Mt. Baker Hill Climb Festival 542 September 12, 2010
Mt Baker Hill Climb - wet, wet, wet. Andrew Graham
My Saturday afternoon recon of the top of Mt Baker went well - sun peeking through the clouds, warmish, and I was primed for the race on Sunday. I was looking forward to all those switchbacks at the summit. In hindsight I should have pulled the bike off the back of the car and down a little climb and the big downhill.
On Saturday night there was some beer flowing at Graham's, my namesake pub, but then after my girlfriend Christine and I squeezed into the tent the rain started to come down. And didn't stop. I slept terribly, and found out a cheap Wal-Mart tent doesn't cut it in the Pacific Northwest summertime rain.
Come Sunday morning it was still raining, steadily, and the course was shortened, as there was zero visibility above the ski lodge. I took off with the recreational fast group, and stayed in the top 5-10 of the leading pack until the base of the climb. Could have pushed that section harder I think, but no sense driving the pack and using all that energy.
Although at the front of the pack I didn't have to drink all the mud spray coming up from the wheels!
Once the climb started I slowed waaay down and dropped off the lead pack. They all got strung out ahead of me and it took a while for me to find a wheel to hang on to. I started to sweat heaps, and had to unzip my plastic spray jacket to cool off - is gore-tex the answer to sweat removal in wet conditions??
I followed a wheel most of the way to the top, until we cleared the tree line with about 2k to go and the wind picked up. Then it was every man for himself in a "sprint" to the poorly marked finish line.
Thankfully the organizers had provided heaters and a lot of food at the top, so I stuffed myself, tried to stay out of the rain, and hung out with the other shivering racers. I decided to get a ride down the hill with my support crew, rather than risk the slippery roads - downhills are no fun in the wet!
So, I can cross this race off my list, with a time of 1:31:19 even if we didn't quite get all the way to the top. I guess this was a great intro to fall cycling training!