This past Saturday, October 19th was the Santa Barbara Century. I recruited another strong team of ten La Grangers in hopes of defending our undefeated title of winning the Gibraltar Hill Climb for the third year in a row.
Each year the competition becomes more challenging and a few local teams from Santa Barbara put together strong teams in hopes of defeating us this year.
Unlike past years starting in rain and experiencing heavy fog on the mountain ridge, we rode under perfect sunny and warm conditions with some wind. It actually became a bit too warm reaching the summit of Gibraltar at 88 degrees.
The team was up for the challenge as we started out at a very modest pace conserving our energy for the big climb ahead which began at the 40 mile mark.
Needless to say, climbing Gibraltar which was 6.7 miles long, with an average grade of 7.1% and some spikes of 12 to 13% towards the top became an individual time trial as our pack split up very quickly from the start of the climb.
After a short rest at the summit after crossing the finish line and refilling bottles and having a few snacks we pushed on to the end of the ridge before turning around to make our way back.
The timed climb was over, but we still had over 6,000 feet of climbing ahead of us for a total of 9,000 feet for the day.
Arriving at the finish all of the individual times were posted. With Simon Rubin finishing 2nd in the 60 plus age division, Peter Sheehy 2nd in the 40-49 age group and Mike Kludjian and Tom Hill finishing 4th and 5th in the 50-59 age division I felt we had a very good chance of winning again this year.
The results are based on an age handicapped system and the top five handicapped times are considered in the final team calculations.
As we waited for the results the event organizer informed me that this year we had been beat by a strong local team by the closest margin ever. Our adjusted team time average was 40 minutes and 20 seconds. The winning team average was 40 minutes.
Everyone was happy to have won prizes of local wine for coming in second place and I was proud of the team for giving their best efforts, but losing by such a short margin was tough.
It is a great event and we will be back next year with the hopes of defending our title.