To say that I was nervous about attempting the LPTF09 would be a little bit of an understatement. Nervous because if it all went south, I'd be a complete mess until IMUSA. So it was with a bit of trepidation that MyKaren and I started our northern journey on 5/14. We drove up the 81 way, to miss the cluster that is DC and NYC and made it to the outskirts of Scranton by 11:30ish. I wanted to find Dunder-Mifflin's office, but we had a schedule to keep so we got up and left. We were the first to arrive at the house...nice digs, by the way! Got unpacked, which included a bunch of freebies from QuakerCindy and 8-5 gallon bottles of water from Diamond Springs. We sloshed all the way up to LP with the car riding kind of low.
Everyone eventually arrived and off we went for a little spin around Mirror Lake and one lap of the run course. A very long out and back. Very long. We all went to dinner at a great little place in town, the Brown Dog Wine Bar and Cafe (I think I got the name close) and after eating, we all staggered back for some frenzied water bottle filling, CarboPro, Endura, Gatorage mixing, food organizing and general frenzied scurrying around to get ready for the early start of the long bike on Saturday.
Saturday morning was cold and overcast. We left in three groups, the first being DeannaL, Scott and ProKaren, followed 15 minutes later by the larger gang of 5 (me, Lynn, DeannaB, Bethany and KateO) then by the speedsters: MyKaren and Bart. ProKaren said that it was all downhill the first part of the bike, but we quickly found out she lies. It is most certainly not downhill up to the long descent into Keene. We have sinced named the first several miles "the Wench" for the steady uphill climb to the "Gates of Hell" or the descent into Keene. Others may share their experiences going through and down the Gates, but mine was pretty good for the first lap. It is basically four downhills, the first two are short with some flats along the lake (no idea what the name of the lake is) and then there is a 1.5 mile downhill with a little flat, followed by the 2 mile one into Keene. I went pretty darn fast, with no odometer I can't say for sure, but I think I got to the low 40s the first lap. The road is bumpy, at times very bumpy and going that fast for that long is kind of nerve wracking. I find the last 2 miles to be the scariest, simply due to being a bit tired of being super vigilent about speed, body position and road surface.
We all made it down the Gates safely, and had our first sag stop to take off some layers. I really need to give a shout out to Kim, our Sherpa for the weekend, she was AWESOME! The next 10 miles from Keene to Jay are fast, and we were going at a nice clip. The turn towards Wilmington is where the fun starts...the climb out of Jay is one of the harder ones. Pedaling along 86 to Wilmington is up and down, up and down, up and down. We did not do the Haselton Road out and back the first day (well MyKaren and Bart did, but they are studs). Off through Wilmington and then the steady climb back up to LP starts. The climb goes in sections, but it is pretty much a steady climb for several miles, going past White Face Mountain ski place and finally ending at a camp ground. This unnamed climb is now "the Bitch." Then its another potentially fast section to the 2 Cherry's and the 3 Bears and the final one, "the Bastard" when one turns onto Northwood. First lap done, nice sag by the lake, and then the fun started. The weather turned a bit ugly, rain, wind, temperature drop....off we went anyway, with ProKaren and Bethany their own group and then the remaining gang of 4 taking our time at the sag.
The Gates descent was hairy to say the least. I got pushed around a lot by the wind, which kept changing direction and swirling around. It was not my favorite thing. When I got to Keene and the sag, my shoulders where killing me from being so tense. I am proud of all of us for doing that descent. If, for some reason, the weather is bad for race day, we are all ready. I was tired the second lap, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and we all finished with some legs left for our transition run...only 20 minutes, but in the pouring rain and mean ProKaren made us run down the big hill in town and up again. It was hard, mostly because I was bonking, due to ineffective nutrition on the bike. But I did finish it.
We had a great dinner and played cards and all crashed fairly early...next day was the long run.