Today I had the pleasure of competing in one of the Reno Wheelmen Hill Climb Series Race, the Geiger Grade Hill Climb. This wonderful climb ascends from South Reno up to Geiger Summit near Virginia City. It was a “B” race for me, just go out and have fun and get a good work out. But it turned out to be more than that. A revelation about racing and a good time with friends. Read on…
I send a note out to teammates saying I’m heading to the Geiger Grade Hill Climb, any takers? No response. Oh well, I’ll just go at it alone. I arrive at the start and register. These events are sooo low key. Just show up day of, no pre registration, no full categories, etc. Give ’em yer 20 bucks, show your racing license, sign on the dotted line, and you’re good.
Pulling the bike off the car my friend Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) walks over and says hi. Immediately after, friend Nancy Farzan (Velo Bella) also walks over to greet. We hatch a plan to ride on to Virginia City after the finish, check out the sights, then return via a back road recommended by Katerina, the Louiseville loop. Sounds like great fun!
The climb is just shy of 8 miles and rises 2100′. It’s never steep so the climbing speed is fairly high. Definitely some wind today but nothing devastating.
My start time is 9:16. I roll out of the start and tick off a nice tempo pace.
Out of the saddle big-ringing the climb
Photo Courtesy Tommy Compton
I’ve learned not to go out too hard on a TT. I slowly ease my HR up to threshold, about 168 bpm. I start passing riders very shortly (riders go off at 30 second intervals). A few minutes in, one rider passes me, which is demoralizing at the time, but he ends up being the only one who passes me. Meanwhile I keep passing riders and quite easily achieve my goal of sub 40 minutes with a time of 38:01. Keep in mind Bobbie Julich’s record on the course is just under 30 minutes! Geez. We don’t get Katerina’s time at the top, but to use a term I learned from teammate Ben Ragains, I’m certain I got “chick’d.”
(ed note: Katerina finished in 34:13, for 7th overall and 6 minutes faster than the closest woman!)
When I arrive at the top, Katerina (overall women’s winner) and Nancy are waiting. We head on to Virginia City and stop for some liquid at an ice cream parlor. In walks a cowboy with two ‘for real’ six shooters on his belt. We strike up a conversation with him and have some fun taking photos with Nancy’s iPhone.
He’s interested in our bikes, so we show him. He asks how much they weigh as he lifts my Scott Addict. I ask him how much his two .357 six shooters weigh. “12 pounds,” he says. “My bike weighs not much more that that,” I reply.
We then return via the Louiseville loop with some wild horse sightings and a mellow ride through a remote neighborhood I didn’t know existed.
Just have to say that doing a fun, low key “B” race and doing a nice cool down ride with friends afterward can make for a pretty nice day on the bike. It’s a revelation how much fun a low pressure race can be, and a hill climb with just you and the clock creates a no pressure situation vs. racing in a pack. Special thanks to the Reno Wheelmen for putting on these cool, low key events that make bike racing accessible to everyone.
Photos courtesy Nancy Farzan
Action Photo courtesy Tommy Compton