Cat’s Hill Criterium

Promoter: Los Gatos Bike Racing Club

Road Surface: The downhill section has been paved but there is still a lot of rough concrete slab beat up pavement. Beware of the “seam” in the middle of the road before making the left turn onto the hill.

Gearing: Some riders may want to use a 39×23, but most will probably be “happy” in a 39×21.  Having switched to a compact crank and then mid-compact, I found that a 11×26 eleve speed cassette allowed me to stay in the big ring (52×26) when I wanted/needed to make a big effort and eliminated any shifting issues either before or after the hill.

Facilities: Downtown Los Gatos has everything you’ll need and it’s more expensive too!

Weather: It’s usually really nice this time of year unless there’s an early heat wave or late rain storm.

Race Advice: Even though there is a nasty steep hill, this is not a climbers race. It is a race for a powerful rider with a good sprint. The hill is too short to break the race up except in smaller fields.

One of the best places to attack is on the false flat section just after the top of the steep climb. Most riders will be trying to recover after the steep section and will probably look for somebody else to chase you down. The only problem with getting away on this course is that you’ll work really hard to get away and keep your gap, but when you get to the hill next time you’ll be tired and go pretty slow. Meanwhile, the field probably won’t be too far behind and will likely blast up the hill because there’s always somebody fresh to push the pace. It would take an almost superhuman effort to stay away from the field alone for more than a few laps.

The race will most likely end with a small group going away during the last few laps, or there will be a field sprint. In the Sr. 1/2 race the winner has often powered up the steep hill in his big chain ring!  And not some sissy compact crank either! 🙂

Whether in a field sprint or a small group sprint the race is for the last corner. The first person (upright) through the last corner will almost always win. This is not for the timid. Speeds coming into the corner can be 40 mph or a little more coming off the down hill. Not a day to leave the 12 (or even 11) tooth cog at home…

Here’s a bit of important advice concerning the hill. Make your shift into the small chain ring before you turn onto the hill. You’re really asking for trouble if you try and shift off of the big ring on the hill. You might get away with it most of the time, but if you do it enough YOU WILL GET BURNED. If you end up having to go for a walk half way up the hill not only will you be screwed, but so will most of the riders behind you. I like to drop it into something like a 36×14 or 15 before I make the corner and then change gears in the back as I start climbing.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe

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