Friday, July 30, 2010

Whiteface Mountain Climb

Still in Wilmington this week with the fam enjoying hiking, cliff jumping, swimming in the great Adirondacks. My legs felt good so I attempted to do the Whiteface Mountain Climb - something I've always wanted to do but had an Ironman in the way. I started at the Route 86 stop sign (the official start) and made my way up. This climb is 8 miles long at a average gradient of 7.9% to an altitude over 4600 feet. The first 3 miles were tough as my body got used to turning over the pedals for an extended period and I settled in. The grades hover around 8 percent all the way to the toll gate at mile 3. By the time I got to the toll gate I was in climbing mode. From there the scenery was spectacular! The peaks and lakes in the distance made this all worthwhile. Mile 5 got a little tougher as the grade kicked up a bit but I had a couple of cyclists in the distance to use as carrots so I got through with no issues. At about mile 7 the first of 2 switchbacks appeared yet I could not see the top as it was shrouded in cloud and mist. After the first switchback the grade kicks up a bit to the final switchback. From here I was about 300-400 feet from the summit with about 200 of it at 10%. I made the top - and the cold (approx. 5 C) really chilled me - in about 1 hour, 6 minutes. If I do this again I think I can shorten this as I rode conservatively. The ride down was exciting except for dodging the rough sections where winter has done damage over the years and also controlling my speed with tri bars! I thought my hands were going to slip off the bar ends on a few occasions and road bars would definitely be an advantage. I made it back down in 17 minutes and what a difference in temperature at the bottom - 21 C never felt so good. I have read that this climb is on par statisitically with Alpe d'Huez in France (with less switchbacks). I probably won't be in Europe anytime soon so this was pretty cool. The other thing that occurred to me having done this climb is that Tour de France riders are hardcore. I did this one climb and definitely felt the effort and these guys race up several of these over the course of 3 weeks - unreal!
I definitely want to do this again and look forward to doing it in a group.

Have a good one!

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