The Mt Washington hillclimb has traditionally been the high point and finale of my cycling season. After last year's disappointing cancellation, I no longer put that many expectations into a single climbing basket. I didn't establish any "A" race hillclimbs this year. I'm taking what I get. The PR on Equinox two weeks ago was a true bonus. It could happen on Washington again this Saturday, but it certainly isn't a goal. The weather is not looking the greatest either.
There will be a lot of fast guys there this year. I've had email correspondence with a few. I'm looking for local riders Steve Gatzos (BRC) and Gerry Clapper (Benidorm) to break an hour. Drew Miller from out west will be there. He gives Tom Danielson a run for his money on climbs out there and could be the overall winner. There are other sub-hour candidates coming in from far away. It would be nice to make my age group podium this year. I spent 6 years in the 40-44 year old age bracket since they go by age on race day, unlike USCF. I think I made the podium twice in that time.
My 45-49 year old age group is huge and diverse. Men and women total about 140 riders, are from 19 states plus the District of Columbia and multiple provinces of Canada. Many come out just to see if they can do it, but at least a few come expecting much more.
Hillclimbers are always curious about how each other trick out their climbing bikes. Some treat it like its top secret. I don't get too carried away. You reach a point where each second saved costs many dollars or makes your bike unreliable. Here's the main features for this year's Mt Washington:
Frame: Trek 5900, about 1kg weight
Rear brake and front derailleur removed (with cables)
Wheels: Velomax Ascent-II's
Tires: Michelin Pro2 Race clinchers, 23mm
Tubes: Michelin Latex
Crank: FSA carbon left side, Ultegra triple with spider chopped off drive side
Ring: Single 30t elliptic Q-ring
Cassette: Ultegra 27t, 9spd
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XTR
The other stuff doesn't matter. This gets the bike down to about 15 lbs (6.8kg, UCI legal). You can buy a bike right off the shop floor these days at this weight with all the gears and brakes. My weight penalty on Mt Washington is in the 15sec per pound range. My body weight going into this year's event is the highest in many years, around 165 lbs (75kg). But Equinox has proven despite weight gain, I managed even bigger percent power increase for a stronger W/kg output.
Another rider is adressing the W/kg equation with body weight reduction with less than two weeks to race day. Personally, I feel any weight loss should have been dealt with many weeks ago and then work on power at the reduced weight. The risk is losing power with the weight and actually hurting W/kg. Another risk is coming to the race with less than 100% full glycogen tank. It will be interesting to see the power data from this experiment.
I've never built my Trek in this exact configuration before. The minimum ratio is slightly less than what I used for Equinox, and the gear spacings are a little tighter. It is bigger min ratio and spacings than when I PR'd Washington in 2006. The elliptic chain rings can mess with ratio calculations, as a 30t Q-ring actually peaks out at an equivalent 31.7t. At minimum ratio, it is less than 29t through the "dead spot", and it is this aspect I believe reduces fatigue.
I pretty much have to high-tail it from the race to the airport. Heading out to the midwest for a couple days work related business. Going a day early with a bike in the hopes of sampling some midwest dirt. I'll be in the Minnesota/Wisconsin/Iowa tri-state region with some great riding prospects along the Mississipi River. It is not flat there, and 500ft climbs with views are possible.