First ever ride report....
This was my 2nd time on Mountains of Misery. The start was a bit different; they started the riders in 10 successive waves, with 30-40 riders in each group. The stated intention was to more quickly spread riders of different abilities out over the course, and it seemed to work as I had occasional moments with no riders visible in front of me or in back of me.
I got out in the 4th wave. There was a light drizzle at the start which persisted intermittently for about the first 3 hours of the ride. Temperature was in the high 60's at the start and rose to about 80 during the ride, so the drizzle was actually refreshing once I got going, but I finally took off my sunglasses and kept them off for most of the ride. The drizzle plus the humidity just meant foggy lenses, so it was better to ride without them.
The first 24 miles is rollers superimposed on a gradual elevation gain. The rollers aren't very steep (that comes later) and the main thing that happens is the riders are sorting into groups. I started to fall in with the riders I was leapfrog passing for most of the rest of the day.
At mile 24-28 you descend about 1200 feet, with half of that done in the last mile. It was a bit tricky, the riders bunched up, the road was wet, and that made a really fun twisty descent a little less fun than the last time. It's important to enjoy this descent, because what goes down must go up---way up--later on.
Miles 28-60 is a very gradual rise punctuated by 4-5 rollers which are steep enough to get your attention. My HR was spiking up to 175 as I struggled to stick with the fast group I was in. In the first 60 miles I only stopped once, since that was a critical part of the strategy for a better overall time. Last time I did 9:28 total time (did I mention there is a lot of climbing in this ride, 9,000 feet worth), and I was looking for 8:59 or better.
At mile 60 you reach "the first big climb" which is only 2.3 miles long, but you gain 1,000 feet in that distance, with grades that peak at 15-18% (GPS records it, and cheerfully displays it for you as you climb.). Mainly because of this ride, I have a triple with a 12/27, and I used it. HR went to essentially 100%, about 180-181, but I didn't stop and made the top in 25 minutes at a blistering 5.2 mph. There is a much appreciated rest stop at the summit.
Miles 62-72 are a well earned descent and some flats. I picked up a fast paceline and the good folks in it didn't mind my shameless wheel sucking as they pulled me along at 24 mph. It was a welcome respite, because miles 72-82 are a "filler" loop to bring the ride up to a full century, and this loop starts out deceptively pleasant as you follow a 1% descent along a beautiful mountain river. However, the rest of the loop is filled with nasty rollers that have 15%+ grades. It was on these rollers that I felt the first twing in my knees, thinking "What the hell is THAT?".
Miles 82-92 are some up and down, but nothing dramatic, but the knee pain was increasing. After a brief run downhill parallel to another beautiful river, you start up, steeply. At this point, I was on 30/27 gearing on any climb to baby my knees (IT band friction, if anyone has any suggestions...) and the climbs were tough and slow. Rest stop at mile 92. Short up and down climb, but with an 11% grade, then rest stop at mile 96. Yes, only 4 miles between rest stops, and the next one is at mile 99.
At mile 96, the final climb begins. It is about 6 miles (102 mile ride) of unrelenting climbing. The grade never goes below 8%, averages about 14% and hits peaks of over 20%. I didn't believe this the first time I rode MoM, even though the GPS recorded it, but another rider with a GPS confirmed that he got the same numbers. So, up you go for 3 miles to a rest stop at mile 99. At this point the sun is out, it's 80 degrees and humid with no shade.
I managed 2 more miles of constant 12-14% climbing, my knees now throbbing. I stopped 3 or 4 times, rested, and then pedaled across the road to clip back in and manage a few more hundred yards before repeating. Finally, about 1.5 miles from the end, I did something I've never done before: walked up a hill. About 200 yards from the finish they have volunteers who help you back on your bike so you can finish on the bike. They're great about this, and they do the whole thing around a bend just out of sight of the finish, and believe me finishing this ride is an achievement.
In the end, I managed a time of 8:34, nearly an hour faster than the last time. I was quicker to the final climb, but then gave back 20 minutes, spending 85 minutes for the final 6 miles.
Today, it is lots of motrin and ice and at least a week off the bike. Perhaps this is partly a bike fit issue(?) but it has never happened before, including the last time on MoM.
This is a great ride, scenic and (ahem) challenging. Except for the final climb and the one at mile 60, it is a medium difficult century. After the final climb on MoM you will never look at another climb with any sense of intimidation.
And, I saw a Plus 50 Jersey. Are you out there Jon Erickson? I know you finished ahead of me...