Naturally by the time I managed to duck out of the office I wasn't going to make the planned start time, and the heavy backpack today, and snow squall plus headwind didn't help either. Regardless, I was about 20 minutes late, but saw the guys right at the bottom of the hill. I dropped the backpack and we were off.
Last year when I did... wait cross that out. Last year was work round the clock at this time of year. Two years ago when I'd done purposeful hill work, my methodology was a strength and muscle fibre recruitment type workout. 50-60 rpm, obviously stressing the legs hard, but very low intensity on the aerobic system - I could speak pretty easily at any point. I did 2 reps that way today, but the other guys were doing more of a 4-5 minute blast up the hill, which is obviously going to stress the leg muscles, but it's more of a power interval.
I jumped on that bandwagon on trip #3, as Craig attacked aggressively from the bottom of the hill, I knew I wasn't going to match that. I paced myself at a level I thought I could sustain to the top and that would come near to closing the gap if Craig slowed. My mind alternated between 3 thoughts on the ascent - my legs are burning, my lungs are burning, and "bike pacer" is probably a more accurate term for me than "bike racer" as I'm always thinking about the rate at which to dispense stored energy. On the last 100 yards it became a game of shoulder check from the front and sprint from the back, with Craig staying ahead. That's a quality interval for rep #7 or whatever he was on.
Next one up Shawn decided to work it, so I did my best to stay near him, those two intervals left me on the downward side of my energy curve for the evening. After that both guys were leaving, so after some chit chat I did 2 more, first being more the muscle strength effort, and once more for sustained power.
When I started my legs felt great, I was definitely winning the battle against the hill. Funny how just a half an hour later the hill calmly took charge of the day and left me riding meekly home.