Franconia Ridge Loop: Break 2:30?

Nope.  Not even close.  Today's ascent was a record-breaker at 1:07 from the trailhead to the trail junction on Little Haystack.  But while conditions were pretty good low down, I got hammered on the summit.  The entire ridge was socked in down to maybe 50ft visibility with temps in the low 60's and winds between nothing and probably 30mph or so.  The incredible humidity was rough, but the worst part was that I was wearing glasses and had to clear them every 2 or 3 minutes.  Lafayette was the worst.  I actually had water  collecting on the bottom edge of the lenses.  I was completely soaked - saturated through to my underwear.   Descending required that I look down, which made the water on my lenses form little mini-lenses like an old window - everything rippled.  That slowed me waaaay down.

I carried 16 oz of water and drank 12, and ate a Hammer Gel on Haystack.  I was wearing a wicking tank top, running shorts and Darn Tough socks in Vasque trail runners.

Trailhead to Haystack trail junction:  1:07 (good time)
Little Haystack to Lafayette:  30 (slowing a little - maybe 3 minutes behind schedule.)
Lafayette to parking lot:  1:18 (oy.  should've been done in 1 hour.)
Total trail time:  2:55


August 21-23: Big Adventures For All

The August 21-23 timeframe was big adventures for us all:
G-$$$, DogMan, Mutha:  The D2R2
tMail:  The Timberman Half-Ironman

The PuppetMaster & Treadmill:  Lily Elizabeth's first marathon

Email exchanges covered most of the excitement but for archival purposes some of it is pasted back here:

Lily Elizabeth Strong:  8lbs 5 oz.

tMail's Ironman Report:  Well 70.3 miles is under the belt.

Several months ago I decided to sign up for the 1/2 Ironman with full knowledge of what I'm was getting myself into from a mental and physical stand point. Training wise 6 days a week a training day was between 2-4 hours - 20+ hours a week. Big commitment.

Swim - a weakness of mine in the past I need to work on it. I followed a 3 - 4x a week training program building up my swim and loading 3 weeks before. The last couple of weeks I was swimming 7500 - 10,000 yards a week. I was getting better and comfortable. Yesterday it paid off did the swim in 32 minutes which equates to 1 one minute and 43 second repeat 100s.  I went out hard in my wave separated myself and found some guys feet and stayed on them and drafted. The water was choppy with waves coming up over you when breathing. I sucked up stragglers from waves ahead of me as I was passing lots of different color caps.  I was feeling good and comfortable in the water and had a straight line.

T1 - Off came suit on went sunglasses, helmet, two gel flasks back pockets tri jersey, race #, grab bike and go. I had a 1 minute run from my area to bike start.

Bike - Once on bike took in some gel / liquid right away. Did a full body analysis on bike legs felt good, HR good, overall felt comfortable. First 10 miles climb then relatively downhill to 28 miles I stayed in my zone on bike not pushing too hard but steady pushing when I could. Kept hydrating kept fueling at the turnaround felt good and pushing the next 28 back in heavy rain and head wind. Started catching people on climbs and tricky sections was feeling really good was having doubts if I went out too slow. Lots of crashes course was wet, I did let it rip on some of the return ascents as conditions were getting worse. As I approached T2 started thinking about run got last of my liquids and food in me.

T2 - Dismount run to rack, rack bike off came helmet, on went socks, sneakers, hat, got a 16oz of water down and off I went.

Run - Immediately did body scan legs good, HR good, felt nutritionally fine.  Cold and rain at this point still feeling good small rolling hills course already could see walkers. I felt good aid stations every mile. It was two laps out and back. Kept taking on water and food. Felt good kept pace steady. If you notice I ran one mile 8.46 about 13-15 seconds slower than all other miles I had to piss so bad I tried urinating while running but needed to pull it out but with 2700 people and families I didn't I ran into one of many port a-johns on course and pissed and pissed and pissed finally I cut myself off and let dribble drabble in my shorts. Continued feeling really good, passing lots of people, lots of walkers now people cramping if it was HOT it would have been a sea of carnage.

Finish line cool, Wellington handing out metals.

Overall highly organized, too many people, run course blah they could have killed people made them run up Gunstock which I suggested but I think some would have shriveled up and died. At least it would cut down on # of entrants.

Triathletes - I'm one like being one. Perception some are egotistical maniacs.  Its an individual sport you race against a clock and your age group.  My age group wow, I must have not got enough breast milk b/c everyone is 6'2 and 145lbs. I think one guy in my group finished top 10 and beat pros.  Mental standpoint I think they would melt down in non triathlon events. Half of them don't know how to pump own tires, I helped, one kid couldn't decide amber or clear lenses, one kid had his gf pump his bike tires, one kid said we are two far away from the bike start, one kid measures his food, one kid was complaining that the water was rough, one complained that transition wasn't carpeted, MENTAL!

Anyway I had fun doing the 70.3 miles, had more fun training looking back I know where I can approve.

Again, thanks to all those who trained with me, (Gannett counts) - (cycling in NH / Vt, Blue Hills / Wrentham trail running, dirt road cycling, Vt trail running and listening to me, couldn't have done it without you guys.
The D2R2:  112 - 127 miles, 15k - 16k vertical (it all depends on whose GPS you trust).
1. What a great job you three guys did! Congratulations on the accomplishment. I am in awe, truly. My legs and lungs have never been called upon in such a way. It was hard, real hard.

2. I have two views of g-$ and DM from the day. That was about 40yards behind them on the way out to Stillwater, g-$ was riding no hands and combing his hair having a casual summer stroll (or something like that) and DM was spitting chewing tobacco lugies, while chatting up his wingman.

3. I didn't know there are Jewish angels. And further, that mother is one of them. He hanging with me and looking for the  yellow summer squash to come rolling up the hills...thanks a ton Mutha.

4. I exhausted more energy yesterday in some many wrong places...it amazes even me. Even still, I tried to apply g-$ coaching from years past  - e.g. keep the upper body loose, loose grip when possible etc. Still - the T-52s gearing was chore to get me into granny, the clipless pedals turned out to be a task, and the seat was disaster from my 1.6.

5. HOB (heard on the bike) on the start of one of the big climbs, with a 30 yd lead on me and with a great sense of hear in the woods..."Get it low gear, LOW GEAR." Christ! He knew and it was true...made me think of the day on Cathedral gully with Mutha on the point.

6. For the first time, I really had GI/nausea/intestinal issues. Not sure why - yet. But it was a downward spiral and I could see it and the clock working against me. I could only get one bottle of my electro mix in my the whole day. And was eating only a couple of eggs and bananas for the whole day. Nothing else could go in. I couldn't even eat the trusty PB crackers. I knew this was not good.

7. I surprised myself...I only looked (hoped/went clicking for) an additional lower gear ~9 times the whole day.

8. Leyden police babes, are cute AND down to earth.

9. The two most OK (obnoxious knuckle-head) guys I met were from NY and MA. And that did not surprise me.

10. The gayest riders were also from MA, Boston.  Mutha has their lines down pat.

12. I didn't really know how bad it was (because I was thinking that since I'm not a real rider I should be feeling beat up)...then some guy who was/is real strong and I remember from earlier in the day...is trying to catch his buds after Alexander...cruises up to me and confides he too has tanked. Later I began to try and correlate what the marathoner's mile 21 was in this thing. I didn't answer it...probably because some f'in hill had just presented itself to me.

13. After the sweep truck passed me and pulled over at 85...my heart sank. I was committed to get to the end - but we chatted and chatted and the sweep guy provided a healthy sanity check on not having water (for which I only had a bottle from him) and still facing the two steepest ridges of that stage. His estimates and my own were that it would be much later than the cutoff allowed and could instead join a different route...So it was. I was happy with how the decision was made, but of course, not the outcome. But remembering our collective wisdom...the mountain will always be there - and the guy's final assertion to me "you have nothing to prove to anyone, what's it worth to risk the Patten downhill, or need support and not have it?"

14. Surprisingly today (the day after), nothing in the wheels is hurting or strained. Only the butt is feeling the affects of coping with the grundel grinding.

15. Doctor Strong's compression wrap recommendation was the gear solution of the day. Not a problem with what has been a persistent and consistent issue.

16. This was my second ever cycling event. I thoroughly enjoyed the format and the event production. It was mellow and low key - just my style. Very different from the pump-you-up music blasting RD announcements that are often seen at events.

Thanks again: g-$ for expanding our horizons into randonees, DM for the constant support and confidence, Mutha for the Jewish angeling and chauffeuring.

g-$$$:  Made it home without a cup of joe....just 1 Diet Coke and 2 hours of swatting flies.  Thanks again for what may have been the toughest thing I have ever done athletically...on par with our failed summit day on Gannett and our encounter(s) with Bonney Pass and our Jay Adventure race many moons ago.  It was definitely the toughest thing I've ever done on a bike.
  • Cheers to MuthaZ for picking up my race packet
  • Cheers to Dogman for being my wingman for the day.....anytime buddy
  • Cheers to Dogman for finding great lines through the washboard and rutted descents
  • Cheers to Maddog for riding that course on the rolling kennel of cast iron
  • Cheers to the organizers and volunteers of a really great event
  • Cheers to Patten Hill and Patten Hill views
  • Jeers to breaking spokes
  • Jeers to pedal cleats coming undone
  • Jeers to forgetting your gloves
  • Jeers for not having a better than 1:1 bailout gear ratio
  • Jeers to South Heath Rd
  • Jeers to the hundreds of folks faster and stronger than me
  • Jeers to the "5mi optional loop"
  • Jeers to the 100 or so horseflies that decided to take refuge in my truck as I changed out of my cycling gear

I am going to strongly consider doing this ride again next year.....I'm definitely going to train for it and I learned a whole helluva a lot about gearing, food, hydration, cue sheet/map managment....if tmail does it I'm gonna recruit maddog to ride the tandem with me so we can destroy him.

DogMan:  Awesome! G$$ you were an amazing engine in the stretch and an awesome navigator. Left to myself I would have curled up on the road side and waited for nightfall to succumb.

Way to go Mutha, whole new level and dimension. Chamberlain will go clean the next time you ride it. And from then on no looking back. 10 hours or less for you next year.

MadDog incredible. And yes, I think after lofting that heap of iron over those hills, you can rightfully characterize many of the other "cyclists" as "gay".

1) MuthaZ should by HyperZ. Mutha finishes "early", having done the last leg about 20 minutes faster than G$$ or I, starts taking nitrous shots from the whip cream and is generally bouncing of the walls of the tent and later room like he just had a pot of coffee and maybe needs some exercise for the day. WTF, did you ride this thing? Meanwhile MadDog and I are about to spoon each other on the blanket in the dirt under the table. We are comatose.

2)  Grocery check out girl to Mutha (in his five fingers): "What kind of shoes are those?". Mutha response: "I don't know, what kind of shows are those?". Meanwhile 15 year cutie [...edited for brevity...] is lingering in the aisle behind us, wearing blue slippers. There was a weird shoe vibe in Brattleboro, among other things.

3) G$$ somehow or another turns bottles of Coke into diesel fuel. Nice call on the Colrain stop. The "finisher", stay on his wheel over the 2nd half, you will get home.

4) I thought it was just my chip on the shoulder, but I was truly annoyed by all the Connecticut boys on their titanium bikes talking about owning their second houses in Vermont, etc, etc. I DID NOT want to ride with these f*s. I was so happy to be a "native" Vermonter.  And to part ways with them. And to have G$$ as wingman. And then MD shares the "gay" observation. What beautiful validation.

Great ride and experience. Thanks guys! Can't wait to do it again.
Mutha:  maddog!  what a fun trip report.  read it out loud to sue.  she wants to know how down-to-earth the Leyden police babes really are.  i assured her they're not THAT down to earth.

hanging together was fun.  sorry for the shouting "SMALL GEAR!  LOW GEAR MADDOG!" but from my vantage point a few feet in front of you i could see these walls coming like a wave that's about the crest.  the sound of your chain tapping lightly against your derailleur would send me into a tailspin thinking that you'd be climbing on your middle ring and i'd be in my little guy and you'd probably pass me and say "ahhh, i couldn't get it into low gear so i'm just going to do this the hard way ... pussy."

the GI problem was insolvable and the downward spiral nothing but misery.  without a magic wand all i could do was say things like "try not to shit your pants" or "if you puke up into your mouth, spit, don't swallow".  i once had to go to a business meeting when i had food poisoning.  that was bad.  you made it like 85 miles or something.  that's unbelievable.

today:  got home, ate 2 pieces of homemade pizza and two hot dogs.  yeah, i know.  mckenzie hot dogs.  they were out, hot and sue and the kids were going to finish them if i didn't.  i started putting away gear (found my missing glove), took a nap.

supper:  i grilled scallops in white wine, butter and lemon juice with apple-wood smoking on the grill.  we ate that on what we call 'big salads' - where we load plates with all sorts of fun stuff, like lettuce, avocado slices, chevre, capers, cheddar, apple slices, palm hearts, fresh pickles, slasa verde (thanks to dogman for the tomatillas!), etc. - w/ the scallops and sauce on the top.  in terms of cubic feet of food, this was nearly a record.  then we took the dogs out for creamies (soft serve ice cream, for you non-vermonters).

not sure if we burned 11,000 calories yesterday or 11,000,000 but i'm almost done making that up in fat, carbs, more fat and more carbs.  almost there ...


Stillwater Junction Overnight

Chris, Spanky, Jake & I headed up the Nancy Pond Trail to Stillwater Junction, where we camped near the east branch of the Pemi river.  We exited via the Desolation Trail over Carrigain to a car we spotted on Sawyer River Rd.  9-ish miles the first day, 8-ish the second.  Camping at Stillwater is incredible.  Aside from making sure to stay the appropriate distance from brooks/water, there is little to interfere with finding incredibly excellent camping sites.  The area is covered with thick organic material making for soft tenting/bivy action everywhere.