Newton’s Revenge… What a fitting name for my first cycling climb up the Auto Road!


Climbing anything uphill is all about power to weight ratio, and as I get older it has been very tough to gear either of these where I would want them :-)

It always amuses me that just because I do active things, everyone expects me to eat very healthy all the time. Now do not get me wrong, I eat as well as I can, but in reality nothing is really “off limits.” As I have stated in the past postings, this whole journey has been about enjoyment and fun. Not always so easy for an inherent “Type A” guy like me.

This past weekend, Sas and I headed back up to my favorite mountain for the Newton’s Revenge Cycling Hillclimb. This is this is the 4th event in the challenge and one at which I was just going to have fun. My only expectation was to try and finish a sub 1:30. I was a little worried about attaining that, but no worries!

Dan Janson has a great website for those type A guys out there, he analyzes everything about most of the big mountains in the northeast.

http://www.northeastcycling.com/neclimbs_hillcalc.htm

Armed with one of his calculators I could put in my information:



As you can see I did not have much room for error to meet my goal.

The other issue I had was whether I would be starting with the “Top Notch” group. Reaching the ‘Top Notch” group at Mt Washington is kind of like qualifying for the Boston Marathon — except once you accomplish it, you are in for life. In 2006, I was lucky enough to have 2 years of Ironman training under my belt when I took the starting line for my first attempt at the Auto Road on my bike. Armed with that fitness, I road a 1:15 climb, and anything under 1:20 allows you to start up front with the Pro Riders in the years to come. Back to the summer of 2011, without 2 years of Ironman training and 10 more pounds of fat I cannot seem to get rid of…. Not really a recipe for a top notch finish! At check-in, I found the line for my age group first, but no … my name was not on their list, and I was listed to be lined up with the fast guys…. Honestly, it took some pressure off me, as I now knew I would be the very last guy in that group, and would enjoy the other fast age groupers catching me after starting 5 mins back.

Friday night at dinner, I decided not to play the part of the type A athlete and instead, enjoyed a full dinner with a beer and a very large brownie sundae. Life was very good indeed!

We woke to rain on race day morning, but thankfully it was just a passing shower and the day was looking to be great! I warmed up with my buddy Rod and just enjoyed the whole process. My plan was to ride at around 210 watts as I was pretty sure that was my current FTP. We lined up and I was off with the rest of the Top Notch folks! … well at least for the first 20 feet or so. In a blink of an eye, the entire group was gone up the hill! I just settled into my wattage and enjoyed the day.

Around the 2 mile mark, the first of the age groupers caught me, he was out of the saddle and dancing on the peddles (he ended up winning overall!!!).  I was feeling pretty good and managing my effort well. From time to time, I would push the wattage a bit to see how it felt, and so far so good. At around mile 3 I caught and passed another Top Notch rider. Sweet, no longer last in the group!!! Things were going better than expected :-) . Still feeling good at the 4 mile mark, I looked down and found a split time of 41 mins. Hey, I might put up a decent time after all. I decided to up the wattage a bit and keep riding by feel. 5 mile grade was nicely packed, even after the rain the night before. I could hear the wind up above and was ready for it. As I rounded the hairpin I was hit with the 50 mph head wind. Funny this only fuels me! I really enjoy the epic nature of tough conditions!! I made it up past 6 mile park with the wind now at my side. At times, it even felt like the wind was helping me a little through that section. The very sharp left hander at the end of 6 mile is very, very steep but now I had a tail wind and sat up as high as I could to gain any advantage I could from it! I was digging pretty deep by now and the clouds were starting to thicken. At the 7 mile mark I caught and passed another top notch rider. I turned off my watch as I knew it was going to be close for a top notch finish (sub 1:20). The clouds were very thick and I could not see 10’ in front of me but I could hear the cow bells and the cheering at the finish. Just after where the car finish line was, the road flattens a bit. I shifted to my middle ring and pushed as hard as I could. When the road kicked back up I could not shift back down, I kicked the derailleur a few times and it dropped back down. There was no way I was going to ride the last 200 yards of 22% in that gear!! Just as I hit the steepest part of the hill, the rider I had just passed came by me out of the saddle. I had no response for that!!! I was going to be lucky to get in the dozen or so peddle strokes needed just to finsh!! As I looked up, I saw a 1:21 on the clock, NICE!!! I just made it across the line and almost fell off the bike. I got my medal and my fleece blanket and just hung on my bike for a few mins to collect myself… I had nothing left, just the way I enjoy finishing a hard effort!!!

I found Sas (or maybe she found me) and had to sit down. It was a great ride and one I am very proud of!

Taking a min to reflect :-)

My 15 lb “hillclimb” bike

Here is my Power Tap file. I was very happy with the 230 watt average!!

I got changed and waited for my buddy Rod to finish, he came across with a huge PR. It was a great day!! We all enjoyed the great turkey dinner at the base, and then Sas and I headed home. Another great weekend at Mt Washington!!!

This was from the Road Race weekend but still a great shot of the “team” :-)

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