Monday, June 21, 2010

Whiteface Hill Climb Report

Sorry I do not have lots of sexy pictures--I flew this one solo. I was really excited to head up to Whiteface as I have read it is a great climb. In July's Bicycle Magazine (can't find a link, p. 60 if you're interested), they compared it to Alpe d'Huez in length and grade. As a sidebar, I think the descent is crazy, as the frost heaves at 50 mph on a 13 lb. climbing bike make for a really scary ride.

I left Cooperstown and it was absolutely beautiful out. Three and a half hours later, when I arrived up in Wilmington, it was overcast and trying to rain. After signing in and finding out that I was in the third of nine waves, I believe, I had enough time to climb the first three miles, which served as an ample warm up--something that was sorely missed at Mt. Washington.

I wasn't sure what to expect, as I did not taper at all for this race and I did an extremely heavy week of training. My pipe dream goal was to go 54 minutes or better. Given how my legs felt, I thought that breaking an hour was a fair target. My strategy was to average about 95% of threshold and let the time work itself out. It was fun sitting on the starting line looking at all the modified gearing that people come up with to get up these hills. I later realized that Whiteface is very doable with a 25x11 on the back--the 36x11 sure looks good, though.

As the start gun went off, I was absolutely going backwards for the first mile. I think there were only 3-4 people were behind me. I couldn't figure out what was going on, as I was feeling pretty good. When I looked down at the Powermeter and saw that I was putting out 350 watts, I was hoping this was a case of a bunch of people going out way too hard. I dialed it back quite a bit, hoping the pace would slow. By the time we hit Santa's Workshop, things seemed to be coming back a bit.

I felt pretty good and got into a rhythm. I started passing quite a few people, which gave me the sense that I was flying. As always, pacing is so important, so I concentrated really hard on my cadence and maintaining my power. At the 20 minute mark, I was averaging about 2% over threshold and realizing that I wasn't going to be able to maintain this pace for an hour. Although it didn't slide off catastrophically, the power did come down more that I would have liked over the next 37 minutes--not ideal pacing on my part.

I had not pre-ridden the course, but was told that it flattens out at the top. I just wish I had known how much, as it seemed like the finish came pretty quickly. I finished in 57:38--I believe 47th overall and 14th in my age group, although I haven't seen any official results yet. As seems to be my MO on hill climbs, as I got to the top and got off the bike, I started freezing my ass off and only had my rain jacket on me. After ravaging the well-stocked food station at the top, I didn't have to wait too long before I noticed that people had already started down. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll say it again--I'm not a huge fan of going down hills. I was reasonable certain that this was going to be sketchy. I hit 52 mph, which in my opinion was crazy, and there were people flying by me like I was standing still. Wow!

Luckily the rain didn't start until I got to the car. A quick change netted me third for getting in on the free massage table. A very nice bonus for what was a great race. I'm already trying to think of a way to go back up and ride it again--looking forward to next year's race.

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