Race to the Top of Vermont

Since we were in Northern Vermont for the 24 Hours of Waterbury, it was convenient to drive a little farther north to squeeze in a short but fun and painful bike race. Debbie had opted to only run 12 hours (rather than 24), so that left the option for me to ride in the third annual Race to the Top of Vermont. The race is a fundraiser for the Catamount Trail Association, a sister club to our beloved Green Mountain Club.

The race is a mini-epic up the toll road to the summit parking lot on Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. You don’t quite get all the way to the top of the mountain, but the finish line is still quite a ways up there, at 3,850 feet. This is the highest road in Vermont and the numerous switchbacks on the 4.3 mile road were difficult. My Garmin GPS captured the course, which I completed in 42:20, good for 9th place. I was bummed to only get 4th in my age group because the top three got a very nice mug and a pair of Darn Tough socks. Oh well, I should have trained harder!

New England hill climbs have become popular, particularly as fundraisers. The wild success of the Mt. Washington Road Race and Mt. Washington Bicycle Hill Climb has spawned many other copy cat races up peaks in New Hampshire and Vermont. The Mt. Mansfield race is unique for many reasons. Runners, cyclists, and hikers share the (dirt) road. The runners and hikers started at 9:00 A.M. and the mountain bikers started an hour later. The road is paved for 1/4 mile before turning to smooth gravel. Mountain bikes with minimum 2.0 inch tires are mandatory to level the playing field. To my knowledge, it is the only hill climb in New England that mandates mountain bikes, but it is also the only one mostly on dirt.

In the bike race, the men’s winner was Kip Roberts, who finished in a rapid 36:21. I heard it was done on a single speed, which makes me feel even worse about my time! Second place was Matt Mainer and third place was 15-year-old Tyler Berliner, which makes me feel old! The first woman biker was Marilyn Ruseckas in 43:26. She is going strong at 50+, which is inspiring and makes me want to take back my comment about the 15-year-old. She wasn’t far behind me! Audrey Huffman was second and another strong 50+ veteran rider, Donna Smyers, was third.

In the run, which drew more than 300 entrants, the course record was broken by Andrew Gardiner in 34:49. He bested last year’s winner and previous record holder, Jim Johnson. Eric Morse was third. For the women, first place went to Sara Facteau. Second was Natalia Severy and third was Vicky Jasparro.

The view from the top was spectacular. The weather was amazing and the sky was a deep blue that you can only get in the mountains in late August. I warmed up for the race by riding a legendary road. Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch is a legendary stretch of road. I remember it from the days of the old school Stowe Road Race. I miss that race and I miss that road. I climbed up its famous switchbacks and snapped some photos. I vividly remember going up those steep cliffs on the Long Trail five years ago during our end-to-end hike.

Riding up through Smugglers’ Notch and then up to the Mt. Mansfield toll road on the same morning was a real treat. Debbie was a real sport, having just run 42 miles the day before at the 24 Hours of Waterbury. She returned to Mommy duty with no complaints and let me have a morning of fun. She hiked over from Stowe’s Midway Lodge to watch at the two-mile mark with our daughter.

The post-race bash was a lot of fun with a bluegrass band and lots of smiling folks reveling in the great weather. The hills of Vermont were alive this past weekend.

Race Results

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@thecubscouts #pinewoodderby never gets old. Pack 157 Bolton, Connecticut #cubscouts So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏

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