Update: A few photos posted here.
Last year when I got back on the wagon, I wanted to benchmark my fitness. I chose Lookout Mountain since there were race results and times by category online. The climb is 4.54 miles at 5.5% average grade gaining 1,254 vertical feet. I just now looked up some of my old data and am pretty shocked:
Body Weight: 200 lbs
Average HR: 159
I originally wasn’t planning on racing again, just getting in shape. But, once I had caught the bug again, I wanted to return to my former self. I looked up the 2009 Cat 4 Results and picked 20:00 as my goal. Try as I might, last season this was my best effort:
Body Weight: 165 lbs
Average HR: 164
Average Power: 337 watts
I had been very excited for the 2010 Lookout Hill Climb as an opportunity to finally break the 20 minute barrier. Firstly I am just beginning to come on form. Secondly, there is a significant advantage from drafting. Even at 9.5 mph about 40 % of your effort is used to overcome wind resistance, which can be reduced by 30% by riding in a group.
The only minor hurdle to overcome was work. I worked on the ambulance late. As I rode my bike home in the dark at 3am I began to wonder what I was thinking, as the starting gun would fire a short five hours later. After 2.5 hours of sleep, I awoke, ate, drank my coffee, and headed off to Golden. I got in a quick (standard for me) 20 minute warm up and lined up in the front row.
The race was somewhat predictable for a hill climb. We set a high, but not screaming tempo. A lone rider rode away slowly from the group, dangling about 10 seconds ahead. This situation persisted until the grade eased after the first set of switchbacks when a few riders, including one I was marking, attacked. I put in an 80% sprint effort and basically dragged the remaining 25 rider peloton up to the leaders. After the second set of switchbacks, there were more riders than I expected remaining (about a dozen). I came to the front and set a hard tempo to wear everyone down.
There are 200 meters of flat at 500 meters to go, with the final 200 kicking upward again. A Rocky Mountain Racing rider put in a very good move just before the flat section and I dug in at 100% to catch his wheel. I just about died, but managed to latch on and try to rest as a third rider caught us. I simultaneously noticed the third rider coming around on my left, and the 200m sign on the right and realized it may be too late. I sprinted for all I was worth, but we crossed the line with a bike length between each of us. I finished Third.
Body Weight: 161 lbs
Average HR: 161
Average Power: 358 watts
Obviously, I was very pleased with my time, as well as my best Cat 3 finish this season. Interestingly, I had calculated it would take 350w for me to break 20:00. This is one of the instances where you get lucky and really ride outside yourself. In fact, I set the 10th best time of the day out of 500+ racers.
After the race, I rode back up the mountain to take a few pictures of my friend racing, and then we rode the long way down to Littleton to bring my total for the day to 70 miles.
Unfortunately, there are no Upgrade Points for hill climbs.
Update 2: I blew this performance away in 2011‘s race with a time of 17:47.