Saturday, April 25, 2009

Masters Team Takes Win at Turtle Pond

A strong contingent of masters showed up for the Turtle Pond Road Race in Loudon, NH today. Present were Brett Rutledge, Steve Gauthier, Mike Harris, Kevin Young and myself (Doug Jansen). Lining up for the Masters 45+ race, there appeared to be far more riders than the 54 pre-registered, including a few contenders that didn't show on bikereg.

The course consists of five 11+ mile laps for about 56 miles of racing. There are two major climbs per lap. Oak Hill, the bigger of the two, was neutral starting the race. Pothole Hill was smaller, a punchy little bugger, about 3-4 miles out from the finish. The approach to the finish was predominantly downhill with a slight rise at the line.

Several teams had strong showings, including Gearworks, CCB, Corner Cycle, and especially OA/Cyclemania who had at least a dozen guys. The race was packed with attacks and break attempts. Blocking was well executed any time these teams sent somebody up the road. I managed to get into or bridge up to a couple of these breaks, but we were mercilessly reeled back in. Brett came around the blockers many times when IBC wasn't represented in the break away and other teams weren't willing to work. There were so many OA/Cyclemania guys that it was almost impossible to get around the blockers sometimes.

Going into this race, I thought my prospects were good for a podium finish. Spending a lot of time at the front of this race wore me down though. During the fourth lap, I was feeling rather cooked and discussed lead-out options for Gauthier. He's the sprinter in the group, and a climber weeny like myself wasn't getting away from this field. It always came back together. A bunch finish was imminent.

The one guy I planned to watch during the race was Paul Wonsavage (Onion River Sports). He snatched a win away from me at Bow a couple years ago. Tough as nails. He was climbing well today. On the last lap, Paul and I made our way to the front on Oak Hill. He started drilling it. Thus far, all of the Oak Hill efforts were tame in comparison. The pace Paul set this time was not tame. I struggled to hold his wheel and debated whether to let him go (ok, I almost had no choice in the matter). I crested with Paul and we had a several seconds gap. No words were necessary. We both knew what to do. Paul took some monster pulls on the descent. I also put my best effort into it. The rest of the IBC contingent knew what to do too. Brett and Kevin came to the front to disrupt chase efforts. Before Paul and I knew it, the field was no where in sight.

Continuing in time-trial mode, we worked very well together. But man, I was hurting. I'm sure I had drool and snot all over my face. Then we get to that Pothole Hill kicker. I gapped Paul but didn't mean too. I was pretty sure we still needed each other at this point, as it was 3-4 miles to the finish and I did not know how far back the chase group was. I let up slightly, but Paul wasn't getting back on as quickly as I would have liked. I decided to go it alone, head down, all-out hammer to the finish. On a long straight-away, I could see the pack. Yikes. Once I got to the small rise to the line, I was finally able to relax. I won with 17 seconds on Paul, who had 4 seconds on field. I was happy he made it too.

Steve did well in the field sprint, taking 6th place. Kevin, Brett and Mike also took respectable places in the bunch finish. So some fine teamwork brought us a win. This is significant given how well a few other teams were working together and by the shear number of OA/Cyclemania guys there. Nice job guys!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Turtle Pond

For all doing turtle pond:
Here is the route on map my ride:

This is the Toporoute Version:,clearMetric,setFollowRoad,setRouteLocked

Thursday, April 16, 2009

IBC'ers Conquer Haleakala

Nobody has posted here in a while, so I thought I'd squeeze this in before the Battenkill reports show up. Over the past two weeks, two IBCers visited the Hawaiian islands with family. Riding, of course, was one of the primary activities. Steve Gauthier and I are grateful for understanding spouses who gave us freedom to feed our cycling addictions while there.

Of the two most well known rides on Maui, one is the loop around West Maui, a 60 mile, 4000ft coastal ride with non-stop killer views. It was a staple of our Maui stay. The other is the Haleakala hillclimb. Haleakala is notable because there are not too many places in the world where you can ride from sea level to over 10,000ft elevation in 36 miles. You pass through several climatic zones too.

On April 2, Steve and I climbed Haleakala. The weather during our stay on the islands was uncharacteristically unstable. This day was no exception. We packed arm and knee warmers with wind shells. That was it for me. Steve might have had a bit more. It proved to be not nearly enough.

Some of you may know Steve as a track and crit specialist. So what was he doing climbing a double Mt Washington? Just like he tried to get me involved with track, I keep working on him with the hills. Steve set an ambitious pace early in the climb. The sweat poured out of me in the sunny, muggy 80F air. I feared cramping due to electrolyte loss. I would never hear the end of it if Steve made the summit and I didn't.

It didn't take long until we hit the first rain, still on the wet side of the volcano. The rain was welcome though, cooling the skin. We then cut more into the rain shadow of the volcano and stayed dry for a while. Eventually, we start catching wetness again around 6000ft. This was in the clouds, the wind was driving the rain sideways, and it was much colder. We put all our layers on, resumed climbing, barely staying warm at 7mph working hard. I had begun to question the wisdom of going to the summit in this stuff.

Passing through the entrance visitor center, rangers warned us about hypothermia. Yeah yeah, we ride in New Hampshire at -10F windchill. We continued the climb, hitting rain each time a long switchback carried us towards the wet side of the volcano.

Around 7500ft, I still felt strong and maintained a stiff pace. Steve drifted back out of sight into the mist. I reached the summit still going strong. It was socked in with clouds, but only misty, not pouring. Normally there is a spectacular view of the crater. Not this day. We got to see it a later day. After waiting a while for Steve, I began to wonder if he abandoned. I dropped part way down to upper visitor center and waited some more. He finally appeared like an apparition through the fog. I rode back to the summit with him, a few hundred foot gain. There were very few tourists up on this raw day, but we found someone to take a photo. I think Steve said Haleakala was something he needed to do only once. It was my second time.

The climb was the easy part. We were shivering up top before beginning an hour long descent in pouring rain, temp in 40's, all coasting at speeds around 40mph. In two words, it sucked. The brake pads were not the type for wet riding. They had no stopping power. The rear hubs would go into a wild howl and bind up every time speeds went well over 30mph. Both our rental bikes with Mavic wheels did this. They didn't do it at same speed at sea level where it was warm on an earlier ride. Visibility was very poor in most places. Then factor in shaking so violently we could hardly control our bikes. We did not drop down out of the rain for good until the 4000ft level. We found an open country store in Kula at 3500ft. After buying some fuel and fluids, the kind lady that worked there came out with two piping hot cups of water to just hold our hands on. She felt so sorry for us when we struggled to hand her money because we were shivering so badly. We used the hot water to pour our Gatorade into. It took a good while after that to stop shaking, at least 30 minutes.

Descending at altitude when wet is particularly nasty. This is not the first time I suffered through this. Your body is wiped from the climb, you are doing zero work, wet, going fast, and there's not even enough oxygen to stoke the internal fire. I'll take -10F and snow any day. Layers work when not saturated. The climb was still worth it though. Two days later the wives dropped us off at the summit when it was more clear out for a dirt descent with mountain bikes. The first photo above was taken then. That was probably the sweetest ride of the trip.