What a day for a mountains ride! Dave P and I went up to Lincoln to ride some real hills. Forecast looked great and was pretty much spot on - sunny and 50's by the afternoon. This was my one chance to get a respectable hill ride in before flying off the Hawaii for some of the biggest hillclimbs in the world.
We parked at the White Mountains Visitor Center just off Exit 32. Another rider rode by while we were kitting up. It was still chilly at 9:30am, so therma-fleece tights and two layers up top were needed. I opted out of the wind shell. I brought my Dean Ti road bike out to play, getting sick of my winter tank that is past due for new tires and drivetrain. The plan was to ride over Kancamagus Pass to Bear Notch Rd, turn around and go back over, pass through Lincoln, climb over Gonzo Pass to Rt 25, turn around and go back over to finish. Simple, right? Just two roads and two passes. I've never climbed both sides of both passes in one ride before.
Riding the Kanc (Kancamagus Hwy) out of Lincoln when Loon Mtn is still open kind of sucks. Lots of skiers were coming up for one of the last days of the season. Once we got past Loon, traffic was minimal, maybe a car every 2-5 minutes. The sun was coming out. Legs were fresh. Life was good. We traded pulls until we got into the 9% stuff. Pulling didn't much matter at that point. I was putting in a good effort and Dave held my wheel closely. I inched it up a bit. He's still there. Inched it up some more. Yep, still there. I was feeling good and reached near Mt Washington race pace, digging a hole early in the ride as I often do. Dave eventually capitulated just shy of the summit. I would pay for this outburst shortly. The summit is about 2100ft net gain from Lincoln.
We bomb down the other side, first five miles at 7% or so, then five miles of nearly flat to Bear Notch Rd. Bear Notch is still closed, but that was a good reference point to turn around at. There was a slight headwind heading back towards Lincoln. We traded a few pulls starting out. Dave took the lead when we got to the 7% grade. I was feeling the earlier effort in my legs. I struggled to hold his wheel. After more than a mile of this effort, Dave motions for me to set pace. I couldn't come around him. Dang. Dave doesn't volunteer much information about his training methods. The gym work has made an obvious upper body impact. But what about the cardio? I guess Buff Dave has not neglected cardio work either. We reached Kancamagus Pass together. From Bear Brook Rd, the Kanc gains 1600ft. That's two 30-40 minute threshold paced intervals down, two to go. I began to fear what condition I would be in by the fourth climb riding at this pace.
Dave cresting Gonzo Pass
After grabbing some replenishments at the car in Lincoln, we crossed I-93 to climb Gonzo Pass (Rt 118). This is another big climb, about 1800ft gain from N. Woodstock. The sun was out in full force now, and the temp was rising rapidly. I still had the layers on I started with and was overheating. My legs were also starting to get that noodly feeling. Rt 118 had some major frost heave issues. We had to be careful on the descent. On the back side is where Bill Dunkerly crashed last spring, sustaining serious injuries. At Gonzo Pass, I had reservations about going down the back side, away from the car. To do so meant there was only one way back to the car, and it involved a 1700ft climb. All great rides should encroach on deathmarch territory, right? Down the back side we go.
The Franconia Ridge and Mt Washington with Lincoln in valley below.
Since we hadn't climb the back side yet, we didn't know where the bad spots were. A lot of braking action was required to be safe. Plenty of sand still nestled in the low spots between heaves, inches deep in places. Scary stuff at 40mph. We stopped just long enough to shed a layer and and inhale Oreo cookies at the bottom. Yep, this last climb would be the finishing nails in the coffin. When we got to the guardrail chicane section, either Dave imploded or my Oreo cookies kicked in. I pulled away. I then surmised that once cresting the summit, it was 9 miles downhill back to the cars. I might as well empty the tank on this one. I maintained highest perceived effort of the ride for the remaining 15-20 minutes of the climb. Really hit the spot. I was crispy critter done.
My heartrate jumps 30% when viewing profiles like this.
Despite snowbanks being 6ft high in places, the roads were clean. The Kanc had just a few short wet spots, but Gonzo was completely dry end to end. Traffic was very light on Gonzo too. I think a 20 minute span went by on the return climb where no cars came by in either direction. The view from the clearing near the summit was spectacular today, with white-capped Mt Washington in full view. The ride went 79 miles with 8358ft of climbing in 4:28hrs riding time. There was nothing dubious about this ride. Four 30-40 minutes threshold intervals were just what my legs were ready for.