On my first run up the hill this past Sunday I put my Garmin 305 in the race car to get some data just for the fun of it!!
Pretty interesting file!!!! Keep in mind I turned it on 30+ sec early and forgot to turn it off at the top so the overall time is off. It is just interesting to see the speeds and how much they vary on the hill!
Next year the goal will be similar to my wattage file on the bike. As flat a line as I can get!! How do I do that? More horsepower!!!!!!!
The return of The Climb to the Clouds was what triggered my desire to finally be able to attempt my “Challenge,” which had been in the back of my head since I began training for my first Ironman. I was looking forward to seeing all the folks I had raced with so many years at the Auto Road again. It had been 10 years since I had seen some of them!
The week before the Climb was the Mt Washington Road Race (the foot race up the road). Sas and I decided to just stay up in NH for the entire 11 days. We were lucky enough to have a wonderful hotel (The Eagle Mountain House) in which to relax and enjoy our time. I have already posted how the run race unfolded and how happy I was with the results, so on with the car race.
The CTTC officially started on Wed, with the drivers and crew showing up for registration and technical inspection of the cars. The day before, the crew from Pikes Peak showed up after their long trek across the country. Little by little, old friends began to trickle in. The energy was building!!!
The weather up until this point had been exceptional, but the forecast was not looking too dry for the latter half of the week. Sunday (race day), however, was looking to be a bit more hopeful. We setup our EZ tents and got the “pit” ready for the event. We had a prime pit location, as I was in the program as “A Driver to Watch.” We got a lot of mileage (fun taunting) out of that over the weekend!!!!
Thursday was open for drivers to drive up the road (at tourist speed, of course) to make notes for Friday’s first practice runs. Some drivers spent the entire day driving the hill. There were a lot of Rally Teams running this year. They all ran with co-drivers to help guide them up the road. It was a packed field of very talented drivers and some really fast cars!!!
Our Thursday was a little different than everyone else’s. I chose not to drive the road and just run on my memory of the road. I was still sticking with the fact that I would not really be in the running in my class, given the field of drivers and cars, and I was just there to have a great time and enjoy the event. I had decided to compete in two events that afternoon and evening instead of driving up the hill. At 3:30 pm I entered the Great Glen Trails weekly running series, a 4k or so trail race through the woods at Great Glen. The run had lots of climbing and a long fire road downhill. It was raining and I pushed as hard as I could , it was a great run!! For what it is worth, I finished first in the masters group and 4th overall.
Next on the day’s agenda was the local mountain bike race at Great Glen Trails. They had three run groups — novice, sport, and expert. I am normally a sport rider but they had to do three 4 mile loops. I was afraid my legs only had 2 loops left after a long week so I entered the novice group. It was still raining and terribly muddy. I really enjoyed the ride and managed to move through some sport riders before finishing first in the novice group. Since my goal was not really to win anything, I asked the race organizers to have me removed from the novice group so the others could enjoy some “real” results. It was a great day!!!
Later that same evening, a group of fellow hillclimbers celebrated the life of Sim Shortman. We lost Sim to cancer earlier this year and in tribute to him, my buddy Drew Young raced Sim’s Corvette in the Climb. Sim was an incredible guy who loved life and enjoyed racing to it’s fullest!! He was also a fitness fanatic and I thought of him all day on Thursday while suffering through my races, and it made me smile.
Friday morning we were up at 4:15 am to get ready for the first practice day on the hill. While most folks spent Thursday pre-driving the hill, I decided not to…. but I did watch a few mins of my previous years’ runs just to refresh my memory…
The forecast was for rain and clouds, and that is exactly what we got. I enjoy racing in the rain, it gives a heavy, low horsepower car an unfair advantage and I could use all the help I could!!
My first run was interesting, the car felt good and I was getting used to the tires and the amount of grip I had. I finished the two runs pretty strong, first in class and 16th overall.
Since the car felt good, there was no reason to do anything to it but add gas and clean it up a little. That night, the Auto Road hosted a drivers’ reception at the lodge, and it was fun to talk with old friends, as well as meeting and talking with some new ones. What a great group of drivers we had this year!!!
Saturday morning was another early rise, up and at the mountain for 5:15am. The run order was set based on the results from the day before, and we were running fastest to slowest. This meant we were starting 16th. I felt a little funny with so many high horsepower cars starting behind me! Like I said, the wet roads equal things out… not to mention, I know this road, and even better yet, know my car pretty well!!!!!
Our first run was still a little wet and a few cars had some issues, but by the second run things had dried out pretty well. Most of the high horsepower cars had now moved past me. The two-wheel drive rally class also had some remarkable drivers in it, they finished strong! I was still holding onto 1st in class but moved back to 21st overall. Still a little surprised to be leading, but happy with my effort!
Sas and I were treated on Saturday, as my sister and her husband showed up to watch and help crew for me. It is always great to be able to share your passions with family and friends!!! They had never seen anything quite like this event and truly enjoyed it!!!
After my run on Saturday I was still very worried about my fellow drivers catching me. After each run, they were gaining more and more knowledge of the road. I was pretty sure Sunday was going to be a tough battle with them. Not to mention there was a little smack talk and ribbing going on as well, all in good fun! I still had a little left in my bag of tricks. I removed my headlights and installed covers, and also removed my full street exhaust in favor of a lighter side pipe one. This is the same setup I used 10 years ago. This dropped some weight from the car – which in hillclimbing can be very helpful! That evening we enjoyed the band that played at the base of the Auto Road.
Sunday is Race Day!!!! Paul Giblin, the event director, had a great show planned with driver introductions and the whole fanfare. It was great!!!!
We started slowest to fastest, I was 21st. This was the first time any of us had seen the road above treeline and it was going to be an interesting drive. The weather was partly cloudy, with fog predicted on the road – where and how thick, was to be determined. I started strong but with a few lifts here and there. I grabbed 4th for the fist time around 1 mile. I was surprised to find the road pretty wet after 2 mile, so I played it pretty cautiously. Up above tree line, I was pushing pretty hard, cutting corners and anticipating the fog. On five mile grade (which is the first gravel section), I was foot to the boards, and there was pretty good bite in the gravel. I misjudged the turns however, and slowed one too early due to the fog, a little time lost there. Back in it, though, climbing to 6 mile but I was still a little cautious in that stretch. This section was gravel the last time I ran here and I was unsure of the newly paved road. I also got a yellow flag, not knowing the reason for it, or where I would encounter the issue ahead of me. I still felt pretty good and headed up toward the “Cow Pasture” section of the road. The visibility was going away pretty fast as I looked up ahead. The last mile was driven from memory and seeing little glimpses of lines in the road. Pretty sketchy to say the least!!! As I finished, I was pretty bummed on how much time I had given up and was sure the other guys in my class had since passed my time. It was a long drive back down the mountain!!
Pulling into my pit, Sas had a very funny look on her face!! I had told her how bad my run felt and I was sure the others had done far better. She laughed and informed me that I had a 30+ second lead on my class!!!! I was not expecting that!!!
Sunday our Crew got even bigger with my buddies, Brad and Lance, driving up from CT very early that morning. They all chipped in to clean the car and help me tighten the exhaust that had loosened on the first run. It was a lot of fun having them around!!!!
After lunch, we lined up again for the final run up the hill, still pretty nervous about my 1st position!!! Just as I was about to leave the starting line I heard the announcer call out the time of my closest competitor. I had, in fact, won my class on my first run. They were unable to match my first run with their drier second run!!!! The pressure was now off and I could just enjoy this last run!!!! And enjoy the run I did!!!!!!!! The road finally dried off and I was able to get a clear run up, to just about the 7 mile mark! I did have one “moment” when climbing past the “hairpin” when the car got pretty out of shape in the gravel, but I backed off and was able to save it before we left the road! I drove the last half mile by memory and was so pumped at the finish. Not for my win, but for how much fun that dam road is to drive!!!!! Pretty much every driver at the summit seemed to be feeling that way!!! After a wet foggy weekend, it was a perfect way to end the event. I also took another 10 seconds off my time, finishing the day with a 20 second gap to 2nd place!!! Nice!!
David Higgins smashed the hill record with really poor visibility, going 6:11:54!!! That must have been some ride!!!!
Paul had a great award ceremony and I jumped up on the podium with my arms held high, I was just so thankful!!!!!!
My good friend, Bob Legere, was crewing for his buddy Duane, here is Bob’s description of their weekend…
I crewed for Duane Foley from PA in the 1971 Opel Ascona, he dropped a valve on the second practice run on Friday. We called a favor in to a friend, and packed the car on the trailer at around 3:30 PM and drove to Unity, NH (3 hour tow), removed the engine, built a ‘new’ engine from leftover parts (thank you Jim MacMahon, fellow Opel racer in SCCA ITB), and installed it. At 3:30 AM we finished but the car wouldn’t start, everyone was tired and grumpy, so we packed up and drove back to Mt. Washington. I got back to my hotel at 7 AM Saturday, and crashed out until 4 PM or so. With a fresh set of eyes and clear head, we quickly saw the problem and remedied it, and fired the car. Duane then got to run the car up to the top of the hill twice on Sunday, albeit with about 80% less power than before and some less than optimal carb jetting. But he earned his bumper sticker at least!
Duane was pitted next to me and it was great to meet him and the rest of his crew. I do hope to race with them again on this great hill!!!
So, to summarize this great weekend.. Again, I am just so thankful to be able to enjoy all of it. It was great to be able to share this with my Wife Sas as well as all the other folks. We enjoyed meeting new friends and fans, as well as seeing some old friends. The Event Staff, Auto Road Staff and Great Glen Staff are, and will be, life long friends!
THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR MAKING MY LIFE SO GREAT!!!!
More to follow…. time to rest!
As much of a relief it is to be done with the run, I still have a few more cycling events to train for in the upcoming months. With another perfect day forecasted, and some really sore legs, I headed over to the Great Glen Trails to put some time on my single speed bike on the 24 hour mountain bike course.
I then needed to get my race car down to the Eagle Mountain House for display, so I packed the road bike into the race car and drove it down to the Hotel…. Then road back over Pinkham Notch to pick up my truck. A nice climb and ride!
Another great day in the Mt Washington Valley, and another day ended with sore legs!!
Tomorrow, fellow racers start showing up. Looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends and meeting some new ones!!
As long as I have been coming up to the Mt Washington Valley for races, I have wanted to get out and climb some of the mountains in the area. Two days after my run up the Auto Road, my wife Sas and I headed over to the trail head of Mt Madison (elevation 5,367 feet). We had perfect weather and we really enjoyed the climb up. Coming back down was not really as much fun with very tired legs! We reached our goal of the newly renovated Mt Madison Hut (4800 feet), had a bite to eat then headed back down. 6 hours of hiking, a rather full day!!
The morning after the Road Race, we were up at 3am to enjoy the “Sunrise Drive” up the Mt Washington Auto Road. Sunrise was to be at 4:55am. It was neat to drive up the road in the dark! That was a first! I used the drive up to explain to my wife Sas the different lines I will be taking in the Auto Race this coming weekend. I am not sure how good an idea that really was .
We tried to go up to the summit but as we came up to the “cow pasture” we noticed clouds and cars coming back down from the summit. On the way up we passed one of the Auto Road’s Stage Van at 6 mile park. I figured they knew more than me, so I headed back down to where they had settled to see the sunrise. This was the right call! We met up with Regina from the Auto Road, and she explained the best place to setup the cameras for the sunrise event. With a steady 50+mph wind and summit temps in the 30′s. I was frozen but very happy.
Running up Mt Washington… The race started at 9am Saturday. This allowed for a pretty easy morning leading up to the race start. My wife Sas was a little nervous as she needed to drive up the Auto Road to meet me at the finish and bring me back down. She is not a big fan of heights or narrow dirt roads without guardrails! We brought two vehicles as it was raining and hoped to stay dry in mine as long as I could. Sas headed up the road… a little while later I got her text that she made it to the top without issue. Already it was a great day ! I watched the radar on my phone and it was looking as the front might just move through before the 9am start. Sure enough, 10 mins before the start the rain let up and we enjoyed perfect weather the rest of the day.
Since I have never raced up hill for 7.6 miles, I was a little unsure of how to pace myself. I decided the plan would be to go by heart rate. My max is around 173 so I figured I would start in the low 160′s and keep it below 170 until after the halfway milestone.
We did have one downhill, the race started with a VERY short down hill, then a little flat, then up we went. I believe there was about 1000 runners! Every walk of life, with their own personal reasons to be there, very cool. I have heard many stories about everyone going out too fast, just like the Boston Marathon and the Mt Washington Bike Hillclimb. I was not going to do that!! I was amazed at how many folks were breathing REALLY heavy a half mile up the hill! It was going to be a long day for them!!!
I stuck to my plan with heart rate. The bottom half of the hill is much steeper than the second half. With this in mind, and also knowing the 18% pitches on the hill, I chose to speed walk those sections. I weaved my way around runners and walkers for the first mile or two. Things settled down after that. At the half way point I found that my legs were happier to speed walk then to run! I tried to keep it to a sub 13 min mile and with that I would meet my goal of finishing sub 1:45. On the very few spots where the grade flattens a bit I did break into a run, it was nice to stretch it out a little!
By 7 mile I was really starting to dig deep, I knew I was on track to finish under my 1:45 goal but still wanted to push as hard as I could! Of course, the finish of this race (as is the bike hillclimb) is a 22% finish climb. I tried to run for the finish crowd but the best I could muster up was a little run and a lot of speed walking!! My hip flexors were totally shot!!!!!!!!!!!
I came across the line at 1:40:52, not too bad for an old fat dude!! I am very happy with that!! Overall, a great day! It was nice to have Sas at the finish with the cow bell and encouragement!
Another great day to be me!!!!
So I wanted to go sub 1:45 and I was able to accomplish that!
1:40:52, 234 overall, 31st in age group
Stay tuned for the race report….
Here is a funny file for you!