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