Zoo Hill Time Trial: Triple Dip into the Pain Pool

Zoo Hill Time Trial: Triple Dip into the Pain Pool

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You can’t teach an old dog new tricks but you can grab a beer and watch that old dog do the same stupid thing over and over again, which is almost the same as a doing trick. On an unrelated note, I find myself, for the third year running, staring down the business end of the week approaching the Climb4Cancer time trial up Zoo Hill in Issaquah, Washington.

Zoo Hill is perhaps the most diabolical climb I know of, and I include in that statement the various cobbled bergs we tackled in Belgium this year, as well as the considerable heap of climbs around the US and Europe that I’ve had the great pleasure of hauling my too fat to climb carcass up. The trouble with this particular climb is the ferocity of the lower pitches which give way to a dead-straight final section of road consisting of ever-steepening rollers.

There is no keeping the powder dry on the ramps that litter the bottom half of the climb; this is an á bloc, stay-alive effort which serves to mop up speed and morale in equal measure. By the time you make the right-hand turn onto the sinister second half of the climb, your guns are fried and lungs hemorrhaging V resin. This section of road is nearly straight (which Science has proven is the most annoying kind of road to climb) and consists of a series of rollers which gain in gradient and culminate with the longest and steepest of them. This section is made physically daunting by the already-blown guns at your disposal, and mentally devastating by the fact that even if you could remember how many rollers there are in total, there is no way you can remember how many you’ve already sorted. (The answers are always “too many” and “not enough”, respectively.)

Riding this section during recon, it’s tempting to imagine moving Sur La Plaque and using the momentum from the short descents to fly up the next roller and thus dispatching with this comparatively easier section without much ado. Arriving here during the race, however, one faces an alternate reality consisting of legs reduced to quivering lumps of useless flesh, and rather than slipping into the big ring, ghost-shifting into a non-existent lower gear.

I look forward to my next attempt at bettering my time up Haleakala in Hawaii, which represents an unrelenting 60km ride from sea level to 3,000 meters, dished out in a massive four-hour helping of serial suffering. But I find nothing but dread in my heart when I cast my mind to the quarter of an hour of comprehensive pain I will endure on Saturday.

Donations Update

This event is organized to support cancer research with donations going to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Climb4Cancer Charity has arranged for donation-matching; for those of you who donated prior to the event, your contributions were given in the name of the Velominati Community. Thanks to you all for your support.

// Racing

  1. @James

    @Buck Rogers Last I saw Frank he was whizzing down the hill having completed his run. The results were posted but now seem to be unavailable, so perhaps your suggestion of foul play isn’t amiss? For my part, I managed to smash my personal record and complete the course in 13.01, the sixth fastest time today. Sorry if this sounds boastful, but I’m mighty proud of my performance so there it is!

    James, I hate you for climbing that hill so fast. OUTSTANDING EFFORT! Amazing.

    I squeaked by with 13:59, falling short of my personal goal of going between 13:47 and 13:52, but at least it was sub-14. I’m sure glad I buried the pin on the last roller to eek out that last second. 14 flat would have sucked.

    Strava was fucked because it had me sitting on the start line for two minutes and the time is jacked because of it, but if I figure out how to fix it, I’ll post it up.

    Re: QR position. Rule #43 clearly states:  It is acceptable, however, to have the rear quick release tighten upward, just aft of the seat stay, when the construction of the frame or its dropouts will not allow the preferred positioning. 

    This is in fact the situation with the R3’s construction and the skewers I use; that as high up as they go. Even with the Campa skewers on my cobbles wheels, the skewer has to sit in this position, alas.

  2. Next year, I aim to remember about this event more than a week in advance and train specifically for it. If I was going to pick an event that I am least naturally inclined to perform well in, it would be a short, steep, uphill ITT. Which naturally means I’m obsessed with this fucker.

    Some photos from the ride.

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

  3. Great job Frank and James, thanks for sharing the ride with us, what with the high probability of ridicule if you failed badly.

    If anyone is looking for another hill climb TT in a few weeks, you should check this out: http://www.consystency.net/OBRA/OUCH/

    Larch Mountain Time Trial, august 5th – 25k with ~1,100m of elevation. Not a bad grade, just long.

  4. Well done boys.

  5. @Frank Give me a little notice and I’ll come do this with you. I think I’ll be able to break the hour barrier.

  6. gonna have to repay you grief for “the sacred art of communing with butterflies” with pointing out the commission of the centerline violation! Damned by your own pix!

    Nice job!

    Larch TT is a great event. I won’t be able to attend but its well worth the trip- beautiful scenery, big butterflies to give chase as well as wasps to eat for protein on such a sustained effort.

  7. @frankThanks Frank, great job yourself, just making it to the top’s an achievement and to beat last year’s time is even better. That sucks about Strava. Having seen your stripped down machine I not only removed both bottle cages but also decided to run without my rule violating Garmin, thus forsaking any Strava glory for me too. That things weighs a lot, and I think not knowing my time and speed kept me focused on the job at hand.

    @mcsqueak
    This looks tempting. I’ll have to look into the logistics but I may be up for this, especially if others are.

  8. @James

    I rode it on my own a few weeks back, and the TT course took me 1:55, though I did stop at a lookout point for a few minutes to take some pictures and fill my water bottles. This was a 35 minute improvement over my ride from the summer prior.

    Most of the times seem to be between 1:00 and 1:30 for the people competing, looking at previous year results.

  9. @Dan_R

    Next big ride for me will be the Mt. Baker Hill Climb, and then Haleakala in January before KT2013.

  10. Well done both of you guys! Awesome efforts. Great time Frank! I’d like to be able to say there was some intelligence in my pick but apart from wanting you to set a PR but  it was, of course. just dumb luck. Sorry you didn’t quite make your target but it will give you something to obsess about for next year.

  11. @Buck Rogers

    @eightzero

    Was just thinking “yeah, likely need to clean my drivetrain.” Then I saw Frank’s pics. Now I KNOW I gotta clean my drivetrain. I feel great shame.

    ahhh, he’s having us on.  It’s a brand new casette and chain.  Right?  Please?

    Nope, that’s just a freshly cleaned workup. Don’t stand for anything less, chaps. Keeping it squeaky clean like that will also extend the life of the lot.

  12. @frank

    @Dan_R

    Next big ride for me will be the Mt. Baker Hill Climb, and then Haleakala in January before KT2013.

    Hope to see you and at least shake hands or prehydrate before the suffering begins.

  13. …at Mt. Baker, of course.  No damned edit function…

  14. @frank

    Re: QR position. Rule #43 clearly states:  It is acceptable, however, to have the rear quick release tighten upward, just aft of the seat stay, when the construction of the frame or its dropouts will not allow the preferred positioning.

    This is in fact the situation with the R3″²s construction and the skewers I use; that as high up as they go. Even with the Campa skewers on my cobbles wheels, the skewer has to sit in this position, alas.

    First of, congratulations on your time. 15 seconds off of your PB is a big improvement.

    With respect to the QR, I guess our definition of what “upward” means is different. In my mind, it means “upward”. I think the obvious course of action is to get a bike that allows you to be compliant (and as a Keeper, I think you’re honour-bound to do so). In which case, I’d be willing to take the R3 off of your hands…

  15. Nice one Frank and James, smashed it bros!

  16. @frank

    Regarding your pics, why take that corner so wide?  Lose a couple seconds there maybe?

  17. Well played Frank, well played. Hill climb races are beautiful. Is there any event that requires pure, unadulterated suffering for the entire duration?

  18. Well done da botha youse.  A PR for each and consolidated presence in the Pantheon.

  19. @frank

    Strava was fucked because it had me sitting on the start line for two minutes and the time is jacked because of it, but if I figure out how to fix it, I’ll post it up.

    Once you upload & save the ride there’s an ‘actions’ drop down menu where one of the options is Crop Ride. Click on that & you can move the start point to where you actually start moving.

  20. @SuperFed

    Because this is what the inside of the corner looks like.

    @Collin

    Well played Frank, well played. Hill climb races are beautiful. Is there any event that requires pure, unadulterated suffering for the entire duration?

    The Hour Record, which I’ll be doing later this summer as well. Forgot about that one.

  21. @frank

    @SuperFed

    Because this is what the inside of the corner looks like.

    @Collin

    Well played Frank, well played. Hill climb races are beautiful. Is there any event that requires pure, unadulterated suffering for the entire duration?

    The Hour Record, which I’ll be doing later this summer as well. Forgot about that one.

    you calling in the record keepers?

  22. The Hour!

    Excellent. I’m enjoying your suffering already.

  23. @frank

    You got a weekend picked out for that, big guy?

  24. Juding from the pic of you standing next to the car, you must have a different model Land Rover than mine. Yours looks a lot lower.

    Oh yes – and your steering wheel is on the wrong side.

    The Hour? Look forward to seeing the track bike you get yourself. Go get a Bike Technologies frame – best one available.

  25. @James

    @frankThanks Frank, great job yourself, just making it to the top’s an achievement and to beat last year’s time is even better. That sucks about Strava. Having seen your stripped down machine I not only removed both bottle cages but also decided to run without my rule violating Garmin, thus forsaking any Strava glory for me too. That things weighs a lot, and I think not knowing my time and speed kept me focused on the job at hand.

    @mcsqueak
    This looks tempting. I’ll have to look into the logistics but I may be up for this, especially if others are.

    I’ll be there. Shooting for 1hr 5min. It’s a long sustained climb where when you think you’re done, it gets stepper. I gotta bed for any out of towners that want to do it. Frank and his VMH get dibs on the guest room.

  26. @SuperFed

    @frank

    Regarding your pics, why take that corner so wide?  Lose a couple seconds there maybe?

    You should come down and do Larch (OUCH). You go uphill really well. It’s your kind of course from what you were telling me Saturday.

  27. @minion The Hour?  Will there be anothher informal VSP?  If so, put me down for 60 minutes flat.

  28. @scaler911

    The last corner into the parking lot may be the most un-satisfying turn ever, because even that part is like 7%, so you just want to be able to hammer and “take it home”, but it leaves struggling until the very end.

  29. @mcsqueak

    @scaler911

    The last corner into the parking lot may be the most un-satisfying turn ever, because even that part is like 7%, so you just want to be able to hammer and “take it home”, but it leaves struggling until the very end.

    No doubt.

  30. @mcsqueak

    @scaler911

    The last corner into the parking lot may be the most un-satisfying turn ever, because even that part is like 7%, so you just want to be able to hammer and “take it home”, but it leaves struggling until the very end.

    for which we say thank you and amen!

  31. @Marcus

    Juding from the pic of you standing next to the car, you must have a different model Land Rover than mine. Yours looks a lot lower.

    I understand from LR that they sell taller ones to short people in order to further heighten their sense of inferiority

    Oh yes – and your steering wheel is on the wrong side.

    The Hour? Look forward to seeing the track bike you get yourself. Go get a Bike Technologies frame – best one available.

    I’ll be borrowing a bike from the guys at Veloforma who are based in Portland. Cool company, and I’m excited to try their track steeds.

    @mcsqueak

    @frank

    You got a weekend picked out for that, big guy?

    Not yet, seeing what works.

  32. @scaler911@mcsqueak@gaswepass

    You guys realize you’re talking about a 1-2 hour climb and complaining about a 7% ramp at the end, right? Even Haleakala has the sense to end in a final pitch of 17%.

  33. @frank

    OK cool, well hopefully it’ll be a bit further out into August. I’ll be out of town the weekend of the 9th, and I certainly want to be in town to scream insults uplifting words of encouragement while you suffer.

    And regarding that 7% grade, yes I know it doesn’t measure up to Haleakala, but it’s the best I can muster up for a long steady climb that is accessible directly from my doorstep, without a drive. Sure there is stuff far steeper within Portland, but the elevation tends to top out right around 300m within the city.

  34. @mcsqueak

    Ah, stupid strikeout code didn’t work. That was supposed to be sneaky!

    At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing you give it the ‘ol college try!

  35. @frank

    @scaler911@mcsqueak@gaswepass

    You guys realize you’re talking about a 1-2 hour climb and complaining about a 7% ramp at the end, right? Even Haleakala has the sense to end in a final pitch of 17%.

    Yes. However there are a few 13%+ bits along the way (tho not at the end). If you’re doing a TT up it, it will make you hurt. A lot.

  36. The interwebs are eating my posts! Either that or I’m being moderated.

  37. @CanuckChuck

    The interwebs are eating my posts! Either that or I’m being moderated.

    Found a whole load of posts in the moderation queue. Nothing personal. Just happens sometimes. I’ll sort it eventually.

  38. @frank

    @James

    @Buck Rogers Last I saw Frank he was whizzing down the hill having completed his run. The results were posted but now seem to be unavailable, so perhaps your suggestion of foul play isn’t amiss? For my part, I managed to smash my personal record and complete the course in 13.01, the sixth fastest time today. Sorry if this sounds boastful, but I’m mighty proud of my performance so there it is!

    James, I hate you for climbing that hill so fast. OUTSTANDING EFFORT! Amazing.

    I squeaked by with 13:59, falling short of my personal goal of going between 13:47 and 13:52, but at least it was sub-14. I’m sure glad I buried the pin on the last roller to eek out that last second. 14 flat would have sucked.

    Strava was fucked because it had me sitting on the start line for two minutes and the time is jacked because of it, but if I figure out how to fix it, I’ll post it up.

    Re: QR position. Rule #43 clearly states:  It is acceptable, however, to have the rear quick release tighten upward, just aft of the seat stay, when the construction of the frame or its dropouts will not allow the preferred positioning.

    This is in fact the situation with the R3″²s construction and the skewers I use; that as high up as they go. Even with the Campa skewers on my cobbles wheels, the skewer has to sit in this position, alas.

    1) Convert the .fit file from your garmin to a .tcx file, either by loading it and saving it via connect.garmin.com or ridewithgps.com.
    2) Open the .tcx file with your favorite xml editor (or notepad, but you strike me as a guy that has a favorite xml editor).
    3) Figure look at the sections and figure out when you want the ride to start. Then delete all sections until the header (if that is the right term).
    4) Save the .tcx file.
    5) Delete the previously loaded activity in Strava.
    6) Upload the activity from file.
    7) Strava should now reflect your true performance.

    And if anyone asks, we never had this conversation.

  39. @scaler911

    @frank

    @scaler911@mcsqueak@gaswepass

    You guys realize you’re talking about a 1-2 hour climb and complaining about a 7% ramp at the end, right? Even Haleakala has the sense to end in a final pitch of 17%.

    Yes. However there are a few 13%+ bits along the way (tho not at the end). If you’re doing a TT up it, it will make you hurt. A lot.

    That is the simple truth of any TT, and certainly of any uphill TT. Respect.

  40. OK, good to know. I’ll stop trying to post (over and over) my instructions on how to edit your Strava file. Your filter probably picked up on the mention of file extensions and the XML talk and got excited.

  41. @CanuckChuck Well, in that particular case, the spam filter might be helping me out seeing as I know how to edit my strava files! More that it doesn’t factor too highly on my to-do list to get bothered by it…

  42. How do you guys train for these events? Any good programs? I’ve got a KOM race in October and want to give it my best shot and looking for a good 3 month plan

  43. @CanuckChuck@frank

    Found your instructions; you’re not kidding that you posted it over and over! Great tips, I’ll get around to it some time in 2013!

    @Adrian

    How do you guys train for these events? Any good programs? I’ve got a KOM race in October and want to give it my best shot and looking for a good 3 month plan

    You’ll have to ask someone else for a specific plan. I forgot about the race until the Sunday prior and then just did some emergency hill repeats, but nothing serious. I suck at short efforts – always have – and I suck at steep climbs. Longer efforts – 2-4 hours – is more up my alley.

    The basics are simple enough; for longer hill climb training the key is that you have to sustain the power for so long, without respite (usually), so you have to find a good way to train your body into doing that. If you have a good hill thats long enough for it, you can train there, but otherwise the turbo might be the ticket. Set it to a high resistance and work on your sustained power. And always do your intervals and strengthen your core.

    The Dutch train for the mountains by riding into the wind, incidentally, and that seems to work as they historically are pretty good climbers, the lanky fucks.

  44. @Adrian

    How do you guys train for these events? Any good programs? I’ve got a KOM race in October and want to give it my best shot and looking for a good 3 month plan

    I’ve heard that moving to an island off the coast of Africa with a volcano on it works well.

    But, really, and I know that I sound like a complete wise-ass, but really not meaning to, just ride a ton of hills with hill repeats.  I find the only way to get better at climbing is to climb, a lot.  Not at all helpful, I know, but I personally do not know of any specific training cycle for hill climbs.  It is just time spent in the pain cave on the mountain.

    Hopefully some one will say that I am a complete idiot (and they’d most likely be right) and post an awesome 3 month tailored Hill Climbing TT plan. 

  45. @Adrian

    Ask Scaler911 or SuperFed what they do. I watched them both ride away from me multiple times up a hill on Saturday.

    Here is what NOT to do: drink lots of IPA the night before the ride, go to bed still a few sheets to the wind, and wake up early the next day. THAT is how to train for mega side cramps.

  46. @scaler911

    @SuperFed

    @frank

    Regarding your pics, why take that corner so wide?  Lose a couple seconds there maybe?

    You should come down and do Larch (OUCH). You go uphill really well. It’s your kind of course from what you were telling me Saturday.

    I may give it a go someday.  Intrigued by @eightzero’s RIDE542 post.  Got another imperial century this Sunday then Ride the Hurricane on Aug 5th (Hurricane Ride outside Port Angeles, WA).  After, start to train for the PDX Firefighter Stairclimb on Sep 23rd.   Might be hard to fit it all in.

    Great riding with you and @mcsqueak and look forward to the next one.

  47. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @mcsqueak

    Thanks for the tips, lucky we have big mountains right outside the door. Frank the TT is 43km long and 1500m of ascent so would be right up your alley. The reason looking for a program is that I usually do one of the following when training for an event: 1) burn out due to overtraining 2) injury myself or 3) peak way too early and then am useless at the event. I guess will trawl the Internet for inspiration!

  48. @motor city

    @Adrian loads on line that might help, all generally say similar things: http://www.cptips.com/climb.htm

    or this http://www.swissretreat.com/cycling-climbing-training

    or this http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/blog/2137/tejvan/how-to-ride-a-hill-climb/

    thank you! Will definitely check them out.

  49. @frank

    @scaler911

    @frank

    @scaler911@mcsqueak@gaswepass

    You guys realize you’re talking about a 1-2 hour climb and complaining about a 7% ramp at the end, right? Even Haleakala has the sense to end in a final pitch of 17%.

    Yes. However there are a few 13%+ bits along the way (tho not at the end). If you’re doing a TT up it, it will make you hurt. A lot.

    That is the simple truth of any TT, and certainly of any uphill TT. Respect.

    Missed the initial salvo, seems you salvaged it. Its a nice tradition, sadly I’m missing it this year to go hear some music in the woods.

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