Race Report: Fremont Peak Hill Climb
This is not a time trial, it is a race. The objective is to place, not obtain a high average power or low race time. The first ~5.8 miles will average 4%. Miles 5.8-8.8 are where it gets tough and will average 8%. Miles 8.8-9.9 are rollers to the finish. For the first six miles just sit in. There will probably be attacks but no-one will put it on full gas. Follow the surges and stay in the wheels. Even when feeling good, just stay in the wheels. At mile 6 it will get a bit tougher. Be patient and wait for the moves. If there’s a group of any sort, more than 2 or 3 riders, it will probably have been an easy pace. That means people will get anxious and look to do something. Let two or three of these efforts happen, jump on the wheels. At mile 8.8 try as best as possible to suck wheels- there are rollers until the finish with no significant net gain in elevation. Hold wheels until mile 9.8, then go for the line.
Above are the notes I made the night before the race. I looked at the course and worked out where the gradients got tougher and where it was less difficult. The plan was simple: try and hold wheels and do little. The race wasn’t going to get hard until about mile 6 so just holding on until then was the plan before seeing what played out.
The major revelation at this event was the temperature. It got hot. Below are two graphs depicting the race. There were several attacks that lead to some pretty nasty power spikes. Yes- that spike from the gun is real. For some reason the group thought we were in some sort of criterium and went full gas for 50 m at the start before settling down to a more civilised 200 watt pace. Go figure. The spikes in power were tough, no debate, but what seemed to really unglue things was the temperature. Up the side of the mountain it went from a manageable 85 degrees at the start to over 100. Pretty punishing. My heart is always the honest truth in these situations. As the race progressed and the heat picked up into the late 90s, irrespective of power output my heart rate stuck around the ~190 BPM mark (my threshold is 186).
Racing in the heat is incredibly draining. Recovery at 100 degrees is a massive challenge. Overall it simply results in a meek average power; where one can do 350 w or more in temperate conditions it becomes hard to hold even 300 in that heat. This race was hot, very hot. I think next time I race up an exposed mountain I will wear ice under my jersey- I really would have appreciated that. The race started at 10am and would last about 45 minutes. I somewhat underestimated how even that early it would be scorching. The effort was enough to beat the others in small the Cat.3 field, presumably everyone else suffered too.