Beautiful day for the Azami Line Fuji Hill Climb on Sunday. Often a popular race among TCC members but only myself and Doug as far as I know this time. As well as a fine ride himself, Doug oversaw two Pro Tour riders he coaches for Neil Pryde in the Japan Pro Tour race. Meanwhile, still not getting any less steep but with a bit of a caffeine buzz at the start and gearing down to 32x34 I managed to claw my way to (for me) an elusive below the hour ride (59:31) and a respectablish 11 in my ojisan class despite little training beyond my short commute to work. This was particularly welcome after my last race at Zao where I really suffered for my (lack of) condition and was humiliated to a time some ten minutes or so slower than last year and also nearly got hypothermia riding in short sleeves in cold blustery winds that even brought snow at the top. Today, by contrast, woke up to a beautiful view of Fuji and near prefect conditions, warm at the bottom but with shady cool on the road up.
As Patrick said, beautiful weather and perfect conditions for the race.
I rode with the power meter and used that to dial in my efforts. The start is really interesting because it it is so easy to see people going out too hard. I lined up relatively near the front of my starting group, and within 200 m I was off the back. Then I just steadily caught people as they burned themselves out. I could not believe that a guy was already walking at the 2.5km point.
Despite my steady pacing however, I also went out a bit too hard. I was trying to ride 5% above my FTP, and set a personal best in the first 3.5km. However, found it hard to maintain on the first set of switchbacks, but easier to do on the real steep sections.
From my practice rides I knew that the last few km's was the place I really had to focus on. I like the idea, go fast in the fast sections, which I got from motorcycle racing. At the top there are several places where the road flattens out. Most people tend to recover there, and I know I would tend to do so to. For the race I made it a point to stand up in the drops and hammer it on the flat sections, allowing me to pass tons of people, and hit the climbs with momentum, where I could then recover.
I was relatively happy with my result, being within a few seconds of 2 years ago, given my lack of riding the past couple of weeks. I still have the 1 hr mark in my sights, and can probably get there if I drop a few kg's.
Was also pleased with the 12th place and 4th place results in the Japan Pro Tour and Japan Feminine Tour from the athletes that I am working with.
Thanks for the picture and informative report, Doug. What you say makes a lot of sense about the pacing. I still don't have a power meter but do the best I can with HRM, though Sunday I was too busy drooling over the handlebars to concentrate on the Garmin much. 4 and 12 at Pro Tour level is a fantastic result! You obviously know what you are doing with them and also took a wise if torturous strategy against the many unnaturally lean and sprightly competitors in the race. As you say, body crying out to take a break on the flatter sections but shut up body, time to attack!