Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hell's Kitchen

I am taking my first trip to Arkansas this weekend to race at the Hell's Kitchen road race. I got a flyer for this race a couple years ago and was very intrigued by it. Over the last couple years it ran into work though so I skipped it. This year my work schedule has ran into a lot of races that I usually do, so I was glad I could get to this one.

The route seems to be pretty easy till you hit the namesake of the race. Hell's Kitchen is the name of a massive climb on the course. I think compared to climbing a mountain it won't be too bad, but going up it a race speed will hurt. From what I hear the race is generally determined by wind though. It is supposed to be very exposed and cross winds can cause a lot of splits.

I am a little concerned about the hill as I have not done a whole lot of hill work yet this year. I have been working on bumping up my endurance and power and the plan was to start getting more of the hill work in, in the next few weeks. So this will be a tough race for me, but it can always be good to just jump into the fire and see how hot it gets.

I am planning on doing some races this year that are also known for their great climbing. Again, not compared to races that may happen out west. But great climbing for the Midwest. The next race I will be at with a well known climb will be Snake Alley in Iowa. It is one of the croockedest roads in America. There are something like 7 switchbacks in one city block, the entire stretch is paved with bricks and during the race is lined by screaming fans. It is the closest thing most racers will ever get to racing up a cobbled climb in Belgium like the Muur. Last year was my first time up the climb and even though I finished near the back, it was one of the best races I was in. It was just so much fun. The next one will be the Missouri State Road Championship in Ste. Genevieve MO. This year they have actually cut off about 1500 feet of climbing per lap, but it still has a mile long climb with a KOM at the top and only 5 miles from the finish line. This is where the race is generally determined. Last year the final group of about 20 guys was all that was left after the climb. This year with the shorter course I am not sure how that will play out. The idea is that it will bring more riders because it might be an easier race. But I think it could also make it tougher, as in faster, the whole time. There are some guys who can go balls out for that distance and they may go at the gun. It could be tough to control all those guys, but we will have to see.

Another race that has some great climbing, and is also in Missouri is the Tour of Hermann, in Hermann MO. This race not only has a hilly time trial, they have a hill crit, and a super hilly road race. The road race starts with a massive climb right at the start. On the second lap (and 3rd for Pro/1/2) there is a climb that is just crazy that then connects to the first climb done at the start of the race. Last year this climb was the end of my race. And for some reason I decided that I was going to go ahead and suffer though the rest of the 35 miles. I am just a glutton for punishment. This year I will miss this race for work as well. It is sad, and scary. I am hoping that I will do well enough this year to Cat up to 2 next year which means a big jump in the difficulty of the Hermann road race for me next year. Just something for me to think about I guess.

I am just happy that racing has started, and I hope I can get to close to as many races that I got to last year. The best way to compete better is to compete more, right?

Excited, and scared, all at the same time.

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