Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuckerman Inferno Bike Leg 2011

This is my first race report in a long time. My last official event I believe was the 2009 24 Hours of Great Glen. Due to recurring shoulder dislocations and the related significant discomfort and instability that accompany your arm falling off repeatedly I decided to get it fixed. So last April I had my shoulder reconstructed and they installed a couple of anchors and some bailing wire and tightened it up nice and snug. I was off the bike for the most part for a couple of months but had decided to avoid trying to do any competitive riding for the season and heal. After a successful (defined as lack of major injuries) winter ski/snowboard season I was going to race again.

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 in to Tuckerman Ravine, and a 1 mile Ski in the bowl.

Inferno Map

We put together a team from work to do the Inferno as we have for the past few years, last year I was one day post-op. 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 Pizza for race registration and then some free pizza and beer(not free). Registration was nice and quick this year this gave us plenty of time to check out some photos from the race course setters who had spend the day up in Tuckerman Ravine laying out the ske leg of the event. It looked like one of those perfect warm sunny days up in the bowl.

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. The next morning was chilly. It was in the mid 40's 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.

I got to the exchange site which was a parking lot near Humphrey's Ledge along the Saco River in North Conway. 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 teammate as I awaited the arrival of our kayaker. With the high water levels this leg was going pretty fast. I had planned to take off my jacket before starting but then decided to leave it on as it was now closer to 40 and getting colder. He came around the bend and I jogged to my bike and awaited the tag. The tag happened 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 hit the top of the Glen Ledge climb at just under the 30 minute mark which was a slight improvement by about a minute and a half over my last time racing this event. Problem is the descent is not much better than the climb. It is even steeper as it is in excess of 19% and but at least the road has been resurfaced and isn't in as poor shape with frost heave damage as it used to be. As a result of the general curvyness of the road (and my chickeness) you cannot just let it go and fly down the mountain. I was basically white knuckleing it.

Inferno Elevation

I made the turn onto Rt 16 in Jackson, NH and headed North towards Pinkham Notch. I was about 10 miles 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.

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. The last 4 miles or so are a steady climb at 7%+. I was very glad I had kept my jacket as the wind was now up and it felt very much like the temps had slipped down into the 30's. I grabbed an Accel gel as I was feeling a little bonky and continued on

Soon 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 catch a guy who had passed me earlier. The last mile or so is basically flat so it was a good sprint to the exchange. As I approached the line my teammate was ready to tag so she could start the hike. I rode in and got off my bike and chatted with our runner and paddler who did the first two legs as they were ready to hike up into Tucks and watch the final legs. I was cooked and getting cold fast so there was no way I was hiking up to the base of the headwall.

So my goal was to beat my time from 2 years ago when I finished with a 1:24:45 total time. I was pleased with the 1:18:58 that I finished with as I cut over 5 minutes off my previous time. The ride turned out to be 18.6 miles and almost 2,400 feet of climbing. Below is the rest of the data from the Garmin Edge 305.

Summary Data

Time: 01:18:58
Distance: 18.61 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,367 ft

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

First race down and the next is about 5 weeks out. Another Road race Hill Climb TT event, Crank the Kanc.


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