Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Whiteface Mountain Auto Road Hill Climb 2012

On Saturday, June 16, I competed in the Whiteface Auto Road Hill Climb.  This is the second race in the BUMPS series, although the first for me as I chase series points.  I had fantasized about this race since my hip fracture six months ago, picturing the glorious views that one occasionally glimpses in the midst of all the climbing.  The average grade for this climb is only 8 percent, but the road is eight miles long, so it is, indeed, one long interval!

In 2010 we got to start in Wilmington, at the base of the auto road climb, with our age group and gender.  New for this year was a mass start of almost 300 racers, three miles from Wilmington, on the bridge over the Ausable Rive at the Whiteface MountainSki Area.    As one would imagine, this ended up being a free-for-all from the gun, and a furious pace was set.  By the time I got myself up to Route 86 from the bridge there was a line ahead as far as the eye could see.

My goals for this race were to use it as a benchmark, to compare myself with my performance of 2010.  As I did two years ago, I am racing both Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climbs as a sponsored racer for Hammer Nutrition, so I really needed to figure out “where I was” at this point in my recovery and training.  Consequently, I did not push the pace too much on the brief uphill start or on the Route 86 “sprint” down to Wilmington.

Once on the auto road climb there was a mass of people around me.  I settled into a pace – a certain power level that I was hoping to maintain for the entire race – and I started to pick off people.  During that time I remember being passed by only two people, a woman who was riding her brakes so hard on the steeper section leading toward Wilmington that I almost ran into her, and a teenage boy who zipped past me in the last 100 meters.  I wish I could have counted how many people I passed in the next eight miles, but I was otherwise occupied, concerned with catching and passing as many women as possible.

The climb went great!  While initially I felt hot and a bit whiny, I settled in after the tollbooths and really started to enjoy the challenge.  The day was gorgeous and, when I lifted my head from my Joule, the views were magnificent.  I was ecstatic when I crossed the line, knowing that for the hill climb portion I had come within seconds of my 2010 time.

It was glorious at the summit!  Janice Williams had driven our van to the top, so we all had some warmer clothing and a lift back down if necessary. She also took some cool photos. Thank you Janice! The vistas from Whiteface are always amazing, and I elected to ride my bike back down the frost heaved road and back to the Whiteface base lodge.  I stopped at various points along the way to fully take in the sights and smells that are the Adirondacks, appreciating every moment I could. 

At the base lodge I took the opportunity to have a fabulous massage by friend Tim Chien of Balanced Body Work.  I look forward to massages from Tim almost as much as the races themselves, although my once a year schedule is not nearly enough.  If anyone is in LP and feels the need for massage, please see Tim!

The only down-side to the day was the “computer glitch” which made immediate posting of race results impossible.  After this announcement, disappointed racers left the venue, not sure when they would ever know how they did.  Bragging rights were put on hold for all but the first few finishers, and a chance for all to commiserate with their fellow racers was lost.  Results were finally posted on Sunday evening.  I was pleased to find that, while I was the second oldest woman there, I was 14th of 44, and 58 seconds out of 10th place.  I was second of nine in the 50-59 age group, and I saw that no matter what I had done I would not have won.  I’m happy with my race and the decisions I made.

“Summer solstice week” in Lake Placid makes for a wonderfully long day, which Mark Williams and I started at 6 am with a ride from Lake Placid to the Whiteface venue.  Wow!  The sun was already up, but the quiet and calm of the morning made everything look even more spectacular.  In addition to the race and the ride down the mountain we also rode back to our housing at Lake Placid (thank you Norm and Val!) and then I got to go on a nice ride with Janice and Val.  All in all, a wonderfully long day, which we finished off with our drive back home, again through the Adirondacks, that evening.  Life is good!

Thank you for reading J