Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010 Mt. Washington Hillclimb Race Report

Disclaimer—I’m manic and this is going to be a long one.

We were so, so lucky, as we got the hall pass grande this weekend because my super-special extra-fantastic mother took the kids yet again. The funny thing is that they would much rather be with her than go to another one of my races. We left for New Hampshire early Friday morning and after several stops for "necessities," we got up to Mt. Washington by 1:30--perfect timing to get an hour ride in before the 3 pm sign-in.

The stop


I must confess as I walked over to the sign-in table marked 40-49, I was slightly disappointed about my narrow miss at Newton’s Revenge—14 seconds and I would have been at the Top Notch table which, by the way, had no line—oh, the perks of being faster. As with Newton’s Revenge, I left registration with an awesome shirt and some sweet “usable” swag. Cora and I headed down to North Conway with two very simple purposes: 1) get to Delaney’s Hole in the Wall for some eats and 2) get a very nice uninterrupted night of sleep. I was unusually proactive about getting all my gear together, so having nothing to do but go to sleep at 9 pm was surreal and oh so nice!

I slept really well which for me is unheard of prior to an “A” race. I did, however, wake up in a panic because I thought I was doing Leadville and had forgotten to discuss my nutrition with my crew—kind of freaky. We got out of the hotel in record time which included a traditional breakfast of oatmeal and a banana. Cora suggested that my recent switch to bran flakes for breakfast has contributed to the compulsory two pre-race porta-potty stops that have been greatly eating into my warm-up time. This morning I beat the system by going back to oatmeal and by leaving 15 minutes early. I only had to make one porta-potty stop and I was able to get in a very nice warm-up.

A beautiful morning--cool and crisp.

My only complaint about this event would be that they make the cars go up the mountain by 8 am, which leaves 40 mins or so with nowhere to stash last minute goods/clothes, but I found some cool guys who let me stick a jersey in their jeep to be retrieved after the race. When it came time to line up, I started at the front, as I was told that there could be some traffic issues. I felt really good waiting for the start as I was not that nervous--as funny as this sounds, not feeling that nervous made me feel less nervous. Now that’s not to say that I was totally composed--with 6 mins to go, I bolted 100 yards to hide behind a dump truck and express my bladder one last not-so-fruitful time.

On my return, I noticed that Selene Yeager—“the Fit Chick” from Bicycle magazine was lined up next to me. I had two thoughts: 1) I know she is probably going to be super fast--if I’m not mistaken, she won the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic and 2) Oh my god, is she hot in person. Well, make that three thoughts—she was riding a very sweet I'm assuming custom- painted pink Pinarello Prince. Needless to say, fast hot fit chick on a sweet ride made her the one to follow—if I could.

I made it across the flat section with only a couple of people from my group in front of me. For whatever the reason, I suddenly got really nervous that the day was going to suck—I really made an effort to focus on my cadence and find a rhythm that would keep me on target to knock out a mile every 10 minutes—if successful, that should get me to the top in 1:15. The bottom 2 miles were easier than I remembered and I went through the 2 mile marker in about 17 minutes—not bad--way ahead of pace. I started to worry again as I rode that section fairly well for Newton’s and then went into a catastrophic melt-down mode which resulted in finishing like a small recently-spanked child. Thankfully my self-doubt was short lived. The day was gorgeous--absolutely perfect for climbing and as I went through miles 3 and 4, I was still 3 mins ahead of schedule and starting to realize that I may be able to uncork a good one today. I knew if I could get past the dirt section on pace, I would be in great shape to hit 1:15.

The dirt section starts somewhere just before 5 miles and ends before the 6-mile marker. I don't know why, but I find it to be mentally very tough--this time up was no exception. As I made it past the first steep part on to the brief “flatter” section just before the right hand turn, I noticed my average speed was still 6.1 mph—on pace. The only problem now was the steep section after the turn and I knew if I could get to the pavement without a meltdown, I’d be golden. I really concentrated on rhythm and cadence--something I could maintain which was only yielding a very spry 5 something mph. I was a bit surprised/very psyched when I went past the 6 mile marker still with an average speed of 6.1 mph. After some calculation, I realized if I could keep this going and picked it up a bit on the top I would be in the 1:13 range.

Now I was really feeling like I needed that second porta-potty break as I knew the last mile and a half was going to hurt badly. It was at that point I recalled a conversation that the baby Moose had with me when he said “Daddy, I am going to be very angry and very aggressive until I get what I want!”—true story. If I have not said it yet, this was my race this year and I really wanted to break the 1:15 mark--a pipe dream would be 1:10. Although I promised myself I would not put all my eggs in one basket, having learned that lesson last year with Leadville, breaking 1:15 was the only specific goal I had this year and in my mind I was going to be very angry and aggressive if I did not get it today. I kept reminding myself of this as I passed the 7-mile mark and rounded the last steep left right combo.

starting up the steep section

With less than 5 mins to go, I was behind a guy wearing a 545 velo jersey and for the first time today, I started to race someone else. With a couple of tenths of a mile to go, someone jumped out on the road screaming at me to catch him—it was really cool--it was as if he knew that I had just decided that was the plan. I turned up the final 22% grade--it was crazy with people--basically all the people watching at the top are packed into the final couple hundred meters, all screaming and ringing cowbells. They were fueling my fire and god knows it was trying to go out.

Spectators HELP!!!

The really steep section can’t be more than 50 meters or so, as I came around the first turn, I was crushed and intentionally looked up at the spectators. It seemed to me that everyone was screaming, "Catch him!" One last glance and I saw 2 things: the guy in front of me was now only a couple of meters ahead and the clock said 1:22, which minus 10 mins. meant that if I could get my ass in gear, I could break 1:13. I dug deep, passed him at the line and finished at 1:12:45.

Mission accomplished!

We had a premium parking spot at the start of the steep section so I had a front row seat as I warmed down.

Mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez finished second.

As I said before, we had a premium parking spot which literally got us off the mountain first after they released the cars to go down--it was nice to be first down as that got me started on my traditional post "A" race gluttony of food and drink. As they did for Newton's Revenge, the organizers put on a fantastic spread at the bottom serving none other than my favorite meal of all time--turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing with salad--yum, yum good! They were also kind enough to serve a little ice cream which went to my hard working crew chief. The 7-hour drive home was a real sufferfest made no shorter by stopping multiple times for coffee. I know this should be no surprise but we got home at 10 pm to find 2 crazy kids wide awake and one snoring little animal lover.

1 comment:

Bigdave said...

Holy Crap. Great A race buddy. C got some excellent in focus booger eaters around probably helps a bit.