By Nitzel Hagan -- Larch Mountain Hill Climb (W3) -- 07/11/16
Uphill Time Trial? Are you kidding me?
These were the kinds of questions that were in my head when my husband said that I should 'check it outí. Explore the area. Race it like a training ride. Just go out, ride, and have fun! Well, if you know me, you probably know what kind of rider I am. What kind of races I enjoy. So, to say that Iím going to sign up and compete in an uphill time trial, I still feel the shivers that raced up and down my spine.
Larch Mountain is not a short hill climb. Itís a one-of-a-kind uphill time trial race: 3,816 feet of climb over 16.2 miles starting in Corbett, Oregon and finishing at Sherrard Point, on the summit of Larch Mountain.
I wasnít too sure how to prepare for this kind of race, but I figured this would be a first among many of the different first Iíve been experiencing with the racing community in the Pacific Northwest. Time trials can be taxing for a cyclist mentally, physically, and psychologically. It can take your pain threshold and unwrap it right in front of your eyes; presenting doubt with your tactics, hesitation to push yourself for fear of emptying your tank too soon, and creating a mirage that once was your will to power through the finish. And those are only three potential effects of a time-trial.
Focusing on a few things to remember, and not get mentally cluttered, I decided to stay mentally sharp with a proper pace, eat and drink when affordable with my effort, and to leave it all out there; when the last charge to the finish approaches, my last match is at the ready to be ignited. That was the plan anyway.
Race day came with a drop in temperature and rain, common racing conditions for the Pacific Northwest that was still uncommon for me. Warming up will be a little different, using the embrocation cream that my awesome coach suggested I do. As I applied the cream to keep my legs warm to allow them to begin my warm-up on the trainer to prepare the rest of my mind and body for the race, my husband positioned my trainer near our car under an umbrella so that I wouldnít get too wet before my start time. After my warm-up, making sure that I continued to keep myself hydrated, I doubled-checked my bike, filled my Fluid bottles with Hyrdration Mix, and off i went!
There were only a few brave souls, deciding to face the elements too, that were lined up to attack Larch Mountain with me. Some I had seen before at other races in the OBRA community. So, I knew that some were not only brave, but strong too. We started one by one, with a thirty-second interval between each rider. When it was my thirty seconds to line up and clip in, I tried to allow the moment wash over meÖkind of cleanse me of the trepidations of the unknown and stay fluid and focused within each moment of this race.
There would only be one female rider starting behind me: in the W1/2 category. After her, the mens category 4 would then begin. I knew the Cat 1/2 behind me from other races; she was strong and seemed to thrive more as the elements played into a race. My goals for this time-trial did not include maintaining my gap with her, but to catch some of the riders ahead of me.
Keeping goals realistic and attainable is a way to not get overwhelmed and allow the sense of paralysis to set in with a faced with a large task/race.So after a few miles, the lady behind me, of course, passed me. I remember thinking to myself, ĎOk, now that weíve got THAT out of the way, letís get it on!í : )
Focusing on my cadence and power, I could now see someone not too far from me. I passed one girl and then another one, but what made me feel elated at this point in the race was realizing that I was actually climbing (or whatever you call that), and shedding a layer of doubt within myself that we all seem to sometimes blanket ourselves. I knew that I was still only about half-way through the race, but I savored that thought for a minute or two.
With 3 miles to the finish, I started feeling physically tired and mentally fatigued. One guy, Iím guessing for the Cat 4ís, passed me. I tried to keep him within sight, but my legs and brain were having a tough time cooperating at this point. I finished the race happy, wet, cold, and matchless: content that I left it all on the course.
I did win my category. And with that accomplishment not being a pre-race thought or goal, Iíll take it and be proud!
The Larch Mountain Uphill Time Trial is one tough race. I do know for sure that I will return next year; more experienced and with a couple more matches than this first time to torch the course with.