21 September 2011

Last Sunday was my last US race of the season, down in Ashland for the Mt Ashland hillclimb. This is a very unusual – and cool – event, where the road riders and mountain bikers start off back to back in the town square, then head off to see who can get to the top of the mountain first – the road riders have a longer, but paved route, whilst the mountain bikers take the more direct off-road route. The road riders normally win, but have been beaten in the past, and the course records are within a few seconds of each other.

Unfortunately this year the road group wasn’t very motivated to work together (I’m told that in the past it has been a more organised group), so it was somewhat frustrating to not be moving along consistently at a good clip for the first mostly flat eight miles. A crash as we left town, followed by a diversion for road works (adding approximately five minutes) didn’t help… Once we got to the start of the 18 mile, 5000ft climb proper, I went to the front and rode tempo – soon there were only two riders left with me, and we started working together. A bit further up I made an acceleration and then it was down to two. I tried a couple of times more to rid myself of Mike Larsen, but he always clawed his way back to me. So it was going to be a sprint. Mike wouldn’t come through at all in the last few miles, which meant we weren’t going as fast as we needed to beat the mountain bikers….. Sure enough the leader arrived ahead of us by about 90 seconds, but I was able to beat Mike in the sprint to take the road win.

A nice way to finish the season here – now I have a month to prepare for the British Hillclimb champs back home….


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