Ron Castia and Tim Clark, each scheduled to start soon before me, were each missing. This was frustrating, as it meant I had no competitors in my field to chase. Not that I was going to catch Tim anyway. It's nice to feel the pull, though. That left only Nate English's push among the riders I knew, or knew of. Nate was starting 90 seconds after me. I hoped to avoid getting passed by him until I was within 3 km or so from the finish, then to use him as a rabbit to motivate a maximal effort to the finish. But I put Nate and everyone else out of my mind as my turn came on the starting platform.
For the first time in 3 attempts at this race I managed to avoid a near-crash coming off the start ramp, then immediately got as aero as I could for the relatively flat first section of about a kilometer. Dan Smith encourages practicing in the drops, and I've been doing a lot of that lately, work which I felt paid off here. I managed to catch Ed Condit, 45+, who'd started 30 seconds earlier. This was a positive sign, I felt, although there was still the bulk of the climbing yet to come.
The headwind and variable grade made for pacing challenge on this climb. I planned to keep the pressure on everywhere except the steepest pitch at kilometer 4. On the steep stuff, the grade itself provides its own inspiration, so I find it best to focus on throttling back in these sections, spin as low a gear as I have available, then quickly ramp up the effort when the grade relents. This seemed to work fairly well.
Soon after, I heard heavy breathing from behind. That could mean only one thing: Nate. Sure enough, he soon noisily overtook me. I thought of Tim Clark, another rider who breathes loudly. Both the sight and sound of Nate reinforced my determination to push myself through my limits. Break through the barrier. But this barrier wouldn't break. Nate was simply faster than me. Me and around 5.9999 billion other people.
Climbing Diablo (Casadalane Photography/Taleo Racing)
I passed a few more riders along the way, the distance markers painted every 100 feet slowly, too slowly, ticking down. I was in a void, a void of information. No power meter. No heartrate monitor. No context of a mass-start field. Just the Zen of applying force to the pedals.
1 km to go..... I recalibrated the offset of the foot markers... 200 meters. 100 meters! I was dizzy. My field of view closed into a small focal spot. The finish. I was done.
So ends another hillclimb story. They tend to all come across similarly. But I never get tired of them.
I'd done the best I could. My times were faster in 2006 and 2007 (I didn't race last year), but the wind was a huge factor. The numbers:
Mount Diablo Time Trial 35+ 1-2-3
1. Kevin Metcalfe Team Specialized 26:13
2. Keiran Sherlock Webcor/Alto Velo @ 1:10
3. Greg McQuaid SJBC/SugarCRM @ 1:22
4. Doug Merrill Davis Bike Club @ 1:37
5. Dan Connelly Team Roaring Mouse @ 2:03
6. Kevin Kennedy Taleo Racing @ 2:47
Interestingly had I done the 3's I would have been in second of ten by 4 seconds to Greg Coleman. But then Kieran and Doug in the 35+ 1-2-3 are also 3's. Not that categories should matter in time trials. If I wanted to place higher I should have ridden faster, not chosen a different category.
So overall, not too bad, not too good, sort of just what I'd expect to be able to do. Which given how I've been riding is better than I'd expect.
My time would have placed 10th in the P12:
Mount Diablo Time Trial P-1-2
1. Nate English 24:11
2. Justin Lau @ 1:13
3. Chris Phipps @ 1:42
4. Rob Anderson @ 2:16
5. Eric Balfus @ 2:36
6. Ryan Sherlock @ 2:45
7. James Wingart @ 2:47
8. Davis Yakaitis @ 3:15
9. Justin Lucke @ 3:51
10. John Tefethen @ 4:36
11. Michael Foley @ 5:17
12. Adam Ross @ 6:21
13. Kalen Oruber @ 6:30
14. Mark Deterline @ 6:32
15. Chris Ott @ 7:45
16. Lee Jenson @ 8:18