Sunday, August 18, 2013
Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb
What a week it has been! One week after completing the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race I found myself at the start of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill climb. Following through with the logistics of the journey between the two locations was as demanding as the recovery my body had attempted to make. My coach, Mark Fasczewski and my acupuncturist Mackay Rippey did their best work to get my body "back to normal." Climbing this 4698 feet in just 7.5 miles would be even more of a challenge than usual.
This was my fifth race up Mt. Washington, so I knew what to expect. I hoped that my time at altitude would extend its reported benefits in my direction and would override any of the obvious recovery and logistical issues. The timing was not perfect, but I had been asked to represent Hammer Nutrition at the Meet and Greet, held the evening before the race. I happily accepted, grateful for the opportunity. Summer is short and there are never enough weekends!
The race started and I felt pretty good. Hooray! I did not overdo the start, but paced myself via my power meter, watching folks in my wave get ahead of me and then reeling them in again. Eventually I was reeling in the racers who started in the waves prior to mine. This makes for some tricky maneuvering at times, but a courteous "on your left" generally does the trick. The most worrisome riders are those that are zig zagging up the climb, so good communication is essential.
The temperature at the bottom was a nice 65 degrees and I soon worked up a sweat in the initial miles. Eventually, though, the road ascends above tree line and the reliable Mt. Washington wind becomes an issue. This race was no exception. The sustained winds of 30-40 mph were mild by this mountain's standards. Combine them with the certain drop in temperature provided by such an elevation gain and, well, a sweaty body can cool off in a hurry. Yes, my body was cooling off much too quickly. My hands even went numb. Yet, had I worn protective clothing in anticipation of this I would surely have ripped them all off due to the warm conditions at the bottom.
Nearing the top of this climb one can hear the distant cheers of the crowds and the whistle of the cog railway. Clouds rush past at 30-40 mph. Headwind, tailwind, crosswind and steep grades all conspire to tip bicyclists over. The ground underneath moves very slowly in the carefully selected climbing gears. The clock moves very quickly. Still, I managed to finish second in my age group and a very pleasing 10th place overall for women.
I arrived at the finish line and the first thing I did was ask for my finisher's blanket. My husband Phil was right there and he helped me to where our van was parked so I could put on all of the warm outer garments that I had packed. Then I jumped onto my stationary trainer and did a ten minute cool down -- or was it a warm down? Then it was back up to the observatory area for a warm drink and to check out the weather observation equipment. Yep, it was chilly and windy, but I could have told you that!
This day had enough clear sky to showcase the stunning views from the top of this mountain. Being above treeline helped sooth the feelings of missing the mountains in Colorado. Our drive home later that day took us through the White, Green,
and Adirondack mountains. Add that to the Rocky mountains just a few days before, and I can only say that I am truly blessed to be able to do this.
Thank you to my sponsors Hammer Nutrition, Specialized and Stan's NoTubes for all the great support. Thank you family and friends for always being there for me.