Wachusett Mountain Ride

Today I rode 87 miles from my house to the top of Mount Wachusett and back. I’ve done this ride a couple times before. Well, not exactly this particular route but something similar, each one just a little different.

I’ve been yearning to do this ride for quite a while. Recently, I had been building up distance on Speed Junkie and then following that up with a shortish ride on my road bike, cobbling together 45, 55, and then 65 miles before taking a week off for the triathlon. I love going fast on my new bike, but I enjoy a good destination ride even more. Now that the triathlon is over and the century is less than two weeks away, it was time to get some good distance in the legs and see how they feel.

They felt pretty good. 100 miles should be totally doable, although maybe not at today’s crazy pace. I hadn’t meant to ride this fast—not that it was super-fast—and by the time I was home I was wicked tired.

Let me back up. I left the house around 6:45, headed northward over the rolling hills, and averaged about 16.5 mph. Then I got to the mountain.

I went slow. It was my plan. Technically, it was my recovery week, and I didn’t want to overdo it, so I sat in—well, if there were a pack I would have “sat in”—geared down and just took it easy. And then I heard the telltale signs of someone coming up behind me . . . on a bike. He didn’t seem in any rush to pass me, and I didn’t feel any particular need to look back and see the inevitable. Eventually, he pulled even, we chatted briefly through the pain, and then he finally passed me on the last, final kick to the top.

Turns out, the guy (Scott) lives one town over from me, so we decided to ride back together. Since he passed me on an uphill, I let him know that I might be a bit slower than him and that it’s no big deal if he needed to drop me and get on with the rest of his ride. He said not to worry.

So we bombed down the mountain road (which is still closed to traffic until next Saturday) occasionally hitting speeds in excess of 45 mph and headed south and east. I was testing my blood sugar at the summit when we made our introductions, so we talked (when the road was wide and had a shoulder) about diabetes and his celiac diagnosis last decade and how chronic illnesses suck. When the road was narrower or busy, I did my best to pull, but mostly I drafted. Well, that is until I started getting dropped. The guy was nice enough to periodically slow a bit and let me catch up, but I started to fade after the 70th mile. My plan to have an easy trip home turned into me gritting my teeth and having a two-hour tempo ride, as I tried to hold his wheel, lost it, and then cranked to get back to him. Oh well.

Five miles from home, we exchanged phone numbers and said that we should go for a ride sometime. Maybe next time I’ll be in a little bit better form.

Until then, I have a century to ride with Scully and Heather and Scottie J—which I plan on doing at a more reasonable pace—and a training plan that I’m going to stick to more closely . . . well, except for the century.

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2 Responses to Wachusett Mountain Ride

  1. How could you not like the guy – with a name like “Scott”, he had to be a winner!

    I think going that fast (45 mph?!?!?!!) would be terrifying!! Can’t wait to hear all about it. In person! w00t!!

  2. Jeff Mather says:

    People named “Scott” are pretty awesome!

    I dunno. 45 MPH doesn’t feel scary to me. If you believe that you can do it safely and have trust in your bike and your handling skills, it’s just a matter of paying attention to your surroundings. It’s all finesse and awareness. For me, the key is making sure that I give myself enough reaction and braking time. I would only go this fast when I can see what’s coming up ahead or out of the bushes. I don’t take corners at anywhere near this speed.

    The quickest I’ve ever been on a bike was somewhere between 50 and 55 mph. I hit that when I was riding down the mountain outside Casper, Wyoming, where I lived as a teenager. That road was really steep, very smooth, very straight, and had tremendous sight-lines. At 15 or 16, I was still too young to know any better. It was a thrill, though.

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