Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4NaaP Ride Report - 6/28/2017

The predicted chances for rain in Lincoln had dropped a bit yesterday but by this morning it was back up to 45%. Soon after I got on route 93 and I could first see the mountains in the distance, I saw they were already ensconced in dark clouds. I knew there would be very little chance of completing the ride dry today. It was a gamble I thought worth taking.

I arrived at the Subway in Lincoln around 10. I ordered a 6 inch chicken sub and a cookie. I downed them quickly and then proceeded to the Visitor Center. I kitted up and began the ride at 10:25. It was 65 degrees. A few short miles brought me to the Kinsman ascent with the wind mainly against me. I took the climb conservatively knowing the scope of the ride ahead of me. It didn’t feel that difficult. After cresting, I descended the other side. Against the wind, I topped out at just under 40MPH – the slowest I’ve done that descent.

I could see dark clouds all around but was hoping I could somehow dodge the rain. I got on 116 but my luck ran out at mile 17 when I encountered a wet road. A mile later, I hit actual rain. The only virgin road on the route would be Wells Road followed by Kerr that connected to route 18. It only rained on me for about three miles but the roads were soaked. At this point I was a bit on the cold side as the temperature had dropped and I was in short sleeves. I was looking forward to the Franconia ascent to get warm. The climbing started on Kerr and then was quite consistent going up 18. This is the better way to take this road because the heaves and cracks are no issue going uphill. I again took the climb at a measured pace. It wasn’t too difficult.

I reached the top and got on the bike path that connects to route 3. I didn’t see a single person on it. I had warmed up at this point. The rain was stopped but I still got spray from the wet path and then on route 3. The road stayed wet for about ¾ of the way to Twin Mountain. This was a good place to make up some time. I didn’t go all out but kept a good pace. I wasn’t sure where I was going to stop in Twin Mountain but knew that I only wanted to make one stop for the whole ride. I ended up going to the store on the left just before the intersection with route 302. I might have actually overdid my food intake. I was hoping for some real food like a sandwich but didn’t see any. I instead got chocolate covered pretzels, a large Snickers bar, a protein bar, Powerade and water. I was determined to not bonk later on so I sat on a chair on the porch of the store and ate it all. It was well over 1000 calories.

As I pulled away, I again felt cold but once I started on 302, the sun came out intermittently and I warmed up. The wind was behind me at this point and I made good time over to the gentle ascent of Crawford. My first thought when I encountered the rain on the other side was that I’d likely ride out of it and hopefully get dry roads on the Crawford side. This is what happened fortunately. The Crawford descent was the crown jewel of the ride for me. I had done it twice before and found it to be extremely fun. After summiting, I looked behind me and saw a pickup pulling a large trailer a ways behind. I was determined to not let in interfere with my descent. The angle of the descent was such that I caught a fair amount of headwind but I poured my energy into the pedals on the curvy part in the beginning and I could see the truck was further behind. I then gave a final push and got in a tuck while taking the lane. There weren’t many people around. I saw a group over to the left by the waterfall but they showed no signs of venturing near the road. I topped out at 52.16MPH – my slowest of the three descents due to the wind – but still more than enough to put in that special place that I find going over 50 provides. I let out a couple of “F___ yeah’s” while keeping my speed as high as possible. The truck was way behind at this point.

This section of 302 is fun all the way down to Bartlett because of it being all downhill. I mostly had the wind behind me today also. I put out pretty high watts but still reined it in some knowing that I had two big climbs to go. I passed the 60 mile point as I was starting the Bear ascent and saw that my average speed at that point was 18.88. I knew I’d lose some of that but was hoping it wouldn’t be too much. The Bear ascent is so steady that you can just get in a groove and pound it out. I encountered a brief shower here but not enough to really wet the road. The descent on the other side really isn’t steep except for a bit at the end where I did get up to 46MPH.

At this point in the ride, I was still feeling good. I thinking fueling sufficiently is very important on long rides, especially ones with lots of climbing. Better to over-fuel than to take a chance on your body not having enough. I get out on the Kancamagus and was able to keep a decent pace on the flat part. It wasn’t long though before I could see in the distance a dark wall of clouds and I had heading right toward it. About half way up the steep part, the rain started and it came down quite hard. It didn’t affect my climbing any except that the wind also picked up and especially as I got near the summit, I could feel it against me. Particularly at this point in my ride, this climb seemed to go on a long time. I just wanted to get it over with but I think my apprehension about the coming descent caused it to seem longer.

I finally crested over the pass. All I can say is that the descent utterly sucked. The pavement is not good for one thing so even in dry conditions, it requires care but now it was not only wet but recently wet and I could see what appeared to be little bubbles that sometimes pop up when pavement first gets wet and the water mixes with the oil on the road. To make things worse, the temperature had dropped and I was soaking wet. I couldn’t stop shivering and this movement caused the bike to not be as steady as it normally would be. Those first few steep twists were kind of scary. I didn’t dare brake too hard but had to very careful cornering. After the steepest part had passed, things got somewhat better. After the hairpin turn, I felt more confident to let my speed run out some. For one thing, it was warmer and I wasn’t shivering as much. I had some pent up angst and was able to unleash that by hammering the remaining distance back to Lincoln. I passed a few cyclists on this stretch.

I pulled into the Visitor Center relieved and feeling a nice sense of accomplishment as this was my longest solo ride. So, I got wet twice but I’m still glad I seized this day. There were positives to the weather. There was no risk of overheating. Also, the crowds were sparse everywhere on the route. Even on the Kanc, I would go long stretches without seeing any cars. This loop is definitely a keeper and I hope to do it at least once per year going forward.

Miles: 91.71
Time: 5:00:59
Average Speed: 18.28
Max Speed: 52.16MPH
Elevation Gain: 6565 feet = 71.58 feet per mile

Hurricane Mountain Ride Report - 6/14/2017

I got to Storyland just before 11:00 and was on the road by 11. There was more wind than I expected and I was going straight into it as I headed north on route 16. I prefer to ride with the wind to start if possible as it takes me a while to get into a rhythm but this was the situation today and I was against the wind all the way to Gorham. The Pinkham Notch climb is not particularly hard but I was exposed to the non-stop wind so it was a tougher slog than usual. I did enjoy the beautiful views of the Presidential Range to my left. I noticed there were still some snow fields on Washington.

Route 16 had been recently repaved from Dolly Copp to Gorham. I made my one stop to refuel at the Cumberland Farms there. It was only about 22 miles into the route so I was able to get away with just one bottle up to that point. I got Powerade, water and a protein bar. I resumed my ride now on route 2. This is not a pleasant road for cycling as there is a small shoulder and trucks pass frequently. I was only on it for about four miles though until I got to the left for North Road. I now had the wind more behind me and did not see a single car until I came out back on route 2 about 11 miles down the road. I do not use a GPS but rely on printed maps still. I took a wrong turn on Meadow but soon corrected my error. I really started to enjoy the ride more on North road as it passes through idyllic settings with zero cars.
I popped out on route 2 very briefly and then took 113 heading to Evans Notch. There was only one car that passed me on the whole ascent. With the wind behind me, I was riding close to 19MPH until the final steeper part leading to the notch itself. I stopped briefly there. The view is beautiful and very peaceful. I ate a Cliff gel there and readied myself for the descent. I had only climbed Evans Notch from the other direction before so this would be my first time doing the descent in this direction. All I can say is that it’s a descent that begs to be ripped! First, the surroundings are kind of unique. There’s a thick canopy of forest that makes it feel like you’re in a tunnel of sorts. Add in the perfect pavement and total absence of cars and just the right about of turns. Still, since it was my first time from this direction, I did brake some and only maxed out at 47MPH.

I had a nice adrenaline buzz at the bottom and continued still with the wind behind me on 113 (Stow Road). Again, this stretch of road was almost totally devoid of cars. Only one passed me in the stretch all the way to South Chatham Road. This road connects to Green Hill Road which eventually leads to the right onto Hurricane Mountain Road. I ate my last gel shortly before this. This ascent of Hurricane Mountain Road would be the big challenge of this ride. I had done the ascent from the other direction once before and had to stop twice because it was so hard. I HATED that and was determined to not let it happen from this side. The climb is rated a category 2 according to Strava. I approached it conservatively as I think part of the problem last time was doing too much standing early and my heart-rate went through the roof. This time I only stood when I had to due to its insane steepness. There were sections where you’d look ahead and just gasp at what appeared to be a wall in front of you (the sign says the climb is 17% grade). I’m happy to say I cleaned it this time with no stopping. I didn’t stop at the summit either but proceeded with the descent of the other side. Unlike the Evans Notch descent, this one did not beg to be ripped at all! The pavement is full of bumps and heaves. It addition to the steep grade the road twists constantly. I only let my speed run out to 30MPH and tried to give my rims even just seconds to cool down. I have to say, it was still a fun descent requiring constant attention to handling the bike as the corners are even sharper on this side.

I made to the bottom and came out on route 16. But did I continue on it using the quickest route back to Storyland? NO! I took the right onto 16A which leads to Thorn Hill Road. This was new territory for me. My legs were pummeled from the Hurricane ascent but I was ready for more punishment. This hill is 13% grade and I had to do a few more linked track stands at times again. I had also run out of water. But as Doug Jansen points out, no epic ride is truly great until it crosses over into death march territory. I finally made it to the top of Thorn Hill. The descent was okay but since it was my first time on the road, I had to hold it to 42MPH (speed limit was 25). I came to the end, took the left and went through a covered bridge before getting back on route 16. I emptied the tank on this last section back to Storyland. Now with the wind behind me, I topped out at 44MPH on the descent approaching the parking lot.

I got back to the car and grabbed the gallon of spring water. Water at 85 degrees never tasted so good. I took many gulps before I did anything else.

Miles: 76.87
Time: 4:41:31
Average Speed: 16.38
Max Speed: 47MPH
Elevation Gain: 5479 feet = 71.28 feet per mile

This was my slowest mountain ride ever. Not sure what to say except that the 22 mile stretch into a strong wind to start was hard to overcome. I was at 17.6 before the Hurricane ascent. That really did a number on things. I’m still pleased with the ride and especially feel accomplished to have cleaned the toughest ascent in my cycling career.

Kinsman Ride Report - 9/21/2016

Kinsman Ride Report

I had one of those experiences when time slows way down and milliseconds are stretched to a crazy degree. I was about 35 miles into my ride, not going fast, perhaps low 20s along route 302 when a deer jumped out in front of me. The vegetation was very thick and I had no warning. It was literally no more than 10-15 feet in front of me. I had no time to react at all. All I did was look to my left as I simultaneously heard the screech of skidding tires and then a sickening thud and crunch as a pickup truck coming the opposite way collided with the large female deer. The truck left half of its front bumper in the middle of the road and, incredibly, just kept going.

Not only did I just miss the deer as it crossed in front of me, but the body then ricocheted off the truck back towards me landing in my lane probably 20 feet behind where my bike was. I remember instinctively ducking my head and expecting some kind of impact. I didn’t know if there was a car in my lane behind me or not. Fortunately there wasn’t. The whole episode took only seconds but every tiny part I distinctly remember.

I crossed the road and got off my bike. Another pickup had now pulled over and the driver asked if I was okay. He then started walking back to the carcass of the deer. It must have been killed instantly as I waited about five minutes to collect myself and it never moved.

It was a weird feeling to have had such a close call. I was a little shaken but continued with my ride. To go back a bit, my ride had gone well up to that point. I brought a different bike than the previous two times I had ascended Kinsman Notch heading west over its steepest part. This one had a low gear of 39X27 rather than 39X28 that I had had the previous two times. That did make a difference as I found I had to stand for the steepest part which was a 12.7% grade. I crested not feeling too bad though and continued down the other side into a slight headwind. I topped out at 42MPH. I then took the left onto route 116. It had been beautifully repaved all the way down to where it joins route 10. They were still doing some work on it and I had to stop at one point and then was instructed to continue in the opposite lane. There were three steeper sections that comprised the descent to route 10. On the first two I topped out at 41 and the last one at 43. That last section was particularly nice as there is a beautiful expansive view that I took in as I enjoyed the perfect pavement under my tires.

I then continued on route 10 which is also route 302 for part of the traverse over to route 117 (Sugar Hill Road). My deer incident occurred about four miles before the turn onto 117. About two miles before turning onto 117, I stopped at a Dollar General and refueled with Powerade, Kit Kats and Snickers with almonds. They had a bubbler there with excellent water so I didn’t need to buy any. I asked the cashier about how often they see deer and she said that it happens often. There was a sign several miles before this but it only warned of moose crossings.

I really enjoyed Sugar Hill Road (route 117). Not a single car passed me on my side of the road as I made my way over to route 18 and Franconia. The wind was now behind me and it helped with the climb up to the village. I passed a cyclist on the way and warned him about deer!

The descent into Franconia is enjoyable also. I topped out at 45MPH as I neared the T junction. There was plenty of time to slow down as I was cognizant of what was coming.
After briefly being on route 18, I took a right onto route 116 making my way back to route 112. I stopped briefly to consume the last of my Snickers and then began the ascent on this side of Kinsman Notch. It’s easier than the other side plus the wind, what there was of it, was behind me. My favorite part of the ride was now coming up: the descent of the other side of Kinsman. I had already set a speed record of 56.5MPH here the last time I did this so while I pedaled pretty hard into it, I didn’t go crazy. My speed this time was 54MPH which made it the third fastest for me. My bike was rock steady with nary a wiggle as I kept my body still with a light grip on the bars. It was exhilarating for sure but honestly, after the deer incident, my body was already loaded with adrenaline and I think it affected me less than other times. I finished the ride back to the Visitors’ Center and emptied my tank on what was mostly downhill riding.

Final Stats:
Miles: 70.36
Time: 3:48:47
Average Speed: 18.45 MPH
Max Speed: 54 MPH
Elevation Gain: 4716 feet = 67.03 feet per mile

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ride Report for July 3, 2016: Bow Lake: 126/Wingate/Holmes/Pitman/N Barnstead/Cook/Berry/Birch Hill to Coburn Woods out and back

I had one of my best “adventure” bike rides in a while yesterday. I decided to hit some new roads in the Bow Lake/Strafford NH area. I knew I’d probably hit gravel and some of the roads were indeed that surface.

I’ve never liked gravel riding and particularly on new gravel roads, I took it very carefully on my way to my destination. Level or uphill riding is not an issue but I’m inclined to wuss out on descents on that surface. I had about 8 miles of unknown road before I’d connect with previously ridden areas. I wondered how long the gravel would continue. There were washboard sections with very high levels of vibration that took some getting used to.

I pressed on and was rewarded when after about 3 miles of gravel, the road surface switched to pavement, and not just any pavement but a perfectly smooth and pristine type. I soon began to climb and reached the aptly named Ridge Top road. I felt a surge of adrenaline mixed with wonder as I saw the road drop precipitously in front of me. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere looking across a valley to another ridge on the horizon. As I began the descent, more of the road came into view and I could see it was a plummet as far as I could see. It was straight, however, with a clear sight-line so I lowered myself into a tuck and enjoyed almost 1.5 miles of this steep descent at over 10% grade. I had the wind against me so only topped out at 47MPH but it was very enjoyable.

I rejoined previously known roads and then went a little further into new territory before turning around to go back the way I came. On Birch Hill road, I saw a mother deer and a baby fawn on the side of the road. They ran along the road for a bit before exiting into the woods. Before long, I now had to climb that long hill that I had just descended. I enjoyed the challenging climb and then took the descent the other way from Ridge Top road. This wasn’t quite as steep at 9% but I had the wind with me so I hit 47 here also. I then came to the gravel again but took it more aggressively this way because I knew what was coming. As much as I tried to avoid all the rocks I could, I inevitably hit some but my tires held. I had inflated them to just over 100 pounds knowing I would be on this surface. That pressure affords less grip but protects against pinch flats. I ended up going over 30 on some of the gravel descents which is a new speed for me. By the end of the gravel, I had even begun to enjoy the challenge of it
I finished the ride on familiar roads including the Parker Mountain descent. I thought the wind was going to be behind me but it was at an angle and I only managed 50. I was hoping to break 51 which was the fastest I had reached previously on this particular descent.

All the newness and exciting terrain produced one of the best flow states I’ve had cycling. My world shrunk to a hyper focus of my environment and the bike.

Final Stats:
Distance: 48.87 miles
Time: 2:54:37
Average Speed: 16.79MPH
Max Speed: 50MPH
Elevation Gain: 3926 feet = 80.34 feet per mile

That glacial average speed can be partially attributed to my braking on the gravel. I'm confident that next time on this route, I'll brake far less. This is also my first route in which I exceeded 80 feet per mile. Not quite at the Hill Junkie - Doug Jansen - 100 feet per mile stamp of approval but closer! I fully subscribe to the maxim that the higher you go (in elevation gain), the "higher" you'll get in endorphins.

The route:

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ride Report for May 29, 2016 - Bow Lake

We went up to Bow Lake, NH today. As usual, I brought my bike and this time had a new route planned with almost all roads I had never ridden before. The first 15 miles were on numbered routes but then I was veering into the back country.

I knew from past experience that I could just about be guaranteed to hit gravel roads. I did but the first few miles of such were not bad. I always prefer pavement but these were in most cases well-packed. There was one point where I missed a turn because it really wasn't a road that my map claimed was there. It was more of a path. I realized I was off course and looked for someone for help. A nice man stopped his mower when I approached him and used his phone GPS to show me where I was and how to get back to my mapped course. The site I used to map my ride isridewithgps.com. It doesn't distinguish between gravel and paved. It also doesn't distinguish between gravel and path!

I was soon back on pavement and on route 43. From there I took a slight short-cut and missed the very beginning of Old Mountain road. I found out later that there is prominent sign there that says "No Outlet". Not knowing this, I followed my route and did the anticipated relatively steep 12% climb. After reaching the apex, I began the descent only to notice gravel ahead. I slowed. It wasn't long before the gravel turned into a rocky and muddy "road" with roots. I had 2 more miles to go on my planned route before I'd reach the next road.

Soon, the road narrowed into what was really a path. I didn't have great confidence riding a road bike and being clipped in. I did all my mountain biking not using clipless pedals. I got into a rutted section and all of sudden low branches forced me to try to get out of it and I was unable to unclip in time. I was hardly moving but I tipped over on my left side hurting my wrist and some ribs. Not terribly so but it knocked the wind out of me.

I carried on because I really didn't know how to get back without continuing to follow this route. My phone doesn't have GPS. The path dipped sharply and was barely ride-able. I decided to press on but as I went a little further there was a gate. I could see that after the gate the path had devolved into something I wouldn't attempt. There was overgrown grass about waist-high and mud everywhere. It looked like it had been used very little by even walkers.

Now I was faced with a dilemma as my printed out maps didn't show me alternate ways to get back. I decided to reverse direction to the point of reaching the apex again of the steep hill and hoped to have cell phone service. I did and was able to place a call to ask for directions. It turned out that route 43 would intersect with where I needed to go so it didn't take long for me to get back. That descent on Old Mountain road was very twisty, steep and technical. I took it conservatively as my nerves were somewhat shot from the recent difficulties. I made it back the rest of the way without incident though my lift shifter wasn't working that well because I had landed on it.

Today's ride was certainly an adventure. Gravel roads I can take but paths that prevent following your planned route are not pleasant and not something I enjoy on a road bike. I might try a variation of this route again but will know what to avoid. It was still an enjoyable experience very much out of my ordinary day to day routine. I saw some nice remote areas that I've never been to and got in lots of hilly riding - my preferred terrain for cycling.

Final Stats:
Distance: 41.03 miles
Time: 2:18:22
Average Speed: 17.79
Max Speed: 42.0
Elevation Gain: 2594 feet = 63.22 feet per mile

Ride report for June 15, 2016
From WMVC in Lincoln, NH: 112/116/18/142/302/3/bike path/18/116/112

I experienced some firsts with this ride – my first time seeing a bear in the White Mountains and a new high speed record!

The day didn’t start auspiciously as I woke at 4AM and knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep. I tried to rest until 5 but then got up and made coffee. I left the house around 7 and pulled into Subway in Lincoln at around 9:30. I got a 6 inch chicken salad sub and a cookie. After polishing these off, I parked at the White Mountain Visitor Center.

No matter what direction you take from this start, you’re going to face some steep climbing soon. It’s not ideal to eat this close to the start of the ride knowing this exertion is coming. I should perhaps eat on the way up instead. The route I planned would have a stop at about 29 miles at a store so this helped in that I only filled one water bottle and thus had less weight to climb with.

After a few short miles I began my ascent of Kinsman Notch on 112 heading into a pretty stiff wind. It’s a tough way to start the ride but I didn’t find the climb quite as challenging as the one other time I did it. I was thinking already that if this wind held for my return trip, it would make for an interesting descent because then it would be with me!

I crested the notch and pedaled quite hard into the descent but had the wind against me. I only topped out at just over 42MPH. At about 12 miles into the ride, I took the right onto route 116. It had been repaved. While it was definitely an improvement, I noticed that they had used a very thin coat of new pavement and cracks were already starting to form.

I made it to the junction of route 18, took a right and then soon took a left onto route 142. There’s a considerable amount of climbing as this heads towards Bethlehem. I was on the last climb before reaching the apex when I saw movement perhaps 200 feet ahead of me on the road. At first I wasn’t sure what animal it was but it soon became apparent that this large and very furry creature was a bear! I didn’t really know what to do. There were no cubs behind it so I figured it probably would just continue on its way after crossing the road. I thought of stopping to wait a bit but really wanted to keep going. Route 142 is very quiet so I got over to the yellow line in the middle of the road. I’m not sure what those few feet away from the side would have really done but by now my adrenaline was pumping and I hauled up the rest of the climb, taking many looks behind me! I was not followed. I then saw a sign for the 11% grade descent that would take me into Bethlehem. I had taken this route before from the other direction so I knew this was coming. I had the wind behind me and was really hopped up on the adrenaline. I ended up maxing out at 49.17MPH and had plenty of time to slow down before coming to the stop light in town. I’d have to say that, after taking it in both directions, the best way to enjoy the vertical would be in this direction. When I took it the other way, the descent featured worse pavement and at the end I had to brake quite hard coming to the intersection with route 18.

I stopped at the store in Bethlehem and between the bear encounter and that descent right afterwards, I was in an altered state. I had to really think of what I was doing in there. I grabbed some Gatorade, water, peanut butter M&M’s and an apple pastry. I filled both water bottles this time and downed the food. I was soon continuing on route 302. I had the wind behind me and there’s a nice 7% descent heading in this direction so it wasn’t long before I came to route 3. However, on the way I saw two moose in a bog to the right.

I faced some wind on route 3 but the pavement is fantastic and it was a pleasant traverse. I had never taken the bike path before but saw the parking lot sign and underneath it a picture of a bike. There was no one else on the bike path so I wasn’t slowed in any way. It soon ended with route 18 beginning. I enjoyed the views of Cannon mountain as I approached and crossed route 93. This was all virgin road to me. I had been cautioned about the pavement on the descent on route 18. It’s marked as a 10% grade for 2 miles. I had the whole road to myself so could pick my line. I confess to some braking but still managed to almost reach 47MPH. There were some cracks in the pavement and some frost heaves to watch out for. The pavement wasn’t nearly as bad though as the Gonzo Pass descent on the other side of route 116. The downside to the not-so-great pavement is that I had to semi-stand to cushion the bumps and therefore couldn’t really rest my legs on the descent. I would say it was still a fun descent albeit one where you really need to be careful.

I came back to route 116 and took the left. The wind was now more behind me. I arrived back on route 112 and took the left to begin the ascent of Kinsman Notch from this other side. It’s not nearly as bad from this direction at only 9% grade plus the wind was now behind me. I reached the summit and did not pause. I pedaled as hard as I could into the 12% grade descent knowing the wind was behind me. Time seemed to slow. I had the whole lane to myself and could feel my velocity swiftly increasing. I could sense I was in new territory speedwise. The wind swirled some and I was also now 70 miles into the ride so my legs weren’t as steady. About midway through the descent, I felt some shimmy. I didn’t panic though and calmly put both my legs against the top tube of my bike. This worked immediately to steady the bike completely. The descent went on but when I had finally slowed a fair amount, I looked at my computer: MAX SPEED 56.50MPH!!!! I was psyched as I had never been able to top the 55 I had done on this very descent way back in 2003. The rest of the ride was easy as I poured the last of my energy to finish back at the Visitor Center.

Final Stats:
Distance: 76.72 miles
Time: 4:12:10
Average Speed: 18.25
Max Speed: 56.50
Elevation Gain: 5309 feet = 69.20 feet per mile

I’m not overly thrilled with that average speed but given the wind and the lack of sleep, it’s okay. With all the bad news going on the world, it was so nice to take a complete break and not think of anything else but the mountains and my bike! I’d highly recommend this route.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ride Report: Kanc from Conway/Bear Notch/302 to Crawford Notch summit - out and back

I did this ride on September 16, 2015:

I have ridden all these roads before both ways except for Bear Notch which I had never ridden from Bartlett to the Conway side.

I left MA around 8 and got to the Subway in Ossipee around 9:45. I got the same thing as last time - a six inch sub and a cookie. After polishing these off, I continued on to Conway and parked at the Rangers' station at the beginning of the Kancamagus.

I started my ride just after 10:30. What an awesome day for a ride! It was warm but with low humidity. I could see far away peaks with clarity. The first 6 miles of the Kanc is still broken up pavement. After that, up to the turnoff to Bear Notch, the road had been redone with a new surface. It's chipseal, not my favorite surface as it seems to not be as fast and not as pleasant to ride on but at least it had no cracks. The breakdown lane was covered with some type of black material that looked sticky in places. I tried to avoid riding there when possible.

I turned onto Bear Notch and the pavement is fantastic for almost the whole road. The climb wasn't too demanding. I hadn't ridden down the other side since 2002 so I didn't really remember it. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed as I thought it was going to be faster. I only just topped 40 once. There are some nice twists to the road but you're really not going fast enough to make them interesting. In fact, I burned more matches pedaling harder than I intended to try to get my speed up. It's a nice long descent though with very little car interference.

I arrived in Bartlett and took the left onto 302. I debated whether to stop at a store about 7 miles from there. I still had liquid in both my bottles, water in one and a coke/Gatorade/water mix in the other. I decided not to stop feeling pretty confident that I could get water at the summit building of Crawford Notch. That was the right call. It's a steady climb but nothing too strenuous until the very end when you get some claimed 13% grade according to the sign. My ridewithgps track doesn't show it as being that steep. I stood for much of that portion. It definitely gets the heart rate up but I didn't have a sensation of wanting to throw up like I did on the steep side of Kinsman.

I arrived at the summit and pedaled down a dirt path to find both a fountain and a faucet. I had a good drink and refilled both bottles. I almost immediately left to return the way I came. I hammered pretty hard going into the descent but I think I had a bit of headwind. I only tied my max of 52.64 MPH that I did last year. It's a fantastic descent though. I did have to watch carefully for the section by the waterfall. I saw a couple of guys on the right side of the road working on placing tripods. They were oblivious to me but didn't show any signs of going into the road. There were no cars at all so I had no issues taking the lane. There's something about the 50MPH barrier. I get a distinct sensation of flying once that is crossed.

I continued down back to Bear Notch road now descending almost the whole way. I went fairly hard but didn't go all out knowing that I still had the Bear Notch ascent from the Bartlett side to do. My plan was to eat a GU packet after turning onto Bear Notch. I thought I had one in my seat bag but I didn't. I thought of hunting for a store in Bartlett but just decided to press on as I still had plenty of water and I had fueled the previous night and that morning very well.

As mentioned this was my first ascent of Bear Notch from this side. I enjoyed the climb. It's very steady and you're able to get a nice rhythm going. My plan from the beginning was to bide my time before going all out. I knew the last 16 miles were almost all downhill so now was the time to empty my matchbook. The descent of Bear Notch on this side was a little faster - I topped out at 42. Again, a few twists but nothing where you really have to lean into the turns.

I got back on the Kanc and hammered the rest. I unfortunately got a flat with 3 miles to go so that briefly interrupted things. It was mostly likely caused on the really crappy pavement.

It was particularly nice to get a midweek ride in with so little traffic on all the roads. I generally prefer loops but this out and back was very satisfying.

Final stats:
71.67 miles
19.00 average
52.64 max speed
4293 feet elevation gain = 59.90 feet per mile