Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mt. Washington Practice Ride Report

It's kind of crazy to think about the insane things we do because we are addicted to riding. Case in point--our trip to New Hampshire this weekend to do the practice ride for Newton's Revenge.
Crazy spending close to 15 hours in the car getting to and from Mt. Washington as there is no real direct route from Cooperstown.
Crazy getting up at 5 am.
Crazy that this was all to ride for about a hour and fifteen minutes. One might suggest that this is not the most efficient use of time.

As you know by now, Mt. Washington is one of my A races this year, so I felt it was well worth the drive to go up and see just how hard the climb really is. The start was any time between 5 and 7 this morning. I opted to "sleep in" which meant we were up at 5 to make it to the start by 6:30. As I was signing in, it was 60 degrees at the bottom and 40 at the top with 30 mph winds. I was told there was a 2 hour window of "no rain" forecasted--of course, that was 4:30 to 6:30 am.

The challenge was figuring out what to wear. I started out way over dressed. Ten minutes in I was burning up, so I dumped a layer with Cora which left me with a thin base layer and a long sleeve top with knickers. This combo worked just fine until I got above the tree line.

Cruising along at about the 3 mile mark. Rain status--light drizzle and I'm guessing it was some where in the low to mid 50's--very comfortable.

Popping out above the trees--the rain got heavier and the wind started to show its presence. I was starting to think it was getting a bit cold.

I think the unpaved section starts at about the 5 mile mark and goes to just past the 6 mile mark. I'm sure when dry, it's not all that bad. This morning it was wet, so to add insult to injury, it was a real power suck. I could feel my skinny little tires just sinking in. For whatever the reason, I found that riding up the little streams of running water gave the firmest ground.

Just before getting off the dirt, the rain was really coming down. Luckily the wind on this side of the mountain were not blowing as hard. I remember feeling like I hit a "flat" section which was much needed as I was able to ease up a little--I looked down at the Garmin and the "flat" section was weighing in at a corpulant 14%.

Once I got off the dirt, there was another relatively steep pitch and then it seemed to ease up a bit--I'm guessing this is somewhere between the 6 and 7 mile mark. As you can see, the fog had set in--what you can't see is the rain, which was much heavier and the wind had to be at a full 30 mph--I felt fortunate as the winds are 75+ mph 100 days out of the year.

I actually managed to ride the last mile above threshold, which I had not intended on doing but I was getting really cold and there was something about seeing the 6 and 7 mile signs that got me kind of jacked up.

You certainly can't tell, but this is the last 50 yards and it's 22% grade over the roughest paved road. Funny thing is that it's so unbelievably cool that the 500+ watts it took to get up came pretty darn easy. I can only image how cool it will be with hoards of spectators hootin' and hollerin'.

You may notice I now have a rain jacket on--this was my second time up the steep part. I beat Cora to the top on my first trip so I re-rode it for the photo-op. Not the brightest move as the 5 minutes of standing around soaking wet in the wind before going back up literally almost did me in--I have never been that cold--kind of scary how fast it came on.

A shot from the car on the way down--it's a pretty spectacular mountain and it's an even cooler ride. I was very pleased with my effort. My goal was to average 90% of my threshold and break the coveted 1:20 mark which I did. The road up averages 12% grade and other than the first couple hundred yards at the start, it literally never lets up. I started late which meant my "warm up" was on the hill--not so fun--it took a good 20 minutes to get into a rhythm. Teaching point to self--bring the trainer and a tent next time.

I'm scheduled to ride Mt Washington 3 more times this year and my goal is to increase my average power each time and then go for broke on the 21st of August with the lightest set-up possible. If I can ride at threshold for the whole trip up, I should be able to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 1:10. Of course, this is all contingent on the weather as it is every bit as unpredictable and nasty as they say--oh I forgot to mention a brief moment of hail today--sound familiar? What's the deal with me and big climbs?

Going to scout the Blackfly course tomorrow--did not spend enough time in the car this weekend, so I thought I'd add another 5 hours. At least this time, it will be sans whining, fighting and cranky kids. Good times.


Bigdave said...

Matt. Great post. The car rides would be so much better without all of your whining anyway.

Nate said...

Great thoughts. I got the same report from the nice women checking us in and said that if it started to rain I was coming to find them! Hah! It started pouring as I warmed up and it never relented. What a climb, though. I almost lost it on the gravel section when my tire sunk into a soft spot... glad I didn't because I'm convinced I would not have been able to get back on my bike on that grade!