Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Return to the Blog--Newton's Revenge Race Report

All right--it's been a while since I've posted--and this time, I can't blame work, the house or the family--it's just been a great summer weather-wise (knock on wood) and I've been out riding! Truth be told, I have just been burnt out on blogging and rather than boring you to near death with the same old tales of our local training rides, I thought I'd wait for something worthwhile to write about. Yes- I realize this post is way after the fact, but better late than never, right? I had started it, but never managed to put the finishing touches on it.

We were off to Mt. Washington again--this time for Newton's Revenge. We took the whole family and headed over to North Conway, NH the Thursday before the race. This gave me a little time to relax after the interminable car ride. We stayed at the same hotel as we did in June and the kids were thrilled with the swimming pools. I went for a short ride on Friday while Cora and the kids explored some trails and waterfalls. Although Max and Phoebe wanted to repeat the awful meal we had last time, Cora had done a little research and found a great little place called Delaney's Hole in the Wall, which I think will become our restaurant of choice in North Conway.

Saturday morning we got up and got going a little bit late. The forecast had been for a few showers, but nothing major, so we were a little perplexed when we started to see cars with bikes on top with racing numbers headed toward us, away from the mountain. When we got there, we found that they had postponed the race for a day because the gravel parts of the road had gotten washed out overnight. So we turned around and spent most of the day at the pool with the kids. I was able to get out for an hour or so and spin. I happened across Hurricane Mountain and couldn't resist climbing to the top--probably wasn't such a great idea, but damn, it was a cool climb. Anyone who's done it knows what I'm talking about. I'm definitely going to hit this climb again--I'll just make sure to do it after Mt. Washington, not before.

When I got back from my ride, I found the kids totally waterlogged. We began the 3-hour process of trying to go to bed early. I actually slept really well, as this was not a high priority race for me. Without a taper and a couple of heavy weeks of training, I knew the day was probably going to be longer than I wanted it to be. On Sunday morning, the weather couldn't have been any more different than it was in June for the practice ride, or from the day before, for that matter. It was absolutely gorgeous--the car said it was 72 degrees at the base of the mountain.

Compare that to June:

The one lesson I took home from the practice ride was that I needed to get a solid warm-up ride in, so I headed out on Route 16 south and worked through my zones for half an hour or so. I actually felt pretty good, but I should have seen the writing on the wall, as I was sweating like a hog and had to stash my base layer. Being a novice (relatively speaking) to Mt. Washington, as I was sitting at the start, it never occurred to me that it wouldn't cool off as we went up the mountain. For the first two miles, I was well ahead of my pace from the practice ride and right on target with my power numbers. About 25 minutes into the climb, I was sweating like crazy and had already worked my way through most of my water bottle. I quickly realized that today was not my day. Miles 3, 4, and 5 I was really struggling, but surprisingly I was still on pace with my practice ride times, maybe even a touch faster.

By the time I hit the dirt road, I was down to maybe a sip or two of water, my average heart rate was 11 beats higher than it was in June, and my 5-6 mile split was a good 35 seconds slower. I was hoping for a little wind, as I was burning up--if it was there, I sure as hell didn't feel it. Whatever it was, climbing the dirt road section may arguably have been some of the worst suffering I have ever done on a bike. Mile 6-7 on the pavement was a little better--it was then that I realized that breaking 1:20 was going to be close. It seemed to me at the 7 mile marker that I was feeling better and probably went a little too hard, as I hit the final 22%, I was absolutely crushed--my heart rate was at a season high--never in my life did I ever think that I would love a 34x36 so much. As I made the final left-hand turn, I looked up and saw the clock hit 1:20.

The Devil got me good today!

I crossed the line at 1:20:14. Check out Max--he actually managed to shoot some video all on his own--I love that little Spanish climber!

I vaguely remember 3 or 4 volunteers grabbing me and holding me upright after crossing the line--I'm sure it wasn't for very long, but it seemed like an eternity as I tried to process whether or not I could get off my bike. I managed to hobble over and sit down--I was absolutely sopping wet--somebody gave me a bottle of water and it felt like the last supper. I must have looked pretty shitty, as I remember that 2 paramedics came over and checked my pulse. I'm not sure what they were getting at, but I much appreciated their efforts.

14 seconds--wow. People always talk about how steep and unrelenting this climb is, which it is--couple that with the unpredictability of the weather--hot, cold, driving rain, snow maybe? I'm starting to feel that doing well on this climb is a crapshoot. I'll be honest with you--I get more stressed out about what to wear (do I bake--do I freeze?) than I do about the actual climb. The verdict for now is that I would absolutely rather climb this in 40 degrees and raining than in 70-something degrees and sunny.

Tom Danielson missed breaking his own record by 8 seconds--he did manage to crush me by more than 30 minutes with an astounding 49:32. If I'm not mistaken, that 8 seconds cost him $5,000 bucks.

I guess the one good thing about my effort is that as bad as I felt, and I won't be dramatic and say it was the worst, but it definitely was in my top three crappiest days ever on a bike, I still managed to get pretty close to breaking 1:20. I was quite a bit faster, and certainly felt a hell of a lot better during the practice ride a month earlier. I've got no idea of what to expect now on August 21--I think it's fair to say, though, that the stars are going to have to line up for me to get into the 1:10-1:15 range. I still think it's possible if my taper goes well and the weather cooperates, but it's certainly going to hurt like hell--praying for a nice, light rain.

As far as the event goes--it's first rate--after gingerly walking to the car and waiting a bit we were able to head down and I made my way over to the tent, where I enjoyed a fantastic lunch. I'm already looking forward to August.

We stayed another night at the hotel and headed back to Cooperstown Monday morning. Cora and the kids went out for breakfast and I started out on my bike heading west on Rte 302. They caught up with me about 40 miles later, which was perfect, as it was hot and I had run out of water again--you'd think I'd learn.

We decided to make a stop at Mt. Ascutney on the way home, as it's just off the highway and I wanted to check it out before the race on July 17th.

Ascutney is a great little climb--certainly very comparable to Mt. Washington, except it's half the length and there are several areas where you get a little respite. I ultimately decided not to go back and race, as the 30-35 minutes of racing was greatly overshadowed by the 7 hours of driving. For once, I think my wife actually thought I was being practical--please don't tell anybody--it may ruin my reputation.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Don't Know Burt Friggin Hoovis

But this video is really inspiring. Enjoy.

Then of course there is this: