. In hind sight not sure that was a good idea. But attrition selection was achieved by top of the first of the three tiers of the climb (about 7 miles first segment). At that point there were about 9 of us still intact. I drifted back a few positions as we proceeded through the second tier. At the beginning of the third and longest one a 35+ guy surged and unfortunately, it was a bit too much for me to match. It would be my turn to pop. The 8 guys got a gap of about 50 yards that I just couldn’t close. I measured my pace at threshold just below red with the group ahead in sight most of the way up. Slog on for about 35 minutes to the top. Linked up with two other guys who popped after I did. Thick gray wet matter began to cloud my vision near the top of the winding ascent. The lead group of about 6 were out of sight. By the top I was solo as the other two dropped back from our groupetto. My fingers hurt at the top of the climb approaching the observatory due to dropping temp. Body went into freeze mode on the back side of the hairy descent as unwelcome slow reaction time sensations started to set in during braking and changing positions on the bike. Upon reaching the bottom, the drier pavement and warmer temps were quite refreshing to feel again! I began to hammer out a good rhythm not just to gain warmth, but to continue to do what I prepared for and came to do – go deep!
I rode on at max tempo entire way in. Caught one more from our group and he sat on my wheel the entire way. I didn’t really care because he wasn’t riding fast enough when I did let him take a pull. After about an hour of riding against that miserable headwind we finally reached the finish. To my surprise I was second amongst the 45+ guys. Jim Forester got the win, a good guy I’ve come to know and respect over the years. His style on the pedals is pro light and always up there near the front. He makes it look easy on the long climbs. We celebrated together at the finish podium area, shared some experiences, then went our separate ways. The warm car and dry clothes were definitely a highlight in the day. This was a race to remember. Following is a quote form the race organizer received via email the following day:
Way to get out there and battle the elements! We were awestruck by your determination to race and crest Mt. Ham with fog, rain and even snow! This epic race will go down in history and you are among the elite that can claim that you did it! Thank you for supporting Mike's Bikes Mt. Hamilton Classic Road Race! SJBC is committed to keeping this race alive!
San Jose Bicycle Club