Last Update: 17-May-09
******* 2008 Results *******
104) Iron Cross VI Race Report
Monday, October 13, 2008
My longest race of the season deserves a lengthy report,
so fill the coffee mug and make sure the boss isn't around. The Iron Cross race is
touted as America's longest cyclocross race. At 62 miles, 7200 feet of
climbing, it is a beast. None of this puny, buffed 40 minute Gloucester
stuff. IC goes big: brutal two mile singletrack descents, 500ft gnarly
run-ups, fire roads and ATV trails, many downed trees to dismount for, and
yes, some pavement. I have a fondness for point to point races like this.
Since its inception in 2003 when I last did this race, entries have steadily
grown. This year, there were nearly 300 racers at the start. Dave Penney and
I headed down to Carlisle, PA Saturday evening, a 7hr drive in my xD.
There was way more blood at the finish area than there
should have been. You would've thought this was a rugged MTB race. I suppose
many of the riders are primarily roadies, and if you send them through some
gnarly singletrack or at speed down dirt roads, shit happens.
4:12:01.4 5/93 Masters 40+
62mi, 7200ft vertical
103) Burke Mountain Hillclimb
Another fine day on the hillclimb circuit. Tropical storm Hanna threatened to put a damper on the Burke Mountain hillclimb race. Leaving the house before 6am, it was already raining. We soon drove out of it. Warming up, a few sprinkles started to fall. I figured it was just the beginning, as surely we'd be finishing the race and returning from the summit in a deluge. But no. It stopped before the pavement even got wet.
A shity Easton Ascent II wheel was not going to ruin this race. I repaired the rear wheel that failed for the third time during the Mt Washington race, but it is barely rideable. There is 2:1 unevenness in spoke tension and the wheel still is not true. More spokes will surely snap. I will use it as a winter training wheel. I still used the front Ascent II wheel. It is radially laced but transfers no torque. I never had a problem with it. For the rear, I used the Rolf Prima Vigor off my training bike.
Approximately 50 riders showed up for the climb. When I first arrived, I thought I had good shot at overall win. Then somebody said "Hey Doug, Steve Gatzos (BRC) is here." Great, now I knew who had the $500 prize cinched. Steve has won many hillclimbs this year and was third overall on Mt Washington. Then I saw Charlie McCarthy (Metlife). He won Burke overall last year. Now I was bumming, as that left only one spot left for cash payout. Surely there was some other fast guy here to fill another top-three spot. There was. John Bayley showed up on a beautiful new De Salvo. Then I ran into Charlie Casey. Charlie beat me here last year when I broke a spoke, and he beat me more recently on Mt Washington a few weeks ago, again when I broke a spoke. But my Mt Washington time was a PR. Strangely, I beat Charlie on Mt Equinox by good margin the last two years. Hard to say how this was going to play out, but I was pretty sure I was looking at 5th place overall. It's funny how hillclimbs are like this. You can look around the parking lot before the race and pretty much know how its going to play out. You really don't have to do the race. You can just survey the competition, claim where you'll finish in that group, then go home without actually having to do the race to prove it.
On the women's side, Karen Smyers was present. She has won numerous gold metals, including Ironman Hawaii. She brought some monster gears to the race, I think 34x27. I would stall out on the long 18% section with this gearing. I did not know who she was before the race, other than she told me she was a triathlete. At 46, she beat most of the guys there. Doh! Despite being a small, somewhat obscure race, a lot of talent certainly was present.
We started on Mountain Rd this time, taking out the neutral finish down the base area access drive. The clock didn't start until the Moose Crossing sign last year. Now we were lined up about 50 meters before the sign. Thus the race was slightly longer for comparison purposes. The first half mile or so is very gentle, starting out at a few percent grade and gradually hitting 8-10 percent before the Toll Road. Once bearing left on the toll road, it is all steep all the time.
McCarthy, Gatzos and Bayley pulled away in a three-some when the going got steep. I traded places with several riders for a while until we got to the 0.3mi long 18% grade section. Chalk on the road said it was 22%. Regardless, my 30x27 min gear did not seem to go low enough on this. I was pretty much doing linked track stands for an eternity. After dropping a couple young guys that went out too hard, Charlie Casey started to ride away from me. Now I was in 5th place and struggled to hold it for a while. Eventually, the two closest guys behind me faded out of sight.
The summit came unexpectedly fast. I crossed the line in 26:39, a nice PR with 44 seconds off last year's time. Charlie Casey was less than a minute ahead I believe. A new course record was set too, with Charlie McCarthy breaking 24 minutes. Steve Gatzos was just behind him, with John Bayley following to fill the top three spots. McCarthy actually signed up as part of co-ed team, so that bumped me up to 4th in the solo rider division, just one spot shy of cash payout. Co-ed team winner gets $2000 cash and prize award. It is simply the fastest combined time of a man/women team. I didn't stick around for awards, but I suspect McCarthy and his teammate won it. This put Gatzos in for $500 first place solo prize.
It never rained during the race, descent, or lunch afterwards. In fact, it was partly sunny and quite warm. The food at the Tamarack Grill was excellent. Race organization and support was superb. I honestly believe more riders aren't doing this race simply because it hasn't been "discovered" yet. It is one of my favorite hillclimbs on the New England circuit. Many thanks to Keone and his team for putting on such a wonderful event! Burke will be part of next year's Bumps Challenge.
26:39.1 2/9 in 45+ (new PR)
5/45 overall (3:21.8 back)
3.3mi, 2090ft vertical
102) Mt Mansfield Hillclimb
Saturday was the first annual Race to the Top of Vermont hillclimb in Stowe, Vermont. It ascends the toll road to the summit of Mt Mansfield, a 2550ft/4.3mi climb. Bikes have not been allowed on this road until this event. Local riders may get away with poaching a climb every now and then, but this is not something I would risk. The first 0.3 miles is paved, the remaining 4+mi gravel. It is very steep in spots and can be loose and wash-boarded up. Most riders are expected to ride their bikes back down after the race. For this reason, race organizers required fat tire equipment, minimum 2" tire width. This kept the playing field equal and the decent safe. One finisher was penalized for having <2" tire width.
I warmed up on Smugglers Notch road for about 30 minutes, getting in only a couple hard efforts for 60 seconds or so. The rest of the time I was soft pedaling or tempo pace at best. The race was both bike and foot. The cyclists went off at 10am, the runners at 10:10. Riders went off in single, big wave. I went to front. I recognized only one rider here, Diana from the hillclimb circuit. It seemed weird lining up with MTBs on pavement that aimed straight up the fall line of Mt Mansfield. Pavement soon gives way to dirt, however. With GMSR going on, I would assume most here were mountain bikers. Not too many roadies MTB anyway. There were many full suspension bikes present, a few rigid rigs, and a number of carbon hardtails. I was on my Dean Ti hardtail with Fox fork that locks out. It weighs at least 25 lbs I believe.
The race starts and over a dozen riders go ballistic. I thought I had shot for overall win here, but I kept my blinders on to ignore this foolishness. I told myself "I'll see you guys later," as in when you implode and I pass you. This is typical MTB race style. The race is backwards. The sprint is at the start, and they wind down (bonk) for the finish. Mountain bikers would benefit by taking Time Trialing 101.
A mile or so into the dirt, I was picking off riders. I quickly moved into 6th position overall. Catching guys in 3th and 4th proved to be hard. I passed them somewhere around the half way point. Then I was on 2nd place guy's wheel. Apparently he would have none of it and picked the pace up a tad. I figured the race would take about 32 minutes or so based on Ascutney time. I was way off. Knobbies on loose gravel with heavy bike is way slower. I was pacing for an Ascutney duration but soon realized I went out too hard. If I didn't want to implode and lose many positions, I had to back down a notch. I figured 3rd overall is not a bad place to be anyway.
Having never done this climb, it was all new and full of surprises. It was more punishing than Ascutney. The grade varies something fierce. It seems it was either 12-15% or 5%. Never steady, and I could not find a steady groove to get into. It was deep into the red zone on short, steep pitches or sub threshold on less steep pitches. I really couldn't shift gears fast enough. I must have made many hundreds of gear transitions during the climb. About 3/4 of the way up, we get into some serious switchbacks. The grade was all steep here, maybe 14-15%. The claimed max grade was 10 degrees, which is over 17% grade. There were many places it could have been this steep. Number two guy (who wore no shirt and was 100% lean muscle mass) dangled not far in front of me. To my horror, guys in 4th and 5th position were gaining on me. I was now past the 30 minute mark and still had a long ways to go. I definitely over cooked this one. I was still managing to stay out of my granny ring.
Finally I hear the crowd up top and I knew the end was near. A couple more nasty steep chicanes brought the finish into view. I crossed the line at 39:08 on my computer (40:08 on timing clock). This was about 2min back on winner and less than a minute back from 2nd place. I easily won my 40-49 year old age division. I finished the climb never using my granny ring, going down only to a 32:32 ratio. Other riders noted a one minute disparity between posted time and their own recorded time. Wonder if this will be corrected in final results?
To my surprise, runners were only a few minutes behind me. They started 10 minutes back. Yes, I got beat by runners. I did an analysis a while back that shows runners achieve parity with cyclists at about 17% grade. That is, the best runners will match the time of the best cyclist when the grade reaches 17%. Less steep, cyclists are faster. But this was for paved surfaces with road bikes. Mansfield was a loose dirt surface, with heavier mountain bikes and wide tires. The fastest runner almost beat the fastest cyclist. It seems parity on dirt is achieved at a much less steep grade, more like 12%.
The talent here was impressive. There were Olympians, masters world champions, and 2010 Olympic hopefuls, all from the Nordic skiing world. Most of the talent was in the foot race. Apparently a lot of them run for cross training. The guy that came in second ahead of me is a biathlete and hopes to make the 2010 team. That explained his upper physique. He was big too, I'd say at least 180 lbs.
The food afterwards at the Matterhorn was excellent: two kinds of fresh pizza, two kinds of pasta, rolls and salad. An entertaining incident at our table occurred when the guy across from me made reference to that "crazy guy" with the climbing website. Diana pointed out to him that "crazy guy" was me. It took a long time to get awards going. I had planned to mountain bike nearby in the afternoon, but I wanted to see what the prizes were going to be. Top three in each age category got Darn Tough merino wool cycling socks and a mug. Nice stuff. With our race packet we also got a Pearl Izumi running jersey (great for rollerskiing or hiking) and a Catamount Trail guide book. This event appeared to go off without a hitch with around 200 athletes. Very impressive for a first time at this venue. I'll definitely be looking for this on next year's calendar. I was now way late for phase two of the day's plan, trail riding at the Millstone trails in Barre.
39:08 1/21 in 40+
3/81 overall (1:54 back)
4.3mi, 2550ft vertical
101) Mt Washington Hillclimb
The August racers finally got a pristine day. Well, most of the racers did. There were some brief sprinkles in the area before the race, enough to make the roads wet. But the summit was visible and winds practically non-existent. Temp was about 60 at the base too. We hadn't had it this good in at least 6 years.
I had no goal for Mt Washington this year. Having just PR'd at Mt Equinox and seeing favorable conditions, I thought prospects were decent for a PR here too. I had bike setup a little differently than in past (see prior post).
The race started an hour later than prior years with Top Notch going off at 8:40am. Several guys lined up across the front were from Colorado. The loud cannon goes off, and there wasn't the usual insane attack from the get go. Everybody pretty much eased into the climb, surprisingly. I settled into 13th place as the grade got steep. Gerry Clapper (Benidorm) and Steve Gatzos (BRC) were well ahead of me, Steve setting a blistering pace hanging with overall contenders.
By mile two, I had moved into 9th place overall. This started to mess with my head. I knew there were a lot of strong local and out of state guys here, yet I was looking at potentially a top 10 finish. I didn't feel like was even going that hard.
Approaching mile 3, I was gaining on Ian Gordon (Arc en Ciel) who beat me at Equinox. Now I'm starting to think I'm going too hard. I thought there's no way I'm going to stay ahead of Ian and take 8th place or better on this mountain. I was getting fairly warm as the sun was coming out and there was no wind at all. But I never felt better on this climb and was beginning to believe I was going to have the climb of my life.
Then it happened. A heinous loud snap from the rear wheel. This was the same sound when I snapped a spoke at Burke Mtn last fall. Sure as shit, my wheel was rubbing both the seat and chain stays badly. My bike was unrideable. I had no tools. The wheel was so badly out of true I couldn't even turn it by hand. Limited spoke wheels do this when high tension spokes pop. I didn't have brake pads on the rear to contend with this time, but the chain stays are quite narrow at the bottom bracket. I was utterly devastated. At first I tried to bend the wheel into true with my hands and then offset it in the dropouts to keep it from rubbing. It did not work. The wobble was so bad it would hit both chain stays. I stopped again. I've built and trued wheels many times now. I have a knack for how they behave. So how do you true a stubborn wheel with no tools? You use your carbon frame as a truing jig and slam the crap out of the wheel against the pavement. Oh, do this while letting out a verbal tirade too. All the riders passing me stayed well clear. I'm sure they thought I was having a shit fit. I was, I suppose, but the bike slamming was a "precisely" calibrated attempt to make my bike rideable again. I had to get to the top, as my wife is way to scared to drive back down the mountain. The slamming worked, marginally. When I got back on the bike, it was just clearing the chain and seat stays. It did starte rubbing again after a mile or so, but not badly.
So the race was back on for me. I had pretty much written off any respectable finish. At least 8 guys passed me in the 60 to 90 seconds I spent stopping twice to mess with bike. I gave the rest of the race my best shot, figuring I tapered for a hard ride and I had a lot more frustration to vent. Might was well vent it with my legs on the bike. I started passing guys again, for the second time. One or two I never saw again.
I did not run any electronics on my bike. I figured I'd be looking at something like 1:08 crossing the line. I was flabbergasted to see 1:05:33 crossing the line, a new PR. Plus Cathy told me I was 8th from the Top Notch wave. There must have been faster riders in waves further back, as I came in 10th overall out of nearly 600 finishers. This too is my best placing in this race. So either my fitness has taken a quantum jump this season for no apparent reason or the conditions were just so fast. I think its a little of both actually. You see, some lengthy stretches of gravel from the 2006 race (my previous PR) are now paved. Asphalt always rolls faster than gravel. But this year's gravel was almost as good as riding pavement too. Factor in negligible wind and ideal temps, you have a recipe for PR's. Several riders I talked to in fact PR'd today.
I predicted Steve Gatzos and Gerry Clapper would come in under and hour. Both did. Steve gave the fastest guys on the course a run for their money, coming in third overall with a 57:33, only 2:36 minutes back. Gerry came in 5th overall with 59:48, winning my 45+ age group handily by over 4 minutes. A couple other fast guys in my age group knocked me off the podium, one from Colorado.
So the race was only half the story today. The weather as last finishers were summiting was the other half. Shortly after I finished, a dark cloud began to form at the summit. Bits of rain could be felt. The temp dropped. It got darker, visibility went down, then it began to really rain. But that ain't enough on Mt Washington. You got to throw in hail. Buckets of hail pea to marble size. Where there were once hundreds of racers and spectators became wide open space. It must have hailed for 20 minutes, making the walk down to the car dicy with all the ice on the road. While we're walking down, lightning split the sky. Terrific, we're on the highest peak in 2000 miles in a lightning and hail storm going hypothermic. It was so cold. Yet there were many racers still coming up in this stuff. Many were walking, some in short sleeves. I heard from one later at the bottom that tires were slipping in the hail.
It was warmer at the bottom for lunch, but the rain and thunder continued for a while. The lunch was excellent as always. Hart's does an awesome job with this. As soon as results were posted, I had to split to catch a plane. Four more storm cells, one with extreme hail on the Kanc, made for slow going. I get to airport a little late, get boarding pass with no seat number on it because flight is over booked, and the girl does not know how to check a bike in. I stood at the ticket desk for 45 minutes. My plane was boarding by the time I went through security. Like I didn't have enough stress for one day. I was quite sure my bike was not going to make it, but I saw it go up the belt into the plan. Boy that was close. I'm in Minnesota now and Sunday looks like a good day to ride here. It will be at least 40 degrees hotter than the summit of Mt Washington.
I should have known better than to risk those Velomax Ascent-II wheels again. This is third time I broke a spoke in the rear wheel. Only drive side are crossed and thus transfer power and this is side breaking. First time, it's a fluke. Second time, the design is faulty and I should have gotten ride of them. Third time, I'm a loser for not getting rid of them. Anybody want a Velomax wheelset cheap? Actually, I think the rear wheel is beyond repair now. I may consider a set of carbon (gasp) tubulars for climbing next year.
This race put me through the ringer today. I go from abysmal forecast to conditions looking best ever. Then I'm having my best climb ever and the bike craps out on me. Recover from that to claim another PR. That just led to the next stress riser trying to get everything on a plane in time.
1:05:33 4/100 in 45+ (new PR)
10/538 overall (10:36 back)
7.6mi, 4700ft vertical
100) Tokeneke Road Race
Masters 45+. The Tokeneke Road Race was my 100th bicycle race. This includes many MTB and hillclimb races. I've only done 27 USCF mass-start road races. Some masters will do this in a season. The more road races I do, the more I learn how little I know about racing tactics. Today I learned how teamwork can turn a race around whose outcome seemed certain to me. I anticipated a hard race, and hard it was.
If you had asked me at the starting line who was going to take the top three positions, I would have said John Funk (Cycle Fitness), Dzmitry Buben (CCB), and Gerry Clapper (Benidorm), but not in any particular order. Read on to see how these three took the top three spots.
Almost from the get go, Bill Thompson (CCC/Keltic) and Frank Jennings (Gearworks) got away clean. Normally, I would fret over something like this. Thompson has won several races this season. But Cycle Fitness had three other guys in the race besides Funk, including Mark Luzio, Tom Officer, and Randy Kirk. I figured they weren't going to let this get too out of hand. Clapper had a very strong teammate with him too.
Jennings dropped back and Thompson kept going solo. Then we got to the climbing on 181. The pace got serious. I went into an anaerobic stupor and stayed there for the rest of the race, so some details might be sketchy. Around the second or third wall on 181, Buben launches off the front. He quickly caught Thompson and they worked together on the descent. Buben dropped Thompson on the climb to the KOM (also the finish line on lap two). Buben grew his lead. I've been told he wins this race every year. Buben won it decisively last year solo from first lap. I figured he had clinched the win half way into the race. Our chase effort up the finishing climb was hard with sizable group, yet Buben continued to gain on us.
Beginning lap two, Cycle Fitness guys came to the front repeatedly to keep the pace up. Often these would feel like mini attacks, the acceleration was so sudden. This certainly started to wear me down. Beginning the stair step climb on 181, we begin to bring down the time gap to Buben. Luzio and Clapper put in some killer efforts here, and I was sure I was going to get popped out of this dwindling chase group.
After the Cycle Fitness guys with help from Benidorm brought the gap to Buben down to manageable size and softened the rest of us up, Funk came to the front. I was quite sure I was going to hurl after an effort he put in. We were down to five guys with sizable gap to next splinter group. Funk pleaded for me to keep it going and pull through, but I was completely gassed. I wasn't trying to be a dink by sitting in on another's hard effort. So it was just Funk, Alec Petro (Team Psycho, who won Bow last weekend), Paul Wonsavage (Onion River Sports), Clapper and myself.
With the rest of us gassed, Funk made his move. He took off like being shot out of a mortar. I had absolutely nothing to respond with. I can only assume the others were equally gassed, as nobody tried to go with Funk. I've witnessed John make this move in several races now, and I'm amazed each time. He's a whole different level of rider and one of the nicest guys you'll meet in the masters field too.
Funk quickly caught Buben while the four of us worked to maintain our feeble gap to the next chase group. We got caught by another 5-6 riders on the descent. With Funk and Buben up the road, I figured we'd be going for 3rd place. I was hoping I had enough left in my legs for a top 10, as if I came in last in this group, I'd be looking at around 12th place.
We hit the finishing climb and everybody sat up initially. I didn't want another five riders latching on, so I picked up the pace a little bit, still in an anaerobic stupor. Clapper pulls along side and asked how I was doing, not even breathing hard. Oh, was I in trouble. Last year I went head to head with Gerry up this hill for second place and nipped him at the line. This year it was for third. Gerry and I quickly found ourselves separated from the rest of the 10 guys in our group. The gap grew nicely, but Gerry has no limit to how many times he can upshift while standing, climbing a big hill. He rode me off his wheel. I figured I was going to do no worse than 4th place at this point anyway. Amazingly, Clapper caught Buben before the line and took 2nd. Funk dropped Buben beginning the finishing climb and claimed a solid win. I held on for 4th as riders were gaining on me. The time splits weren't posted, but I assume we all came through one at a time. Clapper had at least 20 seconds on me, and it was at least that to the next guy behind me.
So the Cycle Fitness guys claimed a well-earned win today. The combination of wearing the rest of us down, thinning our ranks, and bringing Funk close enough to catch Buben without taking others along was a winning strategy. I was very happy with 4th place. This was the hardest race I've done so far this season in terms of percentage of race I spent in the "red zone." Cool temps were a huge factor in not blowing a thermal fuse or cramping up. This will probably be my last road race this season. I have three more hillclimbs lined up, including Mt Washington on the 16th. Then it's time to break out the roller skis.
4/63 finishers (73 starters)
1:53:20 (1:40 back), 44 miles
99) Bow Road Race
August 3, 2008.† Bow, NH. Masters 45+.† This is the fourth year continuing my tradition of racing Equinox/Bow on back to back days. Seems to be working. I generally win Equinox (see yesterday's post) and podium Bow. I know well now the feeling in my legs getting up for Bow. It sucks. But I also know that if I go into this weekend with light volume and just a little intensity, I do alright. It just takes the first lap or so of the race for my legs to come around.
Only 40 Masters 45+ guys were pre-reg'd. But John Funk (Cycle Fitness) and teammates Tom Officer and Mark Luzio were in. So was Paul Wonsavage (Onion River) who nipped me at the line for a win last year. But many other fast guys showed up day-of, like Bill Thompson (CCC/Keltic) and Dave Kellogg (Arc en Ciel). We may have had close to 60 starters with a fairly stacked field. I don't really have any goals when I do this race the day after Equinox other than to just enjoy the ride.
We kept the modified course from last year thanks to rave reviews. It makes it just a tad more of a climbers course. We were neutral this time up the first portion of the climb. But when we got to the second portion where the KOM line is, things heated up quickly. John Funk and Paul Wonsavage got away. Terrific. The strongest climber in masters racing and last year's winner gone. The dual of Mark Luzio and Tom Officer pretty much shut down any attempt to bring John back. These guys are the consummate teammates. They selflessly spend themselves to ensure John's success. It drove me friggin bonkers. Every time I came to the front to do some work and motioned for the next rider to pull through, it was Mark or Tom. These guys followed me more closely than my shadow. This was totally disruptive to chasing the 2-man break.
Another rider, Alec Petro (Team Psycho), recognized this and made many valiant moves around the blockers to put in some serious pulls. Many other riders just wouldn't come up. Not sure what it is. Maybe you'd see a few guys up there and think you're comfy back there, let them do the work. But half the guys you see up there are not only not doing any work, they are disrupting those trying to do some work. So Alec and I put in a disproportionate amount of work, much to the chagrin of my two teammates.
As we wrapped up the first lap, it poured briefly. This was a mixed blessing. It greatly reduced my probability of overheating, but I don't like the mess it makes of my good bike. I wasn't sure how well my carbon wheels were going to work wet either, as I've never ridden them in the rain.
Apparently John dropped Paul, and we brought Paul back in on the second lap. I didn't talk to Paul after the race, but in hindsight, I wonder if this was a mistake on John's behalf. With John still up the road solo and teammates blocking, the race was very well controlled. Attacks were futile. There weren't any, really. That suited me fine. I moved up to the front on lap two and led all the way up the first climb. Speed is low enough there that drafting benefit was negligible, and I could ensure blockers would not be setting the pace. I went pretty hard, but not 100%. Most of the field seemed content with that pace and nobody tried to come around. I took pleasure in a sadistic sense that only cyclists can appreciate, that if I was hurting by setting the pace up this thing, the others behind me probably weren't too comfortable either.
Lap three played out just like lap two. John was up the road still, but working by himself, he started to lose time. Alec and I continued to spend a lot of time at the front of the pack. I set pace again up the big hill. Clearing the KOM hill, I started to not feel so well. On the descent, Alec was just off the front when Bill Thompson launched hard and I followed. We drew a gap. We caught Alec. But Tom and Mark would have none of it and we were viciously reeled back in. Dang. There went a match or two for naught. We had John in sight most of the time now and his wheel van fell back behind us. Spectators were yelling out times like 35 seconds. Bill commented that we should "let John simmer out there a little longer" before shutting him down. Good plan.
Just as we crossed the start/finish for our bell lap, we caught John. Alec commented to me that we pretty much singlehandedly shut down what looked like a winning break at one point. A couple others contributed to the effort too. Kellogg, Dave Foley (BOB/Stonyfield), and Jon Eichman (Quad Cycles) also pushed the pace a few times.
Alec was still riding amazingly strong going up the climb on the fourth lap. He rode away from the pack of 25 or so riders left in main group. He crested the KOM hill about 10 seconds up. I was really feeling it at this point and started to think putting in all that effort to chase John down was stupid. But boy, it was fun. Not sure it would have happened if Alec and I didn't step up to the plate. Then John, a teammate or two and one other rider gapped me at the KOM. I was cooked. Fortunately, Kellogg and a few others were right there to ensure we got back with John's group.
Now we had a different guy just up the road. Is anybody besides me going to go after Alec? I must have this terrible reputation for chasing everybody down, such that the pack can pretty much count on it. But I've been in too many races lately where nobody works and breaks fly clean out of sight to the end. We had maybe 15 guys left just as we began the big descent. Everybody sat up. Since I was at the front, I didn't know they sat up and I accidentally rolled off the front. I figured if they are going to do that, I'm not going to let Alec win this race alone. I put my head down and discretely ramped up the power. The gap began to grow. I guess Mark and Tom didn't know what to do without John up there. I entered no man's land hoping to bridge up to Alec. I killed myself, spinning up to 47mph for about 2-3 miles. I finally caught him with maybe 10-15 seconds gap to the pack. Alec was very agreeable to work together.
I was pretty much cooked, however. Alec did about 60-70% of the work in our two-man break. The pack was never far behind. We continued to TT drill the remaining 3-4 miles in the race. All those turns (hard left where I almost took Alec out on wet road), all those steep blips, and all those short descents where you could not for one second let your power drop. Once we crested the final blip with sizable gap, I was pretty confident we had it. I still took no chances and took one more good pull down towards the fire station. Crossing the intersection, we both knew we had it. Now it got interesting. I can't sprint for shit. I didn't really care if I won or not at this point. Alec certainly deserved it more than I did. Rather than play cat and mouse games, we lined up side by side and ramped it up together with over 200m to go. Alec slowly inched away from me to the line. That was all I had. He was maybe a bike length ahead of me at the line.
After the finish, we learned the pack wasn't just letting us go. They were drilling it at times too but perhaps not on the descents. You can almost bank on nobody in a pack wanting to work on a descent. Alec commented how fitting it was that the two guys that did most of the work shutting down a dangerous break got away in the end to take first two spots. It usually doesn't happen that way. I was very surprised myself I found the reserves to bridge up to Alec. The pack of around 15 guys came in only 16 seconds behind us. I heard that with even a modest group size, the sprint was very sketchy. No crashes, but apparently some close calls. Glad I was clear of that, as I would have just gotten out of the way.
Alec Petro is relatively new in the masters road racing scene. I believe he comes from a triathlete and mountain bike background. The bar to win a masters road race just got raised a little higher. He won his race last weekend too.
It is spooky how similar this weekend has played out two years in a row. In 2007, I won my age group at Equinox, took 4th over all, and set a new PR. Then the next day in 2007 at Bow, I get in a small break on the last lap and took second place, just missing a win. This year, same... exact... deal. Win age at Equinox, 4th overall (with Ian Gordan in #3 spot both years too!), and set a new PR. Come to Bow, get in small break in last lap and just miss the win with second place finish. I think I should do more hillclimb races before hilly road races. Maybe there's something to that "opening" concept elite riders talk about. I was going to do the Agamenticus TT next weekend, but now that I had a decent road race finish, I just may have to participate in the Tokeneke sufferfest.
2/42 finishers (48 starters)
1:57:48 (same time as winner), 43 miles
98) Mt Equinox Hillclimb
August 2, 2008.† Manchester, VT.† After coming out of my hardest week ever on two wheels a week ago, I pretty much wrote off the rest of the competition season. The hole I dug myself into in Colorado was massive. Last Sunday in Boulder, I took it fairly easy up Flagstaff Drive, which was a sub-threshold (barely) 52 minute climb from the hotel. So that was an easy day compared to rest of the trip. Monday was recovery day. Having a double race weekend coming up, I wanted to get at least a little intensity in during the week. I hadn't had any for almost two weeks, not VOmax work anyway. Wednesday was too close to the Equinox Hillclimb, so I opted for some 3-5 minute VOmax intervals on Tuesday. I thought it was ludicrous even planning such a workout, but I figured if it didn't work, I'll finish the whole week as recovery.
I felt pretty bad as I ramped power up in prep for first interval. But I easily dropped Dan, an elite triathlete in the process. I thought hmmm, that doesn't happen too often. Then we got to the first hill. Dan lasted 30 seconds on my wheel. I haven't been using any HR or power feedback lately, so all I had to go by was my speed going up this hill which takes about 4 minutes. No record, but it was one of my faster climbs. There seemed to be a disconnect between how I felt and what I was actually capable of. So I went with the workout plan. I proceeded to get four more high quality VOmax intervals in. I was rebounding nicely from my week out west.
After tapering from that workout the rest of the week, I arrived at Equinox apprehensive. I really have no "A" races this year, except maybe for wanting to do well at Battenkill, which went so-so. I certainly wasn't planning to PR any hillclimbs. My Mt Evans hillclimb race in Colorado was a disaster. I like to blame the rental bike that was ill-matched to the task, but I can't be sure it wasn't me either.
For Equinox, I warmed up on the same bike I was going to race up this time. Last year I had a solitary 24t ring up front that precluded warming up on the road. You'd just spin out at 10mph. So last year I brought a second road bike along to warm up on. This year I didn't feel like messing around with my bike that much, mostly because I wasn't going for any PR's and such. I put a compact double with an elliptic 36t Q-ring on up front. On the back, a 32t MTB cassette. I pulled the rear brake off. That's it. The setup weighed around 15.5-15.6 lbs. I've never raced Equinox with such a big ratio, but I've become less of a spinner the last couple years. Riders with carbon tubulars sport rigs that weigh much less. Last year I also removed front derailleur and excess chainrings for about 15.0 lbs.
So the Top Notch wave goes off at 8am, and like most years, the starting gun misfires. I let about 12 riders bolt away and kill themselves for the $500 first mile preem. These included the usual suspects like Ian Gordan (Arc en Ciel), Eric Tremble (Kenda) and others. Mark Luzio (Cycle Fitness) was there too, and he's beat me in the past up this beast. Not last year when I PR'd. Mark took off faster than me too, but not like the $500 contenders. I was somewhat disheartened by how fast so many riders bolted away from me. It is so hard to mentally block that out, knowing that last year I was 4th overall here. I don't use a power meter for hillclimbs, so it's all perceived exertion.
At about the half-mile mark where it started to get steep, I inched past Mark. We watch each other closely here. He stayed right behind me for a while, and I wondered if I just accelerated into a zone I didn't belong and he'll soon pass me again for good.
It is fun watching the action up front play out for the $500 preem from second or third row seats. Eric Tremble bolted well clear of the next closest contender. He was taking no chances. Last year he missed it by 0.5 seconds. Ouch. But later I would learn his primary reason for drilling it so hard for the first 5.5 minutes of the race.
After the first mile action was over, most of those player's were cooked. I was in 12th place. Slowly but surely I began to pick off riders. This started to build my confidence. Mark was now gone out of sight behind me, nobody else was gaining on me. I was riding my pace. By the halfway mark (2.6mi), I was quite sure I had ridden the race on borrowed energy to that point. I thought there was no way I could continue to hold that pace. Then I'd pass a couple more young whipper-snappers, including preem winner and last year's overall winner Eric Tremble. This gave me another shot of confidence that I hadn't popped yet. Now I was in like 6th place out of Top Notch wave. From mile 4 to mile 5, I passed three more riders. Holy crap, I was now potentially in third place overall. How can this be? Everybody else having a bad day? I really don't try to pace by mile or know where I need to be time-wise at mile so-and-so to have a good finish in hillclimbs, so I still believed I was going to have a mediocre finish. Approaching mile 5, I could see that some of the recent kids I passed were attacking each other. Good and bad I thought. Good, in that each attack will take more matches out of their books and hurt their ability to bring me back. Bad, in that if one of them gets second wind and carries a surge to the finish, they'll surely pass me. Ian did this too me last year. After all, I was only about 20sec up the road from this silliness going on. As the finish line came into view, I knew I had clinched third place. It didn't take long to realize I had a minute and a half to my PR time to cover about 0.2 miles. Another PR was inevitable. I crossed the line in 41:15.9 minutes, nearly 30 seconds faster than the PR I set last year. I was psyched.
A couple minutes after crossing the line and no longer seeing cross-eyed in an anaerobic haze, a rider from the second wave crosses the line. New course record at 37:46.8, breaking Joe Moody's record from 2006. Cool. But dang! That meant I just got bumped off the overall podium. I killed myself to hold third place in my wave. This rider was Steve Gatzos (BRC). His racing age is 32, and he recently started transitioning to hillclimbing after successful road racing. The funny thing here is, Steve sought my advice on gearing for Ascutney and this race. I recommended, even for a strong rider such as himself, going close to 1:1. He put a single 24t granny on up front with standard 23t road cassette on the back. He won Ascutney overall two weeks ago, just edging out formidable climber Gerry Clapper (Benidorm), who won Ascutney last year. So Steve brought the same setup to Equinox, and he not only won the race, he broke the course record. I jokingly quipped with Steve at the summit, "no more gearing tips for you!" Steve is a great guy. He does the bulk of his hill training on Blue Hill. It goes to show you don't have to climb 30 minute hills to do well in 30 minute or 1 hour efforts.
Eric Tremble knew Steve was going to be at the race and knew he'd be starting one wave back. Eric knew Steve was a contender for the $500 first mile preem too. Apparently you don't have to be in the Top Notch wave to win it. Fastest time from any wave wins it. So Eric bolted clear of everybody in our wave as insurance that Steve wouldn't nip him with a faster time. This paid off. Eric had huge margin on the next closest Top Notch contender but beat Steve by mere seconds for the preem. So Eric met his objective in winning the preem he barely lost last year, but forfeited the overall win. I think if Steve had been in the first wave, Steve would have won both the preem and the race. With a qualifying time of less than 50 minutes, Steve will be in Top Notch wave next year. Ought to be interesting.
As usual, Andy Holzman and crew do a fantastic job putting this race on each year. The first thing that crosses your mind after crossing the line are the yummy donuts and coffee at the summit. The post race meal is excellent, especially the premium icecream. I went up for seconds of Moosetracks. The awards purse exceeds $5000 value. For my first place 40-49 year old finish, I have one night's stay and breakfast at the posh Reluctant Panther Inn ($329-$429/night) in Manchester, VT. The weather held up nicely. It started to thunder as the awards were wrapping up, and it rained the entire drive home.
Competition wise, this season has not gone that well for me. Riding in general has been fabulous, especially three cycling trips so far. But mediocre finishes in road races at best have left me a bit disenfranchised. I turn 46 this month, and each year I wonder if its the year I start going downhill. But that is what is so cool about hillclimbs. They are personal fitness tests. This is my fifth year racing Equinox, and to pull off yet another PR shows I have not yet gone over the age precipice. Taking 30 seconds off last year's time, which I thought would never be bested, more than makes up for the disappointing road race and other hillclimb race results. Mt Washington is in two weeks. I'm not planning or even hoping for a PR there, but it isn't entirely impossible. I'm not going to stress over it.
1/39 Men 40-49
41:15.9, 3:29.1 back overall
97) Mt Evans Hillclimb (Bob Cook Memorial Hillclimb)
July 19, 2008.† Idaho Springs, CO. The Mt Evans Hillclimb
was a "F" race for me, "F" for fun. Still though, I had a
target finishing time in mind. Scaling how I did against Tom Danielson a few
years ago on Mt Washington, I thought I could muster a 2:15 finish, good for
around 15-20th place in the Masters 45+ category.
2:37:07hrs, ~27 miles/7000ft vert
44/79 finishers Masters 45+, 31:28 back
96) Okemo Mtn Hillclimb (Race for Grace)
June 28, 2008.† Ludlow, VT.† Despite rigorous attempts to fight off a cold, I was unsuccessful dodging the bullet this time. We're not talking the full-blown, knock you flat out kind of cold here. But the throbbing head, sore throat, achy-noodly legs were enough for me to contemplate bagging this hillclimb. It was a "C" race for me, and I did encourage many others to give Okemo a try, so I felt obligated to race anyway.
My warmup was brief and rather hard from the start. I did a couple repeats up the lower portion of Ridge Rd that took just over 15 minutes. Rain was in the area, and the summit of the mountain was completely socked in with clouds. It was hard to say if it was wet up there or not. It was very humid out, but the temp was manageable around 70F. For such a short event, I wasn't too worried about thermally blowing up.
Before getting sick, I thought I had a chance for an overall win when looking over the pre-reg list. Of the names I recognized plus a few I researched, there appeared to be no threats. Then the morning of the race, Brett Rutledge calls and was wondering about the Bikereg.com kid. I looked up his USCF results. Crap. A few years ago Ross Krause placed 2nd in the P/1/2 prologue hillclimb at GMSR. So much for an overall.
This race is unlike most other hillclimbs, as it starts out like a regular road race with a pack and drafting. There's two miles of flat before the climb begins. Us faster guys got to line up at the front, a semi self seeding with some race director guidance. Nobody was willing to hammer those first two miles. There were about six of us rotating in paceline with the remaining 50 riders of the race in tow. We cruised about 23mph and were talking. Once rounding the corner for the 3.8mi climb to the summit, the hammer dropped.
Many riders went way too hard on the first two walls right at the bottom. I was about 8 back. The deal was, I couldn't be sure if it was me from being ill or the others just going plain stupid hard into the climb. Turns out it was not me. Slowly but surely I began reeling guys in. I went from 8th to 5th position in about 5 minutes. Rider in number four position dangled in front of me for half the race. This was Jeff Johnson (Battenkill-United). On a flatter piece halfway up, he took the bait and let up a bit. I passed him, but now I had a shadow. With tail wind on this part, he had no drafting benefit whatsoever, so I was confident eventually he'd roll off my wheel. He did ever so slowly. I'm still holding my pace as we ascend into the clouds. Just as sight of Jeff became obscure, I could barely make out another rider behind him. Could this rider be gaining on both of us? There was no way I was going to pick up my pace to be sure to hold my position. Hillclimbs don't work that way. What I could be sure of though, is to maintain my power output on the less steep parts. I have lots of gears on my bike, and I used them. Too many hillclimbers, even experienced ones, let up on the less steep parts. If you've been holding a given power for the last 5 minutes, don't give seconds back to the clock by dropping your power by 30% when grade eases a bit!
With a mile to go, no riders were visible behind me in dense cloud cover, and guy in number three spot was just slipping out of visibility in front of me. It looks like my position in number four spot was secure. With the visibility down to about 50ft, I had to keep the power up because I really couldn't be sure how far back anybody was. I didn't let up until I passed the 250 yards (yes, yards, not meters) to go sign. I finished in 32:29.9 minutes. I had estimated the race would take me 33-35 minutes depending on how slow the first two miles went. I was near the verge of puking for the last five minutes, so it was so nice to stop.
So who were the guys in front of me? First place went to David Glen from Warren, VT. Really can't find much on this 29 year old kid. I already mentioned Ross Krause, age 28, Cat 1, finishing 2nd. In third, who dangled just in front of me for most of the climb, was Ethan Gilmour in USA National Team kit. He is only 18 and represented the USA at the 2006 'cross worlds on the junior team. Skinny whippett kids. Sick or not sick, I doubt I could have done any better placing in this race. Quite happy with the result.
Turns out five riders from this year's 6-gaps ride were here. Four of us made age group podium. Brett was second on the podium with me for 40+ group. Dave Penney and Glen Fraser also made their age group podiums. Perhaps rides like 6-gaps are not of dubious training value after all.
As the awards were wrapping up, the skies opened up. Buckets-o-rain. We drove two hours non-stop in this stuff heading home. Looking at radar, Claremont, NH could get a couple inches. Combine this with feeling icky, the planned EFTA mountain bike race there ain't going to happen for me Sunday morning.
The Okemo Race for Grace went off without a hitch. The open roads portion of the race were well marshaled. BBQ after the race was excellent. We were under huge metal roof over tennis courts for the food and awards. Nice bathroom facilities too. It is an excellent venue for a hillclimb race. Next year the race may be held earlier in the day. Hope this draws a bigger crowd. Many thanks to organizers Jack Dortch and Glenn Deruchie (who ran the Killington Stage Race years ago).
32:29.9min, 5.8mi, 2100ft gain in last 3.8mi
1/14 Men 40-49
4/55 overall, 3:10.9 back
95) Housatonic Hills Road Race
June 15, 2008.† Southbury, CT, Masters 45+.† No, this is
not my favorite beverage. Actually, my palate hasn't sampled an alcoholic
beverage in over 22 years. Fat Tire Ale was the color of my pee hours after
the Housatonic Hills road race today.
9/66 finishers (76 starters)
54mi, 2:36:49 (5:55 back)
94) Waterville Valley Time-Trial
June 7, 2008.† The day started out cool, but you could tell the air was soggy, a sign of things to come. Over 60 riders were pre-reg'd, and it looks like others signed up day of. It was very calm and comfortable warming up.
After spinning around for 7 miles, I went off at 9:52:30. I caught my 30sec man in 6 minutes. Then around 12 minutes, I passed a whole group of riders as the grade picked up a bit. I expected this. I was not using any aero equipment. Many riders were fully decked out in aero - full TT bike, skin suit, pointy helmet. Before the TT, another rider on a Ridley said "dude, lose the gloves!" I don't think he understood that I was already riding at a 100 glove aero handicap. I do have 50mm deep dish wheels, but true TT wheels are deeper with disk in rear. What surprised me is nobody passed me on the climb to the turnaround, an 800+ft net gain in about 9 miles. Speed going out reached 27mph on the flatter parts.
I probably went out just a tad bit hard, as around the 2-3 mile mark, I perceived a little deflection - a forced back-off due to lactic acid build-up. But I got into a nice rhythm after that and must have passed a dozen riders before the half-way turn around point in the village.
I fully expected riders to pass me on the decent. Two did. To my dismay, they were riders I steamrolled past heading up. One of these riders looked quite a bit less lean than myself and probably had several years on me. He had the aero goodies. All I can say is that stuff really works. Another rider (Brad Ek, NHCC) similar in fitness and leanness to myself hit speeds in excess of 40mph on the return. I never saw 38mph. Haven't seen the results, but I may have come in faster than him. This means I had to be considerably faster going out. Speeds going out averaged 20-23mph (less than 15mph on one blip) and 28-32mph on the return.
I came through the finish in 48:30 per my computer. That is good for 24.3mph. Normally this would suck, but considering there was about 1300ft of climbing on this course and I rode cannibal (no aero), I was quite pleased. I don't think I left anything on the table on this course. It was a good effort. I think the TT bug has bitten me. My Ridley could easily be adapted for TT use, but its mission in life is hilly road races. I will have to start researching my options. It would be really cool to come back here next year with all the aero goodies to see how big of a chunk I can take out of my time.
19.7 miles, ~1300ft of climbing, ~70F with light SW winds, cannibal
93) Lake Sunapee Road Race
May 17, 2008.† Masters 45+. For a third race weekend in a
row, it looked like rain. Procedure is such - check radar, and if it looks
like pouring rain during race, go back to bed. But like Jiminy and Sterling,
the rain cleared out just in time and other than wind, I found Sunapee
Time: 1:54:19 (same-time)
92) Sterling Classic Road Race
May 10, 2008.† Masters 45+.† I reluctantly signed up for
the Sterling road race since most of my team was going to be there. The organizers
also created a separate Masters 45+ field this year. Looking at Bikereg pre-reg
before the race, it seemed most of the combined masters 35+ field in year's
past were 45+ rides, as our field was much bigger than the younger field this
year. Sterling is raced more like a crit, as the hill is not steep enough for
long enough to break things up. Successful breakaways are tough to pull off
on this course. The finish usually comes down to a bunch sprint, albeit not a
high speed one going up the short rise to the finish line. This was my first
time racing Sterling.
Time: 2:04:09 (1:05 back)
91) Jiminy Peak Road Race, Hancock, MA
May 3, 2008. Masters 35+ today at Jiminy Peak. Weather was dank - drizzly, windy, with temp in the low to mid 40's. We lucked out though. At least the rain stopped before we rolled off. The roads remained wet for most of the race.
I know very few riders in the Master's 35+ field. I recognized names of many pre-registered riders that place well, but I can't put faces to those names. A lot of riders have switched teams or have completely redesigned team kits too, further complicating who's who. 113 were pre-registered, and I'd guess 100 lined up. My plan was to not drift too far back from the front and not get caught behind a split. This plan did not serve me well.
As soon as we popped out on Rt 43, three riders took off and the field did nothing. I was not going to hop on every wisp that went off the front. We went so pathetically slow, 12mph at one point on Rt 43, that the 45+ field caught up to us as we turned onto Rt 7. The officials tried to neutralize us, but they weren't very successful. Eventually we started racing, setting a blistering pace over the finishing climb. This brought us all back together. I hit 55mph on the descent.
Back on Rt 43, attack after attack ensued. I did not participate in any of these, but I stayed very close to the front and had no choice but to all-out accelerate to stay with lead guys. It seemed guys like Ruiz (CCC/Keltic - who won 35's last year) and Aspholm (Westwood Velo - at least I think that was him) weren't concerned about many of these attempts either. This type of racing doesn't play into my strengths well at all. Each acceleration removed a match from my book. It seemed at any one time, there were always two or three guys off the front, but not very far, and not for long. We'd go gang-busters, catch somebody, then sit up. Our average speed was pretty slow, but when we went, we really went.
The second time over the finishing hill, I started to think I wasn't going to survive it one more time. Jiminy always does this to me. More riders got away on Rt 43 again, and this time it stuck. I don't know who they were. It seemed odd that some of strongest guys I knew in the field weren't part of this and teammates didn't seem to be proactive in chasing them down. There were several CCC/Keltic guys in the field and I don't think they made it in this initial break. On one of the risers on Rt 43, we got a nice split of about 15 riders away from the main pack. I pulled through working this a couple times, but was barely able to pull through. The field still had some fire power and caught us after a few miles. I'm guessing teams of the three-man break didn't want us spoiling their party. A little later, a couple more guys rolled off the front, then again on Rt 7 we lost a couple more.
I've learned my lesson in the past hopping on everything that takes off only to get reeled back in and being toast well before the finish. Well, in this race, pretty much anybody that took off on the third lap was let go. Go figure. We still had Aspholm, Ruiz, Gump (Incline Training) in the field of at least 30, maybe 50 guys going into finishing climb. Climb or no climb, I hate these kind of finishes. We would be competing for about 10th place. I was perfectly content just finishing with the field at this point. I was near the front rounding the corner onto Brodie Mtn Rd. It was still wet and a little muddy on the inside, the line I took each time. Half way up, about 10 more guys come past me, but then as we approached the finish, a lot of guys ran out of gas and I passed many. This was still good for at best 20th place, but more likely 25th or lower. We were mixing in with other dropped riders, so it was hard to tell. Not really that disappointed. It was a safe race and I got an excellent workout.
Talking with guys from the field I really wanted to be in, the 45+ field, I heard there were a couple minor crashes. Teammate Brett flatted on the first lap and was not able to get back on. The finishing climb was also quite mellow too.
56 miles, 4400ft climbing
Time: 2:23 (8sec back)
90) Tour of the Battenkill, Salem, NY
April 19, 2008. Masters 40+.† We had stellar weather
all week. A God-send actually, after one of the longest, snowiest winters on
record. But could it have been too much of a good thing? For Battenkill this
year, I think it was.
55 miles, 4400ft climbing
Time: ~2:32 (xx back)
Ski-9) Ski to the
Clouds, Mt Washington, NH
The planned course consisted of 4km of rolling hills before climbing 2200 vertical feet in 6km up the Mt Washington Auto Road. The finish was to be around 4000ft, well below the summit, but exposed above tree line. When Dave Penney and I arrived at the venue, the race was on as planned, but about 45 minutes before race start, a decision was made to shorten the race by 2km, for a race total of 8km. Thus this year's return of Ski to the Clouds was re-dubbed "The Toughest 8km Race in America." The decision to move the finish down was not due to extreme wind and temperatures, it was due to a wind swept, bare ice surface that could not be groomed. This would be too dangerous to race. The summit winds topped 113mph with -42F windchill before the race. Our finish would be a little less extreme.
Warming up, we noted that the recent grooming churned up
fist sized chunks of frozen granular all over the place. It varied from loose
chunks to solid and choppy. This was true for both the 4km rolling start and
the 12% grade climb. I could barely stay vertical rounding corners on this
crud. The only redeeming quality of it was that it was quite fast. It
probably didn't matter a whole lot what glide wax you were using. I suspect
the classic skiers had trouble.
Ski-8) Rangeley Lakes Loppent, Rangeley, ME
Saturday, March 1.† I felt quite good about my training
base going into this freestyle (skate technique) ski race. It has been a
while since I did a ski marathon. Weather initially looked highly favorable,
but as the weekend drew near, heavy snow warnings were in place the eve of
the race. The race organizers said no fear, we'll have two groomers running
'round the clock.
50km, ~1000m of climbing
February 9, 2008.† Masters 45+. A recent change of plans
had Brett and I doing the Cross-Trainer's Challenge up at Waterville Valley
on Saturday instead of the Nordic 300 relay race at Great Glen on Sunday. The
race is aimed towards runners, cyclists, and other non-skier athletes that
cross train in the winter months by skiing. A lot of cyclists show up for
this one, and a local cycling club helps run the race.
Race is elevated HR section from 30 to 60 minutes
We go into second climb, and I immediately catch the two
that passed me on the descent and passed them. It is very difficult to pass
while climbing, as the trail is often just wide enough for one skater. They
were good about it though and gave me a little room. I put distance on both
of them before reaching the top. But I knew what entailed next - a long,
wicked fast descent. Sure as $hit, I got passed again. All that hard work
dissipated in a couple of ill-placed scrubs around corners.