Climb to (nearly) the Clouds 2009

Distance: 104 mi.

Time: 5:31:58

Avg. speed: 18.8 mph

Top speed: 45.9 mph

Total climb: 7,603 ft.

July mileage total: 456 mi.

Weather: 61-79ยบ, 90-49% humidity, wind WSW4- W6, sunny


Let's see how well I can blog this ride in 20 minutes - I'm very tired:

Rode to CCHS to meet Joe and a few others for the Charles River Wheelmen Climb to the Clouds century ride. The CRW volunteers cheerfully registered us early and we set out just before 7 a.m. as a group of 6 or so that quickly grew to 12 riders.

The first few miles were slow going (the road leading out of Concord is in poor shape) but soon enough the push was on. From Sudbury all the way through East Princeton we kept a fairly brisk pace most of the time. There were a number of other people we had not ridden with before and so were fairly cautious about riding a super tight paceline.

Once again, many people did not go single file when the "car back" call went out. I just don't get it.

After East Princeton, things started to string out quite a bit and when I hit Mile Hill Road, I was a good 1/4 mile behind whatever was left of the "pack" with a sprinkling of other riders behind me. MHR was tough as usual - I ground my way up in my easiest gear (39/25).

At the top, I took a short water/pit stop at the Wachusett Welcome Center there. The road to the summit was still under construction so no extra dose of climbing agony today. Hooked back up with Joe and Jeff S and continued down Mountain Road. At this point, my average speed was nearly 18 mph.

Bombing down Sterling Road (?) was great, my top speed was just shy of 46 mph.

It was evident that I was able to maintain a quicker pace than either Jeff or Joe once we started hitting the rollers heading back into Sterling and they didn't seem to mind that I rode ahead. We regrouped at the 56 mile rest stop and set out again to ride around Wachusett Reservoir and I found myself riding alone again.

I was starting to feel the effect of all the miles in my legs to some degree but was able to keep up the pace very well. Before I knew it, I was rolling into the 75 mile rest stop in Berlin where I took on more water and had a pbj and some Fig Newtons. Jeff came in soon after with Joe skipping this stop. I noticed that my average speed had climbed to 18.9 mph.

Jeff and I got going again and stayed together until we headed up Harvard Road into Harvard. I didn't see him again until he got back to CCHS. The long grades in Harvard were a big effort, especially with all the miles (80 or so) behind me.

Finally, I got onto Stow Road and started to descend towards Stow. I saw a rider a little ways ahead and got enough of a second wind to push a little harder, reel him in and eventually pass him. This happened four or five more times as I wound my way through Stow and Acton.

All of a sudden, I see Joe up ahead and offer him my wheel the rest of the way back but he waved me on.

The stretch from West Concord back to the start/finish (about 8 miles) seemed strangely long to me last fall when I rode this route and it did again this time. But this time I had more energy left in me so I didn't mind it as much until my left leg did some "pre-cramping". I guzzled down about a half bottle of water and made sure that I kept that leg straight if I did any coasting.

When I got to Sudbury Road and Thoreau Street, the 100 mile arrow, instead of pointing right - leading back to the HS, pointed straight instead. I obediently went straight and continued following the 100 mile arrows right through downtown Concord and out towards the north of town. At some point, I checked my computer and saw that I had passed 100 miles a few minutes earlier - that's when I remembered that the CRW people tacked on 5 extra miles at the end to make up for the lack of access to the summit of Wachusett.

I immediately turned around and made my way directly to the start/finish at CCHS where I had lots of nice, cool lemonade, granola and yogurt with berries and spent about 10 minutes just sitting down on the grass watching others ride in and get drinks/food. I also gave the back of my left thigh as good a massage as I could.

I finally got to my feet and rode home, arriving at 2 p.m.

Last year, when I rode this route, I averaged only 16.9 mph and was completely exhausted by the end. Granted, it was an unsupported ride - no official rest stops. This year, I was very careful to take a drink frequently early on and eat a Gu or part of a Powerbar about every hour.

I also had about 2500 miles under my belt last year leading up to the ride but 4 days of rest. This year only one day of rest with 1300 miles of lead in riding.

Tomorrow, a rest day and contemplation of what my next goal might be.

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