Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Poor Mountain Wrap Up

The Poor Mountain Hill Climb was this past weekend. For whatever reason this is probably my favorite event of the year. I really like that it seems to bring the best out in riders. From JB who broke his own record to the Rev who broke his time from last year by a whopping 7+ minutes.

This year's running brought the largest turnout with over 100 racers. Different than years past, an 'all bike category' was added and there were a few full on road bikes. I was afraid for the road bikes and all the other super thin tired / high pressure riders. My experience from previous runs had me bumping down pressure in order to maintain traction.

But they didn't seem to have too many problems as Flavia from Blacksburg was the first woman up and on her road bike and there were plenty of fast people on thin tires. I still preferred the softer rear tire for any of the dirt portion as it just felt like it matched the contour of the terrain better and had better traction.

Of course leading up to the race, I was worried. All those pre-taper aches/pains were in full force with lower back pain. We went to Explorer park the day before and I had to actually walk around in the heat for a few hours. I was tempted to ask for the shuttle sevice between exhibits. That for sure was going to kill me. In addition, I hadn't been feeling well for like 3 weeks. Not one good ride in that time, which doesn't do a lot for one's confidence.

My goal was to break 55minutes.
In order to do this I needed to beat the following split times
14 minutes to the dirt
32 minutes from the dirt to the turn
9 minutes from the turn to the top

The day before I hit the trainer to loosen the legs and started to feel good where some 5x1min on 2/off intervals were easy at a power level that is usually hard.

The day of the race, you could tell it was going to be hot. I mean really hot.

There were some organizational delays at the start and my whole timing for my magic sport legs was thrown off. In hindsight I messed it up. The goal was to have an overlap in doses while on the last section of the climb. While in theory this sounds good, it didn't work out as I'd hoped as you'll see. Not a huge screw up though.

We all lined up at the railroad tracks and off we went. Comically, within seconds I was huffing and puffing off the back. This is the one part of the race that I don't like. I wish that it was a true time trial where everyone started one at a time. This would remove the draft from the equation. Of course, that is because I suck at staying with a group.

But in this situation, the ability to stay with the group pays big big dividends. The first 8-10 or so minutes are a gradual road. After that it starts to get steep enough where staying with a draft isnt' as important. But up until that point you'll go a lot faster with less energy than flailing alone.

I got spit out the back of the experts but then caught on with some sport riders for a little bit of a ride. I knew that huffing and puffing so early on was a recipe for disaster for me so I just scaled it back and found my groove.

My first split time was almost a minute faster than my last run. Good I guess but scary that I might have over done it. But I was feeling decent and just tried to stay on it the best I could. I was looking at my watch and saw the next split read 32 minutes but thought no way am I that far up this thing. Turns out I was looking at the wrong line on the watch and was looking at total time.

Up towards the turn I was still doing ok and beat my goal for the second split. But then the last wall section came up. The newspaper said 16% on gravel. Whew didn't really know it was that steep. This section is totally open to the sun, oh it was like an oven.

I'd brought extra water to pour over my head and up here I got some specators to pour some water on my back.

My legs were turning ok but had no snap at all. This is where I screwed up a little on the Sport legs. The one downside of their affect is that while they dampen any pain they also kill any leg speed and leg snap at least for me. I am not sure if I should have taken a dose to have kicked in about 30-40 minutes into it and have it last all the way through the end instead of going for the over lap in doses.

On this section I honestly was feelin NO (zero) pain in the legs. But they just wouldn't turn any faster than they were. I just couldn't make any time on anyone front of me or close a gap. By the very top I'd caught up to Frank the Tank Check his page out for a great picture that was in the Roanoke times. I was just out of range of this picture.

I caught him but then he saw the line and sprinted away.

My final time was around 54:42 or so. Last years time was 55:55 and I beat my goal by 15 seconds. So not bad considering the heat and how I've been feeling the past few weeks. In hindsight my training should have included simulating the group start and going over the limit for about 8-10 minutes an then recovering. I think I could take another minute off my time with that ability.

I started specifically training for this back in August. Here are some neat pictures of my improvement over the last few months. *note that that the first run was on the full suspension and there were some slighte equipment changes and heat/eating differences between rides.
pfarm totals
pfarm splits

My time split on the first two sections was faster but my last time split was just 6 seconds faster that my previous best. I think it is just so steep that there is an upper limit to how fast I can do it regardless of how I'm feeling.

Anyway another great year on a ride that brought out my best.


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