Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Low-Key Hillclimbs pages posted today

Low-Key

Every year it seems like more work than the year before, and that's probably because it is more work than the year before. But I just finished preparing a workable draft for the 2014 Low-Key Hillclimbs web pages. They're here. The default page remains 2013, as I want to keep the results from this year up at least through the end of the calendar year, which is just a few days away.

Why more work? Two reasons. One is the increased prevalence of new courses. In the past, when I'd select climbs for the next season (with rider input) I'd intentionally go for a mix: the annuals (Montebello and Hamilton), a few favorites on a roughly 3-year cycle (like Old La Honda, Kings Mountain Road, Sierra Road, Bohlman, Welch Creek, previously Diablo before we dropped it due to hassles from the rangers), and others which were good for rarer repeat visits (like Soda Springs, Page Mill, Highway 9). Then each year we'd add in a few, maybe two or three, fresh climbs just to stay creative. This way I'd just find old copies of the data for each climb, update as needed, and paste in the data. Add a new photo and I'm basically done.

But starting last year I went to "Coordinator's Choice" and coordinators like to exercise their creativity by picking new climbs. This is awesome: I love doing fresh climbs we've not visited before. But it means I have my work cut out for me, in particular creating a new route profile and generating climb stats.

The other time cost has been the "time saving" GPS climbs. These are for climbs where it's impractical or politically impossible to set up an actual event. So we invite riders to do the routes on their own and submit GPS data. But with these climbs, which are invariably fresh courses so far, I not only need to do the usual new course things, but then I need to set up the GPS checkpoints and test these against real-world data.

It's not that big a deal for any given week, but 9 weeks total in the series, it adds up. Still, I really do love it. I feel like I'm creating something good and valuable.

If I'm looking forward to any weeks the most, they are weeks 4, 5, and 7. Week 4 will be a fun tour of the Berkeley Hills. In the spirit of Paul McKenzie's brilliant Nifty Ten-Fifty, it's more of a "Nifty Lite": 3825 of timed climbing (5000 feet of climbing in all). These short, steep climbs are a blast, but they're typically too short for a full event, so combining six of them in this way is something enabled only by the GPS scoring (manual timing would be way too much work).

The next one I really look forward to is the Los Gatos Bike Racing Club's week: week 5. It's a fantastic climb in the Santa Cruz Mountains west of Loma Prieta. These are rugged, lightly trafficked roads which have a very different character than the more popularly traveled roads north of San Jose. They have a feeling of rugged remoteness which is fantastic.

And finally I'll point out my climb: week 7: San Bruno Mountain (W). This is a home climb for residents of San Francisco, is easily accessible by public transit, and offers fantastic views from the summit. It's short by Low-Key standards so results will be on the challenging side, but we always manage.

So I look forward to the fall! It should be a fun series. But in the meantime, don't forget the upcoming MegaMonster Enduro in February!

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