Had hoped to do something "epic" today, but weather was really too iffy to commit. Original plan was to hit Kingdom Trails. Lots of recent rain and threat of rain today suggested to try elsewhere. I'm really a fair conditions trail rider anyway. My idea of singletrack fun doesn't involve getting bounced off trees while riding slimy roots and roots. Plus its not good for the trails.
Dave and I decided to see what the radar showed when we got up and decide then. Sure enough, points north and west already had rain moving into them. We thought we could still squeeze a local road ride in by heading north a little ways, hitting Mt Kearsarge, then swing west of Dave's place and hit Pack Monadnock on the way back. Now some may say wait a minute, those mountains are at least 50 miles apart. Yep. Sometimes 100 miles just ain't enough. But our addaptive planning techniques didn't end when we started the ride.
The weather was fabulous starting out. A tad chilly, and I forgot my wind breaker. The sun was out with temp approaching 50F. We noticed the ominous clouds to the northwest getting closer as we rode north. We would be lucky to finish the ride without getting soaked. Making a wrong turn that added 8mi to the ride didn't help things.
About 0.3mi down from Kearsarge summit, looking back up.
We reach the base of Mt Kearsarge now with heavy overcast and the wind picking up. The state worker insisted no more perks for local cyclist - everybody must pay the $4 head toll. The next two miles are a real spanker, around 12% average grade, bits much steeper. It started misting out. I picked up the pace. If I got caught in a downpour far enough from the summit, I'd be inclined to turn around. I wanted this summit. It was one of only two major climbs planned in this ride. A century ride with only two major climbs is already lame enough by Hill Junkie standards. Going deeply anaerobic for the last mile, it started to rain much harder. It was going sideways at about 40mph. The summit quickly became socked with cloud cover, dashing any hopes of capturing a fall foliage shot. I knew I had to get down fast. It was see your breath cold, and I had no wind or rain protection with me. I didn't even put a foot down up top and started to head back down, stopping only for a moment to take a shot and put the camera in a zip-lock bag. The new pavement is nice, but it looked slicker than snot being wet and partially covered with leaves. It was not bombable.
Dave summiting Uncanoonuc, sunny now.
I waited at the tool booth for Dave to finish his climb. He was ready to call Beth for an extraction. On the descent, you could see a wall of water coming our way, but to the southeast it was still bright. If only we could head southeast fast enough to stay ahead of the rain. We decided to ride as long as we could before calling. We abandoned the plans to head through Henniker, Hillsborough and Peterborough. It looked really rainy in that direction. It was moving mostly northeast anyway, which would be perpendicular to our travel if we went back the way we came. The temperature must have dropped 10-15 degrees, and hypothermia was a real risk.
So we went back via Rt 103, Jewitt and Rt 13 to Goffstown. By the time we got to Goffstown, the sun was back out. Go figure. The original plan was to get 100+ miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing in. During the ride, Dave commented that Mountain Rd by Mt Uncanoonuc was finally repaved. I suggested we go check it out to make up for some of the lost vertical. Oh, and while we're at it, lets do Summit Rd too, ok? That was just enough to tip the death-o-meter into death march zone. Alpe d'Unc, as some locals call it, is nasty steep in spots. Do this with nearly 100 miles and 9000+ feet in the legs with biggish gears, you get the idea. Finishing the last 10 miles of the ride I watched mph tenths tick off our average as if we were walking our bikes. There is no flat way from Goffstown back to Dave's house. When we finally reached his house, I just flopped over into the grass and laid there a while. Why do we do this? It does feel really good when you stop. Maybe because we can. Certainly dubious training value, but hey, the season is essentially over. Iron Cross is next weekend, but that is equal parts fun ride and race. Today's ride stats: 114.4mi, 10,600ft vertical, 6:33hrs riding time.
This ride is giving us the middle finger. Despite only one big climb, it was a spanker.