2013-09-14 Mt. Tamalpais Hill Climb
Photos by Alex Chiu Photography. More photos available here.
Full results available on USA Cycling.
In the beautiful coastline along Stinson Beach, racers drove from all over to Marin County to climb Mount Tamalpais. Considered as one of the most picturesque State Parks, racers would be met with equal challenge to match: 2000 feet of climbing in the last 8 miles of the 12 mile long course. After the initial flat four miles from Stinson Beach to the start of the climb, the road pitches up and the road narrows. Faced with twists, turns, and switchbacks left and right, racers climb for about four miles on narrow roads surrounded by densely packed trees with the smell and sound of the ocean in the background. Once they cross the ranger’s gate at the fork for Fairfax-Bolinas Road and continue onto Ridgecrest, they are faced with the fabled “Seven Sisters”. The trees clear, and the racers are presented with an unobstructed open view of the climbs ahead of them as well as views of the coastline and Marin county. The seven climbs continue for the final four miles to the finish at the West Peak of Mount Tamalpais in the Rock Spring parking lot.
P/1/2: For a hill climb, not having ridden the course presented some obstacles. “The biggest challenge is that it’s hard to plan tactics for a climb…when the climb is going to be a deciding factor… it’s hard to know when to go”, said Colin Daw (Fremont Bank) in a post-race interview. Despite the unknowns, Daw attacked after gaining a gap with two miles to go before the climb. Joining him would be mountain bike legend Ned Overend (Specialized/Durango Wheel Club), where the two would work together to the base of the climb.
As the two continued to trade pulls towards the Seven Sisters, Steve O’Mara (Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase) and Keith Wong (VuMedi p/b Lombardi) would join to make a group of four at around seven minutes into the climb. Upon starting on the Sisters, Daw and Wong would catch O’Mara and Ned, who had gotten ahead. And that would be where Daw would make his move: “At the top of Fairfax, I attacked from the first sister of seven. Turned myself inside out for 11 minutes… put my head down and just hammered…”.
Once Daw had attacked, Wong would lead the charge to chase Daw down the remaining Sisters to narrow the gap down to 10 seconds, but at the 6th climb let off the gas as Daw would claim his victory as the first across the line for the day.
W P/1/2/3: In the women’s P/1/2/3 field, Alison Tetrick (Exergy TWENTY16) was glad to be out racing on the familiar course. “I regularly train on Mt. Tam, and it is the quintessential climb of the North Bay”, she recalls in an interview after the race. After a leisurely pace before the right turn onto the climb, the former winner of the Mount Tam Hill Climb would ramp up the speed. “Things exploded as soon as we took the right on Bo-Fax”, said Katie Hall (MetroMint Cycling). Tetrick agrees, “Once you reach teh climb, fireworks always occur, as they did today”. With Mary Maroon (SBRacing), Susannah Breen (Folsom Bike/Cervelo), and Tetrick, the group charged up the climb, with Breen falling off along the way. With Tetrick leading the group up the climb, Hall kept an eye on Tetrick in the chance that she would attack. As Hall and Tetrick emerged from the woods, Hall would attack on one of the rollers to secure the win. “I knew my legs were fading but I was just hoping to hold onto the small gap I got with that attack and it worked!”, Hall remembers.
Coming straight off of a top podium placement at the USA National Championships in Bend, Oregon, Chris Phipps (ThirstyBear Cycling) was ready for competition. While he could have raced in the P/1/2s, Phipps wanted to race the masters field to compete with Andres Gil in the overall Premiere Series. “Also, I’d be able to wear my new National Championship jersey only if I raced masters”, added Phipps. Setting a fast temp for the initial pancake-flat miles out to the turn, the four other ThirstyBear teammates motored along until the turn onto the climb, where NCNCA Champion Kenneth Spencer (CoreTechs Cycling Team) attacked, shattering the field. With only Phipps and Joshua Dapice (Audi Cycling Team), Spencer would continue pulling, with Phipps and Dapice on his wheel. With 1K to go, Phipps would attack for the second time (after an unsuccessful attempt at 3K) to gain a gap, where “it was [then] TT time for the final 8K to the finish”.
45+ 1/2/3: On the fourth sister, it was the red, beige, and white kit of Robert Pasco (Safeway/PureRED) that would emerge before the next group of riders – Craig Roemer (Team Specialized), Max Thompson (ThirstyBear Cycling), and David Passmore (SJBC) would come by over a minute later, with Carl Neilson (Kovarus/Wells Fargo) trailing behind. Dirk Himley (Hammer/Charity of Choice) would come motoring by nearly two minutes after Pasco had finished cresting the climb. The podium would compose of the aforementioned riders in the order they were presented in this report.
Special thanks go to Colin Daw (Fremont Bank Cycling), Alison Tetrick (Exergy TWENTY16), Katie Hall (Metromint Cycling), and Chris Phipps (ThirstyBear Cycling) for contributing to this article.