Team Work and Strong Legs Kicks Off the 2017 Season with Victory: San Bruno Hill Climb

Date: 1/1/2017

Teammates: Marcel Appelman (Appel)

Conditions: Mid-40s with a 10mph headwind for the first half of the climb and tail/cross for the final mile.

The Plan: Have Appel cover any early moves keeping me out of the wind and in contact for the final five minutes where the race is typically decided.


With only one other team (Thirsty Bear) showing up with a squad that included a really strong climber (Hanns Detlefsen) strategically the race was set up to be pretty straightforward. Because the last several minutes of the climb suit me better than the earlier shallow gradients and rolling middle portion I was content to save my legs for a single attack where it would matter the most. This meant Appel was on duty for covering all the early moves. And Thirsty Bear put him to work fast.

Moments after the group settled into the climb Chris Evans shot up the road on the left and immediately got away. Appel slipped up to the front and started to apply pressure to limit his gap. After navigating through the pack I got on Appel’s wheel and locked into a comfortable pace. After a couple of minutes Chris started looking back and it was clear he was no longer gaining. Appel did an excellent job of taking his time in reeling him in to avoid additional attacks. By the time we hit the first flatter portion of the climb we were all back together and Hanns briefly went to the front while the overall pace slowed.

Jacob (another Thirsty Bear) took over next and led the group through the underpass and onto Radio Road where the real climbing begins. As soon as it got steep Hanns put in an acceleration which Appel jumped to cover. I got back on Appel’s wheel and the three of us separated from the rest of the field. Hanns we pushing hard now and Appel was on the limit. With a flick of his hand he signaled he was done and the rest was up to me.

Todd Markelz climbing away to a win at San Bruno. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

Todd Markelz climbing away to a win at San Bruno. Photo credit: Alex Chiu

I got on Hanns’ wheel as he tapped out a steady rhythm. I continued to bide my time for the final few hundred meters. Nearing the top his pace slowed and I looked back to see that Chris Evans was working his way up to us. Not wanting Chris to rejoin and be outnumbered going into the finale now was the time to attack. Coming out of a corner I stood up and and kicked for about 15 seconds then looked back to see the damage. I’d opened up a significant gap and felt confident in the last 200m that nobody was going to catch back up. On I rode to the first win of 2017!

A huge thanks to Appel for doing the lionshare of the work on the climb! I was just happy that I could honor that work with TMB’s first win of the new year.