I’m up in Maine for the week, and yesterday the family and I arrived in Bar Harbor for two days. After getting to the hotel at around 3:30, I immediately headed out for a quick ride from the hotel up to the top of Cadillac. Cadillac is the big mountain at Acadia that rises up from sea level to about 1500 feet. Since I started from the hotel on Main Street in downtown Bar Harbor, I probably ascended all but 50 feet of that vertical distance in about 6 miles. The first 2.5 miles are pretty inconsistent, but do have some of the steeper bits of riding. Once you enter the park, there’s a left turn onto the summit road, and from there the road is a pretty monotonous 5-7% all the way to the top. (A very gentle gradient compared to some of the stuff I’ve been doing lately.) Views from the top are incredible, and the wind was pretty intense once you get out of the tree cover.
I wanted to get myself a benchmark course in the Garmin so that I’d have something to work off of for today’s ride. I didn’t particularly have any goal as far as time, primarily because I had had a big lunch of chicken wings, curly fries and rolling rock that were still sitting like a brick in my stomach. I started the timer at the bottom of the access road and stopped it just as I hit the loop at the top. 19:08. Not bad, all things considered. That night, I checked what my buddy Mike’s time had been: 15:40. Yikes. That was going to be hard to beat, even with a nice warmup and no curly fries.
Today, I headed out and did the 20-mile loop around Acadia, ending up at the base of Cadillac again. Cued up my course and started the timer again at the bottom. I started out well. I figured I needed to beat yesterday’s time by almost a minute per mile to have any chance of beating Mike. After the first mile, I had almost 45 seconds in hand, and thought I might have a chance. I felt pretty good the whole way up and cranked out a pretty steady cadence. Unfortunately, the last 2.5 miles were not as much faster as I hoped and I finished with 17:32, a little more than a minute and a half faster than yesterday’s time, but still almost 2 minutes off Mike’s pace.
From there I went back down and rode the loop another time. There are some decent climbs on the park loop as well (which is, btw, some of the nicest riding I’ve ever done). Somewhere on the back side, I caught up to and then passed a local rider on one of the climbs. He caught me on the descent and we chatted a bit. He pulled through and picked up the pace a bit, and I decided I would take it a bit easier, but caught him on the next uphill, just before the turn onto Cadillac. For some reason, I decided I should do it one more time, and the guy I met came along for the ride. Not even 1/2 mile in, I knew I had bit off more than I could chew, or at least chew comfortably. I lost my partner’s wheel and was quickly and firmly stuck in my low gear (34-25) the rest of the way up. I hit the wall pretty hard, but managed to slog it out. I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to do a good ride up, so I didn’t even bother setting the timer. However, I couldn’t resist looking back at the data when I got back to the hotel and calculating the climb time: just over 26 minutes. Good god. I know I was slow, but that’s embarrassing. Although, if I need to feel better about myself, I can point to the fact that I started the climb at about mile 50 (making this the longest ride I’ve done in a while), and the fact that this is only my second real ride since Kingsley Hill (due to a nasty stomach virus). From there, it was all downhill back to town. Wicked awesome ride all around.