Wintergreen Ascent 2009The weather was optimal...a cool 60ish and overcast without rain, and very little wind. The race was better organized than I've ever seen, and it was good before. Results were posted online at Pre-Reg.com within a couple of hours.Yet the fearsome, awe-inspiring climb was the same...brutal.I'll leave it at that and invite all those who wish to jot thier own thoughts/experiences below.
The race we love to hate. It was the same for me as the other 3 times...hard all the way up. I used the same gearing as last time (2007) only the compact was on my Seven then and on my Cervelo this time. Been using the very stiff-framed Cervelo as my racing bike. It's a half pound heavier than the Seven but I didn't figure that was worth completely switching out drive trains. Plus I figured the stiffness and maybe greater efficiency of power transfer on the Cervelo would cancel out any weight disadvantage. Given this is the first year of our training with power, I expected to have a better time going up (in 2007 was just under 43 min), but really wasn't sure how much. Last week's Tour de Ephrate 'Pain Mt Time Trial', with the last couple miles up some steep pitches gave me confidence in that area. But coming as it did on the heels of a 52 mile grinding RR I wasn't sure what the correlation of felt effort/pain would be. Then on top of that the overall fatigue from the three TdE stages was another unknown. Rest last week was pretty good, and had a good mid-week tune up interval set in climbing position, so my confidence level in recovery/readiness was pretty high.Upon arrival at the mountaintop to get my number I ran into Jordan, Ken and Joe. We all had the jitters about the ride. There's something a little wrong about having to ride up the course in a car just before attempting on the bike. Just makes you a little scared (if not, get your head examined). A little like the feeling you get just before jumping out of an aircraft. Just don't seem right but you know you're gonna do it anyway. For me this is the only bike race that has this same effect to this extent. Some of those WV mountain road races have this quotient, but to a lesser degree. (This is different, by the way, than the kind of fear of gnarly injury that comes from sketchy riding). Anyway, I find that the greater this apprehension before, the greater the satisfaction after. And so it was on Sat. My strategy was pretty simple...ride my race at my pace, and try to push the hardest gear I could without reaching 'grinding muscle fatigue'. And thus establish and maintain a good climbing rythm/tempo with minimal out of saddle time. And pay attention to riding a good line, balancing the need to avoid contact with the many passing cars. I figured if I could do that much then I'd be riding my best effort and my best time, whatever that might be.So off I go at good clip but reminding myself that the red zone early would not be helpful. I was actually wishing the climb proper would hurry up and get there since I knew the chance of early burnout was over once I got to the climbing pitch. It came soon enough. I still think overall that half-mile to mile or so leading to the entrance of the resort is the toughest part of the race psychologically. It already hurts and you know you've got MILES of steep climbing to go. Anyway, I was steadily passing guys, and found I actually had to pay alot of attention to passing safely, which for much of the race drove my 'lines'. I found I had more gears to work with than last time around...only used the easiest gears a couple three times for very short duration. Having the range the 34/27 provided enabled me to keep cadence pretty high the whole way, and generally momentum up/forward on a good line. I think I only stood twice...once to stretch and the other time right at the summit before the finishing straight. I would say average gear was between 34/21 & 34/19 not counting the first couple miles of easy slope. I think last time I used the 34/27 or 24 most of the time. Bottom line was based on greater leg strength and associated sustained power output I did the same mental race but more smoothly and in just over 2 minutes less time. I now understand how some guys can ride this in low to mid 30's...its the same thing that allows them to ride off the front for sustained periods; superior power output and STW ratio. Duh. Anyway, congrats to Joe, Ken, and Jordan for a great effort. It was motivating to see you guys there, and we were thinking of the rest of the crew as well.
Fourth Pl !!! Way to rip it Ed. 40 min. up that hill is a awsome time . Very close to third also. State championship no less!
Thanks Jinksy. Now I just got to figure out how to get to 37 so I can win the damn thing.