Posted by: Travis | April 30, 2010

Cat’s Hill is calling

I tried to come up with some stupid pun worthy of a newspaper headline, but a drew a blank. My Dad would be so disappointed.

Cat’s Hill is a classic Northern California race held in Los Gatos (just outside of San Jose on the way to Santa Cruz along Highway 17) and it’s going down tomorrow. The course’s namesake (and feature…uh….feature) is Cat’s Hill, which is a 1-block stretch of Nicholson street that reaches a 23% gradient. Now that’s steep. For a little bit of reference, the major climbs riders do in the Tour de France average anywhere from 6-10%. Cat’s hill is 23%. Now granted, those climbs go for miles, and this one goes for a city block, but that doesn’t mean that is doesn’t sting the legs.

Here’s the course description from the race flyer:

Tait-Bean-Massol-Nicholson/Ellenwood-Belmont-Bachman-Tait, clockwise one-mile loop with the Start/Finish line at Tait and Nicholson. One very steep climb (23%), five 90o right turns and one 90o left turn. Rough pavement except for the hill and Belmont plus small speed hump on Massol. Free lap rule applies; bring your own (strong) wheels.

For a more detailed description, see this page on the race website.

This is one of the longest running and spectator friendly races in Northern California, so naturally spectator turnout is pretty big. Some big names have won this race in the past: Popular NorCal PRO and Bissell rider Ben Jacques-Maynes, BMC PRO Jackson Stewart, US Postal rider (and Lance Armstrong teammate) Dylan Casey, and some dude from Reno named Greg LeMond, among others.

I’ll be racing the E4 race tomorrow. Rachel has to work the Stanford Med School Alumni weekend, so (Mini) Cooper and i will be bro-ing down on Saturday. Unfortunately, while we’re working on the training, he hasn’t mastered pinning on a race number, taking pictures, or screaming encouragement, so i’ll be on my own for most of that.   Right now my plan is to race the E4’s at 10:00, run a few errands (car wash, oil change), grab something to eat, and then make it back in time for the PRO/1/2 race at 4:00pm.

In case you couldn’t tell from the picture and course description, this isn’t a course that suits my strengths (that would be dead flat crits or road races). Normally when i show up to a race my priorities are as follows: a) finish, b) do what i can to help the team, c) go for a result. Tom0rrow my priorities will be rearranged a little: a) help the team, b) finish. If i can stake out a spot near the front of the group, nail my shifting going into the turns, there isn’t too much wind on the start/finish section, and the pace is such that i can rest a bit on the back section, i might be okay, otherwise it will likely end up being: do some work for the team, explode, hang on for dear life as long as possible.

I pre-rode the course with some teammates on Wednesday evening and luckily the Hill isn’t as long as i was worried it would be. If you take it at speed, you don’t have anyone in front of you, and you execute your shift correctly, your momentum will take you about 1/2 way up the will before you have to start cranking out 700 watts. There are some pretty nasty pot holes and pavement seams that could prove to be dangerous too. You’ve got to be in the zone mentally the whole race and able to flow with the group, otherwise your day will be over quickly.

We’ll see how it goes. I’m ready for some burning legs. Hopefully the team can bring home a good result.



  1. Good luck with the Feline Incline

    Your (not that disappointed) Dad

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