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June 13, 2013 - John Stack
When I moved up here from Newburgh (The armpit of the Hudson Valley) thirteen years ago, I thought I’d fall off the face of the earth. I was truly excited to move to the area, mostly for the winter pursuits, such as skiing. I thought I’d be so bored I’d pick up golf. (I did pick up golf, but not until 10 years later). In that time, I have found this area to be just about the most ideal spot on Earth, especially for someone like me. If you like doing things outside – this area is Mecca. Downhill skiing, running, biking, hiking, racing, triathlon, hockey – you name it, we’ve got it.
But there are so many things here, that a lot of it goes unnoticed. A lot is overshadowed by the big stuff, such as the Olympic venues and world class sporting events. Not just events, but places and things to do may be overlooked because of how they get experienced. Many downstaters have probably turned off 73 in Keene to take rt 9 through Jay to get to Whiteface. But, that stretch cannot truly be appreciated in a car. Take a beautiful sunny day in July and ride that stretch on a bike. I have often trained on this (Its part of the Ironman course) and riding up by the Ausable is gorgeous. I often think”I wish my friends and family could experience this”.
There is an event that I, and many other locals love and participate in that most don’t know about. It’s the Placid Planet Time Trials out on River Rd on Wednesdays for 6 weeks from May til June. The concept is quite simple. Everyone gets a number, you line up in order, and racers take off at 30 second intervals. The course is approximately 8 miles, with a turn-around just before Rt 86 at the opposite end of River Rd. At the end – everyone has a time. It’s pure competition. Lowest time wins. You. The bike. Your legs. ALL OUT. The allure may be that it is relatively short – I can do it in just under 21 minutes on a fast day. You are at complete aerobic maximum the whole time. There are no race tactics. You either balance pushing too hard and blowing up, or going at 99% and losing time. Many make it to the turnaround way too fats and pay for it on the way back (which often has a wind coming at you).
It’s tough to get your heart rate real high on a bike. When I run, my HR is in the 150s. When I pick it up, the mid 160s. A sprint at the finish? Maybe 180. Last night I did a 30 mile bike ride with my buddy Phil. I don’t think my HR broke 135 for 28 of those miles. On a monster hill, I maybe hit 160. Once I hit 175 earlier this year on that hill, and had to abandon the hill. 3 weeks ago I wore a heart rate monitor during time trials. I averaged 175. I wasn’t below 175 after the first quarter mile. If your chest isn’t in pain and you aren’t heaving at the end – you haven’t done it right. No. This isn’t one of those pursuits where I talk about stopping and smelling the roses. Or the camaraderie during the experience. You experience it alone.
It is where you show off your basic speedy junkie/adrenaline rush/mind over matter Jones. I am somewhat competitive still, but I didn’t know how much til recently. Reently I wrote about Loring Porter (original Saranac 6er). Well, the Wednesday before 6er weekend, Loring beat me by 3 seconds. At the time, I didn’t know Loring from Adam. Only seen his name in the results. I have since met Loring and his wife Colleen and they seem like 2 great people. That is now. This was then. After he crushed me (my friends and most other people) in the 6er, I decided I had to beat him at Time Trials. I lined up about 10th. I knew the few people directly behind me, and I was faster than them so I wouldn’t be passed (except at maybe the very end by a really fast guy starting 3 minutes behind me). At the turn around, I was pushing it and caught the girl who started directly ahead of me. I passed her and pushed on. A few seconds later I notice a figure passing in my peripheral vision.(My eyes hardly waver – head down, looking just up the road). “Who the heck is that?” I thought. It was the girl I had just passed. We then had a dogfight to the finish over the last 10 minutes in the best bike race I’ve had since the Blackfly Duathlons. To make it better, we were challenging each other to go faster. I would yell “Don’t let me catch you!” and such. It wasn’t a hatred type of race, just two people going all out, pushing harder than if they were alone. We must have passed each other 4 times. Any time your cadence dropped for 5 seconds, the other was there. Like a madman, with 100 yards do go, I was in my drops racing like the Tour De France was on the line, passing her 15 yards from the finish. It was completely exhilarating. I did set my fastest time in wet conditions. It was awesome to have an evenly matched competitor push me beyond what I thought I could do. I even caught it all on my GoPro video I jury-rigged to my aero bars . To see what it is like to race this, check out the video. It can’t show how hard I pushed or my breathing or the pain, but it’s a good point of view. Oh. The girl I raced? Colleen Porter...
The time trials are now over for another year. I all ready am planning on being better prepared next year (I won’t be training for the 6ers ironically). If you want a full on pure all out challenge, come out for this. If you want a relatively leisurely ride for at sub maximum HR, try Rt 9 from Keene to Jay on a sunny July day.
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