|Photo: Mt. Washington Auto Road|
1:37. We are getting there. Today was my first chance to get a solid breakfast in before the ride, and it performed beautifully. Energy was absolutely solid. FINALLY. It was the same formula I used at the Kanc; just a question as to whether or not it would work again for something a little higher in intensity. Or maybe not higher in intensity, but just a little longer. I’ll admit I was nervous for a bit, wondering if or when the bottom would drop out. I may have ridden a little conservatively as a result. Not too much, but some.
I had no real plan. I knew winds were gusting to 68mph at the summit, and that above treeline I was going to get crushed. I toyed with the idea of just going for it and dying once the wind picked up, and I probably should have done that. Instead I bottled it up a little, wanting to just ride my race, finish strong, stay consistent, and finish without bonking. I saw 20min at the mile 2 post and had this “WHOA WHOA WHOAAAA SLOW DOWN” moment rush through my head. I shouldn’t have let off – I am quite aware now more than ever that the bottom 2 miles are going to be quick, and not indicative of what is to come in terms of difficulty. Now that I know that I have a solid food plan, I will ride with a lot more confidence, attack more early sections, knowing that if I blow up, it won’t have anything to do with nutrition.
It was pretty humid, but the sun was behind the clouds; up until about 4000 feet things were pretty uneventful. Then the wind showed itself. Could be the worst I’ve ever encountered up there. It was largely at your back on 5 mile grade, which was AMAZING, but when you turned into it or it was catching you from the side, you were a goner. At one point on 6 mile, it picked up my front wheel and I was pretty sure I was getting dumped right on my back. That was a tough fucking grind, just head down, buried in the drops, enduring.
Mile 6 and beyond, the wind never let up, and visibility was ridiculous. Maybe ten feet. I had absolutely no clue where I was on the road. Totally disoriented. Just going up, making turns, whatever happened to be right in front of me. No idea where to pick it up for the finish until I felt the grade subside just before the 22%. I barely had enough gas to clear that, so I know I put in a really consistent effort. Probably around the cow pasture I was tapped in terms of pushing any harder. I could never decide whether to put it into a harder gear and attack through the wind, or just try to survive; in the end I guess it was survival.
I had this feeling somewhere up there that based on my time, and my relation to the finish, I could have had a shot at going under 1:30 today. Based on my splits from 2008, when I rode my PR of 1:34, that wasn’t possible, but I sure felt like it. I don’t think there’s any question that on a clear day I would have at least beaten that PR. That is very, very encouraging. I’m at least back to where I was five years ago, which was the last time I felt really strong; a time that I thought might have been long gone.
The idea of putting up a 1:29 today had me nearly choking up. I thought to myself that if that could happen, and I never got the chance to ride this again, I would be absolutely fine with that. No regrets whatsoever. I think going into the 1:20s by the fourth trip this year is absolutely, completely, totally possible. That would be a massive success. The practice ride is in two weeks, and it should be a good ride based on fitness, but remember that the practice ride is absurdly early and my eating is totally out of whack. I don’t have the time to wake up and digest a huge breakfast before hitting the road by 6am. I’ll have to come up with some modification, probably oatmeal only and pass on the poached eggs, and hope it all holds together. It will be an okay time, but just okay. Race day is where I really have the time to put it together.
If you are scoring at home:
2007 practice: 1:45
2007 mwarbh: cancelled
2008 practice: 1:34
2008 mwarbh: 1:40
2009 practice: 1:49
2009 mwarbh: 1:59
2010 practice: cancelled
2010 mwarbh: 1:41
2013 practice: 1:49
2013 newtons: 1:37