Western MT Hill Climb Champs

I have heard about the Hill Climb up Pattee Canyon but when I had learned that it was going to be held on the up and coming weekend I realized that maybe I should have planned in advance. At least this one would be full of participants that were just doing it for fun. I thought to myself, “How bad could it be”?

I figured on Friday afternoon I would ride the course on my old Cannondale road bike. I took my watch. I didn’t go all out but thanks to the climb I was challenged. The course seems to just get steeper and steeper. Its not that it is so steep but so short. The record is 12:54 so I figured there would be no messing around saving any strength. I figured I would climb it in at least 15 minutes as I love to climb and I had been riding and hiking all summer long.

I got to the finish line in 17 minutes. Saturday I woke up thinking that maybe I needed to plan the route and get serious about cutting off a couple minutes. I rode the course again and believe me this course was getting longer every time I did it. A minute of suffering is worth a hour of riding hard.

I rode the course in around 16 something. Ok so I wasn’t going to set the record this year but now my concern was that I would be caught by the riders in Missoula that regularly climb the course in 14 and 15 minutes. I decided to go on a spin down the gravel road to Deer Creek Road (down the other side of the canyon) to East Missoula and then home.

I was thinking how hard the Paris Robeux must be as I screamed down the gravel road bumping down Deer Creek when my front tire blew out. Suddenly I had no control as I shifted my weight to the rear. Locking up the rear would careen me out of control and possibly toss me to the gravel at speed. So I road the rim squirming down the gravel until I slowed to a stop. I changed the tire and used a rock to grind the burrs off the rim so I wouldn’t rip off the break pads.

I went home and stayed off the bike until race day. Jeeze!

Sunday was cool but warming. I had my plan and rehearsed it in my head. I took off like an elephant trying to jump rope. It was awkward and then it wasn’t and I pumped to the first what I call flat spots. They are not flat but not as steep as the climb before. This hill climb is full of big efforts and then it lets off for a while before getting steeper once again.

My heart was jumping out of my chest and the cold air burned. I had a thought … What if I don’t recover before the next big effort? Darn I had gone out too hard, the next effort started and I was not recovering. I approached Larch Camp Road turn off and I knew that is where it got steeper. Just after the turn is the steepest part of the course. I sold the farm and geared down. What a disgrace I thought, me in my granny. The rest of the course was made up of true grit. I knew it would end and soon. If I could gear back up and keep steady it would end. Just had to set little goals. Next little riser, next corner. Suddenly there it was, the finish line. I stood to sprint … Yea, right!

I crossed the line at 15:51. I spun up the road to recover and thanked god it was over. Ok next year I will prepare and not go out so hard.

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