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2014 Haruna Hill Climb - Sun 18th May

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
438
I entered the Time Trial on Saturday and the Hillclimb on Sunday.
The time-trial course wound its way around the south side of Lake Haruna at 1,100m elevation. It was set up as an out-and-back, and was mostly flat (ish) but there was a high point in the middle of each leg. The course was very short; only 7km long so it was an all-out effort. After arriving early and registering, and taking the cablecar up to the summit of Mt. Haruna and back, it was time to warm up. Luckily the course was still open so I rode it 3 times; once as a sighting run, one fairly quick run, and one moderate run. One thing that was obvious was the wind - it was blowing a hoolie from the North. As the course was short and twisty, that meant a real mix of headwind and crosswind. I'm sure there was some tailing too, but I didn't notice that so much!
I was in expert class and we were provided with a grid in the starting area - very nice. There were hundreds of other riders around and lots of race staff too, on every section of the course. The parking area was full of carbon fibre.
Just on time, the expert class rolled slowly toward the starting gate; where a proper start ramp had been built. The riders were set off at 10 second intervals; pretty close. My turn came, and with the marshal supporting my bike, I clipped in and waited for the flag. The starter raised his flag and I was off and pushing hard. There was a big crowd cheering loudly along the sides of the route, but I had no spare energy to acknowledge them. I struggled to bring my breathing under control and tried to settle into a fast pace, although with such a short course it was mostly a case of red-lining my body and worrying about it later. Climbing to the high point I was determined not to drop too far down the gear range. The downhill immediately afterwards gave a quick breather and for the first time I spotted the rider who had gone before me, and he seemed to be catching the rider in front of him. I kept them both in sight to the turn-around point and back along the lake shore, and as the road climbed to the high point again I put in an extra effort and got past one and onto the wheel of the other. Now it was a fast push to the finish and I passed the second rider and pointed my bike towards the finish. I clicked up through my gears and with a final sprint I was over the line. I finished in just under 10 minutes; 13th overall. Not too bad, as most of the guys that finished ahead of me were on hardcore time trial bikes.
Today (Sunday) was the hillclimb race, which had an amazing 4,900 entrants. It was an early start at 7am which meant getting up at 4 to get to the parking area, drop off my bag for the top, eat and get warmed up. Again I was in expert class with about 200 other competitors. We were first to go. We rolled out of the sports arena that was acting as race HQ to the start line of the race (which is not the actual start; that is around a the first corner). The hillclimb course is 14.6 km long and climbs from 200m to 1,100m; steady gradient to about the 10km point, at which it kicks up sharply and remains steep till the summit. The gun went and we were off. I was with the first group, as I wanted to draft them along the easier sections. However, at around 8km as the gradient started to steepen, I just could not keep up anymore. Possibly I spent too much energy trying to stay near the front of the group on the early part of the course. The riders in Expert are incredibly fast especially on the steeper sections; they seem to just float up the hill. Realistically I need about 10% more power than I currently have to be competitive with them, which is going to be hard to find. I was able to keep a reasonable pace to the top, but I was off the back of the group and ended up a poor 30th place, not even in the top 10% of the riders. So that was a disappointing result.

 

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jim

Warming-Up
Feb 6, 2014
12
8
Well done Alan and thanks for the great read! and thanks too for participating. Takasaki City were hoping to have 5,000 participants, but I don't think they are too disappointed by falling short of that mark by a 100.
 

Graham

Cruising
Feb 4, 2014
18
13
Good to hear. Any idea how many non Japanese participants? In any case, getting 5,000 participants should be good for the area - they can`t all be locals. I suspect that just as organised running has exploded in the last few years in Japan, organised cycling could be the next boom.
 

jim

Warming-Up
Feb 6, 2014
12
8
Graham, overall it looks like there were about 10 non-Japanese participants in the event..not even a blip on the chart of 4,900 participants - but better than zero. It seems like the whole event was a huge success, but I will provide more feedback from the Takasaki City Office, once I have had time to visit them. I'll update again when I have more feedback.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
3,450
1,607
Jim, in the feedback, maybe an all in one pack that includes accommodation would make it easier for non Japanese speaking participants to join. That can often be a barrier to participation.
 
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