LIKE DISCOVERING the fine bouquet of an aged wine, climbing a massive 23 percent incline on a bicycle is an acquired taste, as proved once again at Saturday's Annual Cat's Hill Classic in Los Gatos. This closed-circuit criterium is a very well known and respected race in the cycling community, with the likes of Wayne Stetina and Greg Lemond racing up Nicholson in 1978, when the race was only 4 years young. Today's amateurs and pros are still battling it out on a course that consists of five right turns, with start and finish located on Tait and Nicholson. The only left turn puts the rider on the infamous hernia-inducing Nicholson climb, where the inclination of the road, if taken wrong, can easily cause the front wheel to slip or make the cyclist pedal into an involuntary wheelie. It's so brutal that in 1979 Jeff Stevenson dismantled his frame on a final assault on the hill. At 12, 15, or even 35 laps and several different categories, the race is just as much a thrill to participate in— about 700 people can vouch for that this year alone—as it is to watch. And also like good wine, the race just keeps on getting better and better every year.
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