Friday night I did Stage 1 of the Alaska Coffee Roaster Offroad Stage Race/ Stage 1 is the Ester Dome Hill Climb. I had decided to stay off my mtn bike a while ago, but figured I couldn't get hurt in a hill climb and wanted the high intensity workout.
Like all hill climbs, this one started hurting right off the bat and didn't let up until the finish line. Ester Dome is something like a 2000 foot climb in a bit over 4 miles, but the bulk of the climb is done in three very steep pitches.
By the halfway point Reese Henneman, a super strong 18 year old xc skier/triathlete and I were riding together a bit in front of Rocky and David Norris, another junior Nordic Skier with tons of strength. I kept telling Reese he needed to drop me, but he was pretty content to sit on my wheel. He's a lot stronger than he understands. He thinks he's going to go too hard and blow up and I (or somebody) will somehow catch him. When he figures out how to get past that he's going to be hell to race with. His potential is huge.
Anyhow...the climb almost tops out then descends a 1/4 mile, climbs back to the true summit, has a very short leg-breaking climb before kicking you onto the road for the final 0.3 mile descent and then short (momentum type) climb to the finish line. Reese gapped me on the final "leg-breaking" climb and then held on until the finish line, beating me by 2 seconds. I'll take 2nd place in a hill climb any day. I suck at climbing.
On Saturday morning I had thoughts about doing the rest of the Mtn Bike Stage Race. I was feeling very strong and really wanted to go hard. But several years ago, after training all summer for the Leadville 100, I broke my arm a week before Leadville doing something stupid in a mtn bike race that I had no chance of winning and no real reason to even do. I decided to do the Leadville race anyways, with a pretty big cast on my arm. I finished the race, but rode like crap, crashed a couple times and probably caused a few other crashes or near-crashes. It was a pretty damn excruciating 11 hours on a bike. I can be pretty hard-headed and have never really been known for learning lessons the easy way. But I remember after that race thinking, "Man, if I didn't learn something from this I'm just stoopid."
Well, I finally have proof that I'm not too stoopid...finally!!! I decided to skip the mtn bike race. I did a fast group road ride instead. It was basically like a race up every hill. I felt good and got to ride hard so it worked out well.