I’m not too happy with my performance on Whiteface, which is probably why it’s taken me until Thursday to write up a race report from Saturday. I was expecting a time of somewhere around 1:08, but that was based on flawed calculations, so I actually came in at 1:02:45. My calculation was figuring I had lost ~5 minutes over 3.7 miles on both Okemo and Ascutney to Doug last year, so my time should be 10 minutes more than his – though I figured longer distance and easier gradient would mean that I’d probably loose a bit less than that. I misread Doug’s time of 48 and change as 58 and change, which was how I came up with 108. So in the end I was almost 4 minutes slower than I had hoped.
The biggest factor, I think, was a bungled warmup. I rode down the course from the “North Pole” theme park where my car was (about 2 miles) and toodled around for a bit. Figuring I wanted a decent warmup, and remembering (correctly) that I had forgotten to lock the car, I decided to get a feel for the hill by riding back up to the car. I kept an easy and sustainable pace, and was pleasantly surprised to see that 8 mph wasn’t very difficult to keep up. Got to the car, locked, went back down. People were lining up, so rather than be the jackass who’s race prep is too important to hang out in the group, I just lined up too, but that meant I was standing still for upwards of 30 minutes. From the gun my legs were burning. And the same spot where I had been easily keeping up 8 mph suddenly seemed very hard at the same pace. My average was probably 9.4 mph during the first 2 miles, and it steadily dropped for the rest of the climb. Never really felt like I was able to get much momentum or power or even really the motivation to get things rolling.
That said, I did very much enjoy the climb. The first 3 miles up to the toll both are a little boring, but the last 5 up to the summit are incredible. The finish, in particular is dramatic. The road is almost dead straight until just before the top, where you get two swoopy switcback finally arriving at the Castle.
Following the race, I navigated NY backroads, a ferry, and VT backroads to get to teammate jerry’s house outside of Burlington. The next morning, we rode around some of his favorite hills, ending up back at Bolton Notch, a complete spanker of a hill, right by his house. Last year he told me that it was “almost as steep as Lincoln Gap” and at first I just assumed that this was the usual “my driveway is the steepest hill on the planet” hyperbole you find all over the internet. Turns out he’s not far off. The first 1 KM averages almost 17%! It’s quite similar to Mount Tom. There are two immense walls of 20%, punctuated by a couple spots to recover, if only slightly. There are also some dirt/gravel sections to contend with. What makes it easier than Mount Tom, is that Mount Tom’s sections of 20+% are both longer, and happen a bit later in the hill. The first section on Bolton Notch is sprintable, and you can get up it with a little determination. After the short recovery section, the next section on Bolton Notch is really, really, nasty, but once you get to the top of that, you’re done with the really evil stuff and you can roll it up to the top. On Mount Tom, just as you finish one huge slog, you’re hit with another one just as bad, and that second one is much more demoralizing. Jerry had bid me farewell at the bottom saying he’d just go up for a bit and turn around, but he was cranking up the hill not too far behind me when I got to the top.