Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Non-intensity Week

I decided to lay off the normal regimen of VOmax intervals this week. Doesn't mean I'm not riding. I took Monday completely off, as I sometimes do. Tuesday was a perfect day to soak in your own sweat. Summer is finally here. I jumped on my hardtail and headed into Mine Falls park in Nashua at lunch. The Nashua River was so high from recent rains that some trails were under water. I don't think I've ever seen this in July before.

So I'm lollygaggin along, ride over this little root drop I've ridden 200 times, and the next thing I'm brushing sand off my face. WTF. Guess I was just a little too loose and relaxed on the bike, as my handlebar apparently slipped from my grip and jackknifed. No damage, but when you are drenched in sweat and flop into sand, powdered sugar donuts come to mind.

Then not five minutes later, I mash up a root infested bank I've also ridden 200 times, just to have pedal release and whack me in the calf uber hard. Had a baseball sized lump going for a while. So much for a low impact recovery spin through the woods.

Great Brook center, Russell Mill right, Conant lower left

I actually started my recovery from Saturday's race on Sunday by doing a 33 mile ride in the greater Great Brook Farm area. To keep a lid on intensity, I brought gears for this 3+ hour ride. Yep, I'm finding more secret ways to link stuff up in Chelmsford and Carlisle. So you have the 15 or so miles of singletrack in Great Brook. Then there's the 5-6 miles in Russell Mill. I discovered Old Morse Rd still runs uninterrupted from Great Brook to the center of Carlisle, linking in the Conant parcel via dirt. From what I understand, Old Morse Rd does traverse private property, but it is not posted anywhere. You'd never know looking at a map that an old carriage road still runs through that area. It's little more than badly eroded stream bed for one stretch. So now, with minimal pavement riding, I can hit Great Brook, Russell Mill, Conant and Towle parcels in Carlisle and the Cranberry Bogs for upwards of 40 miles of riding.

One of my triathlete friends is amused with my concepts of recovery. He cites that world class triathletes begin a taper for major events two to three months out. He himself will start tapering two to three weeks before an important event. He specializes in Olympic distance triathlons. I mentioned that some of the strongest cyclists I know not only race every weekend, but often race twice on weekends and once midweek. His retort was "just think how much stronger they would be if they actually recovered!" I tend to think they are good racers because they race a lot. My friend also thinks a 2hr triathlon will take a lot more out of you than a 2-3hr bicycle race. Thus more recovery is needed before and after the event. I bet a MTB race with a little dismounted action would not be much different. But what do I know, I don't run or swim.

I guess if you are 110% results oriented, then yeah, recover for two months, get your two events in per year, and you better hope you don't screw it up or hope the event doesn't get cancelled (like nats a couple years ago). Most bike racers are process oriented. Racing is fun, even if you finish in the middle of the pack each weekend. Some masters may accumulate 50 races in a season. That sounds like a lot of fun factor. Doing just a couple events sounds like a lot of potential for disappointment. If you do extremely well, do you derive more net satisfaction than participating in many events with mediocre results? What if you suck on your big day?

While I do value results, I strive to achieve a reasonable balance between training, competition and epic rides. Each are part of a continuum called cycling. I don't do any one of these just for the benefit of the others. In fact, some events I do blur the distinction between these three categories of riding. It's all good.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Killed at Hilltowns

Raced the Masters 40+ at Tour of the Hilltowns Saturday. This was my first time racing Hilltowns. I was familiar with the descent and infamous East Hawley Rd climb. The descent scared me. The climb had opportunity written all over it. This is opposite of most other rider's sentiments going into the race.

It was a very muggy morning. Having been an unusually cool summer, I was deeply concerned about keeping the core body temperature in check. I put two giant water bottles in the frame and threw a third small bottle in the jersey. Anything more than that would just kill me on the climb.

Our race started out fast with guys testing the field right from the start. It took a concerted effort to stay near the front with constant churn. Nothing got away, but then again I don't think anybody going off the front was serious either.

We reached the steep, treacherous descent down Rt 8A in no time. This road is about 10 years past due for repaving. Longitudinal cracks ran 100 feet, up to 4" deep. Nasty stuff. I worked diligently to stay near the front. John Funk (Cycle Fitness) bolted off the front, I believe purely as a self preservation move, not an attack. With riders leap frogging up in the draft, we caught back up to John. I was at the very front a few times too. Somewhere in this melee I went over 50mph. I did not hear any tires explode or carbon rims shrapnelize. Dave Penney riding in the Cat 4 field said he heard about six tires explode through this section.

We get down to Rt 2 with nearly 30mph average (best I can tell, my silly computer started dropping out). I was still feeling pretty good, having taken the week somewhat easy after finding myself in a bit of a hole last weekend. Then we get to it, East Hawley Rd. OA/Cyclemania pretty much had their whole team in this race. Two contenders I knew were Fred Thomas and Stu Abramson. Hank Pfeifle was in there too. The first few hundred feet of steep vertical went well. I drifted back a little, but still in the mist of the leaders. Then OA/Cyclemania sends a rider off. I was not sure which one, but nobody responded. It could well be the case that nobody could respond. I knew I was at my limit.

Suddenly I didn't feel so good anymore. My legs disappeared on me. I was burning up, getting that nauseated feeling. I watched my race ride away from me in a pathetic helpless state. The 20+ leaders group then split into two groups. Then they were gone. I was riff-raff discarded off the back. I pretty much lost my will to race right then and there. How could this happen? Is it really that hot out? Am I over-trained? Did everybody else suddenly get that much faster than me? I competed quite favorably against some of these guys earlier in the season.

A rider or two caught me, and I caught another rider or two. One was Paul Wonsavage (Onion River Sports), a good guy to be in break away with. Another was Ed Angeli (Target Training), whom I did not know. These two guys established a very nice pace. I contributed what I could, which wasn't much. My body felt like it pretty much shut down. We worked together to Rt 9, then began the long descent into the wind. Ed was quite persistent in keeping the pace up. I figured what's the use, we'll never catch the leaders group anyway.

But wouldn't you know it, we see a wheel car ahead of us. At first I thought it was for Cat 3's, as no way could our guys have slowed up that much. It was in fact our wheel car, and the 40+ pace car was in front of them. We were looking at the front of our race again. Apparently whoever attacked on E. Hawley did not stay away and the split leaders pack came back together too. We had trouble bridging the final 200m to the leaders pack. Ed launches and bridges up solo. I was not able to grab his wheel. I go it alone too, the other three not responding. I made it, barely. It seems someone in the leaders pack attacked just when we were ready to latch on.

Ok, so now I'm back in the race. Except I'm not. That was my last match, getting back on. I got on just as we reached the first lengthy section of passing lane at 7% grade. Of course, the pace was hard. I kept popping off the back despite a pack of 15+ guys blocking a strong head wind for me. The grade levels a bit. Driving in on Rt 9, I knew there were several steep passing lane sections before reaching the finish up top. I knew I would not survive the next one. I didn't. Ed from my chase group didn't survive it either. I might be to blame, as he was behind me when my bungee cord snapped. Another rider or two got shelled out of the leaders group working our way up to the finish. The stair step pitches just wouldn't stop. Me, Ed and another rider pretty much threw in the towel at this point. Ed commented all that hard work chasing was for naught. There were five of us chasing, and Ed probably put in 40% of the total effort.

As we levelled off at the high point of Rt 9, I accelerated like it really mattered. In reality, I probably accelerated no faster than I do from a stoplight on a lunch recovery ride. The other two were not interested in sprinting for 20th or whatever place it would be. As I came around the turn for the final 200m, I see another 600# rider from my field who had sat up. He hears me coming and puts his head back down. I kept a little power to the pedals, come along side Mark Gunsalus (Fuji/Clif Bar), and he really decides he doesn't want to give up another place. He got me by 6" at the line. This silly maneuver nearly caused every muscle in my legs to cramp up. It is a wonder I made it all the way up Rt 9 in the sun.

When the results were posted, I was surprised to see I came in 13th. I had high hopes of placing in the cash here today, a top-5 finish. I was quite disappointed. I was also surprised to see some big names not in the preliminary top-15 results posted. Maybe it was a hard race. Maybe it was muggy conditions. Even though our five man group chased for 20 miles to catch (or at least see) the front of our race, I don't think any of the five held on all the way up Rt 9.

I talked with coach Jay Gump after the race, commenting that my performance seems to have dropped a tad the last few weeks. It does seem I have lost some top-end snap. Jay said I need to take a week off. I don't really periodoize my training. But this year has gone a little differently for me. I was as fit as ever through June. Maybe my ski fitness wore off now. But I've been doing a little more intensity work too and racing quite a bit more. Good chance I bumped into a limit. I've never experienced a deflection in fitness before, choosing steadiness over peaking for a priority event. I have no doubt Jay is right. The question is, can I force myself to take an honest rest week now?

With a week in Colorado coming up soon and big MTB events in September, I'm more apt to back way from intensity work for the rest of the summer and focus on endurance. That's the sweet spot for enjoyment factor in my riding anyway. Next weekend I head to Mt Equinox to defend my BUMPS leader jersey. I typically do the Bow road race the next day but may do something at lower intensity and more endurance related instead.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Horrified at Harding Hill

Continuing my pattern of doing MTB races after self flagellation in a road, TT or hillclimb races, I made the short trip up to Sunapee for the Horror at Harding Hill race. The day was beautiful. The course conditions were less than beautiful. I had serious reservations about doing this race on the account of torrential rain about 36hrs earlier. I last did Harding Hill in 2000 and 2001. I recalled the course was uber greasy in 2000 in light drizzle. It was actually my last sport category race and points earned bumped me to expert just before my first Vermont 50 race in 2000.

In the eight years since I've raced here, I've become quite the roadie. Descents in rotor deep mud with the consistency of peanut butter were never my forte even when I raced only off-road. When I saw bikes coming back from pre-ride laps such that you couldn't identify what brand of bike it was, I nearly packed up and went back home. To make matters worse, I brought my still in pristine condition Titus Racer-X. Sure, I built it up to race, but I don't relish the thought of wallowing in the mud with such a finely tuned machine.

Only 40-50 riders were pre-reg'd for the race, but another 100+ came out day-of. Some CX superstars were there, like Mosher, Stotz and Morse (Corner Cycle) and multi-athlete Alec Petro (Team Psycho). The elite field was pretty small, but the other fields were pretty good size.

To add to my horror, we are lined up to start across a field about 70 meters from the entrance to doubletrack. I think we were lined up about 30 across. And do you think we'd get age group starts? Nope. It was major cluster-o-ramma. All experts went in one launch. I was lucky if I made top 30 going into the woods. For a while, the world turned into doubletrack mayhem, cross-eyed anaerobia. I managed to pass a couple people, but passing another that was passing another while getting passed didn't leave much room. I'm pretty sure I heard pedal in spokes or spokes on derailleur a couple times. At least I didn't see a pile up like allegedly happened in the sport start.

I had not pre-ridden the course and had no idea what was coming up. The first few minutes were wicked fast and we hit one rideable mud bog. Then we hit the big downhill slide. This stuff smelled bad and sucked the life right out of ya. Despite being downhill, most riders found it faster to dismount and run. Few cleaned the treacherous boulder field at the bottom. In four laps, I never cleaned this whole stretch. Can't say I even tried. I do recall trying to pick up my bike one time. I couldn't. The wheels were completely packed in with black peanut butter. It must have weighed over 40 lbs.

A little later in the first lap, I'm feeling pretty good on a sweet section of singletrack. Without warning, I'm on the ground sliding towards a tree. Dang. How did that happen? No time to inspect. Three riders passed me just like that. I just laughed that one off. No damage.

Just before the start/finish, there's a nice descent with a little stone ledge to hop up. Piece of cake when you can pick your own line. The sport and novice riders were circulated out onto the course behind us, so elites and experts had the course to ourselves on the first lap. Traffic would go way up shortly.

Things settled down a bit on the second lap. I kept trading places with a NorEast rider. He appeared to have fresher legs than I did, as he could put a few seconds on me on the climbs, yet amazingly I would catch him back every time we came to a mud bog. There were about six of these on the course. It did not take long on our second lap to begin passing novice riders. I figured out what tripped me up on my first lap. A root, of course. I was probably looking at where I wanted to go, not at what not to hit. That is what you are supposed to do. In this case, it failed me. I managed to not fall off my bike in lap two.

Lap three I'm starting to not feel good any more. Why do we do this again? Oh right, it's fun wallowing in mud that could have been trucked in from a pig farm. I'm tailing the NorEast guy. There's a place mid-course where you come down a hill, cross a muddy spot with short logs armoring the trail, then the singletrack drops some more. The NorEast guy is getting back on his bike. That's odd I thought. So I bomb down through where he just go back on his bike. Before I knew it, I'm sliding through the weeds and mud on my head and shoulder. I went down going fast and hit hard. Good thing there weren't any women or children around. I did not laugh that one off. Again, I had no idea what I hit. I remounted and realized my left fingers weren't working very well. Seems I bent half them over backwards.

NorEast guy now puts distance on me and I'm on the verge of hemorrhaging more places. Not that I really cared about how I placed anyway, but at least I wanted to give it my best shot. I come through the start/finish knowing I had only one more lap. Could I survive just that much more?

By now the course started thinning out again, as sport and novice riders were finishing. Getting to know the course helps too. I actually picked up the pace. I believe the NorEast guy bobbled in one of the bottomless mud pits and I passed him. Another guy who might have been Andreas Hau was right on my wheel. The way he gained on me meant I had no hope of holding him off to the line. He passed me and proceeded to blast through the remaining stink pits. I followed suit. So that's how you do it! Why didn't somebody show me that in the first lap? Anyway, he finished seconds ahead of me. I came in 5th in the Expert Vet-II field, actually the biggest field of the day with 19 starters. 11th overall expert isn't too bad for me since this was far from a roadie friendly course. Alec Petro, my age, was the fastest expert for the day, about 10 minutes up on me. No surprise there I suppose. His RAAM team crossed the country in something like 5 days. He'll certainly be a force to reckon with at the Vermont 50 this fall.

Hopefully my fingers recover more quickly than my thumb which I injured four months in my last ski race. It was worth coming out. Looks like everybody had fun. I debated at one point to bring a singlespeed. Dave Penney brought his and took third in the SS division. I surely would have crashed one or two more times on my SS.

So how do you top off a fine day in the mud? You hit a lovely hill on the way home, of course. I found a water hole to dunk wash my bike first before leaving the venue. Mt Kearsarge is just off Exit 9 where you access I-89. Rather than park at the commuter lot right there, I opted to park at the toll entrance to save the five mile slog on a full suspension mountain bike. I paid the $4 toll, pumped the tires to 50psi, locked out the suspension goodies and climbed. At first, my legs rebelled. About 15 minutes in, they relented and caved in to my orders. Took about 30 minutes to reach the upper parking lot (really slow). It was full of cars. I then proceeded to ride the hiking trail to the summit, about 0.5mi away. I had done this before, but many years ago. I quickly realized very little of it was rideable. Did I actually ride this 9 years ago? Maybe it wasn't so badly eroded then. Or I just really suck now. Anyway, about 90% of the trail was hike-a-bike heading up. A slightly greater percentage was rideable back down. With some body armor and full-up DH bike, a skilled rider could probably ride nearly 100% back down.

The view up top is second only to Mt Monadnock in southern NH. A bald granite summit offers 360 degree views except for some antenna structures that obstruct the view to the east. There were over 50 people up there. The summit area is a mountain biker's playground. Lots of smooth, sculpted granite to play on. Many hikers were easily amused by my meager abilities. It was actually quite chilly up there while it was 85F back in Nashua. I hiked/biked back down to the road. The new pavement is nice even with squirrely knobby tires. Disk brakes are very nice for 12% curvy grades. In one hill, I more than doubled my climbing for the day. I believe the last time I went all the way to the summit was when I race Moody Park in Claremont about 9 years ago. I'll leave you with a few pictures from Mt Kearsarge. Thanks for reading.

Portion of trail heading up

Summit sign

What most of descent looked like, maybe 15% grade

Summit area from lookout tower looking west

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mt Ascutney Hillclimb

Well hillclimb enthusiasts, the BUMPS challenge is now half over. It was just announced that Mt Greylock will not be part of BUMPS this year. The Greylock race director has been unsuccessful in getting the state to review and approve the event permit application. I can only guess budget cuts are behind this. There's still a good chance the Mt Greylock race will go on, but BUMPS organizers need to plan for the final event and awards now. They can't wait until the last minute. The Allen Clark hillclimb up App Gap will be the final event in the series, for eight events total. Up to five events will count towards points.

The Mt Ascuntney hillclimb was Saturday. I had high hopes of establishing a new personal best. A new PB on Ascutney is the best indicator for a new PB on Washington. The previous weekend was tough on me though. I did the Newton's Revenge race up Mt Washington on Saturday followed by a punishing 3+ hour riding in the mountains on the tandem with my wife on Sunday. We tend to ride at a much lower cadence on the tandem, as Cathy prefers it. She was pretty much cooked 2/3 into the ride, so I pretty much buried myself to get us back. I hurt in unusual ways for several days after that. She reminded me that she warned me that would happen.

With all my big events stacked up towards the end of August into September, I can't afford to be taking too many recovery weeks right now. I have races every weekend, two on some weekends. So I still need to get midweek intensity work in at the potential expense of doing well in some events. Monday was recovery day, then I did intervals on Tuesday even though I wasn't anywhere near recovered from the weekend. Doing intensity work on Wednesday instead would definitely have impacted a PB shot on Ascutney, so I opted for Tuesday. I think I got good value out of the four VOmax intervals I did running from 3-5 minutes. Had a nice 30min block of LT in there too heading back. After my fairly easy MTB ride at lunch on Wednesday, I could tell I over-reached big time. I was fatigued like I haven't experienced yet this season. Thur/Fri were obviously recovery days.

I went to bed early Friday night, only to be awakened a couple hours later by pounding thunderstorms. Two lightning strikes sounded like they were inside the house, they were so simultaneous and loud. This went on a long time. We live on a hill. I'm laying there thinking I'm going to lose half the electronics in my house. How do you fall back asleep after that? I was lucky if I mustered 4hrs for the night.

Saturday morning was still very humid, very high dew point at the base of Mt Ascutney. If you've been a reader for some time, you know that heat is one of my biggest weaknesses. The temp was still mild, probably around 70F at race start, but the dew point wasn't much lower than that I'm sure.

The starting waves were broken down into smaller groups this year. There were about 200 riders there, so that helped. The deal was, we go off by age groups only, no elite or Top Notch wave. I like to know where I'm at overall and it helps to be riding with similarly fit riders for pacing. I did have Gerry Clapper (Williams Cycling) in my field, a sub hour finisher on Mt Washington. That doesn't help much for pacing. I have to let him go from the get go. And I did. Charlie Casey was also in my field, and historically, he beats me at about half of these events. I started to put time on Charlie from the start and wondered if I was going too hard.

With no electronics on my bike, I have no idea how I'm doing during the climb. I don't want to know. I think by now I've learned to not go out too hard. The rest is perceived effort. I passed most of the fields staged 3 and 6 minutes ahead of my field by the 2.5mi mark. But then I started struggling to pass people. I took three minutes out of them to this point then pretty much shut down for the last mile of the race. I didn't feel super hot, but I knew I had to be scary close to my thermal shutdown threshold. I know from a controlled study at UNH I participated in a few years ago that it can take as little as 20 minutes for my core body temperature to reach 103.5F, at which point the researchers pulled the plug on me. Anything higher can be deadly. I was the only subject unable to complete the study. Genetically, I just don't tolerate heat well at all.

Approaching the top, I still had hopes of achieving a new PB. After all, I didn't even use my lowest gear the whole way up and I had to have put a minute on Charlie. But when I saw the clock and did the quick math, I missed my PR by 43 seconds. Bummer. It still was my second fastest time in the 10 years I've been doing this race now. I finished with a 28:57. The winning time was over 26 minutes. I forget exactly what place I finished overall, 6th or 7th I believe. Relative to my peer group, I finished right around where I always do. Maybe everybody was a tad slower due to muggy conditions.

The weather up top was quite pleasant, breezier and cooler than at the bottom. The watermelon totally hit the spot. Riding at between VOmax and LT for 28 minutes straight has a way of parching the throat. I must have had six slabs. Chips and salsa too.

A lot of roadie racer types show up for Ascutney. You could tell by the shaved legs and road rash. Three of my IBC teammates came out. Brett Rutledge tied his PB from 6yrs ago with a 32:01.

Also notable is how many really fast women come out to these things. A few are serious racer types like Clara Kelly (NEBC), but others eschew traditional road races in favor of hillclimbs, like Marti Shea. These women beat most of the guys. Many women are intimidated by pack racing - the risk, the crashes. While hillclimbs are not completely without risk (what is?), certainly the climb itself is one of the most body friendly intense things you can do. Just be careful on the descent afterwards.

Haven't seen the updated BUMPS results yet, but I should still be in the polka dot jersey for Equinox in two weeks. That's all for hillclimbs. In a day or two I'll share how my MTB "fun" race went the next day, if you call sliding on your head in brownie mix fun.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kelly Stand Tandem Loop

Hillclimb and dirt road enthusiast Jim Hayssen first told me about Kelly Stand Road a couple years ago. Last October I went on exploratory ride only to find the upper half of this wonderful climb socked in with snow. I knew I'd come back to ride it again soon. I thought maybe it would be worked in to one of my dubious training value rides. Instead, I enticed my lovely wife into giving it a go on the tandem.

Cathy doesn't exactly share my enthusiasm for the hills. In fact, she may tell you she hates hills. We are polar opposites in that regard. We are opposites in another regard too. She'll cycle commute to work most days this time of year. I have never ridden my bike to work. My primary excuse is I have to cross the Merrimack River through Nashua. There are two places, and both suck. I'd probably get tagged once a year if I commuted daily. The other excuse I use is I don't don't know how to derive training value from these 45 minute trafficy sessions. Plus I'd lose my lunch time reset mechanism when I normally go out and ride. Anyway, I digress.

Last year at the Equinox hillclimb race I won a night's stay with breakfast at the Reluctant Panther Inn. Originally I booked our stay there for Friday night. But if I wanted to claim a BUMPS leaders jersey, I needed to show up at Mt Washington the following morning. Cathy was willing to go along with my silliness to claim a jersey and stay Saturday night at the Reluctant Panther instead. Additionally, she would even drive up Mt Washington to take me and one other rider down after the race. She hasn't done it in a couple years now, and the weather was looking good. So the plan was to drive up to the race very early Saturday morning, race, then drive directly to Manchester VT to check in and have dinner. Cathy didn't want to let this stay slip away. The year before I won a similar stay at another place but never got around to using it.

My legs were a mess by the time we got to Manchester. We had the tandem inside the Matrix with the hatch closed. It fits with both wheels removed, both seats pushed way forward, and the rear derailleur in between our shoulders. Not very comfortable for three hours after racing. While Cathy freshened up, I got in a quick 40 minute spin on some nice quintessential Vermont roads to loosen the legs. I no more than put the bike back in the car when the skies opened up with rain and thunder. It stormed on and off all night, knocking power out in areas as well as Internet service (I left my connection to the cyber universe at home anyway).

Apparently I slept right through the rough stuff that came through in early morning hours. When I got up after 7am, weather was looking mighty nice for a ride in the mountains. I had my work cut out for me on the planned route: 5500 feet of climbing in 48 miles. Cathy's W/kg doesn't exactly compare with a Top Notch finisher on Mt Washington. I had to compensate.

Breakfast was phenomenal. Fresh baked blueberry muffins with coffee to start. Cathy ordered Belgian waffles, I got real buttermilk blueberry pancakes. Sausage balanced the meal with some juicy (fatty) protein. It was certainly enough for a 3+ hour mountains ride.

We kitted up and headed out. We had a nice 8 miles or so to warm up on before Kelly Stand Rd. North Road links us to it. This was mostly gravel last year, now mostly paved. It is very steep to start, maybe 10% in places. We found gears on the tandem that went below 1:1 ratio. The pavement ends after cresting the top, then it is a plummet on gravel. The rainy summer has kept the gravel in fine shape. We hit over 40mph on dirt.

We turn left onto Kelly Stand Rd to begin the 8mi, 2000ft climb on gravel. Again, the gravel rode just like pavement in most places. The recent rain really had Roaring Branch roaring. We followed this stream nearly all the way up. Two guys coming down on bikes passed us. A little while later, they came up from behind and passed us again. I was envious how effortlessly they climbed without the "tandem tax." Tandems seem to climb a lot slower than the average of the capabilities of the riders. Don't know why. I put continuous, near threshold effort into this long, persistent climb. Cathy did too. Progress was humbling after the previous day's solo blast up Mt Washington.

We finally crest the high point and begin the descent, still on gravel. Wouldn't you know it, the same two guys are coming up again. Two round trips up and over could net upwards of 8000ft of climbing, mostly on dirt. I wonder how many times they were crossing over? Cathy didn't want me getting any ideas...

Once on pavement, we easily broke 50mph. Tandems are good for this. And flats. Uphills suck. We bear left on paved Mountain Rd to sweep by the Stratton Mountain ski area. There are some serious rollers in here. That little blip you see in the profile after the main climb - that is real. We hit 53mph coming down the back side of it. After cruising through the ski base area, we finish bombing down to Rt 30 via Taylor Hill Rd, dirt and very steep. What a riot. I think Cathy said a prayer every time we descended dirt. She said she could feel the back end sliding around. Yeah, so?

The ride was still not over. We had to climb the double humps on Rt 30 before the plummet on Rt 11 back into Manchester. It was humbling to all-out kill myself on a 6% grade to net only 6mph. Cathy was pretty much cooked. However the descent was five miles of wind-rip-the-sweat-right-off-of-you speed. We again broke 50mph. We finished with 3hrs, 14min riding time, a little bit longer than I'd thought it would take. That was more climbing in 48 miles than I've ever taken Cathy on, and we're still even talking after that! Driving back, Cathy turned down hiking opportunities on both Monadnock and Pack Monadnock. That is very uncharacteristic of Cathy. Must have been a really good ride.

Next up is looking like a double race weekend. Ascutney Hillclimb on Saturday, Horror at Harding Hill MTB race on Sunday. Haven't raced Horror since 2001. Wonder who will show up? Only handful registered so far. A bunch of fast folks are signed up for Ascutney. Should have 200+ by race day. Many fast road racers will be there. I'll have lots of competition.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Newton's Revenge

A great weekend for riding finally, eh? If it's Monday morning and you are reading this at work, fill the coffee mug. This might be a long post.

I registered last minute for the Newton's Revenge hillclimb race up Mt Washington. In part, I wanted to claim a BUMPS leaders jersey, and while I'm at it, I might was well defend it for as long as I can. The week leading into Newton's was a typical training week for me. I have one or two races every weekend for the next six weeks or so. They can't all be "A" events, else I would lose too much fitness by Mt Washington in August or the fall MTB events. Thus Newton's was relegated to "training race" status. As such, I wanted to keep costs as low as possible by driving up the morning of the race. I don't think I slept more than 3hrs before getting up at 4am. Cathy and I were out the door by 4:15am. I had no idea it starts getting light out right around then.

The Newton's race draws fewer competitors than the August event. Newton's registration opens only after the Washington event fills. Thus it is somewhat of an overflow race. Many racers I talked to like the low key nature of Newton's. Percentage wise, Newton's still draws comparable mix of skill levels as the big race.

We found another rider to take down after the race so Cathy didn't have to pay driving up (take two or more down and it's free). I did my usual warmup, about 20-25 minutes of light tempo with two bursts at threshold to open the legs. Lining up, I'd guess there were only 20-30 of us in "Top Notch" field. Overall contenders I recognized were Anthony Colby (Colavita) from Colorado, and local women Marti Shea and Karen Smyers. Anthony and Marti took top honors last year at Newton's. BUMPS contenders Jeff Johnson and David Liebow also registered in the last days and lined up with me.

Lining up. I'm sportin' the BUMPS leader jersey. Marti Shea is next to me. She can kick your butt.

Photo: Newton's Revenge website.

The cannon goes off. It wasn't a few feet away like at Okemo two weeks ago. Still scares the crap out of you even though the countdown is spot-on at Washington. We peel off on the 50m of flat before saying goodbye to anything less than 6% for over an hour. Acceleration on the flat wasn't that crazy. Nobody is going to take a minute off their time here. Not even five seconds. I was very careful to keep a lid on the first five minutes. Slightly disconcerting was that Jeff stuck to my wheel like flies on a cow pie. I know he tends to go out too hard, so I worked seriously hard to not get manipulated into going any harder than I was. Going purely by perceived effort here, that is so hard to do. Maybe 10 minutes/first mile in, a gap starts to grow between Jeff and I. That took a little pressure off. I was still following closely behind Scott Dolmat-Connell (Metlife) when his chain kept making a racket every time he shifted down to a certain gear. It sounded like the dreaded new chain on worn cassette syndrome. Suddenly, snap, and I see Scott's chain roll out onto the pavement. I think a chain breaks at every Mt Washington race. Felt sorry for Scott, seeing this happen a mile in. But that meant there were only three guys in front of me now. Fourth place sounded pretty good to me. The third place guy, Sylvain Jean from Quebec, was still in sight intermittently but gaining on me. Anthony was gone a minute into the race. The only way I'd see the overall podium was for one of these guys to have a mechanical.

It was warm at the base, probably approaching 70F at race start. I began to sweat profusely and feared the dreaded thermal shutdown. As we climbed, the temperature just wasn't dropping like it normally does.

I'm feeling a little smug about two miles in when I see that another rider has over-taken Jeff. Hmm, doesn't look like a guy. In fact, it was Marti, and I'm pretty sure she was gaining on me at this point. I hadn't been girled in quite a while on Mt Washington. Despite treating Newton's as a training race, I wasn't getting girled today. Marti and I talked before the race. She was targeting 1:08. I told her I'd be happy with anything under 1:07. My PR last year was 1:05:33. Marti thought it was cool I was targeting something just a little bit faster than her so she could pace off me. At mile two I was starting to regret that conversation.

For the next two miles, Marti dangled seconds back. Third place guy was now pretty much gone, so it was just a race between Marti and I. Then comes the infamous "five mile grade," the mile long dirt section at the five mile marker post that is about 15% grade. You can see all the way up it. We picked up some headwind here, but nothing serious in Mt Washington terms. The dirt in fact was perfect, the best I've seen here. The time gap to Marti started to increase. The anxiety factor dropped from red alert to orange alert. It didn't look like anybody else was coming up behind Marti. Barring a mechanical like I experienced last year, finishing order was pretty much a done deal. I still felt pretty good and had no idea on my progress. I wouldn't know until I saw the clock at the summit. As far as I could tell, I was holding a consistent, steady pace.

What was interesting was how dramatically the temperature dropped around tree line. You'd think once you came out into full sun it would be even hotter. I think the temp dropped more than 10F in one mile's distance. Later we learned the summit struggled to hit 50F.

Crossing the timing mat at the finish completely gassed. So why would they give the BUMPS points leader #13?

Photo: Newton's Revenge website.

The summit area approaches. Spectators on hillclimbs are always a welcome sight. I thought I could punch up the 22% incline in my second easiest gear. It wasn't happening. I down-shifted and stayed seated for much of it. When I saw the clock, I realized I came within a minute of a PR. Oh well. 1:06:23 is a very respectable time for me. Marti came through just over two minutes back at 1:08:42, beating last year's time by nearly six minutes. Anthony Colby won the men's with 53:50, taking nearly two minutes off his best from last year. Anthony is inching ever closer to Tom Danielson's course record of 49:24. Anthony and Marti claimed the $1500 checks two years in a row now.

The three riders finishing ahead of me are not an immediate points threat, since they haven't done both of the prior two races. I gained on my nearest two rivals going into Newton's. My leaders position is safe for now.

Turns out Scott had all new drivetrain components. He was using a SRAM hollow pin chain. A pin had failed I believe. I have seen mixed reviews on hollow pin chains. Scott is also a runner and ran nearly the whole way up with his bike. I heard stories from humbled riders that couldn't stay ahead of a guy not riding his bike up the mountain. Impressive.

Anthony used a 34t compact by 27t cassette combo. He thought it might be a tad big. I used a 30t Q-ring with 27t cassette. The large lobe on the Q-ring is equivalent to a 31.7t ring. Thus I effectively pushed almost as big of a lowest ratio as Anthony, but simple comparison of times suggest, that unless I'm a total masher, I was over geared. There were several times I wanted another gear. I might consider changes for the August race, although I used this combo last year with success.

I had to stick around for awards, being BUMPS leader and winning my age group. Only overall winners get cash. Age groupers get medals. All racers have chance to win swag in the raffle. I won Michelin socks, visor, bobble head, and a copy of "The Complete Guide to Climbing by Bike" by Summerson. I already own a copy. If a hillclimb enthusiast would like a free copy and will be at one of the next three hillclimb events, let me know. I'll bring it along for you to have.

It was great meeting many hillclimb enthusiasts that know me through this blog or northeastcycling.com. Several riders commented that they caught the hillclimb bug through my website. Hillclimbs are a great way to bring goals into your fitness plan and have a lot of safe fun at the same time. Stick with it. It will grow on you. In rare cases, like mine, it can become an addiction.

All for now. I'll leave you with a few shots from the summit area. I decided to save the Kelly Stand ride Cathy and I did in Vermont on Sunday for another post. Thanks for reading.

Shot down the switchbacks from the finish.

Final approach to the finish.

Rider on the 22% grade.

Train coming up the cog railroad on the north side of the mountain.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Velonews Story on BUMPS

Brion O'Connor, who did the story on BUMPS for the NY Times a couple weeks ago has now done a story for Velonews - New series offers Northeast mountain goats a lofty goal. Or nine." With the world checking Velonews for Tour updates, traffic to northeastcycling.com could go through the roof. Now I wish I had Google AdSense set up. Brion placed a couple links to my website in the article.

I hope BUMPS begins drawing more elite riders in the local hillclimb scene. I believe some of the western states hillclimb series, like in Arizona, are well attended by top athletes. But, these events (Kitt Peak, Mt Lemmon and Mt Graham) are also USAC sanctioned events. In the Northeast, I believe only Mt Greylock has been an USAC event in the past, run as an individual time-trial. Sanctioning local hillclimb events is a mixed bag, and I believe most race directors are opposed to it. I am too, as many riders that attend these events are not licensed riders and do not do traditional road races.

The Northeast racing schedule is so packed it is hard to find days for hillclimb events that don't coincide with important road events. I know I have to choose what I want to do most weekends, and sometimes I favor a road race over hillclimb event. For most elite riders, it's not a matter of choice. Sponsors expect the team to support specific events. Non-sanctioned hillclimb events don't show on the radar unless there is nothing else going on that weekend. Sanctioning could help draw more elites, but it would kill the grassroots nature of most of the climbs and many non-licensed riders would stop coming.

Increased prize money could go a long way. The current economy makes it very difficult to put up cash though. Mt Equinox has always done well drawing a bunch of elite riders with it's $500 first mile prime. Mt Washington puts up $1500 each for overall male and female winners and $5000 for any man or woman that breaks the record. Prizes like these can easily entice a cash strapped elite rider. Of course, the Mt Washington entry fee is very steep, so you better have a very high level of confidence if you expect the event to produce net positive cash flow. For the masses though, we just love to suffer. We have no hope of winning cash. Prize lists for age group placers and awards raffles can be quite good, so there are many chances to leave with some sweet swag.

Newton's is Saturday morning. Since this is a non-priority event for me, I plan to drive up morning of and race on <5hrs sleep. This is only possible because the race start time has been pushed back an hour from where it historically was. Then it's off to Manchester, VT with the Mrs. for a free night's stay with breakfast at the Reluctant Panther Inn. Very posh. I won this at the Mt Equinox hillclimb last year. Never got anything this good from winning a road or MTB race! Cathy and I plan to tandem over Kelly Stand Gap, a 2200ft dirt road climb through a gorge. It is one of the most scenic gap climbs I've ridden in Vermont. The loop comes back past Stratton Ski Area with a bombing descent into Manchester. About 48 miles, 5000ft of climbing. Hope the weather cooperates.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ride to Glycogen Depletion

While most of my colleagues top off their glycogen reserves during lunch, I periodically attempt to fully deplete mine. Hard to do on a lunch break, but it can be done. Takes upwards of two hours of mad pace riding chocked full of intervals.

Tuesdays are usually my most intense days even though I'm not usually recovered from weekend activities. Last week I did a 40 miler, hitting a couple 600 footers along the way at all-out VOmax intensity. A few riders may be familiar with Pead and Purgatory Hills. Yesterday I throttled things back just a notch, hitting four shorter hills in a 31 mile loop. These were the double Pine Hills, Tyng Hill and Ponemah Hill. Durations range from 3-4 minutes at above 5.5W/kg intensities. With Newton's Revenge coming up Saturday morning, I don't want to embarrass myself by imploding half way up from major midweek training load.

Looking over my Excel training log for the first six months of the year, I see a trend continues. In my log, I note rides as being either trail or road. My 2009 average speed for all riding is around 15mph. This wouldn't be bad if half my miles were off-road. But this is not the case this year. My road-only average speed is 17.8mph. It is ironic that the slower the speed I train at, the stronger I get. You do not have to average 26mph on your Wednesday night worlds ride to get fast. In fact, many riders will derive junk training value from such rides. To get fast, you need focused bouts of intensity. This is best done alone. Only caveat is you need the mental fortitude to push yourself into extremely unpleasant realms with no one to shame you into going harder.

Several years ago I logged over 10,000 miles of riding. It was one of my worse seasons. Lots of junk miles were involved, very little focused intensity. But my average speed was something like 20mph. These days I ignore average speed of lunch training rides. The commuters and recreational riders at work love talking about these figures of merit. But they are the bane of quality training. Rather, I head out at reasonable pace to warm up, hit a hill interval, then rest until the next interval. This means doing minimal work, just enough to re-process the lactic acid that was built up from the prior interval. Soft pedalling down the back side of a hill is allowed during these workouts. Interestingly, on a couple of the less steep climbs I'm pretty sure I average a faster speed going up than I do for the overall ride. If I were to focus on the ride's average speed, I would go hard to the first interval hill, not be able to hit it as hard as I should, then maintain power down the back side right up to the next interval. This completely diminishes the value of the intervals. For the Training Peaks users out there, a good interval training session should show huge disparity between average and normalized power.

I typically do not allow for full recovery between intervals. Hilly road races rarely afford this luxury. Thus the suffer factor goes way up by the third, fourth or fifth interval. Plan is to do them until power drops dramatically, or in other words, bodily failure. Mission is then complete and it's time to head back in.

Weather looks good for Mt Washington on Saturday - narrow temperature range from upper 40's to low 50's, 30% chance for rain, and not too windy at 30mph. This summer, or lack thereof, will continue to play into my favor by staying cool. I need not worry about overheating. Getting cold will not be an issue either. Looks like more riders are jumping into Newton's Revenge. Maintaining my slim points lead is not going to be easy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gearing Up for Newton's

Yep, that's right folks, I decided to take the plunge and claim my leaders jersey. I've never done the Newton's Revenge race up Mt Washington in July before. Sure, it is the same climb, the weather probably isn't much different, but the race atmosphere might be different. The August race is still considered to be the "real" Mt Washington race. It draws the big names from around the planet. To be sure, there will be several fast riders going for the $1500 check in July. Anthony Colby (Colavita) just set a new record on Okemo. He won Newton's last year and probably will again this year. That sets me back a little in points. It's not what place you finish, but how far back from the winner that determines points.

So what is my motivation? After two races in the BUMPS series, I'm the current leader. This is really more by default than being the fastest rider. I'm the fastest rider that's done the first two races. The faster riders (three of them at Whiteface) have not done both races. There are many riders closely queued up behind me in points. If I do not do Newton's, I will no longer be points leader for Ascutney, the next race in the series I planned to do. To claim a points leader jersey, you actually have to show up and race to zip one on. It bums me out that Newton's comes before Ascutney. If I take a chance, don't do Newton's, I may never get enough points in the remaining races I plan to do to recapture the lead. So this is a fleeting opportunity. But there is a little more motivation.

Not many riders do both Newton's and the August Washington races. Bottom line is it's expensive. I registered for the August race back in February. Because the Mt Washington events are categorized as Hor, accrued points are 1.5 times the Cat 2 races, which have a 1.0 multiplier. Even a mediocre finish on Washington could net you more points than a spectacular finish on Ascutney. Whiteface and Equinox are Cat 1 climbs, deserving of a 1.25 multiplier. I did very well at Whiteface. To help my points situation out further, the three guys that beat me there did not do Okemo and are unlikely to do Newton's. This all adds up to me having a shot at claiming the overall title at the end of the series. This certainly wasn't a goal or my plan at the beginning of the season, but it is something that would be fun to go after maybe this one time. Things so far have just sort of fallen into place in my favor. Of course, any number of elite riders could participate in five of the remaining seven races and spoil my fun. Only the best five count towards final points tally.

Heavily modified Ultegra Triple crank with eliptic Q-ring

I'll be running a gearing mod I might not have run previously for the 12-percenters. It consists of single 30t Q-ring up front, Dura Ace rear derailleur and 27t cassette. Rear brake, front derailleur and associated cables are removed. You'd think this gets the weight down to silly factor. It doesn't really. I don't own delicate carbon tubular wheels. Bike weighs in right at a UCI legal 15.0 lbs, except it is partially stripped. I know riders with fully equipped bikes lighter than this. My penalty is about 15 seconds per pound. I could spend $2000 on wheels and take about 10-15 seconds off my finishing time. Is this worth it? I could easily stand to loose 5 lbs body fat. This would not only not cost me anything, I would save money by cutting 17,500 calories out of my regular diet. This would make me 75 seconds faster if I lost no power output in the process.

Newton's will be a training climb for me. No PR attempt. The weather doesn't look the most favorable for a PR at this point anyway. I would like to go for a PR in the August race though. Indicators are it is in the realm of possibilities.

Five Town 50

Sunday was a pristine day for riding. Wish the same could be said for trail conditions. FOMBA is still closed for mud season #2. I hit Great Brook and tasty bits on the periphery a week ago. Just to the north lies Lowell-Dracut-Tyngsboro State Forest. I drummed up a couple victims to join me singlespeedin' here, practically in my own back yard. It's always good for the ego to bring riders not familiar with your local trails.

We started from my house, riding to the ride. It's about 3 miles into Mass. I live a stone's throw from the state line in NH. We head into the woods, end up at the huge gravity track by mistake. Seems the kids are still at it, although we didn't see any demonstrations. I've seen kids in blue jeans, no helmets, hurl themselves more than 20ft vertically over doubles that would do any world cup DH course proud.

We turn around to take the correct way up Whortleberry Hill. The turn was within sight of where we stopped, yet somehow Steve and Dave right behind me didn't see me go that way. Since Steve knows the area, he assumed I was going to head up a different way that actually climbs an adjacent hill. Do you think after not seeing me for 20 minutes they'd come back down to the last junction? Nooooo. I'm still scratching deerfly welts. I eventually gave up waiting, resumed our planned route, only to meet up with Steve coming down the hill we planned to climb in the first place.

Once we got that out of our system, the next 80 minutes or so were singlespeeding singletrack nirvana. Or at least I thought so. Steve had a biggish gear and I think the last time he was on a MTB was bombing down Haleakala on Maui in April. Normally on his Yeti he kicks my butt on the tech stuff. But the singlespeed seemed to be a great equalizer. Dave had a smaller gear than I and had much less trouble. But then again, he is a real singlespeeder, having done races like the VT50 and NH100k with one gear. I, on the other hand, had the backyard turf advantage. I was running a 32x18 ratio. Since NEMBA reclaimed this place from the ATVs, trash dumpers and partiers, I've been coming here a lot. I managed to clean several things that often trip me up on the singlespeed.

Steve had time commitments and had to cut out after hitting most of the good stuff in LDT. While working our way back toward the periphery of the forest, a teen girl was so absorbed into texting that she nearly walked right into us. Imagine that, texting while hiking in the woods! She not only not saw us while walking right toward us, she didn't hear us. She spaz'd so badly that she nearly dropped her wireless crack device. I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. Dave and I continued north back into Hudson, NH to hit a small loop around one of my employer's facilities. I do not recommend riding here unless you have a BAE Systems badge. Security has stopped me after popping out of the woods multiple times. Strangely, there are all kinds of scary signs about private, you will be arrested, no ATVs, etc, yet the dirt bikes and ATVs keep the trails up nicely. It is wicked fast with berms in all the right places. It follows the Merrimack River for about a mile too, right across the river from the Pheasant Lane mall. You can smell the Chinese from the food court every time.

Another bit of road took us into the "Hudson Powerlines" riding area behind my house, which crosses into the fifth town of the ride, Pelham. Dave was whining about all the road, being on an undergeared singlespeed and all. To me, it's all riding, and it's all good. Besides, we all can benefit from some insane spinning once in a while, especially if you focus on keeping your pelvis rock steady. I regularly link up many bits of woods to make a ride complete. Local riding areas just aren't big enough to get 3+ hours of riding in without repeating something. So you go parcel hopping.

We cut out the Merryll Hill climbs and went right to Seavey Hill, the one I live on. This has a steep 200ft, ATV churned climb up the back side. It was the most punishing thing we did in three hours. It is really hard to find a singlespeed traction line up this loose rock mine field, but I managed to clean it.

Dave and I finished with 31.2mi (50.2km) in just over three hours riding time. A great workout. Legs came around nicely after a lethargic start from Friday's mountains loop. I thought 10.5hrs riding for the weekend was pretty good until I read Solobreak's report. 464km, 16hrs?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

White Mountains East Loop

This ride was planned weeks ago. As Friday, July 3 approached, the weather pattern of general suckiness made prospects for this ride dim. Seeing some forecasts calling for 100% chance of rain in the mountains, I sent out a cancel notice Thursday evening. I've organized rides before where a 30% probability of rain pops up the day before and everybody bails. Cyclists are like that. So rather than wait until 6am the next morning in desperate hope the weather would turn around, I cancelled so I wouldn't leave that one rider that might not bail anyway left hanging.

Track up "easy" side of Hurricane, "only" 15% grade. Switchbacks were well over 20% grade.

We'll, not only has the weather pattern been sucky lately, but the weatherman's ability to predict such suckiness sucks too. Friday morning I get up, radar shows no rain in the area, and probability of rain in the White Mountains is back down to 30%. Sounds perfect to me! I frantically call everybody up, able to reach two, only one was still open to riding. Thought it was still risky, so we both went in fully expected to get deluged upon at some point in the ride. On an all paved road ride, this wouldn't be such a bad thing. But the biggest climb in our planned route was dirt. 23mm tires on a seasonal forest service road in pouring rain often don't work that well.

Glen Fraser and I headed up to Conway. Traffic was very light. Took slightly less than two hours driving time to get there. Temps were pleasant enough to not need long layers. I took only a rain shell, risky given Jefferson Notch is quite high up and much cooler than Conway.

Hurricane Summit socked in, looking east.

My goal was to get good training value out of first two climbs. Ten miles of mostly flat terrain was a nice warmup to bottom of Hurricane Mtn Rd. I hit it hard. A little too hard, as I hit deflection about half way up. It took about 10 minutes to go from gate to summit, 800ft gain, easily at Ascutney race pace effort. I never recovered from this short, uber intense interval for the rest of the ride.

Others were out playing on this climb too, on this dreary morning. Apparently a large group headed the way we were heading. Bombing down the back side of Hurricane Mtn Rd, 17% grade, wet, with low visibility initially was quite a rush. Didn't dare let any real speed build up. I worried about my rims overheating.

We head north to Evans Notch, just inside Maine. This one gains a little less vertical than Hurricane and is not nearly as steep. Doesn't mean it is easier though. It just means you use bigger gears and go faster. I felt like I was going hard, but I'm sure my ability was down a notch after the Hurricane interval. I waited a good while for Glen. Apparently after I put a gap on him, a moose came crashing out of the forest and claimed the road. It refused to budge and Glen was not about to challenge him for a piece of the road. Eventually the moose sauntered off the road so Glen could resume his climb. Glen always sees the big critters. In the Berkshires a couple weeks ago, he saw a sow bear with three cubs.

Evans Notch

We caught up to a large number of riders at the summit. There were two, maybe three different groups represented, some going our way, some going opposite way. The ones going our way were doing a loop half the size of ours, heading back to Conway via Pinkham Notch.

As we approached Gorham, the skies grew dark. We felt random rain drops. Over Pinkham Notch you could see wall of rain coming down. It was moving towards Evans Notch where we were just 30 minutes earlier. I wondered if our Jefferson Notch climb was doomed, as the sky seemed to be filling in. We quickly replenished at 54 miles into the ride and carried on.

The sky seemed to be clearer on the other side of the Presidential Range. As we approached the base of Jefferson Notch, it was more sunny than cloudy. How lucky could we be? We just might pull this thing off without even getting soaked.

Bottom of Jefferson Notch

With all the recent rain, the gravel was perfect on Jefferson Notch Rd, just as I expected. Almost like riding on pavement in places. The first three miles is pretty mellow. Then you hit the last two miles where the average grade doubles, and the peak grade quadruples. I saw sustained grades of 15% on my GPS. The switchbacks near the summit were over 20%. No wonder some guys end up walking this when conditions are dry and loose. I was amazed there were only a couple cars up here, as it is a popular hiking trail head for Mt Washington. The Washington summit was actually clear!

The Jefferson descent was a hoot. Could really let the speed run out here. I think this is the best I've seen this road. It dumps out right at Crawford Notch, where the descent continues on Rt 302. We stopped again at the General Store a few miles down, as the store in Bartlett disappeared. I was running on fumes by this point. Glen was past running on fumes. We still had Bear Notch to go.

View from near top of Bear Notch

Bear Notch is included in all sorts of White Mountains loops. It's the only connector between the Kanc and Rt 302. From Bartlett it gains about 1100ft at around 6% grade. Very easy to get a good climbing rhythm going. I maintained around 11mph. A few weeks ago when I rode with Keith, Rich and Dave, I was able to hold 14mph on this climb. But that was a shorter ride and this climb came earlier in that ride. We now had 100 miles and most of the climbing in our legs.

Glen cresting summit of Jefferson Notch.

We finished with a bit of the Kanc and Passaconaway Rd back to Conway. I logged 115.6mi with 6hrs, 25min riding time. A little slower than last couple times, but there were only two of us this time. Topo says this ride entails nearly 10,000ft of climbing. My GPS says 7900ft. Big discrepancy. Ride feels like a lot more, but that is because I tend to hit the first couple short climbs as hard as I can.

Turned out to be perfect day weather wise. I even got sunburned, not thinking sunscreen would be needed on such a dreary day starting out. Two more rides are planned in the Dubious Training Value Ride Series, Jay/Smugglers and Catskills. The Jay/Smugglers loop shown for July 10 will have to get pushed back I think, as Newton's Revenge might get in the way.