In April of 2012 (one year ago) I rode the Wilmington Whiteface 100k course for the first time. My goal was to ride it easy and just learn the course. What I learned on that ride was that my training pace and my race pace were basically the same thing. It was all I could do to get up the climbs. I walked a lot that day.
Saturday I had my last long ride before Leadville and this was the profile:
That boys and girls is about 10,000ft of climbing in a 70 mile bike ride. The first 50 miles are the Wilmington Whiteface 100 course. The last 20 miles are the road to the top of Whiteface Mountain on the Memorial Highway.
Let me start with what I learned on the Wilmington course:
1. I now have more than one speed that I can go up climbs. I can comfortably ride my bike up a 15% grade, not go into my smallest gear, and not blow myself up. (Or I can ride it much faster.) I now have a comfortable riding pace for some pretty steep trails.
2. I can ride my bike up a 25% grade gravel/loose dirt road. Its not easy, and I really have to work to keep my bike under control, but I can do it.
The last 20 miles of this ride is a 8 mile, 3500 ft climb on a paved road to the top of Whiteface Mountain. I wanted to try this climb because it is the longest climb I have ever tried (and it turns out the Columbine climb is about that long, with about that much gain. There are a lot of other differences, but its the best I can do). That climb is uniquely brutal. It is a constant 10% grade climb. And when I say constant I mean it is absolutely constant. It never deviates. It never gets harder or easier. Its 10% for 8 miles. I have never been on a hill like that before.
Here’s the deal. I climbed it, with a 25 mph head wind, after riding 50 miles.
I’ve come a long way.
But there is still a long way to go. 20 days to Leadville.