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.
Average Speed: 18.45 MPH
Max Speed: 54 MPH
Elevation Gain: 4716 feet = 67.03 feet per mile