Great article by Jim Rutberg at USA Cycling profiling my return to racing, three national titles last year, and my preparations for the upcoming Masters Nationals in Augusta, Georgia!
It has been way too quiet around here. My excuse this time….I started riding my bike again. After almost two and half years off the bike it was fun to start riding again. Although this time I don’t think I will be doing any Mt Washington ascents!
August 28, 2003
By SKY BARSCH, Times Argus Staff Writer
WAITSFIELD – If you think the Appalachian Gap is difficult to drive over, you should meet Andrew Knight, and you’ll stop complaining.
He and about 800 other cyclists will be competing in this weekend’s Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce Green Mountain Stage Race, a bicycle race that requires competitors to peddle over Rt. 17, also known as “App Gap, ” a series of switchbacks up and down a steep hill. Knight is pleased the race brings riders over the gap, because last year’s Sugarbush Access road wasn’t challenging enough, he said.
The first race, the prologue, takes place on Friday at 3:30p.m., and will rank the competitors as they climb from Waitsfield to Huntington over the gap. It takes Knight just 15 minutes to complete the gap. On the second day, the race brings riders over the Middlebury Gap, the third is the App Gap but from the Huntington side to the Waitsfield side, and the fourth and final day brings riders to Burlington
Knight, 25, has only been seriously cycling for a tad more than two years, and has already earned enough points to be classified as a second tier contender by the United States Cycling Federation.
The South Burlington man placed fourth out of 600 competitors at the Mount Washington (N.H.) Hill climb Aug. 16, even though he got a flat tire four minutes before the start. Not bad, considering he only picked up cycling for fun after he injured himself running in college. Even the race coordinator, Gary Kessler, said he is impressed by Knight’s quick rise in the ranks of the cycling world.
Knight is looking forward to this weekend’s race that begins in Waitsfield on Friday. “It’s definitely my favorite. It’s probably my favorite because of all the climbing,” he said. Climbing is Knight’s specialty, he said.
To prepare for the event, Knight has been competing in the Green Mountain Bicycle Club’s weekly time trials in Essex Junction, climbing over Bolton Mountain, and what he calls the “ping-pong” workout: up and over the App Gap four times (that’s four times up and four times down.) Knight, with eight friends started a racing team this year, said he is excited to be sponsored by Louis Garneau, a Canadian cycling clothing company with a Newport facility.
“This is the big race for Labor Day weekend,” said Knight, who is a web developer with Gardener’s Supply in Burlington. He, along with other members of the racing community, said he is pleased the Mad River Valley is hosting the race after the Killington Stage Race fizzled a few years ago.
Visitors are encouraged to attend the event, that runs from Friday to Monday. For more information visit www.gmsr.info. Drivers should expect delays throughout the valley over the weekend.
The Mt. Washington Hill Climb is considered the toughest hill climb in the world. Here are the stats:
Summit Elevation: 6288 ft.
Base Elevation: 1565 ft
Elevation Gain: 4727 ft.
Length: 7.6 miles
Grade: avg.12%; extended 18%; final 100 yds. 22%
Road surface: 65% paved, 35% packed gravel
After realizing last year that I was a strong hill climber, I set this race as a big goal for the season. I trained hard all winter, did lots of hill repeats at Bolton Valley and App Gap, and built up a super lightweight 13 lb. “climbing” bike. A special thanks to Ian and Paul from Fitwerx for setting me up on the ultimate Mt. Washington bike.
In preparation for the big race I did the practice ride four weeks ago. It was a perfect day: sunny and winds out of the west at about 5mph. Weather conditions on Mt. Washington don’t get any better than that! In my first run up the mountain, I clocked a time of 59 minutes, and this included a 1 minute stop at mile 6.5 to fix a slipped rear skewer! I was pleased with the effort and knew I was ready. I used my 30×25 for almost the entire ride. This gearing worked pretty well, but since I am a spinner, I could have used a little more on the steeper sections. For the race I decided to throw a 27 on.
We got to the base of the mountain around 5:45am. We were going to give my friend Kevin a ride down so we used his car as base camp. I unloaded my stuff into Kevin’s car and we sent Crystal up the mountain early to get a parking spot at the top. I had gone through meticulous preparation in making sure I had everything I needed, but I made a critical mistake and sent my spare bike and wheels up with Crystal not thinking I would need them. I went through my standard 45 minute warm-up and then pulled up to the start.
This is where things start to get interesting. As I put my foot down, I get this weird sensation that my rear tire feels a little soft. My heart sinks. I reach down and squeeze the rear tire….definitely too soft! I quickly run over to one of the cars and grab a pump from someone. I pump the tubular back up to 130 and run the tire over my fingers…there is a piece of metal lodged in the tire that is causing the tire to leak. There was no way this wheel would make it an hour to the top. As a year’s worth of preparation flashes before my eyes, I go to plan B: I need a new wheel and fast… the race starts in 3 minutes! I see Phil Wong’s teammate Greg and he says Phil has a spare wheel in the car. I throw the wheel on quickly glancing at the cassette hoping that it might be a 25…no such luck- it is a 23 and there is no time to switch to my 27! This race just got a whole lot harder!
I get back over to the start line and take a few deep breaths to try and calm myself down. “BANG” The gun goes off. Tom Danielson, Phil Wong, Drew Miller, and Genevieve Jeanson take off. I let them go as my plan was to go a little more conservative in the first half as I overcooked the first 3 miles of the practice ride. After the first mile Scott Fiore comes by me and I get on his wheel. We pull back Miller by mile 1.5 but the other 3 are quickly pulling away from us. I was glad to have a wheel to stick on as the first 2 miles were pretty rough; at times I was struggling to stay on Scott’s wheel. By mile 3 I start to feel a little better and I pull by Scott to take over the pace work. He sticks on my wheel for the next mile but by mile 4 I have started to put a gap on him. Mile 4 is also our first western exposure as we come through the tree line the wind starts to pick up! As if this climb is not hard enough, now we have to deal with the wind! The next 400yards are tough with a full western exposure on our faces. I estimate the winds are blowing 15 to 20 at this point. I continue on and for the next mile the winds are not an issue as we are protected by the face of the mountain.
As I come through mile 5.5 I am greeted by a blast of wind, fog, and rain. Conditions just went from bad to UGLY! The winds are now blowing 30-40 mph but they are now more of a side/head wind! Visibility is about 30 feet, and taking your hands off the handlebars to grab some water was not an option! With the wind and my 23 I am really starting to bog down. I am having trouble getting my heart rate up and I begin to think this climb is never going to end. I hit mile 7 and the weather has continued to get worse. Winds are blowing 50mph and I can barely see anything in front of me now. Keeping the bike tracking straight is really an issue. I hit the 22% grade at the finish and my legs are about to explode. I can feel my rear tire slipping on the super slick pavement, but I make it to the top and finish. What an incredible ride!
Conditions at the top are CRAZY. Within a minute of stopping I am freezing cold. It had to be 45 degrees up there! Crystal runs over and gives me some warm dry clothes to put on. I finished in a time of 1:01:40 and was 4th place overall. I was the 3rd Male so I made the podium presentation at the bottom!
This past weekend the team headed to Massachusetts for the Tour of the Hilltowns Road Race. It is a straight shot down I91, so I decided to head down a day early and do the Mt Ascutney hill climb on Saturday. It would serve as a good warm-up for both Sunday’s race and Mt Washington in a few weeks. I had never done Ascutney, but I figured it could not be any worse than my Mt. Washington ride the week before!
Ascutney is a beast of a climb rising 2200 feet in only 3.7 miles. I went off in the lead group and after the first half mile I had opened up a gap. By the time I got to the first mile marker I was out of sight. I felt good and continued to power up the climb in my 30×25 gearing. I won with a time of 25:43! I found out later on in the day that the record was set last year at 25:29….now I know what to shoot for next year.
Mt. Ascutney State Park Bike Climb Bicycle Hillclimb - 3.7 MI. July 26, 2003 Mt. Ascutney State Park Auto Road Brownsville, VT Timing By: Granite State Race Services www.gsrs.com =============================================================================== PLACE DIV/TOT DIV TIME RATE NAME AG S RACE# CITY/STATE SPE ===== ======== ===== ======= ==== ====================== == = ===== ======================= === 1 1/16 M2034 25:43 8.6 Andrew Knight 25 M 375 South Burlington VT 2 2/16 M2034 28:01 7.9 Kurt Hackler 26 M 348 Bolton MA 3 1/45 M3544 29:14 7.6 Matt Seaton 38 M 477 Belmont MA 4 2/45 M3544 29:21 7.6 Rojean Boivin 36 M 309 L'ancienne-Lorette PQ 5 3/45 M3544 29:54 7.4 Doug Jansen 40 M 365 Pelham NH 6 1/30 M4554 30:00 7.4 Virgil Luca 45 M 383 St Leonard PQ 7 4/45 M3544 30:24 7.3 Kevin Bessett 37 M 306 Williston VT 8 3/16 M2034 30:57 7.2 Gregg Ferraris 25 M 338 Southington CT 9 5/45 M3544 31:00 7.2 Keith Guinta 40 M 347 Fairfield CT 10 4/16 M2034 31:06 7.1 Edgardo Torres 29 M 447 Norwalk CT 11 6/45 M3544 32:01 6.9 Brett Rutledge 41 M 428 Westboro MA 12 5/16 M2034 32:09 6.9 Hunter Pronovost 25 M 419 Cheshire CT 13 6/16 M2034 32:23 6.9 Samuel Wheeler-Marteni 32 M 461 Belmont MA 14 7/45 M3544 32:27 6.8 Bob Miller 44 M 395 Norwich VT 15 2/30 M4554 32:30 6.8 Jack Hutchinson 54 M 364 Deerfield NH 16 8/45 M3544 32:34 6.8 Richard Powell 43 M 416 Hanover NH 17 9/45 M3544 32:57 6.7 Rich Marquardt 37 M 388 Henniker NH 18 1/8 M0119 33:10 6.7 Josh Typrowicz-Cohen 17 M 452 Norwich VT 19 10/45 M3544 33:15 6.7 Dennis Oconnor 42 M 402 Orford NH 20 11/45 M3544 33:18 6.7 Charles Foley 40 M 340 Glastonbury CT 21 1/15 M5564 33:34 6.6 Bob Bortree 56 M 311 Stowe VT 22 12/45 M3544 33:48 6.6 Paul Charron 36 M 320 Essex Junction VT 23 3/30 M4554 33:50 6.6 Roger Costales 48 M 325 S. Burlington VT 24 7/16 M2034 33:53 6.6 David Day 33 M 329 Antrim NH 25 13/45 M3544 33:58 6.5 Daniel Doherty 41 M 332 Ctr. Conway NH 26 4/30 M4554 34:00 6.5 Robert Tobia 45 M 479 Peru VT 27 5/30 M4554 34:04 6.5 Kevin Haley 45 M 349 Vernon NJ 28 14/45 M3544 34:14 6.5 Eric Brandhorst 41 M 313 Carlisle MA 29 6/30 M4554 34:14 6.5 Fish Frusciante 52 M 342 Epping NH 30 7/30 M4554 34:33 6.4 Jim Odorisio 46 M 404 Chittenden VT 31 8/30 M4554 34:43 6.4 Steve Lavoie 46 M 470 Loudon NH 32 15/45 M3544 34:53 6.4 Andrew Watson 35 M 459 South Deerfield MA 33 9/30 M4554 34:54 6.4 Lloyd Crawford 50 M 326 Hawley MA 34 10/30 M4554 35:23 6.3 Ry Perry 53 M 411 Contoocook NH 35 16/45 M3544 35:25 6.3 Robert Swinburne 35 M 442 Brattleboro VT 36 35:49 6.2 Dale Apgar M 482 Hanover NH CLY 37 17/45 M3544 35:52 6.2 Bob Zock 35 M 466 Sutton NH 38 36:14 6.1 Jay Prewitt 417 Portsmouth TAN 39 36:19 6.1 Anne Marie Prewitt 418 Portsmouth TAN 40 11/30 M4554 36:26 6.1 Jim Arnold M 302 Cornwall VT CLY 41 18/45 M3544 36:44 6.0 Steve Vosburgh 39 M 458 Jackson NH 42 8/16 M2034 36:47 6.0 Neil Favreau 34 M 337 East Burke VT 43 1/7 F3544 36:58 6.0 Dominique Codere 44 F 324 Mt. Royal PQ 44 2/7 F3544 37:05 6.0 Heather Mckendry 38 F 391 Eaton NH 45 19/45 M3544 37:08 6.0 John Murphy 40 M 398 West Hartford CT 46 2/15 M5564 37:09 6.0 Rol Hesselbart 57 M 358 Heath MA 47 20/45 M3544 37:30 5.9 Clayton Dennis 41 M 330 Westport MA 48 2/8 M0119 37:30 5.9 Nicholas Crawford 16 M 327 Hawley MA 49 12/30 M4554 37:36 5.9 Joseph Bracchitta 45 M 312 Greenwich CT 50 3/15 M5564 37:39 5.9 Ken Peterson 59 M 412 North Brookfield MA Record 25:29 by Alan Obye in 2002. 7/26/2003 12:20AM
After racing a hard Fitchburg stage race the team decided to take July 4th off from racing. There was a local sprint triathlon in Shelburne that I decided to jump in. Here is my race report:
Preparation before the race:
On Friday I went out and practiced some hills on my Mt. Washington bike. I went pretty hard for 2 hours but it helped to loosen up my legs which were still sore from my run on Wednesday!
On Saturday I rode the course and scouted out the hills and what kind of gearing I wanted to use. Overall the course is pretty rolling. By Vermont standards I would call it flat but then again I think anything is flat when I am not using my 12-25 for this race I went with my 12-23 (53/39 up front)
Saturday night I worked on some of my transitions. T1 was going to be difficult; I decided I wanted to ride in my bike stuff as this is what I have been used to (bad idea). T2 I got down pretty well as I was just going to change my shoes.
Swim (500yds): The swim was a wet start so it was not crazy. I had a pretty good swim, came out of the water in 9:30. The first guy was out in 8 minutes so I figure the course was a little longer than the advertised 500yds. I made one mistake in the swim: I stood up way too early. It was not until after the race that I was told to swim all the way until your hand hits the bottom.
T1: This was terrible! The leaders official swim split was 9minutes. Mine was 11:30, so not only did I loose 1:30 in the swim but I lost 1 minute in the transition. This was a little frustrating as I had hoped to be closer than that.
Bike (15.6mile): This went well. I passed most people in the first few miles. This opened up the road and I was able to get in a rhythm. I passed everybody on the bike except for the leader. I came within 30 seconds but needed a few more miles to catch him. My official bike split was 35.13 (26.57mph).
A few notes from the bike:
I had a little problem with my butt cramping up in the first few miles of the bike was not expecting that! I had difficulty getting my heartrate up most of the time it was low 170’s (I usually TT at low 180’s).
I felt “ok” on the bike not great…a bike leg is a little different that a flat out TT!
T2: This went fine. Took the helmet off, got the running shoes on and I was off!
Run (5k): I left the run 30 seconds down on the leader but never got any closer. The run actually felt ok from I was really surprised that the first half mile was not bad at all. My stomach was not great but I think that would improve with some “brick” workouts. My official run split was 21:20 (6:53 pace). I ended up holding my position; finishing 2nd overall and winning my age group (25-30). The winner was Tim Watson who I found out later was a former pro. He ended up running 6 minute pace and smoked me on the run.
Overall, it was a fun day and hopefully I will get to do another tri in September. I will definitely get some Louis Garneau tri-gear and swim/bike/run in all the same clothing. God that T1 was bad. Nothing like trying to get your bike jersey on over a wet body that is just asking for problems!