Sunday, October 10, 2010

Low-Key 2010 week 2: Old La Honda

Two weeks of the Low-Key Hillclimbs are in the bag, and it's a big relief. Things are rolling, the new scoring code is working, and I'm really happy with my web site redesign.

Brian Lucido finishes at the top of Old La Honda Road

Especially nice, in addition to the absolutely fantastic volunteer support we've gotten this year, is the new RSVP system. I call it RSVP instead of pre-reg, since I view Low-Key as more of a party among cyclists than as a race, but the result is the same: we get a nice list of riders and data instead of transcribing from written forms, we have an idea of how many riders are going to show, and we make sure we don't exceed capacity by too much.

There was a bit of an issue this week when Windy Hill rangers were not at all pleased Low-Keyers were impeding access to parking in the dirt lot where we staged. I should have applied for a permit, I was told. Honestly, to apply for a permit, denying other groups the right to use the preserve that day, when we were using neither the trails nor the parking (we staged there only, with participants instructed to park elsewhere, both on on the website, via email, and in person when we saw riders emerging from parked cars). But I understand the rangers' concern. It wasn't obvious we weren't monopolizing the limited parking space, when there was a group hike scheduled there the same morning.

So lesson learned: if we're going to stage somewhere which isn't totally public, to make sure we communicate that adequately ahead of time. Low-Key has grown beyond the stealth-mode attendance levels.

Next week we do a great climb, from the Portola State Park boundary to the top of West Alpine Road. I love climbs which most folks might not normally ride on their own. The Portola Climb starts down by Park headquarters, accessible otherwise only by dirt roads (easily ridable on a dirt bike), so riders far more often climb via Alpine Road all the way from La Honda at its base. I look forward to this one, and with the series settling down a bit, things should only get smoother from here.

I love the enormous support the Low-Key Hillclimbs have received over the years, fulfilling a competitive niche between traditional racing and fast-recreational. Nothing new: Velocio organized a hillclimb series up the Col de Grand Bois in the early years of the 20th century (see Bicycling Quarterly Spring 2010 page 56). So the Low-Keys simply continue a tradition which goes back as long as the history of the multi-geared bicycle.

I look forward to a successful remainder of the 2010 season.

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