“The U.S. also has a select group of climbs that are among the most difficult in the world including Onion Valley Road in California, several Hawaiian giants, unique in that they gain up to and beyond 10,000 vertical feet of continuous climbing, and the incomparable Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which may be the toughest of them all.” – The Complete Guide to Climbing (Summerson)

I’m not sure what is next. Each year I did this race it was with a reason. In 2007 (canceled) then 2008 my goal was simply to climb the mountain. I did that but really suffered.

In 2009 I wanted to try it one more time with easier gearing. But I went while battling cancer.

Last year I wanted to go back cancer-free. And I did.

After last year’s ride, I told the event director, Mary Power, that I thought it was my last time up the mountain. She asked why. I told her she did not know how hard it was to drag one’s butt up that mountain. She said not to make that decision right away but wait until February 1. On February 1 I signed up for this year.

As the race got closer I got thinking that this would be it. It definitely would be it if I didn’t improve my time. Each year my time got marginally faster and with riding last month in France, especially climbing the Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, and Alpe d’Huez, I thought I might get a little bit faster. I resigned myself to the time that when I didn’t improve I would retire from this climb.

Entrance to Mount Washington Auto Road (as you exit)

My time did not improve. In fact, it was my worst time ever, 20 seconds worse than 2008 when I had normal gearing and crashed. At least then I lost at least 3-4 minutes in the crash with getting straightened up and walking 100 yards past a steep dirt section to get going again.

I’m not sure if I can retire when I sucked this bad.

I am trying to make sense of some factors that may have affected my time.

  • I weigh about 10 pounds heavier than last year
  • I did not ride the day before the race
  • Crappy breakfast at the Hampton Inn at 6:00 a.m.
  • Forgot my gels for the race
  • Screwed up the Garmin and had no sense of pace
  • Warmer than usual on the mountain

On the riders’ forum the night before I had met a rider who needed a ride. I told Jennisse Schule that we would meet at the tent at 7:30 a.m. After gathering Jennisse’s belongings, Cheri headed up the mountain and I decided to go for a warm-up ride.

Jennisse Schule

These things I don’t know about. Does it help me or hurt me to do a climb or ride 5-6 miles before this event? I rode seven but they were easy. I think.

It was then I realized I didn’t bring any food. Though tearing open a packet of gel is a difficult task on the bike on this climb, even ingesting one right before the race would have helped.

I was in the last group to go. We left at five-minute intervals. First the reds, then the yellows, followed by blue, purple, then green. I was nearly at the back of the green. Starting dead last. Again.

There was a pretty quick sorting out on the mountain. I seemed to fall in at the back of the split in our group.

It is tough. It is effin tough. The road is steep in the first two miles and the legs hurt. Breathing is heavy and you see riders falling. The mountain teases you to continue. The mind begs you to quit.

By the end of two miles, it seemed that no one was passing me. And I wasn’t passing too many people except for 23 people I saw off their bikes walking or resting. Occasionally I would pass someone who was pedaling.

The dirt section always haunts me since it was here that I crashed in 2008. I tell myself to remain seated so the rear wheel doesn’t spin out but the road seems packed hard enough to allow me to stand in a couple of sections.

Dirt Section (headed down after the race)

At Six-mile Curve the road really turns up. I remembered a sharp and steep curve but not the hill that follows.

The last couple of miles I passed a number of riders. Not quickly, but just slowly clawed my way past them.

Six-Mile Curve

In the second mile, I intended to press the “lap” button on my Garmin to record when I first stood while pedaling. Instead, I unknowingly pressed stop on the GPS unit completely ruining my recording of the race. Damn. I didn’t realize this until one mile later when I tried to check the percent grade of the section I was on and I saw it wasn’t recording.

At first, I was very disappointed in myself but then realized that it left me free to ride without thinking about elapsed time. Just pedal.

I felt pretty good for not having eaten in almost five hours and not having nutrition on the bike. Still, when I reached Mile 7 I checked the time and saw it was already 10:30 or so. I knew I was toast although how bad I wasn’t sure.

I turned the corner to the 22% wall and at first, stood then sat to climb it. I saw the time – 2:11 and about threw up. Although I started 20 minutes last I knew 1:51 was what I did three years ago. Oh well.

Approaching the finish line resigned with a crappy time

I stood one more time. For the camera. Then I crossed the finish line, collected my medal and blanket although I really didn’t need the blanket. The high temperature reached 59°  (15 C) and it seemed almost hot on the summit.

Almost at the top

Cheri parked as second to last car in so we were the second car from the parking lot down the mountain. And first in the Harts Turkey Farms food line.

We weren’t able to stay long at the post-race ceremony because we had to drive to Allentown, Pa. for the night. But the contemplation begins. Can I end my run of Mt. Washington rides with such a bad time? I have until February 1 to make a decision but I think I will be back for one more.

Getting ready for the drive home

And that will be it.




I forgot how friggin hard the mountain can be…

It was August 2006, after knee surgery that I first remember writing that someday I wanted to bike up Mount Washington. In 2007, Ashley and I went to New Hampshire for Newton’s Revenge, one of the two bike races up the mountain. Weather forced the cancellation of the race.

Friday Night Meet & Greet with Peter Salon and Walker Savidge

In 2008 we went back and I made it, albeit with a crash which meant I didn’t make it without stopping, and I was using normal stock gearing on my bike.

The event tent at the MWARBH 2010

I decided I had to go back to make it without crashing or stopping and I would change the gearing. But May 2009, brought its own crash, a broken wrist, an e.Coli infection and a diagnosis of cancer. Yea, it sucked. Ultimately, I was able to ride but promised myself I would return in 2010 as my recovery goal.

Cars entering the Mt. Washington Auto Road

And return I did.

Entrance to Mt. Washington Auto Road

I arrived on Friday morning. I wanted to do a light ride and rolled slowly through North Conway which was congested with tourist traffic. Near the end of town, a couple of riders asked “mind if we jump in?”

Parking lot at the summit

I was surprised to see Walker Savidge and Peter Salon, two riders for the Garmin-Transitions U23 team who had come to Mount Washington for the race. Of course, they were in their full Garmin kits. Made me glad I never bought the full Radio Shack kit to wear. I would have felt so stupid.

Peter, Walker, Barry

They didn’t know the roads so I agreed to take them on a short — 60-minute ride. What fun. I turned into the wind and pulled for five miles. We talked about their gearing, they hadn’t made any changes to their road gears — I knew it was too big for the mountain but hey, who am I to say something? It was one cool experience!

Walker and Peter signing posters.
Walker said it would devalue the poster.

As far as the race, I came to the mountain without a ride down and was determined to find one on the race forum. I contacted Ted Essenfeld who agreed to give me a ride down. I met him at the registration area and sent a bag of warm clothes to the top in his SUV.

Tinker Juarez in the black jersey. He competed in Leadville 100 the previous Saturday, finished in 7:30.
I have no idea how he can still be walking.

At the start line, I was soaking up the moment and ignored warming up, instead, I was walking around taking pictures. The ground was rocky and sandy but I was rejoicing being here and being a survivor.

The pros and Top Notch group queue up for their start.
Walker and Peter had the low numbers but weren’t given any
respect by the other riders.

Although there were four age groups, the largest group was the 45+ and it was so large it was split into two. So we had five starting groups, each separated by five minutes. I was in the last group and lined up at the end of our group. I started dead last.

Cars at the base of the auto road

When the cannon sounded I tried to clip in and found neither foot would clip in. Oh boy. The rocky and sandy ground got in my Speedplay cleats and prevented the springs in my cleats from working.

Race announcer Richard Fries and Mary Power, Race Director — with .

After 100 yards I got the left foot clipped in but couldn’t get the right clipped. It would be easier to pedal a bike with platform pedals and tennis shoes than my Speedplay pedals with road shoes that don’t clip in. When I stood to pedal my right foot would slip off the pedal. And bang my chin.

Start of Top Notch group

At Mile 5 I was catching a woman, Joan Pew from Maine, who asked if someone was running Speedplay shoes and wasn’t clipped in. You could hear it. Props to her to knowing what brand it was. She offered to take a brush from her bag if we both stopped. I knew we couldn’t get going again so I kept going. It was a kind offer though and greatly appreciated. I would ride it out and keep trying to clip in.

Joan Pew. She offered to stop and clean my shoes. 
We would have never got restarted.

The ride up the mountain is 90-100 minutes of willpower. The body says to at least take a break. Indeed, I counted 31 riders who dismounted in front of me and were stopped or walking. One guy was carrying his bike up the mountain rather than ride.

Start of the third group, 35-45 years old – Theodore Essenfeld in white

I forgot how friggin hard the mountain is. I thought there would be some relief after two miles but there wasn’t. It keeps going up at that 12% grade with no breaks.

Two riders on the finishing grade. One was paperboying and would fall over; the other was simply pushing her bike. It is tough.

I crossed the finish line in 1:43 — just two minutes faster than last year. I thought I might have 10 minutes in me, i.e., finish around 1:35. I had ridden almost 3,000 miles this year and been “training” in France. But I’ll take any improvement. I came back cancer-free.

My third time up the Rock Pile

At the summit, I could not find Ted or his wife as she was forced to park in a service area about 200 yards from the top. So I never got into my warm, and dry, clothes. I was stuck in sweaty, nasty, cycling clothes. And a Polartec blanket. That was enough. I had to scrounge to find a ride for me and my bike. I accepted an offer from two different people – one to take my bike and one to drive me down.

Ted Essenfeld. He still owes me a ride down the mountain. Here he has my Trek Travel bag.

I was pleased that I sent up my Trek Travel bag with shoes, warm clothing, food, cell phone (for photos). But with the missed connection at the top, it was all for naught. At the end of the day, I told Mary Power and Kelly Evans, event directors at the Mount Washington Auto Road, that I might not be back next year. Each year gave me a new reason to come back but this year left me fulfilled. Mostly. Oh well, I have six months to think about it (before registration).

NOTE: (1 Aug 2021) – Although Strava was founded in 2009, I certainly was not using it then. But an upload of my data show my point-to-point time was 1:42:15. This is different from the “official” race time which starts at the cannon blast but cannot account for the time waiting on the bridge, dead last, while the front row takes off. It is the best representation for comparison of me to me. This was my best time despite a cleat that would not clip in.

Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb

Just standing on Mount Washington’s slopes in New Hampshire, which may be the toughest climb on earth, generates a sense of excitement and a bit of fear as you anticipate its difficulties.The Complete Guide to Climbing (by bike), John Summerson


This is a day that I thought would never come. Ever since I competed in Newton’s Revenge in 2008 I knew that I would be back. In fact, I planned to be back for Newton’s Revenge, the July race, in 2009.

But in May I broke my wrist in a crash and shortly thereafter got sick. I emailed Mary Power, the events director at the Mount Washington Auto Road to tell her I was still coming in July and she graciously offered a place in the August climb. I never envisioned that or I wouldn’t have contacted her. I wasn’t asking for a favor.

The illness continued and ultimately I was diagnosed with cancer. I pulled out of the August race but as the testing and diagnosis continued I made a deal with my doctor that I could ride no matter what. A few weeks would not make a difference in treatment. It would have to be delayed. And so the race was on.

It’s funny how cancer changes things. Last year my goals were simple:

  • Finish
  • Try not to be last
  • Don’t walk but that’s OK if I finish

But now I had performance numbers. So three months ago my goals were simple:

  • Beat last year’s time by 15-20 minutes

But then cancer came. And this year my goals were simple:

  • Finish
  • Try not to be last
  • Don’t walk but that’s OK if I finish

Actually, my new goal was even simpler:

  • Finish

Cancer will not win. I will.

What was to be a test to see if I could improve upon last year’s time simply became a new outlook on the race. I’m glad to be alive and glad to be here.

The view from 6 miles looking back at the starting line

“A few months ago, when I told a friend who once ran to the top of Mount Washington that I planned to enter the cycling race, he offered some advice. You will look for the top of the hill, he said. It is natural. It is human. But it will kill you. Don’t look up, he warned, because the top won’t come.” —, Sept 2004

This was much different than my last two years. In 2007 (07/07/07) my daughter, Ashley, and I came to these mountains. We were grounded for two days due to severe weather at the summit and the race was canceled. But we had a great time here. Last year Ashley and her husband, Bryan, were waiting for me at the summit. That gave me special incentive to finish.

Bryan and Ashley at the Ellis River (2008)

This year I came to the mountain alone. There is peace here in the White Mountains. Ashley and I experienced it a couple of years ago just wading in the cold waters of the Ellis River. It was time I needed to get away from visiting doctors and spending hours online researching the best course of treatment for my cancer. I needed peace and I found it riding in the mountains and, yes, wading in the river again.

Barry wading in the Ellis River – with his bike

There aren’t many words harder to hear than “you’ve got cancer.” Your world just stops and one must find a way to get it going and back on track. I knew my fitness level couldn’t be where I wanted it to be. I actually had an e.Coli infection, possibly for months, leading up to the cancer diagnosis.

My time up the mountain no longer mattered. Just being here was a victory.

I came a few days early just to spend time in the mountains. On Wednesday I hoped to ride a 65-mile loop around the circumference of Mount Washington. Imagine that. Using the roads around Mount Washington, including some dirt roads, it still takes 65 miles to drive around its base. Instead, the weather prevented that and I rode Hurricane Mountain Road instead.

On Thursday I rode out to the Auto Road which was going to be part of my planned 65-mile ride. I met Mary Power and her new assistant, Kelly Evans. Kelly is from Beaver, Pa., near Pittsburgh, which is right across the river from where I went to high school.

Mary Power, Events Director at Mt. Washington Auto Road

It is not the longest climb, the steepest climb, nor the climb with the greatest elevation gain. It is simply the climb that is the steepest for the longest distance. Couple this with above timberline scenery that is unworldly and weather that is unpredictable and you begin to understand Mount Washington’s attraction to cyclist climbers. — New York Cycle Club, 2003

When I checked-in yesterday I met two young men from Seattle, Tommy Jerome and Ryan Burke. Tommy came to ride the mountain and Ryan came as his driver. As we talked over our pasta dinner in a tent, we decided to team up. Ryan would drive up the mountain as our driver and Tommy and I would be the cyclists which would get us up the mountain toll-free. Neither of them had been here before and appreciated any advice, even if it was wrong, that I could give them.

Ryan and Tommy. Tommy finished in 1:22!

There was a race this day. The race announcer made it a point to let everyone know that there was an actual race up the mountain with race tactics. Phil Gaimon, Ned Overend, and Kevin Nicol battled all the way up the mountain before Phil pulled away to win by 16 seconds (54:37). It sounds like Phil pulled away by 50 yards around Mile 5 and Ned could never close it.

Phil finished second to Anthony Colby in the Newton’s Revenge race last summer but came back to win the August MWARBH. Phil rides for Jelly Belly Cycling. Ned is a former mountain bike world champion who at age 53 is, well, just 16 seconds behind one of the best climbers in the country.

For the rest of us, we were competing against the mountain or a personal best. Or in my case, just happy to be here.

With a staggered start time and being in the last group, I wondered how crowded the road might get with 500 riders ahead of me. Not at all since they were all faster. I did worry that I might come upon some slow riders going side to side on the road (paperboying) but never encountered any of that. Just once, in the first mile, did I feel stuck behind riders but simply announced I was coming between two riders. There was no other time that I felt anyone was in the way.

The biggest logistical problem of having 600 riders is parking at the top of the mountain. But there is an incentive to take fewer cars to the top. A car needed a ticket from a rider to gain entrance to the top on Saturday but if they had two tickets the toll was waived. At registration, they have an area set aside for drivers to offer rides down and for riders looking for a ride down. Or, as I did, you can just meet them at the pre-race pasta dinner.

Mt Washington Auto Road

I was worried about coming to the mountain without having a ride down. I shouldn’t have been. I actually connected via the forums with a couple other riders before registration but once I met Tommy and Ryan I decided to connect with them instead. But only after making sure I didn’t mess up the plans for my original group.

At Newton’s Revenge last year I casually milled around and watched each group go before ours then moved in line to the back of our group. At MWARBH we were positioned in our groups five minutes before the Top Notch riders took off. And since my group was 20 minutes behind them, I lost any benefit of a warm up by standing in line at the start line 25 minutes before our race began.

I was in the last group of the five groups to go and was pretty far back but not dead last. There is a dead flat section of 150 yards before the climb begins. We hit the hill and the climb began.

Start line at MWARBH

I do not remember the first two miles being so steep last year although last year I was out of the saddle (standing) within the first 1/2 mile or so. This year I was able to remain seated for the first two miles. I spent many hours on a trainer working on form to be able to do this.

More than once during those first two miles I thought of abandoning. Last year my back hurt and I assumed that climbing 12-15% grades out of the saddle hurt the back. But my back hurt even while seated. Tommy told me how much his back hurt on the ride. And how quickly he came out of the saddle.

In anticipation of the pain, I took a couple of Advil’s and also popped in some Tums (cramping). I didn’t have any problems with cramping and the back pain was minimal, at least compared to last year. Well, all pain was minimal compared to last year.

Because I started so far back I was passed by only a few, very few, but did pass many riders. Some of them were riding but many were walking. I tried not to look up the road because it is disheartening to see riders stopped or quitting.

But seeing riders pushing their bikes doesn’t have to be completely deflating. I started to make it a game. I no longer worried that the mountain was punishing and would soon punish me in the same manner. Instead, a walker became a target. Someone to pass. So I started to relish the sight of someone pushing their bike. It wasn’t easy catching a rider up the road but it was easy catching a walker.

Sometime after three miles the thought of abandoning or even walking left my mind. And my mind turned to finishing today and coming back next year.

The dirt section was scary. I tried to get through the entire section seated since I crashed last year when I stood. This year there was a very nasty crash ahead of me. A rider went down hard and was down right on the edge of a steep drop. I immediately called for “MEDIC!” behind me hoping the call would go back down the road to a radio communications operator who was sitting at the beginning of the section. Soon other riders picked up my call and I heard them relay the call for “MEDIC!” The call, which I had started, made it back down to the radioman. A medic soon came down from the summit on an ATV to assist. I never found out what happened to the man.

I was conflicted as to whether to stop or not. Getting restarted going uphill in this 12-16% dirt section was almost impossible. Plus I would have no clue on how to assist an injured rider, other than to keep him from rolling off the road to his death. But as I approached he was swearing at one rider who was trying to assist him so that made my decision easy. The thought of beating last year’s time never entered my mind.

Not far behind me was Aneeka Reed, a 16-year-old from Vermont. They teased the old group (45+) by putting juniors (under 20) with us. I think she started ahead of me and I passed her at some point. But at Mile 4 she came up in between another rider and me. I turned to her and asked, in a sarcastic tone, “What do you think this is, a race?”

She was holding her back. We talked briefly and over the next couple of miles, we were in contact and then not in contact. She would catch me on the lesser grades (12%) and I was more powerful on the steeper grades (16-18%). Her goal was to finish without stopping. I liked this kid.

I mentioned to her the dirt section which is when she told me she had never been on the road before. I was hoping she knew when it began. Heck, I was hoping she was going to tell me there was no dirt section that they finally paved it over.

Aneeka Reed with her parents. She finished without stopping and won the U20 Women’s Category

On the back of this year’s “I Biked Mt Washington” bumper sticker is some information including “35% hard pack dirt and 65% paved.” Well, it’s not 35% dirt – much less, but the 65% paved isn’t far from the truth. Imagine what a Mount Washington winter will do to asphalt. The road is generally in below average to poor shape with cracked and grooved pavement and some places where the asphalt has buckled.

We’re not crazy. The one person who is crazy was the unicyclist. I caught him in the first mile when we had to go over a buckled section in the road while ascending at 14% grade. My bike went over it fine but his single wheel didn’t. He crashed pretty hard. But much of the time I was riding on pavement I was looking for the best pavement which was hard to find at times.

Climbing around Mile 2 – Credit: Mary Power

Like many riders, I did not carry any bike tools, extra tubes, or a spare pump with me. Didn’t need the weight. Towards the end of the dirt section, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. Damn! A flat. I knew there wasn’t much I could do except to ride it out. So I decided to keep riding until I couldn’t go farther. And then I would run the rest of the way pushing the bike.

One big difference from last year is that I remember talking in the first mile and then just breathing heavily the rest of the way. I had no energy to talk. But this year I had more than enough energy to talk. I instructed a tandem to go “mark the 10-year-old” so he didn’t get away (he did), asked riders if they needed a cue sheet, told a guy who was in real difficulty to drop back to the team car and bring us drinks, asked rhetorically if the road averaged 12% grade why my GPS never went under 12.

That question got one tired rider to respond by steering off the roadway into the ditch. It’s hard to maintain focus when one is so tired and he was tired and I broke his focus. My bad. Thankfully, this was on the inside of the road so he dropped 12″ – 18″ inches into a ditch. Had it been on the outside of the road he would have dropped 50-100 feet. At least.

I wanted to stop and help him. But I couldn’t. This was on a 14% grade and getting restarted was nearly impossible. I saw one rider coming back towards us and thought he took his “paperboying” to an extreme. But then it dawned on me that he stopped and to get going he started down the hill to get clipped in and then turned around to start climbing.

At Milepost 6 a volunteer announced it was Mile 6. I asked her if that meant there were six miles to go. Then smiled. I obviously wasn’t pushing hard enough. But it didn’t matter. I was glad to be on the mountain and was enjoying myself.

The curve at Mile 6 is nasty. I didn’t remember how steep it was, I’m thinking 18%, but it presented no problem. The 22% climb to the finish was still steep but I never thought I might stop and fall over which I believed would happen last year.

The 22% climb to the finish line

I just had to concentrate on the road and appreciated all the people cheering. That’s pretty cool.

I was smiling. Trust me.

Well, maybe it was a little bit hard at the end but was in no danger of falling over or running the photographer over like I almost did last year.

Kelly Evans, Beaver, Pa., cheering me on at the finish line

In fact I was smiling at the finish line.

Last year I collapsed at the finish line. I said “never again!” I gave it everything I had. My legs were like Jello for the next couple of days. What I take out of this experience is how close I was to total exhaustion last year. I thought that every rider crossing the finish line was grabbed by four people but I think that was reserved for me for last year. I really gained an appreciation for how much effort I used last year.

I feel now that I could do the race again tomorrow. Clearly, even though I shaved five minutes off last year’s time, I didn’t give it my all. Oh well — I left myself room for improvement for next year.

In cyclists’ terms, I am not a climber. It’s power to weight ratio and I will never be in the top 10-20 or 30% of the elite racers. Maybe not even top 50%. But I like to climb. What an incredible feeling to reach the summit of the toughest hillclimb in the world.

My time over last year did improve by 5 minutes – to 1:46. Last year I was in the 82 percentile or better than 18% of the racers. This year I was at 68% – better than 32%or right at the edge of the two-thirds line. But still way below the line.

Still enough energy to life my bike. Barely.

My heart rate 158 avg/ 177 max was 2 beats faster this year than last year (156/175). And I didn’t worry about it. I never felt in distress. But I forgot to turn off my Garmin when I reached the finish line so it shows an extra two minutes. Oh well. There’s so much happening at the finish that it’s hard to remember everything. I bet if I had turned it off my heart rate would have been at least another beat higher.

The Rockpile

Nothing grows up here. More than 100 days per year they experience hurricane-force winds. And they call it the Rockpile.

Now that’s gonna hurt

I had loaded the bike on the car then saw this finisher, D. P. Thomas, of Weatherford, Texas. I knew he wouldn’t make it. The mountain zaps your strength and you must have something left for the finish. Otherwise the legs can’t turn over the pedals and gravity forces you to the ground faster than one can unclip. And he wasn’t the only one.

A stranger helps D.J. with his bike and the rider behind decides to push his bike

After the race, we were one of the first cars to leave the summit. Probably 95% of the riders had finished but they do tell the few stragglers that they are going to open the road to traffic coming down the mountain.

On the descent I tried to encourage those still climbing by letting them know they weren’t far from the summit. One poor guy was “yo-yo-ing” so badly I stopped just so he could use the entire road to weave and cut the grade.

At our post-race turkey dinner, in the tent, I found Phil Gaimon and went to talk with him. In February, Mary knew that I was going to work the Tour of California and asked me to deliver a personal message to Phil to come back this year to the Hillclimb. And I did. I reminded him of that bitterly cold day in Santa Rosa and he remembered it well.

I told Phil I wanted a picture of us to put on my CaringBridge site. I explained that I had cancer and then we talked about cancer. He told me he was interested in my site and that his dad would be too as his dad was battling for his life.

Barry (Loser); Phil Gaimon (Winner)

I left with Phil’s last words to me. He told me he wanted to see me again at next year’s Amgen Tour of California and wanted to see me again next year racing up Mount Washington.


I plan to.

Now I must get ready for 100 miles on Sunday in Philadelphia with the Livestrong Challenge.


My Strava time was 1:44:37. This would be a point-to-point measure and not race time which is taken from time of starting gun to crossing the finish line. Because I was in a group, a deep group, and was not at the front, there was more than a one minute delay rolling out after the gun sounded.

There is a steep rise — about 18% — at the end of the dirt section and a spectator was at the transition screaming encouragement — “Hard top, hard top, hard top!!! — C’mon — you can do it. Hard top!” That was pretty funny actually.

I got to the hard top and never thought about the flat tire again. Mainly because it wasn’t flat. Never was. It was just riding up that 16-18% section in the dirt made the bike handle as though I had a flat tire. I didn’t.

Phil Gaimon said, “There are two possibilities in a race – you win or you set a PR, but when I’m getting faster, why would I quit doing this?”

The Time is Close


I really wanted to ride this 65-mile loop around the base of Mount Washington but also knew that if I rode it there was a chance that my legs would be too sore going into Saturday. I reluctantly decided the prudent thing to do was to find another ride.

I drove to the beautiful village of Jackson, New Hampshire. Not finding a great place to park, I went into the post office, identified myself as a headquarters employee of U.S.P.S. and threatened to close their office asked if I could park in their employee lot — which basically meant the postmaster’s space. I could.

I got on Highway 16 and headed out through the White Mountains National Forest to the Mount Washington Auto Road. From the base I could see the summit of Mount Washington. Damn, it looks so far away. And high too. What was I thinking?

Mary Power, the events director at the MWAR greeted me. She asked about Ashley — still thinks she’s sweet.

Mary Power, Barry Sherry

Mary has been absolutely wonderful. I initially intended to ride Newton’s Revenge in July. But when I broke my wrist in May I contacted her to tell her I was still coming even though my cast would be off but a few days. She asked if I could come to the MWARBH instead. So I signed up for this race and then got sick. It looked like I would not ride at all this year and Mary graciously was supposed to roll my registration over to next year.

Except she forgot. And it all worked out because here I am.

I met Mary’s new assistant, Kelly, who comes from Beaver, Pennsylvania so we had a nice time talking. I graduated from New Brighton which is one town over in Beaver Co. We also talked about Hurricane Mountain Road. Both ladies said they hated to even drive that road. It is a nasty little road.

Today’s ride was a 28-mile ride out and back. Most of the ride out was climbing which made for a fun descent on the ride back.

We did talk about the race. I am excited because Phil Gaimon (Jelly Belly) will be here as well as Ned Overend. Ned, 53, is a legend. Maybe some day Phil will be a legend. I wish I could watch those two battle it out up the mountain. Phil’s young legs should win out but with Ned, you never know. Of course, a mechanical will end the race for either racer.

At the end of the ride I drove 60 miles to Portland, Maine. I am playing hotel roulette — I get credit for three stays instead of one — and get to see the coast too.

Garmin Stats for the Day

Weirdness of the Day

I had a couple of day’s worth of clothes to wash and found the laundry at the Hilton Garden Inn – Airport, in Portland. I figured being an airport hotel, it truly is, that everyone here was staying for one night and no one would have any laundry.

They had one washer and one dryer. They were empty. I put in my clothes and went for a 20-minute ride. The cycle was 30 minutes and I figured I would return and put my clothes in the dryer.

I returned with about five minutes remaining in the cycle and the dryer was in use. Who would be drying clothes without washing them? It certainly messed up my timing.

I returned to my room to grab my laptop to take with me to the laundry room. When I returned I found my wash tossed on top of the dryer and someone else’s clothes in the washer.

The culprit soon came back in. He was looking for soap. Rather than purchase some soap he took out a pocket knife and sliced off some slivers then added some shampoo. True.

Then a family came in to check on their clothes in the dryer. Bathing suits. I guess they just wanted hot suits.

I dried my clothes and then folded them. I was missing one arm warmer, one glove, and two socks. I had one cycling sock and one normal sock in the wash and knew I had a pair.

I opened the washer and saw my missing glove in the shampoo mix. I took it out.

Later I went back to the laundry room and saw my missing cycling sock was on the dryer.

After running an errand I returned and ran into the shampoo guy. He apologized for taking my clothes. He said he thought he had removed everything from the washer. I should have challenged him for removing them in the first place but I didn’t. It’s not like he has been waiting an hour while the clothes were in there.

I told him I was still missing an arm warmer and another sock. He said he didn’t have them but later I returned to the laundry room and there they were, folded. And smelling like shampoo.


Broken Wrist, Broken Dream?


I am bummed right now. Everything I have done since July 12, 2008, was to prepare myself for Newton’s Revenge* on July 11, 2009. A 42-mile Bike to Work Day ride may have ended that today when I crashed and broke at least my wrist. Even if the cast is off in time my fitness will be shot.

I made it up the “Rockpile” last year, albeit badly, and Mary Power, the Mount Washington Auto Road Events Director told me it gets in your blood. And it does.

I started walking the 12 floors each morning to my office rather than riding the elevator. I was committed to dropping 12 pounds to a more favorable climbing weight of 160. And I was down to 164 – the lowest of my adult life.

Broken Wrist

I hadn’t yet made the changes to the front ring but was planning to drop it to a serious climbing gear of 24 teeth. I bought a set of lighter wheels perfect for climbing. Last year I was one of the few riders who rode the race in a standard factory setup with no gear modifications. This year was going to be different. It had to be different.

I started a training program designed to increase my power. And after the first week of workouts, it may have been working. I noticed that this morning I averaged 20 mph to Occoquan over 6.5 miles. I wondered if I was already getting a benefit.

In the past three weekends, I rode the Blue Ridge Ramble, Blue Knob Ski Resort, and a classic ride from Myersville, Md. to Pennsylvania and back, Happy Happy Pain Pain. I was feeling good.

And I was feeling great today.

Road bikes are designed for the road. And roads are usually straight with gradual curves and grades, Mount Washington being an exception. Not so much these bike paths. Unfortunately, bike paths are often squeezed into spaces where roads don’t fit. They fly up and over existing roadways or tunnel under highways. They can have steeper than normal grades and sharper turns.

I had followed the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) trail to the Custis Trail. The Custis Trail goes through Rosslyn in Arlington Co. then descends down to the Mount Vernon Trail. At this point I was 38 miles into my Bike To Work Day ride, I came upon this descent and let the bike roll. I was going 20 mph when I saw a sharp turn to the left. Overnight rains had left a gooey mess of mud and moss mixed in with some sand and gravel.

I used my rear brake to slow the bike for the curve ahead but the tire slid in the muck. I released the brake and leaned and steered the bike through the turn. My momentum took the bike through the curve and the wheels slipped out from under me.

I hit the asphalt real hard and went sliding across it until I came to a stop. I could feel road rash on my left thigh and could see it on my leg. One thing to be thankful for: shaved legs. Without hair ripping out more skin, the damage to my leg was relatively minor in comparison to the rest of my body.

I unclipped and saw the blood on my hand and could feel that my wrist hurt. A couple of riders came by and asked if I was hurt. I told them I was. They kept going.

I brushed myself off, poured water on my hand and legs to get most of the dirt off, then rode four more miles to work. More than half the time I held my arm like a broken wing and rode with one hand. It hurt to put the injured hand on the handlebars.

At work, I got some assistance in the Fitness Center in taking off my jersey and in cleaning up. I then went to my office (via elevator — this was the first day I didn’t take the stairs). I worked for about 15 minutes before deciding the emergency room visit was necessary.

Now I face the question of what’s next. Six weeks in a cast will take me to June 30. If I am off the bike until then there is no way I will have the fitness or climbing legs to make Mount Washington. I am really bummed right now.

Monday I go for a hard cast. I haven’t been told how serious the break is or if there is more than one. If I can ride a trainer during this time it won’t be the same as being on the road but there’s still a chance. My only chance now is to be able to ride a trainer…

Recent Comments


Verified by MonsterInsights