So did registering for the race motivate me to train? Heck no! Every time I tried to get into a periodic structured routine of interval work like I used to do, it quickly fell apart. I started hiking in the mountains a couple years ago and it grew on me. Nearly half of my outdoor time is now spent on low to moderate intensity treks through the mountains. I use poles, primarily for going down. Hiking brings considerable balance to the body, meaning you bring so many more muscle groups into play than highly imbalanced cycling does. I like it mostly for getting away from people and cars, although many hikes require sucky drives. You definitely get more top of the world experiences hiking than you can cycling. So much more terrain to explore when ditching the bike.
I have been out to Mt Monadnock to run up to the summit three times this summer. That is intensely aerobic, or anaerobic I should say. Perhaps that would help maintain some semblance of peak fitness on the bike, I hoped.
Needless to say, as Rock Pile day arrived, I knew my finishing time was going to be less than stellar. I didn't really care and wasn't going to let it bother me. I did rest well all week and felt great warming up. The temp was mild but humidity was quite high. The weather was decidedly better than predicted just a day or two earlier, almost perfect even.
There were some seriously fast guys called up to the line, like Phil Gaimon, who many may know. Lot of familiar faces in the elite top notch wave, many new faces too. The eardrum popping cannon goes off. I made certain I didn't go out too hard.
The race starts around 1500ft elevation, and by 3000ft, it felt like I slid backwards through the entire top notch field. Hmmm, that never happened before. It was borderline oppressively humid out, but I did not sense thermal overload yet. I just didn't have the goods I normally do.
By 4000ft, riders from the next age group wave started passing me. Hmmm, that doesn't usually happen either. I kinda threw in the towel at that point. Why kill myself for 12th place and many minutes slower than my previous finish? The climb became much more manageable then.
One thing I realized is that the same gears you use when posting 65 minute finish aren't adequate when you slog up much slower. I was forced out of saddle in many places in my lowest gear just to keep the pedals turning. Oops. I have lower combinations to put on that bike, just didn't think it necessary. I've been using the same bike for this for about 16 years now, my Trek 5900.
I reached a point in the climb where panic set in. What if I don't even make top notch time of 1:20? My pace was so far off that it was conceivable.
I reached the finish in 1:14:55, my slowest ever, having to go all the way back to 2000, my first climb as a complete noob on inappropriately geared bike. Think I was still a bit heavier back then too.
Below my 13 Mt Washington race result times are plotted vs. my age. First race was back in 2000, through today's race in 2017. Pretty amazing really, how consistent I was through all those years, posting my fastest just a few years ago at 51. In 2008 at 52, I commented in my training log about losing focus in training and it showed. That was nothing compared to this year! Age will eventually dictate a decline though. Maybe it starts mentally, not wanting to push that hard all the time. I think the only way I feel my age right now is it takes longer to recover from a long, hard weekend of activities.
Add to this the six practice climbs I did over the years, I've ridden a bike up Mt Washington 19 times now. 90,000ft of climbing without rewarding descent! I've hiked it at least six times and ran up it last year for the foot race. That is at least 26 times self-powered up to the summit. I have never taken powered transportation to the summit.
The summit was a party atmosphere as it always is for this event. The weather up top was spectacular, steady 7mph wind, high 50's, mostly sunny, and stunning cloud formations.
A couple fast guys in my age group didn't show up, so back at the bottom I was shocked to see I still made the podium (2nd) with that finish. Normally you'd have to be much faster than 1:15 in 55+ age group to ensure a podium spot. Wish my friend Brett could have been there. He trained well for this race, would almost certainly have knocked me down a step. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with anaplasmosis this week, a nasty tick borne disease. So many people are getting tick borne diseases this summer. Scary.
The catered Hart's turkey lunch was awesome as always. Real mashed potatoes, squash, stuffing, carved turkey, couple kinds of salad, rolls and real butter, and ice cream. Overall a great day talking with great peeps. Many from Colorado come out for this event. Who knows, if I find myself in Colorado five years from now, maybe I'll come back on my 60th birthday.
|Myself pushing up finishing 22% grade|
|Dying coming up to the timing mat|
|A lot of cars, but none of the overflow lots were used this year. Race did not sell out, first time since I've been doing this since 2000.|
|The finishing chicane, mostly above the clouds|
|So many to cheer you on over the last 200 meters|
|Like the TdF, spectators chalk out their rider's names|
|Summit area will be filled in as racers finish|
|Tuckerman Ravine appeared to be a cauldron of clouds all day|
Summit crowd will give you the boost to get up that 22% grade section!
|The Nelson Crag trail I hiked across the weekend before in zero visibility, frigid temps, 60-70mph wind. None of that today.|
|Winds holding steady around 7mph. Warmest at 3300ft.|
|Cathy and I with Tuckerman Ravine in background|
|Boott Spur on other side of Tuckerman Ravine. Hike over that last weekend too.|