Hillclimb Feature Presentation 5; Thomas Dineen

“The Hardest Race on Earth”

I signed up for the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in New Hampshire –called “the world’s most difficult feat in uphill cycling” by Smithsonian —mostly to train for the equally brutal SavageMan 70.0 Triathlon, named “The Hardest Race on Earth” by Triathlete magazine.

I’d wanted to test my masochistic limits at SavageMan in Appalachian Western MD, since hearing about it years ago and was registered for it in 2014, yet deferred. I’d failed to prepare sufficiently for the 6,700+ feet of climbing on its bike course and figured that training (and paying $400) to go up Mt. Washington this year would compel me not to put off SavageMan any longer. At 6,288 feet, Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast.

With no serious bike climbing experience, my goals on Mt. Washington’s 11.9 percent grade, 7.6-mile auto road were straightforward: finish without getting hurt or feeling more miserable than necessary, and ride my bike all the way up without having to dismount and push it. (Truth is, most reasonably fit great-grandmothers could walk up the Mt. Washington Auto Road while pushing a bike. Cycling up seemed the more significant achievement.)

How steep is a road grade of 11.9 percent?

If covered with snow or ice, many people would slip or fall walking up. To climb it, motor vehicles must be in first or second gear. And no cyclist may—after this race or at any other time—descend the Mt. Washington Auto Road. It’s just too steep for most bikes and riders to handle, and going off the edge could easily be fatal. Washington also has sustained sections of 18-22 percent grade plus a precipitous mile of packed gravel with loose stones, making traction a challenge on skinny road bike tires.

Doubting that I could even complete the climb, I found inspiration in a book review an uncle sent me of Max Leonard’s Lanterne Rouge, a history of the last cyclist to finish the Tour de France in various years. Such riders are wryly dubbed the lanterne rouge, in reference to the red lantern that hung on the last car of old trains.
As one reviewer put it, “We fans know that there is no dishonour in finishing last, for we know that the lanterne rouge is really the last rider who did not fall along the way, not the rider who finished last. As such he represents for us all those who did not make it…”

I came across many of the latter during my ascent…those brave enough to try and likely determined to return and have another go.

In addition, not worrying about being last would help me relax during the climb, avoid injury, and take in the sublime scenery of the White Mountains more than if striving to shave seconds off my time. Also on my mind was philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s exhortation to live according to self-generated values, rather than the values of others (in this case, others who cycled fast). What I valued was completing the climb without undue misery, no matter where I placed.

The night before the race, I chatted with a friendly Lutheran pastor from Massachusetts, who had completed the race a year before with similar snail-like goals. He said that last year, many riders bolted off the starting line only to be passed by him in the first miles, their energy spent.

He also confirmed what I’d long assumed: that doing the “paperboy”—cycling in an S-shape as if delivering papers to different sides of a street—would help counter the unrelentingly steep grade when the going really got tough. His story was especially moving because he had done the race despite a fear of heights…Mt. Washington has many vertiginous views, with no guardrails to prevent falls.

I was on my relatively heavy, entry-level triathlon bike, with its two brakes, two derailleurs, and large, superfluous aerobars—all adding extra weight, along with the many extra pounds I carried around my soft midsection, my stockiness an inauspicious contrast to the 135-pound elite male cyclists on hand. I was right down there with the loony also-rans on tandems, heavy mountain bikes…even unicycles.On race morning, I immediately noticed that all the serious-looking riders were on stripped-down road bikes with tiny front chain rings and large rear cassettes. This offered many low-gear options. To reduce weight and and enhance climbing efficiency, these bikes had only one brake and derailleur.

Last over the starting line, I began the race with a young unicyclist and his middle-aged road-biker dad. When I asked about his background, he turned out not to be a carnival performer, but rather a novice unicyclist. He fell hard on his rear a few seconds later (as he did several times after), yet remained chipper as he remounted. I found this chipperness momentarily threatening: Did he and his father plan to stay in the race despite the falls and achieve lanterne rouge? Soon enough, they sped up and I was out of danger.

I also passed a guy who fell off his mountain bike with what looked like a broken crank. Not sure if he got back in the race. Then came the most dramatic mishap of the day. I heard a crash ahead and saw a bearded, portly fellow resembling a 19th-century sea captain fall right off the edge of the road. I went over to see what I could do, as he lay 15 feet down the tree-covered slope, unharmed. He pulled himself and his bike up with a grin, declaring: “First tragedy of the day!”

My plan was to use my two lowest gears the whole way, trying to stay in second (34×32) as long as possible, until feeling compelled to go down to first (34×36). This resolution lasted less than a mile, as I soon understood why most riders had, unlike me, wisely fitted their bikes with even lower gears.

I worried that I might not make it pedaling in a straight line, even in first gear, up the steeper stretches of 15 percent plus. So I tried reducing the grade by resorting to “the paperboy,” turning in repeated S patterns. This helped tremendously once I found my rhythm and optimal turning width. I actually began to enjoy the climb, confident that I’d make it to the top as long as I took it easy.

Even in these first miles, several riders were dropping out or already pushing their bikes up the road. I suppose “pushers” should be allowed to collect a finisher’s medal. But somehow pushing instead of riding violated the spirit of the climb to me. The race is called the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, after all, not “…Bicycle (and Bicycle-Pushing) Hillclimb.”

That said, I did stop several times for less than a minute to stretch my back, the lower part of which started aching. But stopping briefly is a different category of break-taking than spending lots of time pushing. Should stopping be illegal? It would be nearly impossible for officials to monitor, and one can hardly imagine a cyclist being disqualified for stopping to address a flat tire or drivetrain issue.

But pushing is more problematic. I’m reasonably sure I could have finished faster by combining cycling with walking or running (while pushing or carrying my bike) than by cycling only. Race organizers ought to consider this matter. I mean, can you really claim that you “cycled up Mt. Washington” if you pushed your bike half the distance? Still, with a $400 entry fee, I can imagine the fury of someone disqualified for doing anything short of hitching his bike to a car or balloon to reach the coveted peak.

I soon noticed a white-haired fellow who pushed his bike for about a mile. I caught up and heard him talking to a race official, saying that he had finished the race 16 times in past years but needed to drop out that day. He was wearing a POW-MIA jersey and, given his age, I asked if he had any connection to the Vietnam War. He turned out to have served there in the late 1960s, and I told him my father had died there in 1967. He graciously said he appreciated his sacrifice, and I rode on.

Then I saw another rider walking his bike down the mountain, his expensive gear indicating he was no newbie. I asked if he had a mechanical problem. “No, I’ve just had it—can’t handle the hill.”

This was only Mile 3 out of 7.6, and soon I saw another gentleman (this race had far more males than females…midlife crisis, anyone? ) on a humble bike in a marginal outfit. He was laboring mightily, barely able to turn his crank as he did a (drunken) paperboy pattern. I noticed that his chain was on the larger of his two front rings and asked if he was saving his small ring for the steepest grades.

“Does using the small ring make pedaling easier?” he asked with utter sincerity.
“Yeah, definitely!” I replied, shocked that anyone taking on this mountain wouldn’t know something so basic.
“Great, maybe I’ll try it.”

I realized then that at least one other cyclist was less prepared than I.

More uplifting was the image of the youngest rider in the race, a 12-year-old boy doing the event with his 16-year-old sister (I talked to them before the start). His sister apparently far ahead, Alex from Brookline, MA, was doing the paperboy and occasionally pushing his bike. He and I were within sight of each other for most of the climb.

The road headed above tree line around Mile 4.5, as a crisp breeze arose along with miles of sublime views. The thick forests of hardwoods, spruces, and firs that had surrounded me on the way up gave way to stark gray slopes of boulders, rubble, and occasional cairns.

Then came the mile-long section of packed gravel road with loose stones. On my thin tires, the reduced traction made steering in an S shape risky. Good thing that fellow had fallen off the road at the beginning of the race rather than here, where he would have crashed into jagged rocks instead of greenery.

As I fought to do a controlled paperboy, 12-year-old Alex fell over, but quickly got up. I rode over and asked if he needed anything to drink or eat (I consumed a half-gallon of liquids and half a nutrition bar in total), and he said thanks but no. He was remarkably stoical for a pre-teen. His father, who had done the race for the last 15 years, appeared on foot between Miles 5 and 6, and proceeded to walk beside Alex all the way to the finish. The boy neither fell off his bike nor resorted to pushing it after his dad turned up.

This father wasn’t like those often found crudely haranguing children at soccer or football games; instead, he strode beside Alex calmly suggesting how best to manage his cadence, how to approach various grades, etc. More parents ought to have his attitude when kids are giving their all during sporting events.

I saw the outlines of the summit when I reached Mile 6. The weather remained ideal on this exposed part of the mountain—cloudy enough to obscure the sun but with none of the rain and 50 MPH winds that had pummeled riders in recent editions of the race.

I soon came across the saddest rider of all sitting on some rocks by the road. He looked in good shape with high-end gear, but his bike was lying on its side in front of him as he leaned back, propped on his elbows. I thought he may have been waiting for mechanical help.

“Do you have a flat?”
“No, it’s my legs that are flat!”
“You’re so close to the top. What if you rested and tried riding later?”
“I’m done.”

My legs were nearly done, too. With about a half-mile to go, I saw the final, curved section of road and the austere Sherman Adams Summit Building, looming over the valley like a huge concrete gun battery.

Race custom held that no motor vehicles were permitted to descend the Auto Road until all riders had finished. But a few bike-laden cars did start coming down, people in them shouting encouragement to me as they passed. Seemingly thrilled as they were for me, these were cheers partly of relief—they could at last leave the chilly summit after three hours of waiting.

With 12-year-old Alex about 100 feet behind me, I decided to let him pass after I’d gotten up the last, very steep section of road near the finish line. I would then be officially last, and avoid saddling a young boy with what he’d likely consider a dubious distinction.

Throngs of screaming people stood around the final steep hill (22 percent grade), which had some flat road above it before the finish. My plan was to paperboy up the tough grade and wait at the top as Alex passed. As I gritted my teeth and stood up from my saddle for leverage, a barefoot spectator came up and started pushing my back, only then asking,

“Do you want me to push you?”
“No, but thanks anyway.”
“I can push you!”

He was just clowning around on a festive occasion, but I am not a touchy-feely person and so told him, with some irritation, to back off. He did, but not before I started tipping over and had to unclip from my pedals to avoid falling completely. Angry as I was, I smiled as Alex came up the slope; I let him go by and finish his ordeal.

Unable to clip my shoes in on the severe grade, it was then my turn to push…about 10 feet to the flat stretch where I remounted and crossed the nearby finish line (which was immediately pulled up and packed away by shivering volunteers).

It took me awhile to decompress and take in the electric atmosphere of the summit, but I soon felt elated that I’d finished without major calamity. I walked over to congratulate Alex, who was sitting by his bike changing his shoes. He looked up at me, slightly dazed and still stoical. He may have been as happy to have avoided being Lanterne Rouge as I was satisfied with the droll title.

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Hillclimb Feature Presentation 4; Mark Greenleaf

THIRTY TWO YEARS ON MT. WASHINGTON

“BERNIE!!!”  I yelled, as I lounged in the back of the van.  I had just finished the long walk back down to the parking lot from the finish line a short time prior, passing Dino on the way as he headed for the finish.  Just in time, I should add, as the weather had turned on a dime.  They refer to it as unpredictable, and they are right.  It was clear and calm from start to finish for my 7.6 mile run of the 2008 Mt. Washington Hillclimb bicycle race.  Things took a turn for the worse, though, just as I met our driver, Joe, at the finish line.  The rear door of the van opened up for a great view of the racers as they headed for the finish.  Soon the hail was so fierce, however, that I had to close the door and peer out through the fogged glass as I wiped it with a towel.  My run was uneventful; the weather almost too good to play any factor.  Bernie would have the bragging rights this year.  Joe and he were soaked from the rain and were pelted by the hail.  Adding insult to injury, lightning lit up the sky.  As I sat there watching the remaining racers conquer the summit, I thought back to prior years.  2008 was the twenty fifth consecutive year that I had entered this race.  As a result, former Race Director Mary Powers asked me to write about my experiences up to that point, and I obliged.  2015 makes it 32 consecutive years.  I am always quick to qualify that for three of those years the weather had resulted in cancellation; in 2007 my car went up, but I didn’t.  One other year, the race was shortened to half the usual length, and my time was lost in the weather-confusion.  That leaves twenty nine years that I have completed the race; twenty nine years of varying weather, training, sponsors, race companions, and stories.  My only remaining pre-marriage tradition, I tell anyone who will listen.  That got me thinking about the early years…

 

It was August, 1983, and I was twenty two years old and single.  I shared a modest apartment with two friends in a working-class section of Providence, Rhode Island.  Just home from work, Bernie was on his way out the door, and beckoned for me to follow.  I grabbed the mail off the stoop and headed after him.  Three of us were on our way to Millie’s Tap for dinner and a beer or two.  It was a short walk down the block with Bernie, with whom I shared the apartment, and Ted, our friend and my future brother-in-law.  Ted had come in to the city to visit.  We perched ourselves on stools at Millie’s and order a beer and some food.  The mail was light that day; just one item.  It was my monthly Bicycling Magazine, and the cover story was intriguing: “Upward Bound – On Mt. Washington it’s hillclimb time again”.  I started reading while the pool balls ricocheted in the background.  John Howard, Dale Stetina, and Beth Heiden, were among those listed as trying the event.  The statistics were impressive: twelve percent average grade, twenty two percent max, and scene of the world’s worst weather.  So steep you could lift your front wheel off the ground just by standing.  Then came the question that sealed our fate:  “Want to try it?  Contact the race organizer…”  A few beers, a full stomach, and a dare later, and the three of us were convinced.  We would sign up for September 1984.  Spring came, and none of us wanted to be the one to back out.  So we trained hard, and successfully contacted the race organizer as directed.  Five dollars apiece later (I still have the cancelled check, sent via snail-mail about two weeks prior to the race), and we were in.  The decision on what type of bike to ride was not an easy one.  We finally settled on road bikes.  Bernie would borrow my backup road bike, as he didn’t have one of his own.  It was far too big for him, but would be good enough for one ride.  We heeded the gearing advice of the magazine article, and modified our bikes accordingly.

 

We arrived for a 9:55 a.m. pre-race lineup on Sunday the 9th of September, 1984 for the 12th annual running of the race.  The base weather was average for this time of year.  Reports were that the temperature at the summit was a balmy forty degrees, with a slight wind-chill.  Three hundred were entered, ranging from USCF to citizen riders.  At the line, the starter walked through the crowd of racers, inspecting for properly dressed riders, and scolding those who appeared to be dressed too lightly.

 

The gun sounded, and we were off.  We had no idea of what to expect; it was our first time up the mountain under any means.  I made the usual first-timer mistake and wore too much clothing.  Soon, while still below tree-line, I was overheating from my effort.  For the only time in twenty nine finishes, I stopped to remove some layers.  Re-mounting the bike on the steep course proved difficult, and I was forced to walk uphill until the road leveled off a bit.  I waited for a gap in the racers, and headed laterally across the narrow road, frantically pressing my foot into the toe-clip and then turning uphill before reaching the shoulder.  A few revolutions later I reached down to pull the strap taut.  Climbing above tree-line, the wind chill took hold.  Now I wished I had those layers back on, but I wasn’t about to stop again.  I passed all the customary mile-markers, admiring the view while trying to trick myself into thinking I was somewhere else.  I was beginning to figure out that this race is more psychological than physical.  I heard the cheers and cow-bells at the finish above me, and then knew I could make it to the end.  I had read about the last twenty two percent stretch, but couldn’t appreciate it until actually attempting to climb it.  It was truly the cheers of the crowd that propelled me up that grade; cheers that I don’t hear at any other time of the year for any reason.  Truly, this was reason enough to endure the prior hundred-odd minutes, and reason enough to return for another try.  Finally the finish came, and the race observers yelled out the numbers as we crossed the line.  I was held steady on my bike by a welcome volunteer, and covered with a one of the wool blankets on loan from the American Red Cross.  Upon dismounting, I was escorted into the tiny adjacent Stage Office building, where I huddled near the woodstove to warm up.  “Ten minutes per rider, guys, then we kick you out” shouted one of the officials.  Sure enough, ten minutes later and I was out in the cold, the wool blanket commandeered to warm another rider.  I put my sweatshirt back on and hurried to the summit building for some food and something hot to drink.  There I waited for my other two comrades.  Two hundred and forty three finished that day, including the three of us.

 

The race was over, but the ride only half way done; it was time to descend.  There was no requirement for a ride-down vehicle at that time, so once the three of us were amply fed, we headed for our bikes.  Bernie headed off ahead of us, undaunted by the steepness of the road.  Soon we caught up to him, however, as the heat created by the brakes on his rims had blown one of his inner-tubes.  Having no spares of his own, he promptly “borrowed” mine; we had one spare tube left for the three of us, in Ted’s saddle bag.  Bernie headed off again, among jeers from speeding mountain bike riders: “Fat is where it’s at!” they yelled disparagingly at us.  It seems their large rims succeeded in dispersing the heat, and they sped ahead of us.  Around a few bends we found Bernie once again, and Ted surrendered the lone remaining spare tube.  Bernie spent the remainder of the descent at a restrained speed.  We stopped several times, our hands cramping from squeezing the brake levers for seven miles.  I touched my rims after dismounting one of those times, and quickly pulled my fingers away from the heat.  More then once, we dipped our wheels in the troughs of water meant for overheated car radiators.  After some time, we reached the base, where the temperature had returned to a more respectable level.  Being Sunday, and with work looming the next day, we headed for home, posing the inevitable question to each other:  “Are you going to do it next year?”  Had someone asked me at the finish line, my answer might have been different.  But having had time to ponder the question, each of us responded with a resounding “yes”.  It was the best, most miserable morning I had ever paid money to endure.

 

It took about a week to receive the race results from the self-proclaimed “Gnomes”; the race organizers, Mike, Chip, and Dave from the Wolfsboro Sports Gnome.  I still have a copy of the letter and the results listings.  Memorable in the letter is this paragraph:  “We have approximately 3 dozen large T-shirts with a slight discoloration in the tag area.  If you can wear a large, and would like another shirt, they are available at $2.00 each + $1.00 each (shipping).”  I should have bought the lot of them.  I still have all but three of the shirts given to me for participation in the race.  Each one comes with a memory attached; here are some of the more noteworthy ones:

 

  • 1984 – Field limit is 300, first come first serve via snail-mail.  This is the last year that racers rode their bicycles back down the mountain,
  • 1985 – Near perfect weather for September, topping out in the 60’s.  Officials announce they are closing the autoroad year-round to bicycles except for the Hillclimb, due to conflicts with automobiles,
  • 1986 – Weather forces abbreviated race at halfway point.  Difficult conditions result in 40 racers not recorded.  Wolfeboro Sports Gnome closes its doors.
  • 1987 – New sponsors are the American Cancer Society and A. T. Nault & Sons Bicycle Shop.  Worst weather I can remember that a full race was held – 30 degrees, 50mph gusts, and rain.  With the wind blowing from right to left above the tree-line, my bare right leg was numb to the point where I was worried about whether to continue.  I recall slapping my thigh to see if there was feeling, and sensing the numbness of my skin.  I had never been in this situation before, and admit to mild panic.  After making a sharp left turn, the wind shifted, and I recall my right leg warming, changing to a beet-red hue and regaining feeling.  The wood stove felt particularly good that year.
  • 1991 – Hats off to Dave Goucher, race organizer since at least 1984, and perhaps before.  This is the last year I received correspondence from him.
  • 1992 – Tin Mountain Conservation Center takes over as sponsor, and is to this day.  They have refined this event to a science.  It would not be the same without them.  Sunny, clear, and 55 degrees at the summit resulted in my best time at 1:14:16.  Twenty three years later, I have conceded to peaking at age 32.
  • 1993 – Summit temperature is 29 degrees, with gusts to 40mph.  One of the coldest runs, but at least no precipitation!  This proved to be the last time this race was run in September (read on…).
  • 1994 – The first cancellation in 22 years.  The conditions were dismal at the summit: 33 degrees, freezing rain, sustained winds at 55mph, gusting to 70mph, and wind-chill below zero.  I was disappointed, but relieved.
  • 1995 – Cancelled once again.  The conditions were similar to 1994: 32 degrees, freezing rain, gusts to 60mph, and wind-chill at 7 below zero.
  • 1996 – Race is moved to August.  An agonizing decision, as weather is part of the allure for this race.  But no one wanted three consecutive cancellations!  Kudos to Joseph Bucciaglia, who won on either side of the duel cancellations.
  • 1997 – Field increase to 400.  The race goes “big-time”, with Scott Moninger, Michael Carter, Mike Engleman, and Tyler Hamilton.  New course record.  Now I can tell my grandchildren that I raced against Mike Engleman!
  • 1998 – Field increased to 500.
  • 1999 – Field increased to 650.  New course record.  Ten year old Peter Ostroski and 77 year old John Eusden show that age is no barrier.  Genevieve Jeanson wins the women’s field.
  • 2000 – Field reduced to 600, where it remains today.  Jeannie Longo joins Genevieve Jeanson.  Longo sets new women’s record.
  • 2002 – Men’s and women’s records shattered by Tom Danielson and Genevieve Jeanson.  Over 50 degrees at the summit.  But the most inspirational event was Bill Hawkes’ record time of 2:19:45 at age 80 – unbelievable; citizen racers rule!
  • 2005 – Tyler Hamilton and Ned Overend top the field.  Overend finishes fourth at 50 years old.
  • 2006 – Even more impressive than the prior year, Overend finishes second in less than 55 minutes at age 51.
  • 2007 – “Horizontal sleet, rime ice, and gusts to 87mph” is how the cancelled event was reported in Velo News.
  • 2008 – I can’t say enough about 9 year old Jonah Thompson, and 70 year old Ken Cestone, whose record setting time was nearly two minutes ahead of mine.  Jonah is quickly elevated to You Tube status, where he proves an inspiration to my son Alan, age 10 at the time.

 

Thirty two years have gone by, and I’m still making the trek up north with friends Bernie (17 years), Dino (13 years), Brian (4 years), and our faithful and indispensable driver Joe.  People ask me why I do it, and I have my stock answers.  First, what better motivation to train all summer?  And, best of all, how many times during the year does anyone cheer and yell and scream at something I have accomplished?  Answer:  “Once”.  See you next year.

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Hillclimb Feature Presentation 3; Juan Lopera

By the numbers: 1:09:41; 9th in age group; 36th/600+ riders; 7.6 miles, 12% avg grade with 22% max on the last 50 yards, over 4.5K ft elevation gained; avg speed 6.46mpg; 1:07 or 97% at Z4 HR; 281 NP; IF/TSS: 0.97/ 108; 76 rpm avg.

Recap: Accomplished my personal goal of sub 1:10! This was an awesome awesome experience. It all started with emails from two teammates who were willing to transfer their bids since they had last minute commitments that conflicted with the race. I ended up taking Dan’s bib (thanks Goldman!) about two weeks before the race day. Then I had to figure out how to get my bike the proper climbing gear. The amount of logistics almost made me turn down the opportunity to the race – so glad I didn’t back down. Bruce Cohen offered to lend me his derailleur and 32 cassette. My bike is compact so my lowest gearing would be 34/32, which was not ideal according to some of the people I talked to who had done the climb. I eventually bought a 34 cassette to have more teeth to climb. I had to figure out which of my bikes to use. I quickly realized that my new F8 Pinarello, which is my lightest bike, by about 2.5 lbs, was not going to work because it has electronic components and I had a mechanical derailleur. Carlitos, my mechanic at Wheel Works, took care of me and set up my Paris Pinarello bike by Tuesday, which gave me enough time to test the bike on a hill training day Wednesday, additional rides on Thursday and openers Friday and do some minor additional equipment changes (switching paddles and saddle). Always critical to test new equipment well in advance of race day – as Tom Keery found out.

This was my first time doing this climb so the big question was: what time was realistic? I knew that a “top notch” elite time required sub 1:10 so I needed to figure out if my FTP watts/kg would get me there in that time. I found an awesome little online tool to run my numbers using two methods: (1) based on my FTP and (2) based on another local climb I had done which for me was the Wachusett. Both calculations estimated 1:05 to 1:08 was possible. That gave me the motivation I needed. Although after running into Erik V. in the parking lot and finding out that his first time doing MWHC he was above 1:10, I was feeling less optimistic about my chances. The link to the calculator is: http://www.northeastcycling.com/neclimbs_hillcalc.htm

Now I needed to figure out how to pace myself. Do I aim for my FTP, which is by definition, the most you can do in an hour? I decided (with consultation with Carmi) to start at about 5% below FTP for an effort over an hour and increase the effort throughout the climb based on how I felt. I set up a course on my garmin to help me pace. The file consisted of three two-mile segments, one 1-mile segment and the remaining 0.6-mile finishing segment for the total 7.6 mile course. Each segment reminded me (through beeping) if I was below or above the desired wattage. This worked out very well for several reasons: (1) pacing at my own level while ignoring everyone else around me, (2) to split the pain into segments and having a sense of accomplishment every time I completed 2 mile segments and (3) to increase my power towards the end – for example, my last 0.6-mile segment was my highest power at 300.

Jenny and I drove up late on Friday to avoid traffic but ended up going to bed very late – past 11pm and getting little sleep since I was up by 530 to have enough time to register and warm up on the trainer. I lined up for my 8:40 start wave, which was the Blue Bib 20-39 age range and was 5 minutes after the Red Bib wave, which had the “Top Notch” riders. Once the cannon went off and we got going, I was quickly with the front leading Blue Bib group of about 10 of us. That included my teammate John Jantz who is our rising 545 rockstar 23 year old climber. I stayed to my desired pace and John took off at a much faster pace. He ended up getting 13th overall, amazingly, ahead of EV who was 15th overall. About 2 miles in, I was the third up the climb from my starting wave. John and this amazing tiny Argentinian climber girl Victoria Di Savino were way ahead of me within the first few miles. She was actually on John’s wheel for a while climbing off the saddle non-stop. I thought she wouldn’t last but I ended up only passing her on the finishing 50-yard 22% climb. I was feeling encouraged when I started passing a bunch of the red bib riders who had started 5 minutes before. The climb was relentless and there was very little respite. I transported myself mentally to the mountains I have climbed back home in Colombia which appear to have no summit – they just keep going. My pacing felt very manageable and I knew I was working hard but didn’t want to look at my heart rate to avoid getting concerned – just focused on finishing the current 2-mile segment at the target power. I suppressed the suffering by taking in the amazing views, smiling at all the rangers along the course and providing words of encouragement to the red bibs I passed by – most replied back with similar words but many were suffering so much they could barely look up, panting desperately.

With about a mile to go I started feeling confident about 1:10 but knew I needed to pick up the pace. The last 0.6-mile segment, my garmin called for 300 wattage and I’m glad for having that reminder since the steep sections, towards the end, made me feel less confident about 1:10. Getting to the last few yards to the finish is an amazing experience – all the people screaming, seeing Jenny with our dog Luna, was so uplifting and seeing my teammate Tom ahead who started in the first wave and also seeing tiny Victoria, provided a nice final carrot to chase. I had enough in the legs to push the wattage to about 400 for the remaining yards. I got to the finish and clocked at 1:09.41. I was gassed and was thankful for the lady who covered me with a blanket and got me a Gatorade.

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I felt very good about my performance and pacing – I did not push myself too far into the red and found the time manageable so I feel there is opportunity to do even better next time. Oh yeah, definitely worth many next times! I’m hooked! Most awesome racing experience this year. Closest to it was Devil’s Kitchen in Catskills.

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Hillclimb Feature Presentation 2; Scott Richardson

As it turns out I am not a climber. I know that this is not breaking news to any of you who have ridden with me. That includes me. I have been intrigued by this ride for 20 years since I saw a friend wearing the T shirt and asked him about it. It has been on my list of things to do off and on ever since. I probably should have done it when I was younger or more fit – when that would have been I cannot really pinpoint – but this was the year I decided to try before I got even older and even less fit. As many of you already know and the rest of you can well imagine, the climb is a challenge, maybe one of the ultimate ones in New England and, if you believe the bicycling press, the world. That being said, my goals were modest, finish and don’t walk. If this were baseball, I’d be an all-star batting .500 but its cycling and I’m not. I made it just over half way before I had to get off the first time. I walked for a while and drank which I had not been able to do very much of while riding. The two are likely connected. Once I got back on the bike I began to feel like I was falling off the back of my saddle. I attributed it to the pitch at first but it just didn’t seem right. I did not want to get off a second time but when the front wheel kept lifting off the road and I was having trouble keeping the bike going in a straight line I reluctantly got off again. Sure enough, the seat had shifted nose up during the ride. The seat mast had been replaced during the week and it had not been tightened well enough and had slipped with the pressure I was putting on the back because of the pitch. It appeared to me that 95% of the riders do not bring a saddle bag from a survey at the bottom of the hill before the ride. The merits of whether to take the bag had been discussed prior to the ride with a group of riders who had done the ride several times. The consensus was that it was not worth the weight. Most riders were of that opinion. Initially, I decided that the weight of the bag was not going to be the deciding factor in any thing that I did on the hill and I did not want to lose my opportunity to a flat tire.  As my ride was getting ready to go up the hill I almost ripped it off and threw it in the car but did not. I was glad I didn’t. I carry a small multi tool in my bag. I was able to adjust and tighten the seat and it was not an issue for the rest of the climb. I was able to get going right away at a decent pace.

At this point I was still on the pace that I had hoped for over half way up the hill. Once I got to the dirt section I was losing steam. Around the 4000 foot marker I lost it again. I had to walk a long way before I could attempt to get back on because of fatigue and pitch. That was the low point of the experience. I was questioning , no cursing having signed up for this abuse, for not being more prepared, for not having more low gears and having to walk over three miles to the top of the mountain before getting swept up by the sag wagon. The road was narrow, steep and dirt, not conducive to restarting the climb even if I had been in a better frame of mind. Eventually, the road leveled out at another hairpin turn. I got going again and hoped for the best but not expecting it. With each increase in incline I was expecting to bonk again. I was just trying to make it to the next turn, the next crest, the next portly ham radio operator who was going to lie to me what a great job I was doing. But I kept passing all those markers and looking for the next one. The 5000 foot marker passed then the six mile post and I was still going forward albeit slowly.

A photographer took about a dozen shots of me as I approached, one advantage of being alone and moving so slowly. The clouds had moved in obscuring the visibility so I was limited to seeing just what was ahead of me. Probably a good thing. Through the clouds I began to hear the distinctive sound of the Cog Railway. It registered that I must be getting closer but I did not know how far the sound could travel.  I also knew from prior hiking experience how loud the damn thing is. The pavement returned and I knew the end – whatever it was going to be – was near. Soon I could hear people shouting encouragement to the riders ahead of me. The clouds thinned out a bit and I could see the hairpin turns that lead to the finish line. Of course, in between those turns are grades of up to 22%. There were lots of messages written in chalk for other riders and for a very brief and delusional moment it was if I was on a grand tour course like I have only witnessed on television, the cheering fans, the road covered with chalk, the steepest part of the climb and the looming finish line. Adrenalin kicked in and people started shouting encouragement to me now.

At first it was general, then my number which was on the front of the handle bars then my name as I got close enough for them to read my bib as I went by. A guy was directing me to the far side of a turn to avoid the steepest part. A spectator had to move his feet I got so close to the edge of that turn and the guy giving the directions jumped back out of the way. From there I saw my wife and the finish line just beyond. I tried to smile as I passed her but it may not have been perceptible through the determined grimace on my face as I pushed for the finish line. I crossed the line to cheers as does everyone who finishes, a medal – I felt like an eight year old at soccer camp considering my place in the standings – a blanket and a bottle of water. Someone looked me in the eyes and asked if I was alright, a very reasonable question at that point. Once the person was somewhat confident that I was not going to require medical attention it was on to the next person dragging their way across the line.

The rush of the finish added some perspective to the ride. It was grueling, frustrating and yet rewarding at different times. I have never experienced anything like it before and may never again experience those feelings on a single bike ride. By the time I got to the bottom and had one of the best turkey dinners that I have ever tasted outside of our home I started to appreciate all that had transpired. I said I would never do it again. Then it was I would never do it again unless I lost 20 pounds. The guy who parked next to us at the top lost 100 pounds over the last five years. Hmm…

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A special note of appreciation to my wife who became my support team when our plans changed shortly before the ride. I would not have been able to put the ride together without her help and support. Unfortunately for her she had to share my anxiety about the event leading up to the very end. To her credit she didn’t leave me at the top of the mountain to find my way down alone. Thank you.

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Hillclimb Feature Presentation 1; Bob Jenney

Taking on the Rock Pile

This year was special. To summarize, I had a bad crash in late July of 2014 that shattered my left femur into 14 pieces. I’ve only been walking since early February and have had my sights set on the Rock Pile since being in rehab following surgery. I don’t typically do long race reports, but this one was special.

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Foremost, I have been blessed with such an amazing group of friends. Without whom, reaching this point in my rehab would have been a darker road. Words of encouragement, accompaniment on the road, a figurative and literal hand on the back to get over a climb are all worth so much. I am so very thankful to this community.

Now, the ride…

Holy hell that was harder than I remember. Even with 4 previous efforts (my last time up was in ’08.) it’s funny how the mind forgets/protects you from the pain. And somehow flattens the mountain.

Having ridden the hill twice virtually on the trainer in the last 4 weeks, I went into the climb with the confidence that I could finish. Particularly since walking would have been worse than riding, maybe not even possible, I needed to KNOW that I could make it. Bkool on the Wahoo Kickr was THE confidence builder (see end of paragraph**).  Without that, I would have been WAY nervous about my ability to get to the top at all. There’s just no way to prep for the Rock Pile on our local roads in Wellesley, MA. [**Bkool is a software application used to simulate real roads on a smart trainer. (www.bkool.com) A smart trainer is one that adjusts resistance to match the grade of the hill. The Auto Road is in the library of roads available to BKool users. The Wahoo Kickr is a smart trainer. (www.wahoofitness.com)]

When the cannon went off, my heart rate was a cool 85. I’m lucky that race starts just don’t get me nervous anymore. (Thank you BMX, for the hundreds of heats over and over.) This was perfect and to plan which was… Ease off the start line and calmly make my way through the usual 1st pitch chaos and shenanigans of mechanicals, tip overs, and weavers, to settle in with a comfortable pace. My only sense of nervousness was about other riders I was passing or being passed by. I just did NOT want to get fouled and knocked over, which is a legit concern for us back-markers.

I was surprised to find myself with a 4.8mph average (A 1:34 pace) after 1.5 miles. But, knowing how the left leg fatigues, knew that this was not sustainable and chose to back the pace off to a 4mph rolling speed. Interesting having left and right power numbers via the Garmin Vectors. (Best rehab purchase I’ve made after the Kickr.) I’ve been able to track the left leg rehab progress over time and also see a distinct pattern emerge from all my longer rides… The finishing average power for most of my longer rides has been 40%L/60%R. During hard efforts, I can lift the left leg power a bit to get 50/50 but, power sustainability is severely lacking. For most rides, when I see the left leg contribution drift down to 32% or lower, my overall pace also drops precipitously… And so it went on the Rock Pile.

At about the 3 mile mark, still on a 4mph pace speed and a 4.4mph average to that point, I began to see the downward drift… 39%, 38%, 37%, all the way down to 32% before we broke tree line at mile 4.6. My pace speed had dropped along with the left leg’s willingness to contribute… Now to 3.7mph. A little over half way and I was heading toward half speed… By the time I hit the bottom of the dirt section, my pace speed was 2.5 and the average had dropped to 3.5. So much for getting in under 2 hours. (3.8mph average required)  The left leg was now contributing less than 23% of the effort and at about each 10 minute mark or so, failed completely for several pedal strokes. This obviously made the right leg work harder to keep me moving forward and also carry the dead weight of the left leg. At this point, near the top of the dirt segment, I decided that it was better to just back way off to allow the left leg to recover a bit and maybe be of some help further up the road.

By mile 6, I was feeling better and comfortable with a 3mph pace speed. Also, just after the 6 mile mark, there’s that sign reading “Elevation 5000 Feet.” Which should inspire a rider as we’ve climbed ~3800 feet over 6 miles but, and I sometimes wish I wasn’t so quick to do the math…Meant that there was ~1000 feet of climbing over the next 1.5 miles ahead.

I’ll admit that there was a tiny bit of mental faltering right then but, I knew I’d hate myself if I stopped and dug back in. What’s that old saying? “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” My ego was also not digging the plummeting average speed. 3.4, 3.3, 3.2… This was hard to watch happen. When I came upon a friend (who had finished with a time of 1:03!) walking down to look for his son, I was moving at 2.3mph. And oh, VERY grateful I had installed that silly giant Wolf Tooth 42 tooth cog in the back. That allowed me to spin above 70rpm’s which I am sure saved the day as grinding out a low cadence just was not possible. Like the engineer I am, math is math and I had done all the speed, cadence, weight and power, calculations and geared appropriately.

By mile 6.8, I was beginning to see some semblance of left leg recovery and able to begin thinking about the finish. As a sprinter, I REALLY wanted to hammer the wall at the end. So, I eased over the last 1/3 mile and hit the bottom of the finish pitch hard, somehow finding 750 watts. The screams of so many friends was just awesome and fueled the kick even more. So, 2 hours and 29 minutes. 45 minutes longer than my PR (personal record). It wasn’t pretty but, I’ll take it.

Mentally, way back when I was still an in-patient rehab resident (which, on the Friday before the climb was exactly 1 year ago) and without saying much to anyone, I had placed Mt Washington as a primary rehab goal. I knew I needed a big event on the calendar to drive toward and that this would help focus the rehab effort. When February 1st registration rolled around, I still wasn’t sure if it was going to be possible to ride such a beast of a climb (I could not even walk yet) but registered with enthusiasm.

There has been a huge outpouring of support from so, so many people. But as many have experienced, athletes thrive on personal challenges and are always training for one event or another. When injury happens, getting back to health just becomes the next goal. Like targeting any race, century, gap ride, Ironman, or… the great Mt. Washington. We’re just conditioned to train for targets. And once a target is reached, readily sign up for the next one before the fatigue of the last one has left our legs. And so it goes.

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So today, one day after the climb, as I relish having made it to the top of the most difficult climb ever, I’m already mentally moving on to the D2R2 this coming Saturday. Moving from one goal to the next.

Again, thank you to all my family and friends for your encouragement over the last year. I still have a very long way to go with rehab, but, gone is the doubt of what’s possible.

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Our Great Explorers

We thought everyone should see the pure happiness and excitement going on in the Explorer’s Camps here at Tin Mountain.

Sarah Frankel, a counselor extraordinaire, said that “Tin Mountain Explorer’s campers and counselors have had a blast so far this summer. From Mt. Willard to Chocorua Lake their adventures have been nothing but smiles and laughter. They explored the beauty of Iona Lake and Evan’s Notch during Peaks and Paddles, and painted and sketched their way across the Mt. Washington Valley in Nature’s Masterpieces. It’s amazing what fun a summer outdoors will bring!”

Here are a series of photos for you to peruse and enjoy. There’s just too much summer fun to go around (… well, maybe not really. Soak it up while you can)!

Peak’s N’ Paddles

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Nature’s Masterpieces

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Boats & Baskets

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A Staff Story; Our Yoga Celebration!

What a fantastic Yoga Solstice Celebration we had up here on the hill last Sunday! There were many reasons to celebrate and practice on this day. First, it was the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year. Yoga offers us opportunities to make different choices in our lives and gain new perspectives. As many of us know, this is challenging!  To change the ways in which we behave to serve something greater or to serve those we love around us, we need discipline, reminders, and practice. All day long, on the longest day of the year, we were celebrating this message with each other. It was also the first ever International Day of Yoga. What a kick-start! Corrie and Julie did such as fantastic job planning – thank you!

yoga-design (1)The day started rainy and calm at 7AM with Judy. Her gentle flow started us out with breath and centering. The energy was steady and fun throughout the day. Each teacher brought their own piece of light to the celebration. Some teachers were new and some were well seasoned. Some teachers brought us to our edges, and some reminded us of the sweetness of our breath and the moment we were in. Some teachers played loud music, and some soft. Some teachers offered readings and some offered silence. And all were lovely in their own way. On this longest day, we practiced high energy vinyasa flow, kick asana, walking meditation, yin yoga, and a few other styles of Hatha Yoga. And I must say there was a special attention given to the sun salutations – rightfully so.

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I enjoyed meeting other teachers in the valley and feeling a sense of community within the yoga world nestled in the Mount Washington Valley. There are many places to practice tucked here in these mountains – Be Well Studios, Sunshine Yoga, Green Turtle Yoga, The Yoga Shack, Greensong Yoga, and other independent teachers along with Pamela from Portland. Not only were there fantastic teachers, but all sorts of community students came to practice. We had folks from all over the area. Some friends stayed for the duration of the day (wow!) and some came for a class or two.

 

 

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Our table was full of bounty. The Local Grocer donated a stunning amount and array of delicious food that was constantly being gobbled between classes and during breaks – dips, cheese, crackers and chips, nuts, brownies, and fresh veggies, nearly all of which was entirely organic and gluten free. Grandy Oats also provided us with a large bag of fantastic, organic granola. What was placed on the table (including a bit of caffeine) sustained us through the day. Not only that but all sorts of wonderful people and businesses donated items or massages or classes to the raffle. Thank you to all of them. They will be thoroughly enjoyed by the winners!

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But there is so much to Yoga. Yoga is not really within our sphere, it IS our sphere. “I describe it as a ‘workin’ much more than a ‘workout’, because in Yoga, you turn your focus inward to yourself,” says Vanessa McKinsey. The weather on Sunday allowed this, welcoming relaxation and indoor light. It forgave us from being outdoor adventurers for the day and allowed our inner adventures to continue. This is part of what Tin Mountain hopes to do; grow this inner light in children – the light that is much more visible when we are out in nature. Yoga instructor, Tara Schroeder put it nicely, “I hope the festival continues to grow in future years to support environmental education, which is so important for our youth to understand – love and protect this beautiful place where we live.” So, thank you to all for coming out and supporting both Tin Mountain Conservation Center and the Yoga community here in the Mount Washington Valley.

Written by staff member, Lily Morgan, and photographs by Julie Mackiewicz

Yoga design by Sarah Fensore

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An Intern Story; The Black-throated Blue Warbler

It’s officially summer! While summer is commonly associated with things such as pools and cookouts, there’s one thing that can’t be forgotten in the list: the return of birds. Many birds have flown hundreds of miles from South American back up to New Hampshire to spend the summer and breed. One of the many birds back is the Black-throated Blue Warbler. The Black-throated Blue Warbler is a tiny resident of interior forests, and breeds from the forests of New England down along the Appalachian Mountain Range into parts of Georgia and Tennessee. Like many other warblers, this bird flies all the way down to the Caribbean and parts of Central America to spend the winter, leading it to be classified as a Neotropical Migrant.

That’s why we’re here – the Interns. We have come to Tin Mountain to study them and there are many reasons to do so. First, like many interior forest birds, its population is declining. Therefore, learning about the life history and reproductive success of the bird is crucial. The second reason lies in something unique to Tin Mountain; the dense patches of Mountain Laurel growing on the property. Mountain Laurel is a flowering shrub that grows in the southeastern parts of the US along the Appalachian Mountain Range, and reaches its northern edge right around here, where Tin Mountain is located. We care about the Mountain Laurel because the Black-throated Blue Warblers loves to nest there. They are considered “shrub nesters” that build a small cup of twigs and grasses about 1-4 ft off the ground making Mountain Laurel the perfect place for them to nest. Because it is unusual to see such a dense patch of it this far north, learning about how the birds use this unique habitat structure is very important to understanding their populations in the area.

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Here at Tin Mountain we aim to study the life history of these birds by searching for their nests and placing bands around the legs of the nestlings (to identify them if later captured) as well as color bands around the legs of the parents (for individual identification). But searching for these nests is not an easy task! As one can imagine, they build nests in very dense patches of Mountain Laurel which are difficult to walk through, and the small size of the nest makes them easy to miss. The behavior of the parents does not help either; while a lot of birds do some kind of broken-wing display or shout alarm calls when approaching the nest, Black-throated Blue Warblers stay silent until you are right on top of the nest. Despite all of these difficulties, our long days have been worth it because so far this season we have found 6 nests!

In terms of nesting life, Black-throated Blue Warblers lay, on average, 4 eggs. Incubation is usually done by only the female. When the young hatch they are born naked, helpless, and without vision. For our purposes, we try to band the nestlings when they are on day 6 after hatching (the day of hatching is considered day 0). We target this date because it is late enough that the young have grown big enough for us to put a band on their leg, but early enough so that the birds can’t jump out of the nest and fledge prematurely. If they fledge prematurely, they will be out of the nest before they have developed sufficient flying strength and independence, and will be more susceptible to predators. It is clear that the little guy below, which is actually a Black-capped Chickadee, is exactly this.

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Banding the birds is very crucial to learning more about the population of these birds. If a bird banded here is captured anywhere else its band number will be reported into an online database and we can see where the bird has gone. This allows us to learn about their migration routes. It also enables us to learn more about the reproductive life of these birds, as we can learn about where the young birds go to breed the following year and how they disperse. While there is a low rate of recapture with banding, the ones that are recaptured reveal a tremendous amount of information. This year we captured a female off her nest who was first banded as a nestling back in 2012! This means that this one female, after being originally born on this property, as not only survived for 3 years, but has returned to breed in the area she was born! Obviously, we were pretty excited about this.

With all this exciting work and research being done, it will be interesting to know what else is discovered this season. With a high total of nests found and with fledgling season right around this corner, who knows what the rest of the summer will hold? From this research, Tin Mountain hopes to learn more about the unique breeding life of these birds on the property and how this fits into the big picture of what is going on with Black-throated Blue Warblers and other interior forest birds in the Northeast.

- Written by Intern, Connor Rosenblatt and photographs by Interns, Sarah Fensore and Anne Mauro

 

 

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Outside Recreation in Albany, NH

We are very fortunate to live so close to four miles of multi-use trails that are maintained by the White Mountains chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association under the eye of the Albany Conservation Commission. The trail network is located off of the Kancamagus Highway just west of the junction of Routes 16 and 112 and provides both open space recreation and natural resources for everyone.  Actually it’s just down the road form the Tin Mountain Conservation Center. The trail runs from the western edge of the property along the Swift River, to the B&M railroad trestle behind Kennett Middle school with almost 2 miles of frontage on the Swift River.

During our hike last year Jim and I enjoyed a chance to step into the cool running waters;  what a refreshing experience!  The level terrain makes for an easy hike for just about anyone, and can be very rewarding  for nature lovers, including walkers, runners, mountain bikers, snowshoers, and cross country skiers, depending on the season and your particular passions. To help with your navigation, the hiking trails are blazed in blue paint and trail signs are posted at intersections. In addition, information kiosks have been erected at two locations and are posted with trail maps and information. There is a rough parking lot in the middle of the property about ¾ of a mile west of Rt. 16 on the Kancamagus Highway. This Albany Town Forest Trail network has been selected by the editors of New Hampshire Magazine as “Best of NH 2014” for the “Multi-Use Trail” category.

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I recommend you go out there for yourself to enjoy the views and the river!

Written by Board Member, Theresa Ann Gallagher

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April has Something BIG to Offer

We all know April showers bring May flowers. We also all know that the spring will bring on the annual bird migrations. A lesser known fact is that April showers will also bring on the annual salamander migrations!

Mole salamanders are a group of salamanders that primarily live a solitary life underground in burrows that they dig themselves or that are abandoned by small mammals (hence the name). Here they spend their time foraging for invertebrates from worms to snails to insects. There are four species of mole salamander found in New Hampshire, but the only one that we have in this area is the Spotted Salamander, a stout black salamander with bright yellow spots, that can range from 4.5 to 7.5 inches long.

Because of their fossorial lifestyle – which is a fancy way of saying that they burrow and live underground, they are seldom seen unless you are intentionally looking for them. However, much to the delight of amateur and professional herpetologists alike, there is a short period of time every year that you can find these creatures in larger numbers.

This, we refer to as Big Night. Every spring as the snow melts, the ground thaws, and night time temperatures reach above freezing, on this warm-ish rainy night, the salamanders awaken from their winter hibernation and leave their burrows in search of a vernal pool to breed in.

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Research shows that they usually return to the pool from which they hatched. Once in the water, the males leave their spermatophores on the pond floor for the females to pick up and fertilize their eggs. The females usually lay about 100 jelly-coated eggs in a mass attached to aquatic vegetation.

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After only a few days in the water, the adults will return to their forest homes until the next spring. The migration distances from the salamanders’ winter habitat to their breeding vernal pools can range from a couple hundred feet to more than a quarter of a mile.

Unfortunately for these slow moving amphibians, they often cross roads.  Even roads such as Bald Hill up here to the Nature Learning Center, the morality can be massive. The good news is that knowing when to expect the migration allows us to study and count the Spotted Salamanders along with others creatures that migrate to their breeding grounds in similar conditions, such as Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs. This is what Big Night is!

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In the past, Tin Mountain has gone out to collect data and help these little amphibians complete the long trek! This year, you could be apart of their success story. Just think of those happy little eggs.

Go out on this first warm and raining night and help these little guys cross the road. Make an evening of it! It is truly amazing to see the numbers.

Report back!

 

 

 

 

Written by Staff, Phaedra Demers

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