Thursday, June 16, 2016

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.

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