Saturday, November 18, 2006

18 November 2006

Low-Key Hillclimb: Page Mill

Since the club ride this week was in San Francisco, I decided to try this week's Low-Key Hillclimb. It would be the second time ever that I climbed Page Mill. It was about a 50 mile ride to the start, and registration was from 9 to 9:45, so I got going at 6, when it was still dark outside. I knew it would be cold on Hwy 9 through the San Lorenzo Valley, so I had gotten new shorts and leg warmers, and they were effective. The cold was mostly a problem for my hands, so maybe I should have gotten gloves as well.

It was cold and dark on Hwy 9 to Felton, and I was also blinded from time to time by the headlights of cars. By the time I reached Felton, the sky had lightened considerably, but, being in a valley, I wouldn't get any direct sunlight until after considerable climbing. At Boulder Creek, looking at the tree covered mountains to the west, I could see that the sun was shining on the upper part, but the lower part was in the shadow of the mountains to the east. A little ways above the intersection with upper Hwy 236, I felt the warmth of direct sunlight for the first time.

As I approached the intersection with Skyline, there were cones and signs warning of runners on the right side of the road. There were two or three people walking along the cones. I wonder what that was. I continued past Skyline and descended towards Saratoga. There seemed to be more car traffic headed up than usual. I was descending fast enough that no cars overtook me from behind. I also saw the first cyclist of the day climbing Hwy 9, as there were numerous cyclists climbing as usual. I turned off at Pierce, then took Mt Eden, Stevens Canyon, Foothill, and Arastradero to the registration site at the Page Mill Park and Ride.

I arrived around 9:15, with plenty of time to spare. I registered for the climb, and got assigned number 143, and would be starting 22nd, 7 minutes after the first rider. This was going to be an individual time trial, with riders starting at 20 second intervals. As I waited for the start, numerous groups of cyclists passed by on Page Mill, including a huge peloton.

We then headed to the start site, where the first rider would start off at 10. In the climb, lots of riders, maybe around 20, passed me. I passed maybe one or two. There was a photographer a couple miles from the top taking pictures of all the riders, as well as a photographer at the top. About 2-3 miles from the top, I started feeling weak and low on energy, as I only had half a bar since breakfast, which was about five hours earlier. I limped to the top, and my time was probably in the 50-52 minute range.

Fire engine
After some rest and an orange flavored drink, I headed south on Skyline to the fire station, where I got a Sprite and had a bar. I also realized that I hadn't taken any pictures yet, so I took one of the fire engine, which was atypically parked outside of the garage. I also refilled my bottle.

The top of Hwy 9 still had the cones on the east side of the road, and there were still people walking by the cones, so whatever that was was still going on. After that, it was a rather uneventful descent down Hwy 9 all the way back to Santa Cruz and home. It was considerably warmer than it was in the morning, and it was shaping up to be a very nice day for the middle of November.