The first 10 kilometers of the race are always the flattest and fastest, but still uphill, and this year we rode into a strong wind, so the fastest speed I saw during the first 10 kilometers was less than 17 miles an
hour (compared to 23 in 2009).
I didn’t feel any stronger than last year, but my breathing was much improved, and my technique was different. I was in my bottom gear, pounding out a Lance-Armstrongish 105 rpm, but only achieving about 8-9 miles an hour. I had a good tempo ride to the top, but nothing in reserve to kick up at the finish. Did I enter the race too tired? At Summit Lake, I got a little choked up. It’s the first place you can clearly see the summit—like an old friend who likes to make you suffer when you climb on its back. You're expecting an ex-wife joke. We rode into the mist, and the temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees, and the wind picked up. I got a bit of an "Uh Oh" feeling. The weather was a little creepy, and it would soon get worse. Although I’d marked the last kilometer, I could only dial it up to ten miles an hour for that last stretch, but I still blew past four riders. My official finishing time, was 2:51:36, and to be realistic, knock 15 seconds off that for a rider who stopped in front of me at the waterbottle exchange, but it still puts me six minutes slower than last year. Bugger! I was five pounds heavier than last year. I was pretty disappointed. I was 37th of the 56 finishers in my category (last year I was 57 of 82 finishers), which is a slight improvement in placing, so perhaps the weather played into that, since all times were slower. Still--I should've been a lot faster. There were 80 starters and only 56 finishers with me. It's a very hard, nightmarish race.
At the finish, a man approached me,”Look, I’m in the middle of an emergency--we have a big storm heading in and I need you to put on your warm clothes and get off the mountain as soon as possible”. The storm I asked the organizers about at the bottom when they laughed at me? I'd been well aware of storms coming in but I got no answers from the organizers about what to do. Now I had their answer--panic! At over 14,000 feet, a thunderstorm can be very serious if you have hundreds of people who need to ride their bicycles down at mountain through it. Last year I angered a mountain goat at the summit--this year, apparently I'd angered God. I don't like this trend. So I replied,”I will if you can do me a big favor—I need a photo of myself in my racing clothes”. He wanted to shoot me against the backdrop of the storm. They offered me a drive down from the top but I refused—near death experiences awaken the soul. I limped down on my bicycle, pulled over to pick up a water bottle I’d thrown out on the way up the climb. On the first five miles of descent, every time I’d stop to cool my brakes, some car would pull up next to me and ask if I was okay.
Click for video summary of race.
It was a hard descent, especially at the upper part because the roads were extremely bumpy, not allowing me to get up a good speed without my hands bouncing off the bars, it didn’t stop raining and blowing for the first 15 miles down, and once I started, I realized I should've installed those new brake pads I'd bought. I had to stop every two miles just to loosen my shoulders and hands because they’d cramp. I’ve never seen so many vehicles driving up that mountain! There was definitely an emergency at the top, and I saw many forest service and police driving up the mountain, as well as many from the race caravan, and after a few miles I could hear the thunder clapping above me as the 'emergency' hit the mountain. They were panicked. Every time I stopped for a minute or two, I'd look around and think,"Ah, the rain stopped", and on queue, it started again. So nice to be part of an emergency evacuation off a mountain! I made it down fine though, got my T-shirt, a band of deep sunburns on my upper arms, and a cute photo of me taken by a guy who never called or touched me in an impure manner.
That's it for the big adventures of 2010. I had a sick stomach as soon as I returned home, and the worst allergies I've had in three years. The stomach thing lasted through August, so I drank a lot of wine, and that just made it worse. Although my lung capacity seemed to have doubled once I was down to 400 feet, I lost my motivation. I'd entered the Mt. Washington