Mount St Helen’s Climb

Last Sunday. Six other riders. I was the youngest, average age, 56-57. Seems like in my circle of friends, 60 is the new 40. 74 miles, 6,500+’ of elevation. Twenty two relentless miles at 6-7%, followed by a screaming 7-8 mile descent, followed by the final 7-8 mile climb to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. It’s a bit harder enjoying the screaming descent (max 42 mph) when you know you’ll be climbing up the other side of the road in relatively short order.

Jamie and I separated from the other five halfway up. Then it was mano y mano. At the beginning of the final ascent, at mile 30, he gapped me. I sat 5-15 seconds back until the final half mile when I overtook him for the mountain top stage victory. Max heart rate. Time to the top, 2:38. Time down, 1:50. Average speed, 16+.

I enjoy going “mod-hard” over medium to medium-long distances. When climbing for miles or running long distances for time I enjoy the challenge of getting into a sustainable rhythm and then sitting right on the edge for an hour, two, or three.

I celebrated the ascent by carefully crafting and then eating a nearly life-size mint chocolate chip replica of the volcano.

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