Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon (Bike Leg)

My first event of the season was riding the bike leg of the Tuckerman Inferno Pentathlon. The Pentathlon is made up of 5 separate events or legs: 8.3 mile Run, 6 mile Kayak, 18 mile Bike, 3 mile Hike, 1 mile Ski.

Event Poster

We put together a team from work to do the Inferno as none of us had ever done the race before but were intrigued by it, particularly since its basically in our back yard.

The race benefits the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine which "seeks to preserve and protect the unique alpine and sub-alpine eastern slopes of Mount Washington NH and work in partnership with the US Forest Service to sustain the traditional uses of this distinctive area.

The bike leg is the middle leg with the first two legs being the run then the paddle followed by the final two legs being the hike into Tuckerman Ravine and then the final leg of skiing a GS like course to the finish line. With our 5 team members its basically a relay race which there were also tandem teams and a select bunch of freaks doing all 5 events solo.

Our Team got together after work on Friday at Flatbread for race registration and then some free pizza and beer(not free). Registration was a long line that seemed to move kinda slow, but finally we made it to the table. We checked in and were given our number plates, there must have been some sort of mistake, but we were Team No. 1. Guess my co-worker was the first to register, we were first at something fir the event.

You were given the normal pre-race swag bag. Trial sizes of this or that, usually some granola bars or power bars, that sort of thing. These bags had an extra surprise, OREO's. My bag had 4 little packs of Oreo cookies, better than and gel or cliff bar, maybe not as good for ya though.

After plenty of carbo loading I went home to sort out the race gear and lots of clothes as the weather for the next morning was pretty suspect. It was almost 60 degrees out then but the morning was calling for cold and wet. I had lots of stuff laid out on the kitchen table as I figured I would wake up and see what it was doing and check the radar in the AM and decide then. With that I decided to watch a movie (Anchorman) and call it a night. I think I might have strained my abs laughing though.

The next morning was odd, it was 50 degrees out at 7am when I got up. Nice thing was the running leg had just started at 7 as well, glad I wasn't running. I figured I had about 2 hours to get to the exchange point and get warmed up. I had some breakfast, got dressed and packed some clothes for post-race since it finished in a very different place from the start.

Race Rout

I got to the exchange site which was a parking lot near Humphrey's Ledge along the Saco River in North Conway.

Humphrey's Ledge

I parked and got my bike set up and started to warm up by riding up and down West Side Road trying to get loose. The weather was getting cooler by the minute and it was now getting quite breezy. I met up with a couple of my teammates as we awaited the arrival of our kayaker. We had gotten a report that he was doing well and was seen only a mile or so from the line. We waited and waited and we started to get concerned as he was not coming. Finally he came around the bend and I jogged to my bike and awaited the tag. The tag happened a couple minutes before 9:30AM and I was off. The first four miles or so are relatively flat, mainly rolling hills but nothing too bad. So after a stretch along the Saco River you cross and make a turn North towards Glen Ledge. This turned out to be the most difficult section of riding with areas over 16% of steepness. I passed a couple riders in this climb and one of them had given up riding and was pushing his bike, that's never a good sign.

I hit the top of the climb at the 30 minute mark and was very happy that it was done. Problem is the descent is not much better than the climb. It is even steeper as it is in excess of 19% and the road is in very poor shape with frost heave damage and just poor maintenance. As a result of this and the general curvyness of the road you cannot just let it go and fly down the mountain. I was basically white knuckleing it.

On Rt 16 Heading towards Pinkham Notch

I made the turn onto Rt 16 in Jackson, NH and headed North towards Pinkham Notch. I was about 10 mile from the finish or so at this point. It was still getting colder and the wind was still increasing which now was going to be more of a problem as this section of road was more exposed. After about another mile the rain started. It was mostly a heavy mist, almost like riding in a cloud. This continued for the next 5 miles or so. By the time I had gotten to the Dana Place Inn the rain had subsided but this was the beginning of the last climb. In this climb you gain more elevation than you did up to this point in the race.

The race info tells you that the bike portion is 18 miles with 2,000 feet of climbing. Well my gps begs to differ, and so did my legs. From the beginning of the race my heart rate was pretty much pegged. Every time I looked down I could see it in the high 160's or 170's. I knew that for a race I was hoping to finish in under 90 minutes I could have some problems. Well at about the 17 mile mark I started to feel some cramping in both of my calf muscles. I knew that if they seized up I was done and would not make it to the end very well as I still had some climbing to go. I grabbed an Accel gel and ate that quickly with some water and then shifted into a taller gear and stood and climber for about a minute. This helped a lot and I was able to avoid any major problems.

By this time I was at Dead mans Curve and almost to the top of the climb. I had just passed a couple more people and was fighting to keep a guy behind me from passing. He had more in his tank than I and made it around me as we crested the summit. The last mile or so is basically flat so it was a good sprint to the exchange. As I approached the line I looked for my teammate to tag so she could start the hike but she was not there. I rode in and got off my bike and was getting a bit nervous as there was no way I was hiking up to the base of the headwall. After a couple minutes she appeared and we tagged as she explained her parking issues delayed her. Either way I was very glad to be done and off the clock.

Inferno Elevation

So my goal was to do it in under 90 minutes. I met that as I finished with a 1:24:45 total time. I was mostly pleased with that. The ride turned out to be 18.5 miles and almost 2,600 feet of climbing. Below is the rest of the data from the Garmin Edge 305.

Summary Data

Total Time (h:m:s) 1:24:45 4:34 pace

Moving Time (h:m:s) 1:24:40 4:34 pace

Distance (mi ) 18.54

Moving Speed (mph) 33.9 max.

Elevation Gain (ft) +2,581 / -1,109

Avg. Heart Rate 171 bpm Zone 5.1

Temperature (°F) 24.8°F avg. 24.8°F high

Wind Speed ( mph) WNW 31.1 avg. WNW 47.2 max.

Maximum Ascent Grade 16.1%

Maximum Descent Grade -19.4&

Heart Rate Data Avg Low High
Heart Rate (%max) 91 73 97
Heart Rate (zone) 5.1 3.3 5.7
Heart Rate (bpm) 171 138 183

Special thanks to The Red Jersey for the pre-race tune up on my bike. It was flawless, thanks Carl.

I was very glad that my new Team Bikeman.com kit had arrived the week earlier for this race. I definitely needed the fleece knickers and long sleeve jersey.

First race down and the next is about 3 1/2 weeks out. Another Road race Hill Climb TT event,
Crank the Kanc

A fun little 21 mile time trial event to the top of the Kancamagus Pass. A long uphill ride with a nasty finish.
Kanc Elevation

Better get back out and ride some more hills.



bluecolnago said...

that sounds like a neat event. 6 miles in a kayak? it hurts to think about it.

Erin said...

HI! When you road in the Inferno, where you on road tires or cyclo-cross? I am racing in it this April 2011. What was in your kit?