what i did on the weekend

i have nothing to brag about.
Not when compared to the feat two friends achieved.
The most i can say is that between Friday morning
and Sunday evening, i drove more than 900 miles
gazed at some marvelous countryside, skies,  and mountains.
And for about 3 hours Saturday morning i sat, waiting
on top of a mountain
ringing a cowbell
with a few hundred others
cheering and marveling at 600 of our fellow beings.

Here's how it went:
Friday morning, 9AM
My sister and i hurridly packed the car
bought breakfast at our favorite little market on the way out of town
came to a sudden halt when we saw this a few miles north of home.

Sunflowers
We then proceeded to drive 440+ miles north
to Bethel, Maine
where we met up with two friends
who are
without question
the craziest two people we know.
They love to race
not simply ride
their bicycles up mountains.

Saturday morning, 5AM.
Woke, dressed, wolfed down oats with fresh, wild blueberries
met up with some more friends/cheerleaders
then drove an hour to the base of Mt. Washington.
Then, our pack of cheerleaders wished the crazies well and
did the sensible thing.
We drove to the 6,288 summit
where we waited for them along with the hundreds of other family and friends
of other insane individuals.

Summit


In the world of cycling
The Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb
is known as the toughest hillclimb in the world.
Seriously.
Nothing on the Tour de France tests riders the way
this mountain does.
7.6 miles in length, it has an average grade of 12%
with extended sections of 18%
and, then
the final 50 yards is an astonishing 22% grade!
It is difficult for most humans to walk up that last stretch.

If you read those chalk messages
you'll note that there are lots of moms and dads
who conquor this mountain on two wheels.
Everyone that crosses the finish line
gets a much deserved medal
and phenomenal sense of physical, mental, and spiritual accomplishment.

Almost there


They call it the "Climb to the Clouds"

Waiting

And the weather can change within minutes

Climb to the clouds

There are no guard rails.
A long section of the road is unpaved--because erosion makes tarmac implausible.
There are spots where 2 autos cannot pass each other.

And the mountain is infamous for its weather
the observatory at the summit embraces the motto:
"Home of the World's Worst Weather". In point of fact,
in the spring of 1934, observers clocked a wind gust of 231 mph,
which remains a world record for a land based weather station.

Some years, the riders start out in sunshine and 65 degrees
ride up through the fog and clouds and into sleet
to reach the summit where it is 30 degrees colder.
Two years ago
the riders nearly fried in the sun.
And, yes...winds often blow riders off their bikes.

This year
the weather was perfect. Sun and clouds
temperatures in the 70s and
a gentle, cooling breeze.

Both Lili and Carol, veterans of this race
beat their old records
Carol cut a whopping 6 minutes off her time
coming in just under 2 hours.

Triumph 2

Being veterans
Lili (left) and Carol are pals with the organizers and many of the volunteers
who joined us in singing "Happy Birthday" to Lili
as she approached and crossed the finish line
on her 50th birthday!!

i bow before them both.