Reflections on the Year – 2014


For the second straight year, a year of great riding was marred by the passing of a friend. I reached 5,000 miles in October but slowed towards the end due to tendonitis or a torn meniscus or both. But then found the will to suffer through a cold December to reach 6,000 miles.

In order of chronology, here are my top ten rides:

(1) Riding in PennsylvaniaAbandoned Turnpike and Ligonier – Riding with the college kids has been fun the past three years and this year’s adventure through the tunnels at Breezewood and on to Ligonier would be no exception. On both days I rode in small groups with Jamie Roberts who would die on the road in Kentucky 10 days later.

(2) Ride the Rockies (Multiple Entries) – My second time and it is a blast riding in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I missed the first day due to a wedding then extended by a day to ride over Berthoud Pass to Winter Green, Colorado, with Bradley Allen. But it was a somber ride as we had just received the news of Jamie’s death.

(3) Stelvio Pass – I went to Italy with Trek Travel to ride in the Dolomites. I did not know much about these Italian climbs and I loved them all, none more than the 48 switchbacks one must navigate to climb over Stelvio Pass.

(4) Three Country Ride – Imagine a ride starting in Switzerland, going into Germany, then to France, back to Germany and ending in Switzerland. I did that in July with friend, Ben Z.

(5) Crater Lake and Alex – I planned to ride around Crater Lake, Oregon, and to ride with 12 year-old, Alex Shepherd. I achieved one of those. I rode around Crater Lake (it was awesome) but was at least able to visit with the Shepherd family even if we didn’t ride.

(6) Home Sweet Home – I’m about as native Pennsylvanian as one can be except that my grandmother was born in Oregon in 1907 (and then moved back to Pa.). She never returned but I did, doing a 50 mile ride in and around Sweet Home, Oregon.

(7) Washington – I promised Chey Hillsgrove that if he biked across the country again I would meet him at the finish. On their next-to-last day, I met him in Port Townsend, Washington, and rode 45 miles with him as part of a 70-mile day. And I went over 24,906 miles cancer-free (should that be a separate entry?).

24,906.25 miles – Cancer-free

(8) Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb My seventh straight year up the mountain, I came that close to not going. But I was encouraged by my daughter, Ashley. I didn’t push myself, we had the worst weather in seven years, but I can’t say that I really suffered. All that riding in Colorado and Italy must have been good for something. And we saw a moose. Or two.

(9) Livestrong Challenge
Great weather and great company, I didn’t ride 100 miles but it wasn’t about the miles. It was about riding for Jake The Hero Grecco and Alex Shepherd.

(10) Ride of Silence
– I learned on June 14 that Jamie Roberts was killed and as I rode with
Bradley Allen up Berthoud Pass in Colorado I thought about organizing a
Ride of Silence for Jamie. That came to fruition on October 26, two
days after Jamie’s 25th birthday.

I am thankful for every ride, for every day of health. I don’t know what 2015 holds outside trying to organize a ride for to raise money for children’s cancer research. This I do know: the rides that become my “Top Ten” are rarely expected, rather something happens on the ride that makes them so memorable.

Peace and safe riding!


Didn’t Want to Do It


Each year it seems harder to bring myself to New Hampshire to ride this mountain. But it seems to be more about the 1,400-mile drive (round trip) than the ride up the mountain. And this year I wasn’t “feeling it.”

Rest Area on I-91 near Brattleboro, Vermont

I was surprised when earlier this week my daughter, Ashley, asked me when I was going and if I needed a driver. I hadn’t made any gearing adjustments to my bike and was planning to call it a career at six successful hill climbs.

Rest area on I-91 near Brattleboro, Vermont

But with Ashley volunteering, if not wanting to go, I decided to go. Besides, I would see the Gubinski family again.

Mount Washington Hotel (we did not stay there)

Two years ago was to be my last time racing this mountain. I needed a ride down and found the Gubinski family, or they found me. But every rider needed a driver and no vehicles could go to the summit that Saturday morning unless they were bringing a cyclist back down the mountain. It was a marriage of convenience. Lucas and Alexa were hiking to the summit and their parents, Vic and Alison, were to drive up and meet them – as long as they were bringing a rider back down. And thus we met.

Near Crawford Notch, NH (Credit: Ashley Snow)

Navigating here yesterday, and anticipating it would be the last time, I decided to try a different approach to North Conway. We came up I-91 so we could stop at our favorite rest stop in Vermont.  Then we followed US 302 and came in on the other side of the mountain through Crawford Notch, a drive neither of us had done before.

Near Crawford Notch, NH (Credit: Ashley Snow)

I never saw a moose before until Ashley came with me in 2007. The race was canceled that year but she was happy – she saw a moose. She came with me again in 2008 and, again, we saw a moose. Ashley hasn’t been with me since 2008 and I haven’t seen another moose. Yesterday, we saw a moose. When I told my friends, the Family Gubinski about her “Moose Whispering” skill, they didn’t believe it – they always wanted to see a moose. So we left registration at the same time. We found another moose.

This morning I was hoping the race would be canceled. It would be appropriate bookends that Ashley was with me for my first (2007) and last (2014) races and both were canceled. The weather did not look great. When I checked before leaving the hotel it was 37 degrees at the summit with winds at 44 mph – wind chill was 23 degrees.

Summit Conditions day of race

On the other hand, were the Gubinski twins, Alexa and Lucas. I had met them two years ago when they hiked to the top of the mountain. They loved watching the race and decided to come back – as racers. And they talked me into coming back last year. And this year. And today they were excited and ready to go. Alexa had taken brakes off her bike, weighed her water bottles to take the lightest ONE, and was going up without a spare tube or tool kit. She is extreme!

2006 Trek Pilot (with Blue Madone fork)

Before coming here I had purchased a larger cassette (32 tooth) to put on my bike but hadn’t, thinking I would return it unopened for a refund (if the race was canceled). This would make the bike easier to pedal. I had my mechanics change the front ring from a 30 to a 24 but last year ran a 24:28. The 24:32 would be better.

Riders getting ready at the start (Purple – Group 4)

Ashley went up the mountain. The starter gun (actually was a small cannon) went off for the first wave of pro and “Top Notch” riders. I decided I better put the cassette on my bike. I was in the fifth and last group to start, 20 minutes behind.

No hitchhiking or bicycles

This took me back to my short-lived Cub Scout career when I was working on building a plane to fly on a wire. I waited until the last minute to attach the propeller. At the race, my plane won its first two heats, easily in fact. In the third, the propeller came loose and fell off because the glue had not set yet. This was a life lesson that should have taught me preparation. It did not.

Some riders in my wave. The unicyclist and young girl beat me.

My quick change of cassettes did not go as expected. I had a new lighter wheel from my Trek Domane which I planned to switch to my climbing bike. It has an 11-speed cassette. My mechanic assured me the wheel would fit, and I guess it did, but it did not like the new 10-speed cassette. I couldn’t get the cassette fully tightened.

It could have been operator error but the second group was now headed up the mountain. (Just three groups left to go.) I took the last three gear cluster from the 10-speed and replaced the last three gear cluster from the 11-speed and tightened it. Now I was running an 11-speed cluster on my 10-speed bike/derailleur. This, my friends, is not a good combination. That 10-speed cluster is not meant for the 11-speed hub and I didn’t even bother to test it. I failed Cub Scouts too.

Unidentified rider climbing toward the summit

I was sitting in a field with two wheels, neither of which was working with my bike, and less than 10 minutes to go. The gears would have to be. I lined up at the back of the last group, which was also the largest group. I started dead last (which I always do). There were two unicyclists ahead of me. The cannon sounded. I didn’t move. The group had to space out first as they took off.

Vic Gubinski nearing the finish (Credit: Alison Gubinski)

My gears seemed to work only for the first three but anything beyond that and they were skipping. That cluster of three gears was molded as one whereas the rest were individually added with a washer. Those other gears would be problematic except I would never get to them. I could have ridden a single-speed up the mountain as long as it had 24:32 gearing.

Lucas, Alexa, Barry (Credit: Alsion Gubinski)

The weather was warm, around 70º (21ºC), at the base, and I, along with most racers, wore a short sleeve jersey. No jacket. No arm warmers.

Jill Landman, Geoff Hamilton – I don’t know them – they just passed by me and I took their picture

The lower section (first two miles) is just beautiful. It’s just a 12% grade road headed up through a deep forest. At 1.5 miles I passed the first of a few people pushing their bikes. In the past, this was mentally deflating but not today. I kept going not even thinking about them.

Lucas Gubinski nears the summit (Credit: Alison Gubinski)

Around Mile Three or Mile Four it got cold. Real cold. Real fast. I sort of envied those riders who had jackets or arm warmers. The wind was strong – at times it was a headwind.

Seven times – dedicated to Alex Shepherd

I came to Mile Four realizing it was more than halfway. I wasn’t working that hard. I felt good. I passed a red bib rider (first group). Plenty of yellow (second), blue (third), and purple (fourth) too. Although I had been passed earlier by both unicyclists who were racing (after I passed them at the beginning), I overtook them too.

Thumbs Up – Barry nears the summit

The top of the mountain was cold – my hands were starting to feel it a little, but otherwise, I was OK. I came to the final 22% grade and saw the Gubinski family cheering for me. I smiled. I waved. I gave thumbs up. I slowed down.

Pain locker at Mile 5

I finally shifted into my lowest gear (32t). I made a big deal about changing that cassette and never once used the lowest gear. So I made sure to get my money’s worth. I climbed the 22% grade and looked at the time – 1:48. Yuck. Same as always.

Mt. Washington Cog Railroad

I was surprised. I thought I had done better. It’s about power to weight (ratio) and even though my weight is up this summer I felt good. This was the first hill climb where the “Quit Monster” didn’t hound me. Thoughts of Jake The Hero Grecco, Alex Shepherd, and Jamie Roberts carried me to the top. Every previous climb here I have had to fight not to quit or stop. Today was cool. Just climb. And since I didn’t use the easiest gear, I thought I might be going better than last year. I guess the wind or maybe cold slowed me down. Ah, it didn’t matter.

I don’t have power data but I do have heart rate data for my seven climbs:

2014 – 161.1/176 bpm
2013 – 161.8/173
2012 – 160.8/178
2011 – 153/173
2010 – 156/176
2009 – 158/177
2008 – 156/176

Alexa Gubinski powers to the finish (Credit: Alison Gubinski)

Each year I hit my max on the final climb. The last three years my average has been 161; before that, it was 156. I have no idea what all this means except I’m alive.


As far as perceived effort, my climb in 2008 was a 10. I want to think today’s effort was a 6, which is probably not what one wants to do in a race. But twice I almost stopped not to rest but to take a picture. The only reason I didn’t was it is so hard to get started on a 12% (or higher) grade.

Gubinski Family

Ashley found me, we took some pictures (seven times up the mountain!) and I found the Gubinski Family. Alexa came in at 1:20:30 and, as she would find out later, finished 5th in the Women’s Division. Lucas did well too, coming in under 1:15.

At the bottom, we enjoyed a great turkey dinner and said goodbye to our friends. I didn’t want to make this trip this year but am glad I did. Although it’s good to retire with seven straight climbs, I do have that new cassette, only used once (and with a low gear almost not used at all). Any takers?

Four finishers. Apparently I need coffee.

As for real racers, John Kronborg Ebsen beat Cameron Cogburn (and 516 others) to win in 52:53. Marti Shea won for the fourth time in 1:06:01.

“Shea hoped to finish the climb in under 65 minutes, but the cold and windy weather got in the way of that plan. The temperature was just over 40 degrees and winds about 35 miles per hour for a wind chill factor of 25 degrees when the top riders reached the summit.

“‘Down below, the weather was good,’ said Shea, ‘But around four miles the wind started, and then it was off and on – a side wind, then a head wind. I was losing body temperature. There have been a few races here with conditions like this, but this may have been the worst I’ve seen. Anyway, I’m happy about my fourth win.'”

Race Report Source: Facebook page of Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb
(16 Aug 2014)

My Strava time was 1:46:53. Not competing for anything other than PRs, this is more accurate than the cannon time since I am usually near the end of the group and can lose up to 90 seconds or so at the start. But this is point-to-point and is consistent over time. My PR is 1:42:15. I am, if nothing else, consistent. Consistently bad perhaps, but consistent.

Reflections on the Year – 2013


It was a year in which I once rode 109 straight days (a “ride” being defined as one of at least 10 miles), including breaking my collarbone only 10 days into the streak. And I didn’t miss a ride. For the second straight year I went over 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles). I finished with 6,350. But the year would end with incredible sadness.

In no particular order I present my Top Ten Moments of 2013

1. Meeting People on the Trail 

I met two groups of young people while riding along the W&OD. In May I
met a lost group from the University of Illinois, the Illini 4,000. I rode
with them to Vienna before saying goodbye.

Riders from the Illini 4,000

In July I met a group of young Orthodox Jewish women biking from Miami to New York City
with Bike 4 Friendship. When they told me they were riding to Baltimore
on U.S. Rte 1 I told them I would take them on safe roads instead. I ended up giving them an impromptu tour of D.C. then taking them through the Anacostia Trail System up to Laurel, Maryland so they could
avoid Rte 1.

Some of the Bike 4 Friendship Riders
in Front of the White House
Shaina Myers

2. Ride of Silence

I never participated in a Ride of Silence before and don’t want to again but I organized one for a fallen cyclist, James Callahan,
who was struck and killed by a 17 year old girl while he was riding on
the bike path next to the road. I had never met Mr. Callahan but it
seemed the right thing to do. Almost 40 riders including his family
members joined us for a silent slow 13-mile ride that honored his

Stopped at the accident scene where
a bagpiper played Amazing Grace

3. Trexlertown

Day weekend I joined friends from Spokes of Hope at Trexlertown, Pa. to
ride on the Velodrome as we honored pediatric cancer survivors. Our
featured survivor was Duncan Mitcheltree. As I entered the track his mother, Andrea, called my name. We had met last year at Jake’s funeral.

Barry, Duncan

4. Key to Keys

(Multiple Journal Entries)

In April I rode with the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adult’s inaugural Key to Keys
ride, a fundraiser from Baltimore to Key West. There’s nothing like the
community of survivors and people who hate cancer who come together
with a common cause. And when my group did not get a chance to ride across the
Seven Mile Bridge, on Sunday after the ride I did my own solo century ride
to and across the Seven Mile Bridge – twice.

5. Salisbury Trestle 

dad had never ridden across the Salisbury trestle at Meyersdale so in
July my sister, Betsy, and I rode with the octogenarian from Meyersdale
to Rockwood.

Barry, Betsy, Dad
At the Rockwood Entrance

6. Mount Washington

I thought last year would be my last time up Mount Washington. Then I met the Gubinski family and they asked me to come back and ride with them so they would have someone to beat. And I complied. My sixth straight year on that climb.

Alexa, Barry, Vic, Lucas

7. 4K for Cancer
An organization that has become close to my heart is the 4K for Cancer.
I rode with Team San Francisco on Day 1 from Baltimore to Alexandria; met
Team Portland on the Pike to Bike abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike on Day 2;
escorted them from Bedford to Ligonier on Day 3; and rode with them again in
Muncie, Indiana on Day 17.

4K on Allegheny Mountain at former Ship Hotel

8. Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Gran Fondo

Bishop’s Alpine Gran Fondo is a beautiful ride and is sponsored by the Prostate Cancer Awareness Project. As a prostate cancer survivor I was
invited to ride off the front with pros, Jeremiah Bishop, Joe Dombrowski, Cameron Cogburn and Ben King.

Pros on the Start Line

9. Ride the Rockies

(Multiple Journal Entries)

Ride the Rockies is simply the best multi-day tour I have found. Awesome vistas with screaming descents – four times I went over 50 mph. I rode with six time Tour de France rider, Ron Kiefel, and met George Hincapie, Bob Roll, and Connie Carpenter-Phinney.

Ron Keifel, Barry Sherry

10. Save a Limb Ride

A man grabs my phone as I am looking at Jens Voigt and Ben King and says “jump in – I’ll take your picture.” And it was none other than Robbie Ventura. At the Save a Limb ride I met Jens, Ben, and Robbie. Too cool.

Jen Voigt, Barry, Ben King
Barry, Robbie Ventura

In Memory of Scott

In August, my friend, Scott Scudamore, invited
me to Charlottesville for a practice ride with some kids from the Boys and Girls Club. They were getting in training miles to ride a Century (100 miles) in September and he promised me we would ride up Afton Mountain which “you will really enjoy.”

When the assignments were given out Scott was very apologetic because he was asked to mentor the youngest
rider on a shorter route than the other kids. He encouraged me to go ride with the other kids up Afton Mountain. I chose to ride with Scott. He
didn’t quite understand it was more about who you were with than where
you were going. It was my last ride with Scott.

On September 22 he was mountain biking at Bryce Ski resort in Virginia when he crashed and broke his neck. Very sadly and unexpectedly, he died from those injuries
on December 29.

Barry, Eli, Scott

You taught me that life is short and to live every moment to the fullest
May you rest in peace, my friend.

The Big Test Every Year


Six weeks ago I broke my collarbone and immediately tried to withdraw from this event. But I was past the cutoff time and after trying to sell my entry unsuccessfully, it was with great trepidation I decided to go to the mountain. Riding with the collarbone hasn’t been bad the past six weeks but it has prevented me from doing real hill training – not that there’s anything that compares to this mountain.

Riders at the start line (on the bridge). This was the last group to start.

Last year, the Gubinski family gave me a ride down and asked me if I would come back if they signed up. And so I did. Had I not signed the pact it would have been easy to skip this one. But I knew they would be at the mountain.

It was cold at the top

My heart wasn’t in this climb and even as I was driving towards New England on Thursday I often thought of turning around. I didn’t bother with finalizing hotel reservations until Wednesday.

The finish line at the Rockpile

The collarbone is pretty good now. It doesn’t effect me as I ride except occasionally out of the saddle if I twist the wrong way. It does, however, effect my sleep if I turn on my right side. So it’s not perfectly healed but I can do this.

The flags. The blankets. The coats.

But once I contacted the Gubinski family and asked if they still had a place for a rider (to bring down after the race) I felt more energized. We met yesterday at registration and were all set. Still, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d race.

The Mt. Washington Cog Railway
This flag was whipping in the wind on the summit

It was a gorgeous day. Sunny and temperatures in the mid 60s at the base. I decided to ride.

A rider near the top

As usual, I started last in the last group, the age 45 and older riders, which was so large it was divided into two groups, by alphabet. I started up the mountain with the usual thoughts. This hurts. Shut Up Legs. Keep the legs moving.

At times I thought about abandoning (aka quitting) but then thought about cancer. I am not a quitter. I will keep going unless I can’t. And even then I would find a way.

One of the nice views from the top. Wildcat Mountain is opposite.

The beauty of this ride is that time wasn’t important. Simply finishing would be a victory because there was no way I thought I’d be here after breaking my collarbone. I heal slowly.

Lucas (165) and Alexa (in black) at the start

I always remember a flat section but never found it. Every time I looked up, which wasn’t often, the road just kept going higher. The dirt section is still the dirt section. At the hairpin turn on dirt I was hit with a pretty vicious headwind. Hard to measure but we were told 40 mph winds.

A finisher’s medal and the bike bumper sticker

Soaked with sweat it was as though someone opened the freezer and turned the fan on high. Turbo high. I tried to get as low as possible while grinding up the dirt section.

I never checked my time. I just kept turning over the pedals. As I came to the final section a man I met at breakfast in the hotel called out “Virginia.” I stood briefly then as I turned the corner to the last 22% grade I stayed seated. Although I had alternated my position throughout the climb I guess it was just time to sit. I looked at the clock and saw 2:05 which was really 1:45 – less the 20 minute difference for starting later than the clock did.

Part of the Auto Road is visible in the left of this photo

My time, always consistent near 1:45, was just a time. I was quietly pleased that I had finished; I had fought off my own inner doubts about not being able to make it.

Within a couple of minutes I began to realize how cold it was. Just 41º (5ºC) and with 30 mph winds, the windchill was 29º (-1.7ºC). As the race organizers tried to cover me with a grey Polartec blanket, it was blown off. Before the woman could retrieve it I asked for a blue one. I have four or five grey ones already. I knew my wife would like blue.
Alison Gubinski found me and had my bag of clothes. I put on my jacket to keep me warm long enough before finding a nice place to change out of my sweat soaked clothes into my dry ones.

The 22% finishing grade at Mt. Washington
Credit: Vic Gubinski

It was a fun day. My friend, Jeremiah Bishop, took third overall. The Gubinski’s, riding, for the first time, all did well; Lucas made Top Notch (sub 1:20) and Alexa got on the podium in her age group. I wish I could take credit for their great results.

Alexa, Barry, Vic, Lucas

It was 1300 miles for an 8-mile race. But it seems to be the big test I face every year. Can I climb Mount Washington? And for this year, the answer was yes. And with a broken collarbone.

Alexa (L), on the podium


My Strava time, which is not official race time (which includes standing on the bridge waiting for others to start after the starting gun has sounded), was 1:44:55, which was my second best time on the climb. I did have a PR for the first 7 km which tells me the wind and the cold may have done me in. Or perhaps a lack of endurance due to the collarbone break.

My Last Hillclimb


This was the last time. Write it down. I don’t ever need to do this again.

On the way to Mount Washington

Although I had registered (and paid) for the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb back in February, as the week got closer I just wasn’t feeling it. With a crappy weather forecast pending, on Wednesday I canceled my three hotel reservations for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Early morning. Parking area filling up.

On Thursday, I reevaluated and decided I would do it after all. I traveled yesterday to New Hampshire. I found a hotel and was on the road by 8:00 a.m. It’s probably not the best way to prepare for a race — no exercise and riding in a car all day long.

Mt Washington in the distant background. Not the tall peak but the one to the left even farther away.

The Hillclimb requires every rider to have a ride down. And I didn’t have one. But that’s part of the charm of this race. Too late to pick up my packet at the Auto Road and meet someone in line willing to give a cyclist a ride down, I depended on an online forum. I posted my request at 7:00 a.m. and hoped that someone would call or text.

The favorites: Marti Shea and Tinker Juarez. Don’t know the others.

Twelve hours later I finally received a reply. I was called by Alexa Gubinski. She offered up her family to drive and I was able to sleep well not worried about my ride down.

Swag. My 2012 T-shirt.

This year was different than the past five years. I didn’t worry about the hillclimb when I slept. It was just another night except for the early wake up call.

The Gubinski Family Nicest. Family. Ever.

I arrived at registration early. Vic and Alison Gubinski and I met and talked for a while, all along while I was delaying them from going up too early and being too deep into the parking lots. It was a last-in-first-out operation. They took my bag of warm clothes and headed up the Auto Road.

Unlike years past, I wasn’t anxious or nervous. I knew the climb. I knew it would hurt. How much — I never remember from year to year. I think the mind prevents us from remembering too much pain.

View from the very back at the start

While my group, the last group, was already queued up, I was still in shorts and tennis shoes. Rather than an extended warm-up ride, I settled for a quick one-mile spin. I got in line with about 30 seconds to go and took my place at the back of the group. I was the last of the last.

My goals remained simple. Finish. Don’t stop. Don’t crash.

This is gonna hurt

I didn’t want to end my ride with a time that was worse than last year’s time but was resigned that time didn’t matter.

The starting gun went off and someone, near the back, asked if that was our group. I laughed. Yea, we weren’t moving. Although it may have taken just 20 seconds or so to roll out, it seemed much longer.

Tinker finished fifth. Credit: Vic Gubinski.

After a couple of hundred yards of flat the climb begins. And never stops. It’s 12% out of the box and just keeps it pegged there. I soon found where I belonged. Having started last I wasn’t in danger of being overtaken by anyone. It was just a matter of passing people.
Eventually, I settled in — almost all of the race was in front of me and the folks I passed were behind me. I was slowly passing some of my green group but also was catching purple (5 minutes ahead), blue (10 min.), and yellow (15 min.).

But the race isn’t about people other people – except for the top 20 or 30 who are actually racing. It’s about you. You and the mountain.

Almost. There.

Whether it’s mile one, two, or six, or every one of my 10,172 pedal strokes — at some point, the body says to quit. Or in my case, almost the entire way. And today was no different.
It’s always easier when everyone is moving even at the same pace. I found it much tougher when I pass people who are stopped or even slumped over their bikes. And I heard the clunking of gears behind me and then a scream of “oh shit!” as someone fell over. Been there.

Mia – The Chalk Monster

Two things kept me going. One was the thought of Jake The Hero Grecco. When I wanted to quit I thought of the fighting spirit of this little boy who kept going. I even called out for a blue butterfly but at this altitude, nothing was taking flight. And I kept thinking that this will be the last time I make this climb and I could not stop.

Looking up at the finish line

The weather was about 70° (21C) at the base but was quickly too hot. As I climbed, especially above the tree line, it got much cooler. At the summit, it was in the low 40s (5C) but with no wind.

Swag. My 2012 T-shirt. MWARBH

As I approached the base of the last 200 yards I saw Vic and heard the rest of the family cheering for me. That was nice. Although I didn’t see it at the time they had chalked my name on the pavement at the finish.

At the finish.

This was the only time that I actually raced. I had felt the presence of a rider coming up behind me and I didn’t want to get caught or passed at the finish. It makes for a bad photo. I lifted the pace and climbed up the 22% grade. I saw the clock and thought it was 2:02 (which was really 1:42) but it must have been 2:07.

As soon as I finished I was met at the top by Vic and his son, Lucas. Since they had my bag of warm clothes I quickly changed out of the jersey which was as full of sweat as any I can recall. I was sweating but with the cold air, the jersey and gloves weren’t wicking so well. It was great to change into dry clothes. Down at the car I was able to shed the shorts too.

Lucas Gubinski and Barry

At first, I thought I had a personal best on the climb but then learned I didn’t. But my best time came when I was about five pounds less which does make a difference. But it doesn’t matter. But it wasn’t my worst time either. It was exactly in the middle.*

Five times up this climb

There is an immense feeling of satisfaction in crossing the finish line. But I’m not so sure that feeling is still greater than the suffering on the way up.

But it probably is.

Photo credits: If I’m in it, Vic Gubinski. But I took the ones at the bottom of the mountain.

EPILOGUE – On February 1, 2013, I received an email from Vic informing me that Alexa, Lucas and he all signed up for this year and asked me to go along. I was so looking forward to Hillclimb retirement. But I’ll go back. This next one will be my last hillclimb.

*Actually, it was my second-best time. Some of this depends on where I am when the starting gun fires. But measured by the Strava segment defined as Mount Washington which is point to point, it was 1:46:48. Not great wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. Or was it?

Swag MWARBH 2012




“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?”

A Little Bit Nervous


This morning I was in Portland, Maine. It was a beautiful day for a ride and I rode out to the Portland Headlight.

Portland Headlight

On the way, I passed a statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Longfellow was born in Portland.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This is my last day on the flats before tomorrow’s cruel ride. It was a 20-mile ride just to keep the legs loose. And heck, enjoy the beautiful weather and views.

Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean. The Portland Headlight is just to the left of this frame.

Looking out to the Atlantic Ocean. The Portland Headlight is just to the left of this frame.

Portland, Maine

I went out through downtown Portland and crossed this bridge but came back via Broadway and a bike/rail trail where I snapped this photo.

Tomorrow’s ride: To say that’s I’m nervous would be, well, correct. It’s such a brutal climb.

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.


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