The Pain Pool: Wading in Above the Waist

Cougar Mountain Time Trial Route

Posting on the Tour de Blast, Bob asked if any of us were doing the Climb of Death up Cougar Mountain in Issaquah, WA, a climb locals refer to as “Zoo Hill”.  Like an idiot, I registered, and have set about preparing for the event by doing very little training and blocking the event from my consciousness.  My long-term strategy was to forget about it and then call foul later when I “realized” I had missed the event.  Were it not for the fastidious planning by race organizer Joel Blatt, my plan might have worked, too.  Instead, his regular email communications and updates ensured that I was perfectly aware of the fact that the event takes place August 7th, and he even convinced me to lobby for my start position.

I’ve ridden the climb in training on many occasions, and it has never approximated anything resembling “enjoyable”.  It starts off steep and stays steep for the first 1.5 kilometers.  About halfway up, it switches into straight sections of road that, while less steep, are painful reminders of how far you’ve got left to go.  Reflecting on the number of months between me and peaking does little to reassure me that I’m ready for the climb.  I haven’t even managed to reconnoiter the route and establish a race plan.  Thinking about it, though, I realize it’s probably for the best, as recon will likely only result in the realization that having a plan will just make things worse.

I am, however, considering taking my Velomihottie’s climbing wheels and pumping her 19mm tires to 180psi in the hopes of reducing the amount of friction induced my my too-fat-to-climb ass.  I’ve already removed one bottle cage, and I think I might remove the second; it’s not like I’m going to be taking any fluids on board. Quite the contrary: I’m hoping I don’t expunge a morning’s worth of food during the effort.

I suspect Bob might be an asshole.

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107 Replies to “The Pain Pool: Wading in Above the Waist”

  1. frank, this is awesome! Listen, you have to look on the bright side: Your legs are fresh, you haven’t been overtraining, right, so you have that going for you. Plus, it’s a chance to really lose yourself in Rule #5, transcend the pain, and have a velomingnostic experience.

    All good ideas about taking Velomihottie’s wheels, etc, etc, however, I think you need to man-up and simply remove your seat post and saddle and climb the whole way standing…I’ve got something similar in September called the Mt. Tam Hill Climb, which starts at sea level at Stinson Beach, and then shoots up a few thousand feet far too quickly…separates the Men from the boys….

  2. But seriously, Frank. Maybe – if you’re not really intimately familiar with the route – you could do a recon, but for fitness sake, but for getting your gearing down.. that might help…

  3. Train by doing a shit-ton of repeats up Lighthouse and fast for three days, thus shedding 6-8 pounds, and eat a Grand Slam breakfast the morning of. You’ll be fine.

  4. @Marko
    That’s a great idea, but i think his race is in two days, unfortunately…gotta like the Grand Slam though…

  5. @frank
    what you need is an ill-timed mechanical, such as dropping your chain, or a puncture, at a critical moment say, just after the start.

  6. @JarvisYes, just try to bungle a “double shift” or something like that..then make a fuss about people not waiting for you.

  7. Let me say that i cannot believe everyone is downing this climb/race, because if we collectively as the cognoscentia are, well, then everyone else is for sure.

    I say frank, you can.

    Cyclists are notorious liars (rule?) come race day. Continue to lie like this all the way to the day of the race. Lie by saying things like ‘i have hardly ridden’ and ‘i left my climbing pajama’s at home’. Inject a little worry and concern of how the climb felt last time and the anticipation of the pain makes you want to just quit now.

    Then make it happen….
    Write us later and share with us of your fulminate pulmonary edema as you crest the Col in your big ring 7 used your teeth to grab your 16t and let it rip!!!

    Because you can…

  8. Due to time constraints then, I’ve revised my training recommendation.
    Take the next couple days off so you don’t peak now, fill both bidons with Chimay and your jersey pockets with bacon the day of, and put some hurt on those fuckers. Then get in your car afterward and break into tears (where nobody can see you) because you’re in so much pain, go home, and lay on the couch for twenty-four hours watching vintage Tour videos, get a rub-down from your velomihottie using Baxter on your guns.

  9. Marko :Due to time constraints then, I’ve revised my training recommendation.
    Take the next couple days off so you don’t peak now, fill both bidons with Chimay and your jersey pockets with bacon the day of, and put some hurt on those fuckers.

    Chimay would be better for the descents. If you want to put the hurt on people, you need something that puts hair on your chest: Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard or DFH 120minute IPA

  10. Frank. Good luck. Given it’s a hill climb – Lose the brakes and associated cabling – you won’t need them and it’s all excess weight to shed. If you have time (and I know it’s only a couple of days away), you might want to get some coarse emery cloth and take off the lacquer and decorative layers of your frame which will help you shed, literally, fractions of a gram. If any time is left, start drilling (a la Hinault) – the frame, the gears, the seat post… and maybe even get a haircut.. every gram counts.

    If all else fails, remember Tommy Simpson’s training tips – Brandy, and lots of it.

    Do all of us velominati younglings a favour – on the day, wear a heart rate monitor and post your telemetry on line so we can learn what the true application of Rule #5 by a hard core Velominati looks like.

    Ride well, and good luck

  11. I love hill climbs… (this can’t be called a mountain).

    I’m currently two months from peaking… (I can still climb okish due to my 64kg weight and youth) And in 2.5 months is my next big event, the British Universities Hill Climb, a bit shorter than this.

    Anyway, enjoy yourself out there Frank, nothing beats the complete exhaustion at the end of these.

  12. So, Frank, we’re all giving you a bit of a bad time here (you kind of asked for it), but I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that we’re proud of you for giving it a good go, and we look forward to hearing a damned good report about it next week!

  13. I have to say I’m overwhelmed by the copious amounts of good advice here. Between beer recommendations, fasting, Grand Slam breakfasts, defacing my bike, I’m feeling pretty good about this.

    I’ve found a photo gallery from last year’s race.

    Have a look at the grade we’re dealing with:

    But there’s some good news, too. Using my killer instinct, I’ve been able to scope out the competition so I can gain a competitive advantage.

    Here’s a dude in a t-shirt riding a mountain bike. I should be able to put at least a couple seconds into him.

    Moving on, it appears the lady on the back of this tandem is on platform pedals, so there’s no way her stroke is any good. I’ll be able to take them, too.

    This guy here scares me, though. Not only is he piloting a TT bike up this fucker, he is at such ease that he’s smiling at the camera. My blood runs cold, seeing what kind of killer this guy is.

    This dude’s in clear violation of the Rules. I’m going to make sure I start right behind him and taunt him by hollering out all his violations as I pass him:

    This woman has some serious guns, but – again – there’s a serious of egregious Rule violations, so if I don’t beat her on time alone, I’m sure the commisaires will add adequate penalties to her time to ensure I’m still higher in the classification:

    I’m guessing this guy is the clear favorite to set the best time. I heard he got a job now, so just imagine what he’ll be able to do this year, now that he can afford a bike with two wheels.

  14. @frank
    Surprising lack of attention to gram-saving by many of these competitors – too much rubber, unnecessary bidons (as none of them look like committed Chimay-imbibers), saddlebags, TT/tri bars. I don’t think any of them take this stuff as seriously as you, Frank – and on that basis fully expect you to smoke the entire field. Good luck.

  15. No fucking way that’s a chick. If so, he-she’s a hold-over from East Germany and that bike is made out of pure iron.

  16. @frankI have to say, taking a gander at the competition, this looks far more promising than I imagined. Are you going to dish them out some serious pain wearing the full Velominati kit?? Given that your competitors are all egregiously violating The Rules, you riding the R3 in the Velominati kit will at least show this collection of amateurs what good taste is and total coolness is all about…

  17. @MarkoShe looks like one of those “triathletes” who can’t seem to make up their minds about what chosen art to pursue. As a wise Sufi told me once, “digging too many shallow holes leads to no well.”

  18. @frankMan..checking out those photos again: tandems, dudes balancing on one wheel, dude’s on a TT bike with aerobars, a woman on steroids, a dude with a sloppy t-shirt on a mountain bike…jesus, it looks like a fucking circus freak show…

  19. Ah Frank do us proud! On the 22nd I’ve got a near identical hill climb TT. 5.25km at 7.5%. I just wanna beat all the women. Last year a 28 yr. old lass in her full Luna kit cracked the top ten w/a time of just under 18 min. I do this climb just a bit over 20 min. I only have two weeks to drop two minutes. Surely my new Velominati jersey will shave at least one min., but the other min. will require some serious inspiration. Thats where you come in Frank. Fly up that hill and grab a win! Then pass on any pointers you can glean from your experience.

  20. @cyclops: now thats funny. that is what my buddy does to me too, took me years to figure him out, assuming he was telling the truth because he would do that same thing saying he was feeling aweful and that this one isn’t for him, then he would kill it.

    @frank: Those are some great pics, and kudo’s to the tandem. Double the pain. Your velomanti kit is a must as you have to start behind the maillot-juane clad CSC rider…and pass him and just like you said tell him how impressed you are in yourself for taking the yellow!

  21. Perhaps do the race in arm and leg warmers and use the event for “training”

  22. Spewing would be cool. Down one of your horrible Fosters at the start line, call out your fellow competitors as egregious Rule violators and Nancy-boys. Roll off on the R3 and Zipps, full kit, leaving the scent of Baxters in the air as you disappear up the hill.
    You will kill all these low weeds, no worries, and spew the Fosters toward the finish, all down your front.

    Or take Jarvis’s advice, go with full arm and leg warmers, only speak Italian, mumble something about training.

  23. Good luck on the ride. I think an off-the-cuff “this looks tough, but I climb well for my weight” is in order, and when you get to the top: “so is it the best of my three climbs or the average? ‘Cause this is my third.” And don’t be put off by the pictures: the start line is just out of sight around the bend, so the smiling guy just got started. Oh, and passing anyone involves screaming out “TRIPPELL!” when called for. Or just citing rule violations as you go past. Grimpe well.

  24. Seriously, though, and not having a lot of information to go on other than my own climbing abilities (I climb pretty well for my weight), I’m going to say you beat the unicycle: 11:29.

  25. Okay, a shot glass it is. And I’ll throw in one extra point for the real overall VSP. This could really upset the standings.

    I’ll say 12:33

  26. @frank
    Yes: Trondheim. Beautiful country””would be great for cycling if I could get out of the workshop. But they’re paying travel and meals, so I’m not complaining too much.

  27. Le Frank in 12:59.

    On beer: I’m sorry, but this is just not a ride for a Chimay. Chimay is for endurance and strength over distance. What you need is liquid bellyfire. This isn’t even a job for Newcastle (that most versatile of training beverages). Hell, even PBR isn’t the right choice here. What you need for this ride is a bendy straw and a bottle of miller high life. Insert the straw to the bend and fold it over the lip with your middle finger (pinky up; it’s the champagne of beers). When the starter gives you the count down, tip the bottle up (air goes in through the straw, beer comes out through the hole) and slam the beer, hand the empty bottle to the starter, wink, belch, and go win. I’ve never done this because I don’t race bikes, but it works every time…

  28. First place: Lang Reynolds – he’s been the perpetual Jan Ullrich here…I think this might be his year, oh say…11:01

    FRANK: He’s still a few months from peaking, but he’s got fresh legs and a stripped down R3…I’ll bet a respectable 13:08

    OK Frank, now prove me wrong and win the damned thing…

  29. @all
    I’m going to stay out of time predictions. Feels like a combination of jinxing myself and loading the dice.

    That said, the following items are taken care of:

    – New tires (Schwalbe Ultremos, the look mean as fuck)
    – Brand-new Velominati/Obey the Rules frame decals have been applied.
    – Full bike wash, drivetrain clean, lube
    – Leggs freshly shaved and baxtered
    – Facial hair will be left untouched in the morning
    – Consumed 2 margaritas with a burrito for an early dinner
    – Drank a few beers while working on bike from the Holy Chalice, the prototype Velominati pint glass
    – Repeatedly told myself I can suffer like Merckx on Mt Velomis for 15 minutes (or less)

  30. With preparation like that, how can you not go under 13 minutes?


    Good luck bro…

  31. 10:35 for fucks sake. This is Frank we’re talking about. He’s a damn animal, unhuman, waxed sasquatch. He will win.
    Warm up like a bastard, put those twisted bits of cotton up your nose like Eggtimer, but soak them in ether. or Ketamine.
    Knock ’em dead.

  32. Think of it this way:
    You’re going to be mashing the pedals so hard, that you won’t move up the hill, rather the hill will move its pansy ass down so that it doesn’t break.

    Attack from the bottom, and don’t stop attacking until you’ve crossed the finish. Make that little speedbump of a hill your bitch.

  33. @frank
    what the fuck, you’ve just contravened Rule #57. Besides which, you go to all that trouble of stripping the bike down only to go and add weight.

    And I hope the new tyres have been “worn in”. Never ride box-fresh rubber, unless it’s the other sort of riding you’re doing.


    *my VSP predictions have been waaaay out

  34. @Jarvis

    What the fuck, you’ve just contravened Rule #57

    Au contraire, my friend. These are decals, not stickers. No violation. Stickers say things like, “My other wife is hooker” or something.

    That said, I did consider the weight gain. I figured that, much like the additional ink used to emblazon the three Rules on the thigh of the bibs, having these decals would help in a motivational sense. Kind of like Cipo’s naked-woman-on-the-stem tactic. Speaking of which, that’s a clause for Rule #57 right there…naked people on the stem are an obvious exception.

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