This segment I stumbled upon by accident. Often part of the warm-up for Hell’s500’s RFWYA, it involves the steep pinch of Hodgson St, with a left turn onto Nolan Ave at the top, left and down Walmer St, followed by a right onto the Boulevard and finishes at the top of the first boule hill, before the Studley Park Rd turn-off. With a decent enough time posted one Tuesday morning, this one seemed a great segment to target. And it is dif-e-cult!
Take Hodgson St too easy, and you’ll fall too far behind. Hit it with too much pace and your lungs will be bleeding too early. You’ve gotta get it just right. And then hold that effort for a short, flat TT, followed by a downhill TT. And if you’re not already gasping for air and looking for a lie-down, there is a short but painful uphill TT to finish it all off. Ouch!
I love these segments – enough variety to favour no one but a good allrounder over a short distance. With bit of a warm up on the way there on the boule, I wasn’t feeling amazing about the upcoming attempt, but warm weather can often give you a bit of an advantage, and I rolled down Walmer St regardless. Keeping the barest of momentum as the segment pitches upwards and onto Hodgson St, I started to through a bit of power through the pedals, but not enough to ruin me. 3/4 of the way up and I think I realised that I could ride up this pinch very quickly. I wasn’t hurting too much, and getting a clearer run than I would normally on a Tuesday morning made a difference.
With my heart rate a few beats per minute below my max at the top of the climb, I eased on the pedals to take the left turn, and got a look at the Garmin screen. Well ahead. And my legs felt good. This could be tough – perhaps the current record had a very fast finish. I basically treated the flat on Nolan, and the down on Walmer as recovery to hit the final section hard – probably not the best strategy, but when you have a lead, sometimes it’s best to conserve some energy.
With the right turn onto the boulevard, and the longest stretch of downhill of the segment, another glance down at the screen revealed that I was now barely ahead of the KOM. Shit. Time to hit it hard again. Whilst my power was not overly impressive for this descent, my cadence hovered around 110rpm – clearly showing I was trying hard to keep in front. And rounding the final major corner, into another uphill, I got back on the gas with an output back over 600W to get over the gear. For about half of that final hill, I managed to hold about 40km/h, holding close 400W for it’s entirety, fading with speed only in the closing metres, surpassing the previous KOM by 10 seconds.
Shot like an old horse, I limped under the Studley Park Rd Bridge, turned around with my heart still pounding and lungs feeling singed, and rolled out the lactic in my legs to go and have a crack at some other segments in Kew. Right near the bridge, there was a total fire ban sign. Pretty sure I ignored it.
Max heart rate – 188bpm
Average Speed – 36.8km/h
Average Power – 332 W
Time – 4:33