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Report: Bohlman - On Orbit - Bohlman

Thanks to Rob Schott for posting the following report, which has been recklessly reproduced here, without his expressed written permission, or the permission of Alto Velo, for which he rides. It's amazing such a nice guy doesn't ride with TnT...

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Low-Key Hill Climb
Installment 6

Another Saturday, another installment in that cruel oxymoron of growing infamy, the Low-Key Hill Climb Series. Low-Key (wink) and Bohlman-into-Orbit don't belong on the same page. For the vast majority of us, just maintaining forward momentum up this climb requires concentration and a persistent coaxing of reluctant limbs and lungs.

We lined up on what was to be a fine morning in the usual mass start configuration, with the rabbits among us crowding the front and the less intrepid cowering behind. Kevin Winterfield worked the crowd with a few jokes. (When he hangs up his cleats he should run for congress, Dan Connelly can be his pollster.) The starting honk lit the pack and the rabbits jumped into action. There were two populations here: the usual suspects, led by the first chair and frequent soloist in the Hill Climb Orchestra, Tracy Colwell, making a steady dash to the top. Then there were the rabbits of the stewed variety who were not able to maintain their early momentum due to overgearage and/or the relentlessly uphill nature of this morning's adventure. The pack strung out into a slow procession and you soon found your position in the food chain, occasionally jumping up or slipping back as riders moved by.

I had garaged my lightweight Trek in favor of a touring bike, a tank by comparison, but with a triple chain ring up front. A number of riders had similarly come to this conclusion and there was no shame today in bringing a granny gear. The only shame was that my granny gear had so many teeth: 32, matched with a 26 in back, it was still more than enough gear-inches to mash around.

I was one of the unfortunate souls who jumped out of the blocks more briskly than I should have, and by the top of Bohlman #1 I was squirming around on the bike trying to find a rhythm. There was none to be had. The low point had to be when Gary Gellin ran by me, ultimately beating me to the top by a couple of minutes on foot. I wanted to ask if he'd carry my bike, but was far too short of breath for witticisms.

There was ever so slight a respite at the end of Bohlman, and I reconfigured my ample and aged payload to launch onto Orbit. I was riding along with Holly, one of the top women finishers, trading places periodically as we chewed up the terrain. At one section on Orbit there were several bikes strung out ahead of me, front wheels flicking back and forth, zigzagging in the sunshine like a school of salmon struggling upstream. Holly dropped me on the last section of 20%+ grade, but I gradually pulled back in range. When the grade became more manageable, my competitive neurons flicked back on (standard equipment in most models of the male brain) and my ambition began writing checks that my legs couldn't cash. I nearly slid out on a gravelly turn and she dropped her chain but sprinted back up in one remarkable burst. We hammered through the rollers atop Bohlman redux, along with another woman on a mountain bike who had closed fast on the last climb. The three of us sprinted through the finish in a gasping Low-Key lunge to the tape. My thanks to them for the inspiration to finish with a flourish.


San Jose, CA 95125