Chasing 1:20

My first road bike was some anonymous Italian steed given to me by our landlord when I was in elementary school. I would hoof that thing down two flights of stairs and ride little criteriums around Enfield Elementary. Mindless laps around the building; just happy to be out. I had no idea how to maintain that white steel bike with it’s exceptionally uncomfortable textured rubber grips, but I rode it just the same. Then I’d watch American Flyers.

After a year or two, we moved to the top of Jones Hill and I graduated to a blue Ross Eurosport that my grandfather poached from Dartmouth lost-and-found. That bike must have weighed at least 30 pounds, and for at least a year I couldn’t clear either the front or back side of our hill without having to walk. All summer long, armed with a crude map of the area, I’d plan ridiculous and epic rides with my riding partner Ian, and we’d ride everywhere. Ian astride a mountain bike, I owned him on most of the pavement, but when we encountered the inevitable fire road, he was off like a shot as I survived my first encounters with cyclocross. As time wore on, I grew more and more enamored with mountain biking, but one of my clearest memories of road biking as a kid was that sense of accomplishment when I could ride either side of Jones Hill without stopping.

For who knows what reason, I didn’t find my way back to a road bike for a really long time. It wasn’t until 2006 that things lined up just right and I found my way into a used Trek for short money. My first road bike since the days of the Ross Eurosport that patrolled the roads of the Mascoma Valley. I rode only recreationally in my first year with the Trek, and I sort of liked it. It was OK. Riding in general was time consuming, hard, and only somewhat enjoyable. My ass hurt all the time and I didn’t really get the appeal of road riding. It was definitely not unearthing the memory of euphoric cycling from my adolescence.

On July 29th that year, Grampie and I embarked from Hopkinton on a ride that would lead us to the top of Mount Kearsarge. Tragically undergeared for my level of fitness, that first trip ever up the Kearsarge toll road was an epic struggle beyond anything I could comprehend. I had never, ever seen anything like this, and it was brutal. But that day something in my DNA woke up; something that had been lying dormant in there since those days climbing Jones Hill as a kid. It was absolute suffering, but when I was done, I wanted more. And the very next week, I went back to climb Kearsarge three more times.

That year I drove a support car for the bike race up the Mount Washington Auto Road, and I knew right away that I wanted to be there racing the very next year. That mountain was epic, and I wanted a shot at it.

I’ve had the good fortune to climb Mount Wash a handful of times so far, each time improving in some way, with my eyes on one goal: to hit the 1 hour 20 minute mark. The Top Notch classification. To break into that field and line up alongside some of the greatest climbers in the world, including everyone’s childhood hero, Ned Overend. Who knows if Ned will still be there by the time I make it, if I ever do. But I dream of one day making it into that group. Even if it’s just to watch him disappear within moments of the gun. It’s what I train all year for.

And that is what this blog is about, and has been about. For years I was thinking of a new blog title, and probably one day I will be again. I’ll still write about whatever is going on with me, no matter what it happens to be, because it’s all part of the same package. I’m sure you know by now that there’s a lot more to me than just riding a bike. But more often than not, most of the exploits, most of the stupidity, all of the torture; it’s usually connected to one thing: chasing 1:20.

Thanks for reading, and keep reading,


First ascent – Practice 2007

Practice 2008

Race Day 2008

Practice 2009

Race Day 2009

With Ned, post-race 2009

Race Day 2010
Newton’s Revenge 2013
Practice 2013
Race Day 2013

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