Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My take on the Porky Gulch Classic

Saturday morning was the first stage of a three stage race known as the Porky Gulch Classic. The race, or stages of it have been going on for the past 5 years, but it seems that I have always had some scheduling conflict and have never partaken in it. This year was different; I had no excuse.

The first stage is the “Toughest Two.” This is a time trial up the first two miles of the infamous Mt. Washington Auto Road. The road is basically a relentless two miles of extremely steep climbing. A great way to start your day. To make it that much more fun, the race is in November on the side of the site of the World’s Worst Weather. Lucky for us it wasn’t that bad, a bit more than freezing and not crazy windy. It was chilly enough that it was difficult to stay warm while waiting to start. At about ten minutes after nine I was lined up and next to go.

We were starting in 30 second intervals and as the starter counted down, five, four, three, two and go, I was off. I made the hundred yard lead up to the climb without incident and very quickly was in my easiest gear. Maybe easiest isn’t the right word. It was the smallest gear. The 39x11-26 was fine for most riding, even some hills, but since I have not been able to train for any serious climbing due to injuries, it sucked for this climb. Within a few minutes of climbing it became very apparent that I was suffering. I was not able to keep my cadence up to a descent level and was caught by the rider that I had a 30 second lead on. That was disheartening, but the realization that I was in for a terrible two was upon me. For the next fifteen minutes I was working as hard as I could to keep moving up the mountain. I had not brought any water thinking it was going to be a pretty short ride but wished I had as my mouth and throat were wicked dry from me breathing so hard, or maybe weezing so much.
After The Terrible Two

I kept looking at my Garmin Edge to see how much further I had and the distance was not ticking off as fast as it was supposed to, but finally I came to a corner and there were people there saying the finish was just around the bend. I did not want to believe them only to be disappointed to find that I has another mile to go. Lucky for me they were not bs’ing me and the finish line was in sight. I was hurting and just wanted it over at this point. I rolled across the line. As I stood there holding onto my bike, I was contemplating tasting my breakfast again. Sven Cole came up to me and asked if I needed him to take my bike. I gave it to him and was not sure if the bike might have been holding me up.

After about ten or so minutes I regained some composure and we got ready to ride down the stupid road we just rode up. Since it was freezing out we layered up and began our descent. Since my crash at Pats Peak that resulted in my separated shoulder, dislocated elbow and fractured arm I have been suffering with reduced usage in my left arm, particularly strength. This made braking a chore riding down the mountain and made what should have been a much more pleasurable descent a bit scarey. I survived the ride up and down and found myself in seventeenth place. It could have been worse, at least I was not DFL. Next year I’ll hopefully be in better shape and have better gearing. Guess you ride & learn.

Start of Storyland Crit

Sven and I headed down to the Town of Jackson and grabbed some lunch as we waited for Stage 2, the Storyland Criterium. This stage was the real reason I wanted to ride the Porky Gulch Classic. I spent enough summer days walking around Storyland with my kids that I figured it was time for the adults to take over the place for our amusement. The Elite and Intermediate riders lined up for the Two PM start and the cannon fired signaling the start. The Elite riders were out of the box really fast. A second group of very fast guys formed and then a third which I found myself in. Within 200 yards someone hit a cone and it looked like there was going to be mass carnage. There was a lot of swerving and evasive action, but no blood was shed, yet.

Racing the Crit

On my second lap, the rider directly in from of me went down on a sharp turn that looked pretty painful. I’m guessing he had some pretty nice road rash on his tukkus. The racing was a blast but was very taxing on my left arm. Every seam in the pavement or transition on and off a bridge caused me more and more discomfort. By the time the race was coming to a close I could not brake anymore with my left hand and had a lot of trouble getting out of the saddle and using my arm for leverage. As I headed into the final lap I was glad to know that I was about done. I survived without crashing and had actually beaten a couple of other riders and placed 18th in my first crit.

Sunday morning was the third stage, the Rockpile Rampage Cyclocross race. The course is the same as the one I ride in the Fall cross series at Great Glen Trails so I was familiar with it. The real difference was the field was much larger. The weather was cooperating and pretty nice for early November on Mt. Washington. We were called to the line and the race was on. The main group crammed itself up the first little hill and around the first turn surprisingly well and without incident. After we all hit the first set of barriers the groups began to form and string out some.
Barrier Section

I felt descent on my first lap and had a descent split abut in my second lap I started feeling the lack of legs due to my overall softness and the prior day of racing. I continued on trying to maintain my pace and position and not give up any more places but the fast guys were really fast. Lucky for me, there were also some slow guys that I was able to keep ahead of who were feeling it like I was as well.

Trying to hang on

By my next to last lap I tried to bribe the race official to shorten the race and he said all I had to do was ride slower and it would be over faster. Not the strategy I had considered but.... Needless to say, my last lap was painful. My back was starting to seize on me and I think I could taste blood, again. As I rolled across the finish line, it was good to be done.

I had a great time doing my first Porky Gulch Classic. I complained, bitched, moaned and generally appeared unhappy, but I’ll be back next year. I finished 14th overall, probably as good as I could expect considering the way my season has gone. I’ve never done anything like it and am not sure there is much out there that is similar. It’s well worth the trip to New Hampshire for a weekend of pain, suffering and fun.


1 comment:

rick is! said...

though painful, it sounds like a great race. I'm going to have to try to hit it next year.