Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sun, Oct 4 - Mount Diablo Challenge post-race report

Following yesterday's bike tragedy, I got sufficiently demoralized to skip the race today, instead sleep in and be depressed about the loss. After all, the bike was part of my goal to ride the 28th Mount Diablo Challenge today and achieve a new personal record; and the bike was not "just a bike" to me.

Several people tried to cheer me up and insisted that I should race anyway, considering I spent many miles on the bike, many hours in spin class, some hours in the pub, all in preparation for this one race of the year. So last night, I started collecting warm clothing and my senses, and decided to show up at the start.

This morning, 40F at the summit at 6pm, and upon arriving in Danville, a mere 41F. There are already two things that I don't like about mornings: "cold" and" early". Interestingly, every year it is 41F on the morning of the Mount Diablo Challenge. Dressed up for the 2-mile ride to the start, I was still wondering when my fingers would go from blue to black and then fall off. With all 10 fingers though, I arrived at the start, collected the bib and the timing belt, and shed the warm clothes; even in shorts, jersey and arm warmers, you will feel warm at those low temperatures when you ride a mountain.

TBV showed up shortly after, and then I ran into colleague Kotaro, on his first time to participate in the Mount Diablo Challenge, and on this first time to ever ride Diablo. From then on, it was waiting for your wave to start. We three were all in wave #3, slated to start at 8:45am, after waves #1 and #2, and the women-only wave.

Then, 10-second rolling start, and we were off. I really had no plan on how to ride today. My original goal was to achieve 1:20h with the new bike. Lately, after making it to the summit in 1:15h (albeit from a location a bit up after the official start at Athenian School), I adjusted my goal up to 1:15h. Today though, riding the old clunker, I reset the goal back to 1:20h, just trying to make the best of the situation.

The first riders of wave #3 quickly took off, and I only saw them again later at the summit. This dispersed the crowd quickly though, and I made good progress and speed. All through the ride, I tried to keep a straight line (and straight face), not following the bends of the road. If the pro's do it, it can't be wrong. I reached South Gate at 0:21h and Junction at 0:37h, and only then did I think that I could actually make it in 1:15h. After Junction, I slowed down a bit and paced myself through the grind at Toyon Picnic Area, and reached Juniper at 0:54h, 2 minutes ahead of my personal record. Grabbed a cup of water, and paced myself further up to Devil's Elbow. From there, it's only a mile to the summit. I forgot at what elapsed time I was at that point, but I knew that I now could beat 1:15h. Tried to stay close behind two faster cyclists for a minute, to conserve some energy. Reached the Lower Parking Lot, people cheering on the riders. This where the final incline started, going the left road up to the summit. This is the hardest part of the ride, a final grade of maybe 10-12%, for the last 150 meters. Then finally, crossed the finish line, stopped the clock, 1:13:00h. I did it; what an elation.

The official result came back later as 1:12:43h, ranked 451, according to the printout. TBV also reached his goal of achieving 1:20h or better with a 1:16h time. Kotaro, on his very first visit to Diablo on a bike, got a respectable 1:15h time.

A new record was not broken today, the top time was 47 minutes and change. If I saw correctly, none of three top finishers of the last two years (English, Laue, Phipps) raced Diablo today.

I'm glad I raced today. Will post links to official results and photos later, after taking a nap.

UPDATE 5pm: Official results still have not been posted. Please check back later.

UPDATE 7:40pm: Official results are here. My rank and time were corrected to 448 and 1:12:41.8 (or maybe I didn't look correctly earlier at the printout), with an average speed of 8.92mph. TBV rank 524, 1:16:33.6; Kotaro rank 504, 1:15:23.8.

UPDATE 9pm: Photos:
Me: @ Devils' Elbow, @ Finish 1,2
Kotaro: @ Devil's Elbow, @ Finish
TBV: @ Devil's Elbow, @ Finish 1,2,3,4


strbuk said...

So glad you took adversity and turned it into a "victory".


daniel m (a/k/a Rant) said...

Someone once said that it's not about the bike. So, what's next year's goal? Beat 1:10? I'm thinking that's do-able for you.

Congrats on a ride well done.

- Dan

Diablo Scott said...

Nice job Pommi - you'll be glad you didn't sit this one out; you are in great shape.

I can't think of a better shop to handle the warranty issue than Chain Reaction. Should be an interesting story.