With coastal mountain ranges that ring San Francisco Bay, most Bay Area cyclists are blessed to live within 10 miles of a road that climbs to a thousand feet or more. Mt Tamalpais, Mt Diablo, Mt Hamilton. Old La Honda, Palomares, Sierra Road, Tunitas Creek, the Three Bears. There’s a tough climb within riding distance for anyone prepared to face the pain and feel the glory.
For those who crave new hills and want to go head-to-head against other climbers, the Low-Key Hill Climb series was born. The stated goal of this grassroots, volunteer-driven series of events is to “allow each cyclist, no matter what his or her level, no matter what his or her speed, to establish goals and meet them. It’s all about the hill, the rider and being at one with the bike.” Of course, for competitive cyclists, this means pushing your body and spirit to the limit to crush the field. The organization may be low-key, but the competition is not necessarily.
When Dan, the series organizer, asked me to be the coordinator for the Page Mill Low-Key Climb last Saturday, I had to chuckle a little inside. I’ve raced a few Low-Keys with friends before, but I’m not really a climber. Well, at least not in the Low-Key sense. I don’t seek out new hills with evil steep grades. I don’t track my personal best times on Strava. And I rarely find myself waiting at the top for anyone. I climb because I love riding the quiet backroads, which are all hilly. And because I love descending.
But I can appreciate the passion for the challenge and the joy within the pain as I watch these hard men, women and yes, children, busting a gut to make the grade with a peak a week. They just can’t get enough, while I’m happy to just get over it. For me, veni, vidi, ascendi will have to be another day, when I’m not volunteering.