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 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

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