Riding bicycles uphill is kind of a metaphor for my life. Riding uphill is extremely hard work. Summiting is a unique joy. I love the combo.
This whole cycling thing is a complete surprise and mystery. I hardly feel it is me . But I will admit that all my life I thought I could have "been a contender" and somehow I pulled it off in my 50's.
HUGE credit is due to my coach, Marti Shea, who is probably the greatest uphill woman racer of all time. I am not in her league in terms of performance, NOT REMOTELY. Nor would I have framed the goal as she did. I didn't consider myself a contender or even a very serious cyclist. She said I could do it if I worked for it. I had the potential - did I want to use it or not? That scared the heck out of me and it took a couple weeks to buy in. I knew how hard it would be. I had already worked harder than in any physical endeavor in my lifetime of athletics. But I stepped up. It was worth it.
My biggest brag is my Mt. Washington standing. The first time I climbed on top of the podium in 2013 was the athletic thrill of my life. And it is only bested in terms of life experiences to being a mother.
2013 1st place age group, 5th place overall and in the age/gender adjusted standings - #1 woman and #17 guy . To my additional great surprise, I also finished second overall in the BUMPS series in 2013. It’s a series of uphill time trials on the largest New England Mountains. Yep. Click here for 2013 BUMPS Series Results
2014 The year started super strong then devolved into injuries and multiple surgeries. It also included a driver plowing his car into me. He never looked left to take a right turn on red. Didn't hear my screams. I was slowly turning at about 5 mph. My bike was totaled though I limped away. I narrowly escaped going under his wheel. It happens. Miss that bike. We need to make the roads safer for everyone, somehow! One terrific highlight for 2014 however was being there at the summit to cheer everyone on. I'd never been a Mt. Washington spectator and it is a particular thrill. Can't describe - you have to experience it.
2015 I struggled back and ran out of time to hit my time goal but managed 1st place age group, 12th place overall Women, and in age/gender adjusted standings - #1 woman and #12 guy . I LOVE how older athletes move up in the rankings if they can hang in there. Nature is not terribly kind on our bodies but it's worth fighting for fitness...pays many dividends. I didn't race the BUMPS series in 2015.
WOW. Just rereading this, as I add in my 2015 results, gives me shivers. I have some new goals for the 2016 season. Come on up to the races!
2016 It's December 30th and I'm just getting around to posting this. Been a busy year! It was an intense and exhausting lead up to the race with an extremely demanding work life, lots of travel, a move to Guilford from Boston, many changes, also struggles with challenging mechanical issues. Such a list! For a time my life was pretty simple. Work. Train. Recover from training. Lots of body work and a crazy amount of ice baths. I have ice baths worked out to a total science. Must publish my methodology... I went into Mt. W with a package of goals. Topmost objective was to finish with absolutely nothing in the tank regardless of my standings. Done. I also wanted to win and set a record for my age group. Done (by 2.5 minutes). Also wanted to set one for the next one down. Missed by a mile. I realized early in the race that I was not having a peak day but I hung in and rode that race like my life depended on it. At the summit I felt wasted, happy, proud, very emotional ... and aware that I might not be quite finished yet with this thing I have going with the Rockpile. We'll see.
2017 I am writing this entry in October of 2018. Perhaps that’s an adequate measure of how consuming RAAM (Race Across America) was. Here is the caption which I wrote the morning after this 3 AM finish line photo June 25th 2017: “Our 19 member Team at the finish line last night. www.teambrighamhealth.com. Together we established a 60 year old 4-woman RAAM category/record to beat! To say that it was a team effort is a gross understatement. I need a way to explain what the 15 did to keep the 4 on bikes turning the pedals. One really can't comprehend the full complexity and extent of the deployment, even from within the belly of the beast of this perpetual motion machine which rolled across America. But the commitment to succeed with our sense of humor and mutual caring intact, was abundantly evident. These are talented, good-hearted people, each with unique reasons for joining the undertaking, all with a powerful commitment to mission and willingness to go above and beyond. And we had fun! Thank you (generally left to right) Karen, Dave, Phil, Ana, Jeff, Turner, Margaret, Tom, Dreux, Caroline, me, Neil, Buzz, Peter, Susan, Mick, Mary, Barb and Beth. ❤️🌈🚴 16 months later I have digested and written about some of it. I know why I did it. I still don’t really comprehend how I pulled off the training, recruiting and fundraising while holding down a job - to make it to the starting line. But it’s very clear what it took to get to the finish - the team. My three cycling teammates are talented and accomplished athletes above my pay grade. The Crew was the same caliber, outstanding people with an extraordinary collection of accomplishments and heart. More soon. At least I got something posted here.
2017 Slow Time but Age Group Win on Mt. Washington. I had not planned to race it in 2017. I had expected to be burnt out mentally and for sure I was. I was enjoying just riding with no training pressure or goals. Totally taking it easy. The back room of my life was also a mess and I had to catch up from the 6 month intense RAAM push where all I did was ride, work and have RAAM fundraising and organizing calls. So I didn’t train for the Rockpile. But as it approached I couldn’t resist. I considered it a new kind of challenge to simply ride it knowing I couldn’t win and wouldn’t turn in good numbers. I wasn’t trained and ready. I hadn’t dropped to racing weight. Nonetheless the desire arose in me to ride it with maximum effort anyway knowing there would be no chance for a podium. Character building! I don’t know where it came from but I couldn’t push it back . I approached the starting line with the same intensity, dread, excitement and self questioning as I always do. It seemed to be an auto response not under my control. Off we went and Holy Moly. I had power I had not comprehended. I have never ridden a stronger, steadier race. Very smooth power line with very slight drop from start to finish. No moment of weakness the whole way up. Strong, steady, motivated. And I rode it at 11% increase in power vs my 2016 record. 11%!! Unimaginable. In fact as I saw my power numbers I began to think that I would crush my own PR and no doubt that kept me rolling. Then it began to dawn on me. The power was there but the speed was not. Still, I hung in and gave it my all. It was by far and away, the best race I have ever ridden psychologically and physically. I finished with nothing. Alas, I carried an extra 5 or 6 pounds up the mountain at least. Hadn’t even weighed in pre-race - was that chill about it all. Will never know how much of it was fat vs RAAM muscle but it was at least three or four pounds because I could put my hands on it! And yet my time was minutes slower. Really slow. I had thought, based on Tom Danielson’s calculator, that the penalty for me was about 38 seconds a pound. That’s just the physics of moving the mass uphill not including weather issues. But this was a still day and really nearly perfect conditions. No weather excuse. Same bike. Same gear. Nothing else changed, literally, except my weight. It’s a dramatic demonstration of the power:mass ratio in climbing. The penalty certainly in excess of 1 minute per pound for a person my size. Stunning.
2018 I had promised my kids that I was going to retire from racing after RAAM. It was somewhat dangerous and was an all consuming effort. They took me seriously and my daughter planned her wedding for 8-18-18 - Mt. Washington weekend! So I took it as a gift from the gods and had a remarkably relaxed summer. All social riding. No racing at all. Once I let go of the Rockpile target I found I had no appetite for all the complexity of racing. For a little while I plotted travelling to other mountain races from the Kitzhbuhl Horn in Austria to Mt. Evans in Colorado or Haleakala in Hawaii. But my heart wasn’t in it. I let it go. Eleanna and Mike’s wedding was as sweet, happy, loving and fun as could possibly be. Having taken a year off I think I’m ready to come back and do at least one more serious run up Mt. Washington. Maybe I move on to something else after that. Maybe more time on the water and with my paintbox.