Feel My Legs I’m a Racer #10 came, but it definitely never leaves you. Whether it’s the camaraderie, the competition or the enormity of the hills themselves. if you participate in anyway, you’ll be reminiscing about yesterday for weeks to come.
I was pretty excited about this year’s edition going all out, with this being my second go around and my knee finally
coming into form in the last few months. I was able to get points last year, a fifth place finish on Baxter(so that’s technically only a point), so my goal this year was to register on the leaderboard again no matter how insignificant.
Last year, I was only able to stay for half, but this time my schedule was all lined up to complete the “terrible 10” hills until I learned earlier in the week that I marked Saturday instead of Sunday on my calendar. Still, I wanted to join the fun, so another 1/2 Feel My Legs it is.
Wanting to capture the magic again, I went all Ansel Adams taking stills as I rode while shedding my GoPro from last year. I considered bringing both, but who needs the extra weight? Here’s what unfolded:
Feel My Legs organizer and founder Matt Ruscigno giving pre-ride instructions to the riders. I liked that he stressed to the participants to be super nice to drivers even if you’re not receiving the same respect back. The ride had a good vibe and everyone seemed to adhere. I don’t know why he looks like a ghost in this picture, but trust me, he’s real.
LACBCers Lac & Doug all smiles before the start. I couldn’t crack one.
I was pretty content on taking it easy and snapping pics on Micheltorena, the first hill. Everyone has a lot of pent of energy to start, so it’s a good one to take easy and let everyone else go into the red. Still, I finished either 22nd or 23rd.
Yup, someone had the balls to climb on a fixie. Manny was pretty easy to spot being the guy weaving back and forth across the street. And this isn’t even the toughest hill!
Damn. Other people were taking pics? Now I feel pretty stupid.
Micheltorena really sets the pace. If you’re new to this type of climbing, some people walk, puke or outright quit. Either way, you’re going to be applauded if you make it up the hill one way or another.
The second climb starts from the 7-11 on Silver Lake Blvd., then turns up Baxter. I was ready to give it a go and move to the front. Why I’m still taking picture while trying to ride seriously, I don’t know.
Compared to last year, the pace was super casual and even hitting the steeper part of Silver Lake Blvd., no one wanted to go. It wasn’t until things flattened right before the turn that Jon Budinoff took off and everyone kicked it into turbo.
I held second place about halfway up the hill and slowly fell back to fifth as we neared the top. My chain also skipped, but I don’t think that would have made a difference. Still, annoying. At least I reached my goal of placing after only the second hill, so consider today a success!
This was technically the first race I’ve done for the Bicycle.net Racing Team as well as the first time I competed in anything all year, although this wasn’t even really a race. Still, the vibe was super chill, so yeah, maybe we shouldn’t call this a race.
Hill number three is the infamous Fargo. Everyone stops in front and gawks at it first while people contemplate how to make it up. That can’t be good for the pysche.
Just a few strides ups my chain skipped again. Not wanting to put up with 32% of hell, I decided to pull up lame. I’ve done this hill before. I know the agony. Live to ride another day.
The next hill was the Stadium Way climb up to Boylston St. I started way in the back, but the pace was chill enough that I was able to catch on to the front of the pack before the first bend.
A couple riders sprinted ahead, but there was no reaction since it seemed like they were going full bore not knowing there was a second hill ahead. My teammate “Breakaway” Manny lived up to his name and made a move benefitting me by splitting the field. There’s no way I can out sprint most of the better riders, but with longer pulls I can have some success.
Right after taking this picture, I stuffed my camera in my pocket and made off like Jensie. We were just hitting the crest of the first hill and I figured the guy in front of this pack wouldn’t chase me since he already had a gazillion points.
The move worked and I had a decent gap ahead of everyone making that big sweeping left hand turn.
Coming off that turn into a slight uphill, I realized I could have come in with more speed. I finally looked back and I knew some would catch me. My hope now was that since this is the most blind finish so far on FML, that some of the riders would go all out too early.
Three guys passed me, but they pretty much held. Oh well. Still, it was good enough for a fourth place finish. So I’ll take that any day.
Maybe I should have headed home, but I figured since the Baxter climb was on the way back, I could fit in one more. Plus, I wanted to at least repeat last year’s performance on this hill, so I couldn’t turn back. In other words, serious time. No pictures while riding.
Last year, someone sprinted out a little too hard and got caught on the turn onto Baxter. I wanted to be that guy this year, but not go out as hard. Instead, a rider from La Grange set the pace and we were all content to hang on while coming up Echo Park Blvd.
Everything seemed good sitting in third position turning left onto Baxter. The climb up the street is divided into two blocks, with the first part being the tamer of the two. I was feeling pretty solid about myself until my gears started skipping after making a couple a shifts appropriate to the grade.
Right away, I could tell I was losing momentum as a couple passed. Hitting the second portion, I was afraid to do anymore shifting and just had too much gear. I was just trying to finish in the top five, but after I fell into 6th halfway up the hill, I knew there was no coming back. I think I still finished either 6th or 7th, but no consolation prize for me today.
***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
All in all, another fantastic day to be a cyclist using Los Angeles as a magnificent backdrop. Most of these climbs transversed streets that were built over one hundred years ago. Under modern standards, no engineer would have ever built these roads in these manner.
They may be a nuisance to some, but a blessing for us cyclists. Thanks again to Matt Ruscigno and the many volunteers of Feel My Legs I’m a Racer for taking us there.