Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lake Placid Ironman

This past weekend I was a moto volunteer in the Lake Placid Ironman. I spent the weekend in the Adirondacks riding around as well.
Saturday morning we were to meet in front of the Olympic Center, The Herb Brooks Arena and home of the "1980 Miracle on Ice" where the phrase "Do you believe in miracles?" became a part of American sports history. I arrived around 9:45 or so and there were already some bikes there.

We hung out for a while checking things out ,talking, and waiting to get some information. I walked over and checked out all the hubbub going on over at the speed skating rink.

After getting a brief overview from the Moto organizer we decided to ride the course, go up Whiteface, and have a group lunch. Going up the Whiteface road was already on my agenda for the day so I decided to go. We road part of the course then we stopped at A&W in Wilmington for lunch.

After a nice lunch (I forgot to get the requisite food shot) it was on to Whiteface Mountain and up the Memorial Highway.

We all parked up at the top and walked around and talked.

Our bikes parked at the top

The rest of the guys wanted to go hike up the mountain. I was going to go at first, but I decided I didn't really feel like hiking 26 stories up in my riding gear, and I had other sites I wanted to visit for the day. So I told them I was going to hit the road, said my goodbyes, and went back down the road.

One last photo before taking off

I wanted to go over to Ausable Chasm and check out the falls. I hadn't been there in a couple years. There's been a lot of rain so I figured the falls would be flowing pretty good. The views did not disappoint. I took Rt 86 towards Rt 9N and the weather was perfect and the skies gorgeous. I spotted this view of Whiteface while riding.

Once I arrived at Ausable I parked the bike and walked around a while just taking some pictures and enjoying the sunshine.

The view on the other side of the chasm

After hanging out a while it was time for me to move on. I wanted to look for "ghost town" called Tahawus near Newcomb. I went back the other direction on Rt 9N towards the Keene Valley, home of the Adirondack High Peaks.
Once in Keene I went up Hurricane Road. I've driven this road many times with the NYSOC but never on a motorcycle. From 1948 to 1964 it was the site of an annual spring sports car hill climb, initiated by Mountain House proprietor Walter Biesemeyer and sponsored by the Motor Sports Club of America as well as by the Keene Fire Department. It was fun going up but it was a lot of work as the pavement was very bumpy and broken up in sections. I think I can drive it a lot faster in my car, still, gaining all that elevation in such a short time was still a lot of fun. The drive down Rt 9N to Rt 73 was worth it for the views anyway.

Then I continued east on Rt 73 through the rest of the High Peaks area. I never tire of driving through here. I stopped to take some pictures of a waterfall along Rt 73

After that it was onto I-87 for just one exit to start looking for Tahawus. I got off at Boreas Road. While driving about 20 miles or so into Boreas road my low fuel light came on. Doh! I went the entire 25 mile stretch of road to Tahawas Road without seeing another single car. I searched my GPS for gas stations I couldn't find anything close. I decided to continue down Tahawus to see if I could find the ghost town in a short distance. After turning onto the road there was a sign that said dead end, I continued on. I drove about 8 miles and I was really getting worried about my fuel situation and it was kind of ruining my enjoyment of the trip. I came to a 180 degree turn in the road and I decided to stop there.

There also was an old road that continued on straight but had large boulders blocking the road.

I decided I shouldn't push on down the road since I didn't know how far it went and I needed fuel bad. So I was going to just hike in a bit and see what I could see. The road was over grown with lots of trees and things growing through it. I came on a large hill with lots of loose rock and shale on it, so of course I had to climb it to see what was up there.

It was quite a climb up and once up there I realized I had gone up quite a bit.

Once up there I was surprised to see a lake. I am assuming it's there because of the dug out ground from the quarry. There was also lots of broken rock and shale around. I could see the ghost town off in the distance. I was on the opposite side of the lake from it.

There was a cool fire road up there and I was wishing I had a dual sport bike.

I checked things out a while and climbed back down to my bike. That was much more scary than the way up. Then it was onto the business of trying to find gas. I looked on the GPS and Newcomb was 14 miles away including back tracking on Tahawus Road. I arrived in Newcomb and there was not a gas station to be found. I would barely classify this as a town. It was a collection of houses. I live in a small town and there are two gas stations. I saw someone mowing his lawn so I asked him where the nearest gas station was. He said it was "14 miles west, you'll come to a stop sign and it will be on the left." Ugh, I had already gone 167 miles on my tank and that was about the farthest I had ever gone. I had no choice so I pushed on. I short shifted and coasted down hills. I finally came to the stop sign and much to my surprise I was in Long Lake. Sure enough there was a Stewart's on the left. I gassed up and talked to a couple other guys out on a ride that were camping in the Adirondacks. One guy was on a BMW K100, I can't remember his name, and the other guy was on a Harley, his name was George. We talked a little and I decided I'd better head back since it was well after five. I head back and settled down for the evening since I had to be up around 4 am the next day to be in front of the hockey rink at 6 am. I put the "race support" sticker on my bike and that was it for the day.

Sunday morning I headed out after breakfast and got to Placid around 5:30am. I thought I was early but I was glad I got there so early. They had big barricades up and none of the cops could tell me how to work my way around. I hooked up with another guy on an R11RT and we eventually made our way over. I rolled up around 5:50 and was surprised to see so many bikes already there.

I was freezing because I only had on a t-shirt and shorts under my riding gear and it was about 40 outside. There was a tent for volunteers to get food and beverages but they weren't open yet. I noticed a restaurant across the street that was open for breakfast. So I walked over to get some coffee. They had an outdoor area set up so I started pouring my coffee and then the woman at the counter rang me up and it was $2.00!! For an 8oz cup! I'm sorry but that's just plain gouging. The coffee was horrible to boot. I should have spit it back at her. So then we waited around until 7 and the swimming event started. I couldn't see it but I could hear the crowds cheering. I wouldn't want to be swimming 2.5 miles in the lake in that weather. After the swimming came the cycling portion and it was pretty interesting watching the transition area.

Everyone had a slightly different method. Some got dressed into thier cycling gear in the changing tent. Some would put on helmets or shoes while running. I saw one guy that already had his clip on shoes attached to his bike. Then he hopped on, put his feet in and closed the velcro straps. As the rider came out of the tent, a man would holler out the rider's number with a megaphone, and a volunteer would go fetch his bike for him or her.

Then they started giving assignments and all the TV and photographers wanted to be on bikes with a backrest and I don't blame them. I don't have one so I was told I would ride around a marshal. Apparently you are not allowed to draft in the TT portion of the triathlon so these marshals cruise around on the bikes to make sure no one cheats. Well there was way more bikes than marshals so I was told to just cruise around the course and pretend to be doing something official and to occasionally follow riders to keep them "honest". So I did that and drove around. It was fun but also nerve racking around the village since there wasn't a lot of room and you were very close to the contestants. When I was doing my first lap I saw a rider take a pretty bad fall at about 40 mph. I helped him out of the way and carried his bike across the street. He legs was all cut up and bleeding and his carbon fiber hub on the front wheel broke. I got his rider number and went back to get some help for him. Then I just rode out the rest of the day. I got home a little after dark. It was an interesting day and something I've always wanted to do. I've always seen those Beemer guys riding their motos in the Tour De France and thought I wanted to do that. Well I didn't do the TDF but at least I got to do it in a sanctioned national event. I am glad I did it but I doubt I would do it again.
You can see all of the photos here.
Lake Placid Iron Man 20070722