I had been wanting to do the race for a few years now. I had heard that the Mount Washington Auto Road Hill Climb Bike Race was one of the toughest hill climb races in North America. Last year the race was on the same day Mary Lou and I were scheduled to pick up Alex and gaby at summer camp. Fortunately for me this year our busy family schedule was such that not only was I able to do the race but Mary Lou, daughter Amanda and granddaughter Brooklyn were able to make the trip too.
We left Saint Bruno Friday morning and we got to Gorham, NH mid afternoon. Brooklyn slept most of the way. After checking in to the Top Notch Motel, we headed over to the bottom of the climb to register and then drove up the famed Mount Washington Auto Road. Scary ride. The road is unbelievably narrow, very steep and there are no guardrails. Mary Lou had to keep her eyes closed for the last two to three miles. Had I not been driving I would have done the same thing.
When we got back to the motel we had time for a glass of Veuve Clicquot with CTS athlete and fellow BUMPS Series rider Jamie Riehle from Boston. After dinner at one of the local pizza/roastbeef/etc/etc restaurant we all went to bed early.
What follows are two descriptions of race day. I will let you decide which of the two describes how the race went.
1 – After breakfast we headed out towards the bottom of the Mount Washington Auto Road where the race starts, got the bike off the bike rack and I went out for my standard 30 to 40 mins warm up which consists mainly of “endurance range” time with a few hard efforts. I then lined up at the start line with the other riders. I quickly settled in my targeted power range. I kept track of my time per kilometer and started to think I could get to the finish line under 1:20 hrs which would mean that next year I would start in the first wave with the pros and the strongest riders around. I was pretty excited about that since Jamie and I had figured out at dinner that I should be aiming for about 1:27 hrs. That analysis was based on our time differential at Equinox and his last time up Mount Washington which was 1:12hrs. I crossed the finish line in 1:19:32 hrs, made the Top Notch category on my first attempt, finished 29th in my age category and 135th overall, my best performance so far this year in the BUMPS Series. Great results!!!
2 – After breakfast we headed out towards the bottom of the Mount Washington Auto Road where the race starts, got the bike off the bike rack and I went out out for my standard 30 to 40 mins warm up which consists mainly of “endurance range” time with a few hard efforts. I then lined up at the start line with the other riders. I quickly settled in my targeted power range. About thirty four minutes into the ride my average power feel below 270 watts. I had achieved more than 270 watts for over 51 mins two weeks earlier at Equinox so it felt like a major setback. I began to get frustrated about my performance. I could think of two reasons why I couldn’t keep my power up. First and foremost I had been feeling tired for a few days, thanks to several “work related sleepless nights” last week. Another factor was that my pace for the first 6 km was way quicker than you would expect if my likely race time was 1:27 hrs. I started to think that the second half of the race was probably way harder than the first half so I decided to conserve energy and backed off the power. I only averaged 234 watts for the last 45 mins of the race. Overall, I averaged only 252 watts for the entire race, the same average power for a 79 mins effort that I had achieved over six ago while climbing Mount Figueroa in California. Poor performance!!!
CONCLUSION: so how was my day? Which paragraph do you pick? #1 or #2? And the answer is: BOTH.
Sometimes the water bottle is both half full and half empty.
UPDATE: Just remembered reading an interesting article by Chris Carmichael during the 2010 Tour de France. Maybe part of my drop in power was due to the thinning air.