Monday, May 24, 2010

It's easy to lose weight when there is zero chance of bonking

I stepped on the scale the other day to assess damage the two most sedentary weeks of my life inflicted. 162 lbs. Hmm, that can't be right. So I stepped on the scale in different spots, one-legged of course, to see if I could coerce more poundage on the display. Nope. So now I had to figure out what this boat anchor of a cast weighs, so I sat down, unstrapped it and weight it on my weight weenie bicycle scale. Almost four pounds. That means I'm down to about 158 lbs! I've lost 6 lbs in two weeks.  Why doesn't my racing weight go that low?

Perhaps I over compensated with calorie cutback. It is easy to do when your heartrate never needs to go more than a few beats per minute above resting rate. You'll never bonk. I guess when I am training, I over compensate the other way, making sure I store away every last gram of glycogen and then some (fat).

I can't stand with both feet on the scale yet to measure body fat. I bet my body fat hasn't dropped much. In fact, in two weeks there has been a dramatic reduction in the size of my left knee flexor. So I got the tape measure out and quantitatively measured the circumference around both legs a few inches above the knee. My right leg was 16.1", left only 14.8". I've lost 1.3" in just two weeks, probably all lean muscle mass! It is going to be hard to not dwell on that, but I know there is nothing I can do about it. Wonder what another eight weeks will bring? I suspect my right leg is getting a healthy workout, with all the stairs I must negotiate in our house. Nothing like 400W intervals though.

I've been kicking around a few ideas to spruce up my website, I've become fond of a website call GPSies. It is very versatile, converting almost any GPS track file format to another, and loads maps quickly. Much more powerful than MapMyRide, which sucks, frankly. So I'm running a little experiment here to see if their maps embed properly in blogger. You should see an interactive map below. By clicking on details, you'll bring up the full page where you can download the track file for this ride. Coincidentally, this is the ride I did the day before I broke my leg, when it poured on the Sterling race and I stayed dry for >90% of this ride.

It seems GPSies elevation data set is a little glitchy, but I'd rather see that than the super smoothing function that MapMyRide applies to elevation charts. Another very power tool GPSies offers is Douglas-Peuker Algorithm route point data reduction. Detailed GPS tracks can have thousands of track points, and Garmin's are notorious for choking on this. The Douglas-Peuker Algorithm eliminates most of the points with negligible loss in track fidelity.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hill Junkie Recovery Studio

My recovery is coming along nicely since breaking my leg in three places, but a tough couple of weeks it has been. The good news is my swelling has gone down significantly over the last few days, to the point where I can go a couple hours without having to put my leg up to let the swelling subside. Having never broken anything, I had no idea what swelling was about. I experienced discomfort and weird sensations like never before. One is after having my leg down for a while until it swells up, then elevating it. The sensation is like someone hooked a garden hose to my toe tips and cool, rushing water is gurgling under my skin all the way up my calf. Maybe there really is some fluid in there moving around like that, the sensation is extreme. Another positive is I've been off prescription meds for a few days. This does wonders for the digestive tract and clarity of thought.

So the not so good points. Percocet must tag some of the same receptors in the brain as natural endorphins do. I generally only took the stuff at night, but its sedating effects must last many hours after its pain killing effects. Once I stopped taking the stuff, my fuse got pretty short. I've made it through the first two weeks, and the thought of being in a cast with crutches for another two months just kills me. Meanwhile, Brett is set to climb Zoncolan in Italy on Sunday. The mental challenge of not being able to ride for some time is really only a small part of trying to stay positive. I'm utterly dependent on others right now for transportation and general assistance around the house. I cannot put any weight on my left foot and cannot risk doing something that forces me to have to catch my balance with it. I haven't even gone downstairs to look at my bikes. I assume my Gary Fisher Superfly that broke my leg is down there. I'm not even sure how it got back home. I don't think I like that bike anymore. I hinted in a previous post that maybe had I been on my plush Racer-X that day, I might not have bobbled through a completely benign section of trail.

I researched ankle breaks. Seems there are a lot of horror stories out there. Maybe people only complain when things go bad. I have to say though, given how serious my fracture was, I'm probably doing ok so far. I missed less than 40hrs of work through this. I'm thankful I have office job and can keep my leg up as much as needed. I've read others missed three weeks or more of office work with an ankle break requiring surgery. If I worked on my feet, I would have to go on disability for a few months.

I'm also just starting efforts that raise my heart rate. Have to be careful with this, as you don't want to exacerbate swelling. Hopefully I'm past the risk of blood clots too. I've had enough activity this past week I think I would have either dropped dead or any clots would have dissipated.

My Concept2 SkiErg arrived Wednesday. My lovely wife Cathy assembled it Thursday night. She did quite well. I found it entertaining that she has less patience than I do with stubborn screws that don't line up just right. There were two sections to the ergometer. One was the erg itself, which can be direct mounted to a wall or in an optional stand. I wanted to place the unit in our family room, so I ordered the stand to go with it.  Each section weighs 60+ lbs. The instructions noted that two people are needed to raise and hold the erg when attaching it to the upper portion of the stand. Cathy is only 5ft tall, and this was well above her head. I had a friend on call standby for this part if needed, but Cathy took on the challenge to managed to single-handedly finish the assembly. It required standing in a window sill.  What would I do without her?   The erg appeared to work flawlessly right out of the box.  I was really looking forward to trying it out.

My first "workout" lasted 10 minutes. I was seated on a stool, so I could contribute no leg and only limited ab muscles to the effort. I had to be sure I was not putting any pressure on my left leg. So how many Watts did I average for 10 minutes? 76W. Unbelievable. 76W on the bicycle wouldn't even nudge my HR above resting. Yet 76W was enough to turn my triceps into jelly.  Seated polling is almost all triceps, and I just don't have any. There's no way I can get my endorphin fix at 76W.

No way to come up on your toes with a broken leg.

Jump ahead two days to Saturday. I hobbled around much of the morning on crutches, pretty much destroying my forearms and triceps. I still was intent on  upping the effort slightly, in both duration and intensity. I managed 83W for 13min. I believe Olympic skiers can do over 300W while standing for this duration. I bet standing won't increase my power by much, as my triceps will still be the weak link. To fully demoralize me, Cathy stepped up and did 120W like it was nothing, although not for 10 minutes. My base SkiErg does not come with HRM function, so I used my Garmin GPS to monitor my HR. Towards the end of today's workout, I spiked it a bit and got my HR up to 137bpm. That's approaching tempo effort on a bicycle, so there is hope.

I did get some ab crunch while seated.

To save a little cycling specific muscle mass at risk of grossly unbalancing my body, I jumped on the LeMond RevMaster spin bike with left crank arm removed. Again, I was humbled. I experimented once with Power Cranks, those evil devices where each leg spins and works independently of the other. I barely survived 45 minutes on a recovery ride with those things. One legging the RevMaster was about as challenging. My hip flexor immediately rebelled. I lasted about 8 minutes.  I did manage to get my HR above 140bpm though. So I have another weak link on my quest for an endorphin fix. I will have to beef up my triceps and hip flexor before I can generate any real wattage in either modality.

A 40 lb flywheel was not enough to keep my
right hip flexor from crapping out.

Hopefully, between the SkiErg and spin bike, I can get through the next couple of months without totally losing my mind. I already have a half-baked idea of placing the spin bike in the SkiErg and working the two simultaneously. I probably lack the coordination for such a masochistic activity, but I bet I could squeeze another 10-20bpm out of it. I think that will be a few weeks away at best though.  Two of my three bone breaks are assisted by plates, screws and cast, but the third is left exposed above my cast and gives me the most pain if I do anything that remotely perturbs it. Need to play it safe for a few more weeks. Posting might become a bit sparse for a while. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

First Follow-up Visit

We'll tone down the gore factor just a notch today.  Monday I went to the Orthopedic Center of NH in Nashua for my first follow-up visit since titanium hardware was used to put the pieces of my ankle back together. My lower leg had been sealed up in a plaster splint for 8 days. I still had considerable swelling going on, and it felt like the splint just didn't allow enough expansion for it. I had fear of what might be learned upon the removal of the splint.

It took only a couple minutes to cut the splint open and remove it. The sensation was heavenly. Ever ski or play hockey for too long, until your feet just couldn't take one more second being in those boots? This was a hundred times better than taking those boots off. I was pleasantly surprised my ankle sort of looked like an ankle. Sure, it was swollen to nearly 2x its normal diameter and it was most colors of the rainbow, but it didn't look bad considering what it looked like the last time I put eyes on it.

Next up was removing the staples. I had 4 in one side, and Cathy counted 14 on the other side. These didn't hurt much at all coming out. I did take a percocet before going though, as I didn't know how much contorting on my angle was going to happen. Essentially, none of that unpleasant stuff I experienced in ER happened. I went over to get a couple x-rays, then waited to talk with the orthopedist while my leg got fresh air.

Inside of ankle where two threaded pins were used to
attached broken off piece of tibia.

Cathy counted 14 staples coming out, I can only see 12 here.
Outside of ankle where plate and six screws re-aligned broken
fibula. I was next to wall, so Cathy couldn't get a better shot.

Dr. Heaps was very helpful in answering all of my questions, and I wrote a good number down to not miss anything. The good news is I did not tear the critical joint lining. He didn't think I suffered any serious ligament damage either, at least not stuff needing surgical repair. Overall, the prognosis was quite good. He cautioned me that the recovery process would take about 3-4 months and to not push things. He said he has about one patient per year that does something stupid, where they have to go back to square one. I must remain completely weight free on my left foot for another five weeks, at which time I have my next follow-up visit. I will probably be in a cast for 10 weeks total. There will be zero riding or spinning for at least this long, unless I can suffer through some single-leg work on the spin bike.

I asked Dr Heaps about when I could start to bring some aerobic activity into the picture. He recommend not starting until next week. He said swelling and throbbing pain will be the issue, which will most likely limit what I can do anyway. I told him about the SkiErg I ordered, and he was interested in it enough to ask me to send him more info on it.

After Dr Heaps finished with me, I got fitted with an AirCast. This marvel has four air bladders in it to firmly hold your leg and foot in place without hot spots. You can adjust it as swelling levels change. And you can remove it periodically, which I've been asked to start stretching my achilles tendon. It is unbelievable how limited the range of movement of my achilles already is. Like less than 30% before this happened. I sure hope it all comes back, as I already had trouble with deep ankle bend skate skiing. I am not allowed to move my ankle in any other directions yet.

My SkiErg shipped today and should arrive at my house on Wednesday. Pretty psyched. There's no way I can do much with it yet. Last night was very rough. My new cast holds my ankle differently, and yesterday was too much activity for a first full day out of the house. Yeah, I went in to work after the doctor's appointment. I had a good deal of painful swelling last night. Today was better, working a full day, but rarely getting up from leg elevated on desk position. Far more productive than surfing the web all day at home though.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fubar ankle

I have a couple additional images to post. I figured I would do my readers a favor by posting on the weekend, so you don't unexpectedly view these at work in the morning and toss your breakfast bagel.  I finally could bear to look at the pre-op photos Cathy took with her cell phone. I have messaging blocked on our cell phones (way too much unsolicited junk), so I had to get the block removed before I could email the photos to myself. I hate how these tech companies hold your own personal data hostage, and you have to pay extra to do anything with it. It should be as simple as USB download.

This first photo is hard to understand what you are looking at. I am lying on my back, legs slightly spread, both held the same way with knee caps pointing straight up. Yet my left foot grotesquely flops over to the side.  The medial malleolus is fractured and nearly perforates the skin in the center of the image. This the prominent bump on the inside of your ankle. I believe the orthopedist put the X's on my body for the x-ray tech. The X shown is on top center of my foot.

Side view of left leg, X marks top of foot,
where it should never ever be relative to leg.

This next photo is easier to figure out. It shows the magnitude of displacement in the ankle joint. My foot should be point straight up off the bottom of my leg. Instead, it flops over, displaced by almost the diamter of my leg at the ankle.  These photos were taken just before the doctor restored some structure to the joint, which exceeded the next most painful thing I've experienced in 47 years by a factor of 1000.

Looking down left leg.

My level of pain has made a marked improvement Saturday.  This means I can now let my leg hang down for several minutes without it immediately swelling up and throbbing. I can also find more leg positions in which I am semi-comfortable. Six days of healing brought me this much progress. Doesn't seem like much.  I have no reference to know if this is typical or what. I get a detailed scoop when I visit the orthopedist on Monday. The good news is I've thus far avoid infection and excessive swelling that would have necessitated going back to the hospital. Six days straight now without going above 50bpm. I'm starting to go stir crazy.  I did order a Concept2 SkiErg. It should arrive early next week. I hope I get approval to start working out with it right away. No doubt an elevated heart rate will cause my leg to throb some, but if I continue to improve at the rate today for a few more days, I think I will be ready.

Regarding the Italian trip, Brett fully committed to going without me. Looks like they began digging out Passo Stelvio too. The photos he'll send back are sure to kill me. There was another snag in us going, one that provided an additional challenge to Brett but was a huge score for me. Workers for British Air are going on strike next week, and half the flights through Heathrow have been cancelled, including ours. I was able to secure a full refund. Brett had to rebook on multiple other airlines to salvage the trip. Brett and I have not found my replacement. Thomson Tours is working on this too. They will work with me on some level of refund or applying the fee to a trip next year.

Thanks for reading, and be careful out there folks.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


It's been about 72hrs since my ankle surgery and and things are going well. Being completely laid up has not caught up with me yet. I have many small challenges to conquer first, things I never even thought about. I'm not allowed to put any pressure on my left leg, and doing so results in immediate, sharp pain. Ironically, the most painful of my leg fractures is where the fibula broke just below my knee. This area was not surgically treated. Sometimes the slightest muscle twitch causes some movement in the not-yet fused ends of the fibula. I made it upstairs last night and slept well. I don't dare navigate our carpeted stairs on crutches, so I used the butt approach.

Cathy went to work today, so I had to fend for myself. I brewed a cup of coffee into my everyday mug, then realized I had no way to carry it some place to sit down and enjoy it. I dug out a travel mug for subsequent brewings. Things like preparing a bowl of cereal are even challenging. I cannot risk having to "dab" with my left leg to catch myself. Fortunately our kitchen has an island in the middle, so there is something to grab behind me should I lose my balance. You can't carry a bowl of milk and cereal on crutches either.

Some bloggers I follow stoop to poop stories when there isn't much else to talk about. You have to put something out there for the readers during lean times, right?  I found mangling your ankle and putting gory Xray pics up is good for blog traffic.  I still have to talk about poop though, or lack thereof.  I've been taking Percocet since getting out of the hospital, a fairly light dose actually. Those who've taken this med before know it can back you up. After not pooping since Sunday morning, I started getting concerned. To be sure, my food volume was cut maybe in half, but not purging in 72hrs? I've never gone that long. I was even taking an over-the-counter med to help in this department. I was excited this morning when the urge to purge finally came upon me. What happened next gave me greater appreciation for what women go through in giving birth. I was quite certain I'd see a baby elephant in the bowl when I was done. That was an unpleasant experience, but a victory no less.  More aggressive fiber intake needs to be added to the diet until I'm off that stuff.

I'm starting to think about when I can bring some aerobics back into my life. This will be at least a week, maybe two away. I've been in contact with Concept2 about their ski ergometer product. Their demo video shows it can be used by injured athletes in a seated position.  Josh from Concept2 mentioned national team members Kris Freeman and Morgan Smyth used their ski ergs to rehab injuries. Duncan Douglas used a ski erg recovering from a broken pelvis too. I have a spin bike in my family room and plan to use it as a platform for poling, as demonstrated in this Smyth video clip:

There's a good chance I'll order one of these. They are made in Vermont and can be at my house in a day or two.  My ski club is putting an order together for a different type of ski erg, an Italian unit called Ercolina. It must mount to a wall, and the only place I'd do that is in the basement. I don't need more stairs in my life right now. The Concept2 can be built up free standing and comes with a power/kilojoule display, kind of like PowerTap for the arms. The Ercolina boasts other versatile features, but electronics is not one of them. The price is not much different between the two.

Several readers have recommended I get into the pool as soon as I am allowed too. Swimming with some floatation support can provide superb aerobic workouts. I utterly suck in the water though. I'll need some work to get started.

What I don't know yet is what kind of ankle I'll have when I get out of a cast in 8-10 weeks. I see the orthopedist on Monday and hope to learn more when he swaps my splint for a longer term cast.

I appreciate the comments and numerous emails I've received. A number of readers have been in my current situation, and it's reassuring to know they've pulled through.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"This is going to hurt"

Well foks, there's going to be a setback in the cycling season. After a solo Berkshires ride on Saturday where I largely escaped the rain, riding 78mi and 10,000ft of climbing, I decided a light day on the trails was in order. SteveG and I headed out to nearby Yudicky Farm in Nashua, a beginner area to ride. I was on my 29er, which with my fatigue level, felt a bit like driving a school bus through the tight, twisty singletrack. About 10min into the ride, I side swiped a tree. It threw me a bit off balance to the left. I got my leg out just in time to jam it squarely into the loamy soil. My foot stopped, my leg did not. Those that have ever hiked with me know I have a tendency to roll ankles. What happened was the ultimate roll. The loud, audible crack instantaneously told me I broke my ankle. The second thought that went through my mind a millisecond later was my Italian trip planned for next week just went poof.

The pain was indescribable. I have never broken a bone before. My foot just kind of dangled off the bottom of my leg. Bones were nearly piercing the skin. It was a disgusting site. When Steve came back to me, his words were "it doesn't look good."

We did not have a cell phone, but were only 100m off Gilson Rd. Steve said he would carry me there and get the van. In hind sight, this was stupid. Steve has a hulk of an upper body and does squats with small cars. Carrying me piggy back was no problem for him. My foot dangling on my leg was a whole 'nother issue.

He laid me down by the road and went to get his van nearby. Passerby's stopped. One guy called 911 and made me talk to them to explain why I didn't need an ambulance in between F-bombs. I convinced 911 I would get to hospital shortly. The wise man called 911 again and said I needed an ambulance. That clearly turned out to be the right thing to do.

They got me into the ambulance before starting a IV. I was writhing in so much pain, I kept ejecting the IV from my hand. They went to the elbow with greater success. They started with 5mg of morphine. Other than an initial flushing feeling, it did nothing for the pain. Another 5mg. Maybe made a minor dent in pain. In ER, they gave me another 5mg. I was able to stop screaming by that point, but my voice was already trashed.

I got Xrays, which hopefully no women or children were within two floors of. It friggin hurt. I think I was up to 26mg of morphine at this point. The deal with morphine is it doesn't kill the pain, it's supposed to make you not bothered by it. It took a while for the orthopedist to show up. His name is Dr. Heaps. He told me I had three fractures, two needing metal work. It was going to be a while before I got into surgery. He said he needed to get my ankle to look more like an ankle in the mean time. He said "this is going to hurt."

Ankle was pretty much FUBAR.

Fibula fracture closer to my knee did not need surgery.
Like the calf muscle definition?

What ensued for the next 10 minutes will give me nightmares for years to come. He proceeded to set my ankle. Being on the other side of a closed door was no match for my wife. She had to flee the area. I never screamed so hard. Dr. Heaps was pulling, twisting and pushing bones back into place. All I could feel is bone to bone grinding. I thought surely I was going to black out. This hurt 1000x more than breaking my ankle and getting carried out of the woods.

I went down to surgery around 4:30pm. I'm normally terrified of being put under, the only other time was when I had tonsils out at 7. This time, I couldn't wait.

When I came back around, the pain was gone, but I was wicked doped up too. I guess it went well. Back in my room at 10pm, I got to see the pre- and post-op Xrays. Looked like things pulled back together nicely. I don't think I was on pain meds overnight. I had no pain as long as I didn't move. I actually slept bits in between the hourly nurse checks.

One titanium plate, 6 screws, two threaded pins put 'er back
together again.

They made me take two percocet in the morning. The nurses said trust us, you want it for later when they get you out of bed. This stuff made me wicked nauseous. I could not eat my breakfast. Still, my pain was minimal.

So as I type at 1:30pm Monday afternoon, I've been up on crutches briefly. I hope to go home later today. Getting up was not nearly as painful as I feared. A two story house is going to be challenging. Have to keep leg elevated above heart for a week. Then stitches come out and I get some kind of boot cast put on. Could be in that for up to 10 weeks. Both of our cars are manuals. That means no driving for six weeks.

Here's the grim damage for this season. My pre-paid, non-refundable trip to Italy is gone. Colorado trip with Leadville is gone. I'm registered for many other races already. I think the tally is in $6000-7000 range. I feel badly for Brett Rutledge, my Italian travel partner. Anybody want to go in my stead? We can work out an extraordinary deal.

I wonder if Fat Doug is going to be revived? I see some serious challenges ahead. I knew sooner or later my number would come up. Didn't expect it to be such a freak thing, riding a beginner trail at 8mph.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Urban Epics

This past weekend I continued my trend of racing on Saturday, then doing LSD trail ride on Sunday. Were not talking hallucinogens here, but rather some long steady distance riding. I finally got the chance to complete a route DaveP and I set out to do last December just before snow ended the dirt riding season. Sunday was a perfect day for it, although it was way too hot for the second day of May. It hadn't rained appreciably in a couple weeks now, so the trails are approaching mid season condition already.

I continue to find ways to build epic routes close to home, say within 30-40 minutes driving time. The greater Chelmsford area is a prime example. You won't find killer climbs here, nor technical terrain you could kill yourself on. But you will find many, many miles of everything in between.

I parked at the Cranberry Bogs to avoid being taxed at Great Brook Farm State Park. Do they have horse meets every weekend now at Great Brook? I was pissed to see the lot full of trailers, maybe upwards of 200 horses. They make minced meat out of the trails, not to mention the tokens of their presence they leave behind. When you see the lot full of horse trailers, it is not even worth riding in GB. You'll be stopping every 60sec for horses to pass. Fortunately it was Sunday, and I knew they would all be leaving shortly. I think a lot of them must stay Sat/Sun there. I figured I would ride as much as I could before heading back into GB.

The route cuts through the Cranberry Bogs reservation, takes a bit of paved rail trail to Lime Quarry Reservation with a sweet singletrack loop, climb a big dirt hill with a bit of road to reach B.B. Wright Reservation with another singletrack loop, then some powerline ATV trail towards Great Brook. I hit only a minuscule bit of GB before cutting out through the Thanksgiving Forest parcel en route to Russell Mill Reservation. This is where the mother load of good stuff is. I rode pretty much everything in Russell Mill including a few times around the pump track before heading back to Great Brook. Now the horses were gone and I got to continue my loop there.

I left with a full Camelbak (100oz) and emptied it in two hours. I became desperate for water. I couldn't find anybody with a hose running outside. The restrooms at Great Brook didn't have the water turned on yet. So I went to the icecream stand at the farm, and a nice girl there filled it for me. I think I drank half of it before even getting on my bike. Did I say it was hot Sunday? Riding 10-12mph in the woods doesn't make for much air cooling.

May 2 ride in red, prior rides in yellow and green.

I finished the GB portion of the route, which tallies up to about 14mi of singletrack. I cleaned the trail called Stone Rowe, which is easy on my dualie, but I often fail to clean it on my singlespeed. So now I had to decide if I wanted to finish the ride Dave and I started several months ago. I was feeling pretty trashed by this point, having been riding 3.5hrs at a fairly persistent pace in high heat. I had to do it. I headed south on the old carriage path called Old Morse Rd. It is a nasty rutted out affair to start but turns into singletrack. It takes you from GB to Carlisle center through the Conant parcel. From there a short jaunt on Rt 225 brought me to Towle Land, another parcel with a blazing fast 2mi singletrack loop on it. From here it was a couple miles of pavement back to the car. I was out of water again anyway. That was 200 ounces in 4.3 hours riding time. The route covered 45.2 miles, mostly on rooty, rocky trails. Definitely worth doing again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Hurts Just Like Weston

The High Point Hill Climb is one of the longest running hill climb races in the northeast, second only to Mt Washington. It was about time I got down there to check it out. This was an "exploratory" race for me. No goal, no taper, and barely even any sleep. I left the house for New Jersey shortly after 4am. I was not about to stay overnight for a 21 minute race.

Do you think I could sleep for the few hours I was in bed? Instead of pre-race jitters, I stressed over the need to fall asleep right away. So after a couple hours, I get pissed, and it was all over. I think getting up early is more detrimental to sleep than stressing over some big event the next day.

High Point is a USAC sanctioned time-trial. This mean one rider goes off every thirty seconds. First rider went off at 9:30am, I went off at 9:38am. I had hoped my start was more like 10:30am so I could have more time to sleep, but no such luck. The drive down was wicked fast. Google said 4:15 driving time. I did it in 3:30hrs without going crazy fast (can't see cops when it is dark out). So I had lots of time to chill.

High Point is also unique in that you park and register at the top. Then you have to ride down to the start. We start right at Exit 1 off I-84 in front of a Dairy Queen. The first four miles of the course climbs steadily on SR-23, which has a climbing lane most of the way to the High Point State Park entrance. In the park, we pick up a skinny single lane road the remainder of the way to the summit. The course is not monotonic. There are multiple downhills on the way up. On the upper part, the downhills were followed by some uber steep uphills, probably over 15% grade. The average for the whole climb is only ~5%, gaining nearly 1300ft.  Doesn't mean it is easy, you just go faster.  Scaling some High Point power numbers from another rider I know and bouncing that against my estimated fitness right now, breaking 21 minutes would be a stretch. This gave me an idea on how to pace.

Warming up, I inhaled no less than three black flies. They were thick up top. I also was dismayed at how ill fitting my hillclimb bike was. It was the first time on it this year. I thought to myself I should have logged a few hours on this bike to get reacquainted with it. I could barely reach the bars without scooting forward on the saddle. I'm normally really fussy about setting all my bikes up the same, so I was surprised by this.

I'm pretty sure it was already over 80F queuing up at the start. First a bunch of juniors went off, then us old fart masters 45+. I caught my 30 second guy in 80 seconds. What, me go out too hard? Naw. My one minute guy seemed to always stay one minute ahead. Ten minutes into the climb, I was passing many riders. Not my one minute guy though. I caught my one minute guy as we turned into the state park. Now we had the most technical portion of the course to go. The pitch would change from -8% to 15%+ a couple times along the ridgeline. I easily put time on my one minute guy on the steep parts. He had a much more aero setup than I did and held his ground on the fast parts. I do not own a single piece of aero equipment.  Many riders here used aero wheels and helmets. There were multiple places on the course where you would cruise 30-40mph. I spun out my biggest gear twice up top. A compact crank didn't quite cut it here.

The High Point Hill Climb course. This is NJ's highest point.

I think I had passed all but one rider staged ahead of me when I crossed the line in 21:53. I could have used some cross country ski poles to help prop myself up like after finishing a 20 minute Weston sprint race. It hurt that bad. My one minute guy was Kevin Haley (Signature Cycles). He asked what age group I was in. He was bummed I was in his age group then told me I won. I figured there were several staged behind us, so there was no way to know this yet. He said he won the 45's last year, and I just beat him by a minute and a half. Ok, that sounded a little more convincing.

From monument, looking down at finish area.

I stuck around for awards. Scored some nice Bontrager gloves and bar tape, both things I can really use. Cash is paid out only to top three Pro/1/2/3 finishers. I thought about registering in that category, but top three here would be tough. I finished 6th overall.

Racer on the rolling ridgeline section.

In the results, I noticed DeJay Birtch listed. I wonder if this is the DeJay of Niner singlespeed fame, who raced locally last weekend and other local bloggers have mentioned. What would a singlespeeder be doing in the realm of pointy helmets, $3000 tubular wheelsets and shaven legs? If he did High Point on a singlespeed in 23 minutes and change, that would be mighty impressive.

After awards, I swung by Bear Mountain/Harriman State Parks for a post race road ride. I had a 46 mile loop mapped out, all climbing, including the summit of Bear Mountain. This peak is another I've long wanted to check out. Due to it's proximity to NYC, it is a very popular cycling climb. It gains about 1300ft from the Hudson River, mostly gradually, except for one short piece that goes double-digit.

Scenery on Rt 106 just off 7 Lakes Dr.

It was now at least 90F. I died a thousand deaths coming up the south side of 7 Lakes Drive. It was in full sun with no wind. When I dropped down the other side by the Hudson, I got a little respit from the heat. Funny how a 21 minute TT can destroy your legs for the rest of the day. I was determined to make it to the summit of Bear Mtn though. Even late afternoon, there were hundreds of people up top. I'm sure the ethnic diversity matched that of the big city. The view to the south was fantastic. I did not drop down to catch the view to the east, as I didn't want to climb that little bit to the top again. Riding here was mixed. At times, I could have sworn I was riding the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Others times, like roads outside the park to link things up, it sucked. A good portion of 7 Lakes Dr has been repaved, but other roads in the area were 10 years past due for repaving.

Southwest view from summit of Bear Mtn. 7 Lakes Dr in distance.

Descending the upper part of Bear Mtn (Perkins Memorial Dr), I got mixed in with some motorcycles. I'm not sure what they thought of some pasty looking dude in spandex drafting inches off one of their bikes at 40mph. When we got to the stop sign at 7 Lakes Dr, one of the guys said he was impressed. My post race ride went 46mi in 2.7hrs with ~4000ft of climbing in oppressive heat.

Bear Mountain on the Hudson (3x vertical exaggeration).

When I hung my bike up at home in the evening, I felt like an idiot. My saddle had slid all the way back on its rails. It was off by 1.5"! When did this happen? Had to be last fall.  How could I not realize this? It's a wonder I didn't injure myself with 4hrs in the saddle on that setup. I wonder how much power that cost me on the climb?

You can see two faint black marks where I marked where the seatpost
clamp is supposed to be. The saddle should be all the way forward on
the rails.

I might go back again sometime. The event was very well run, the course well marshalled, good swag, and great views.   I'd take a MTB for post race activities, spend the night before locally.  Who knows, maybe with some sleep, tapering, and a properly adjusted bike, a 21 minute stretch target is achievable.