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