Before the start, Len Z. and I discuss our more mellow approach to riding (photo by Christine Newman)
The NYCk 200k is not just a classic brevet. It is one of my favorite bicycle rides, period. And the 2011 edition was perhaps my favorite ride of the course of the four that I’ve done.
The Bear Mountain climb is a little less than five miles, starting from the base at the Hudson River past the right turn onto Frances Perkins Drive to the top and its inspiring views of the Catskills. The grade is probably 6-7 percent, nothing terribly steep. But it usually takes a half an hour or more to climb. A lot of the later section is out in the open.
This year I rode the NYC 200k with fellow Cyclepaths club members William E. and Mitch M. We deliberately tried to conserve our energy in the 40 miles before the big climb. For that reason, perhaps, and maybe because I used a slightly lower gear, I felt more comfortable on the ascent.
I managed to get into a good rhythm and actually felt reasonably good on the last section up Perkins, where I had typically faded in the past. My power meter numbers back this up.
All in all, I did my fastest climb of Bear Mountain, finishing the whole thing in 28:53. The power numbers were much better than in the climb I did with Shane and Bob a month ago. My 20-minute power, for example, was 235 watts this time, compared with 202 then.
I think my climbing form has improved a big lately. I climbed Lindbergh generating 305 watts for five minutes, one watt less than the highest reading for that climb in New Jersey’s Sourlands ridge.
My goal-less summer is not quite goal-less, either. I’m planning on doing a couple of centuries before I’m done, maybe one or two at a fast pace, depending upon how the rides go. I’m actually enjoying the mellower me.
In the NYC 200k, William and Mitch rode the whole way with me and seemed to enjoy themselves, too. We were joined by Ted from Connecticut and later Zach from New York. Even the final climb up Churchill at the end, always an unwelcome finish, seemed more manageable. I actually recorded my highest 2-minute power reading, 319 watts, up that climb.
Pacing was a lot better for William and Mitch this year. Using my power readings, last year we reached the controle in Stony Point at mile 35 at an average 137 watts. We averaged only 107 watts the last 90 miles. This year we breezed into that control averaging only 120 watts, but finished the rest of the ride with an average of 129 watts. Clearly, we left something in the tank this time.
We finished the ride in 11:21, an hour faster than last year, when William and Mitch struggled in the heat and not having low enough gears. Experience counts for a lot on brevets, of course. And there is something transforming about a beautiful ride on a nice summer day.