Monday, September 10, 2007

Burke Mountain Hill Climb

Friday morning I had an email from a riding acquaintance from the Berkshires asking me to do the team competition in a hill climb race up Burke Mountain in North Vermont on Saturday. I had to be in Vermont for a wedding later that day, the prize list was good, and it sounded pretty fun in a masochistic sort of way. All I knew about the climb was that Sara Cushman reported that Shauna Gillies-Smith said it was the hardest climb she's ever done - and this is the Shauna who routinely raced cross right up to the point of almost blacking out. The race was so low key I can't even tell you, a window into this cult sport of hill climb races, one I never thought I would dabble in. Warming up (one of two on trainer/rollers), I overheard a conversation between two older guys: One said "oh I am going to do some more road races this season," and the other replied "road races - I don't see well enough to do those anymore." And there was another guy there, in his 70s, riding a mountain bike covered in bumper stickers - "This bike climbed Mt Washington" and such - racing in leather work boots and toe clips. I guess he's a regular on the circuit! The team competition was based on the cumulative time of one man and one woman. My teammate Jeff Daigle had a 22-26 on his bike, and needless to say I was a bit overgeared with my 34-27. It was pretty much 30 minutes of low cadence grinding on 12-20% grade, trying to go as hard as possible without blowing up and ideally finishing ahead of all the other women. We did it, and won the team competition. So now I have a season pass to Burke Mountain, which means I might be forced to take up tele skiing again. On the way to the wedding, I went swimming at the GMSR circuit race finish - why haven't I done this before!!?? At the wedding (right above Kenyon's Field) I confirmed with a friend that this super-steep Burke Mountain was indeed the hill he roller-skied down (as in training devices for cross-country skiing that lack brakes) and remarkably did not crash on when one of the roller skis lost a front wheel at 40 or 50 mph. Now he is a physician.


Amy Dombroski said...

Ahh, I almost did this hillclimb, but my brother's wedding was the same day!! I went to Burke Mtn Academy for high school, so I did my fair share of rides up the mountain - it's a fun one! Glad to hear you won!

Anna Milkowski said...

Amy - Excellent, I am sure you would have loved it (and they would have loved you), and given the men a run for their money! I was counting on the competition being at weddings or confused as I was about whether the "Burke Mountain Bike Race" was a mountain bike race or not. My sprinter-climber quest continues... See you at some cross races!