Today was an off-Friday for me, and Brett was free to hit some hills. He's worried I got in 20,000ft of climbing in Tucson, and he's done very little so far this year. Our daily climbing average in Italy will be 8200ft per day, the last day being over 100 miles and 12,000ft of climbing. Yeah, I'm worried too. It is one of Thomson Bike Tours most aggressive tours. Today we finally had a chance to ride local hills in copious sunlight.
Since the seasonal roads are still closed in the White Mtns, our plan was to do Gonzo Pass (Rt 118) both ways, then Kancamagus Pass both ways. This is good for 8300ft of climbing in 79 miles. DaveP and I did this ride on almost the same weekend last year. It is a heck of a workout. All climbing. Safe descents. Killer scenery.
We parked at the visitor center in Lincoln. No snow there. Temp was approaching 60F to start, so arm and knee warmers were needed. When we took left onto Rt 118, it was free-for-all time. Brett must have been doing something right over the winter. I nearly buried myself on this climb and never got out of sight of Brett. It took me about 24 minutes to reach the top from the stop sign at the bottom. A quality threshold interval to be sure. I was also quite sure I would be punished for this effort later.
Strangely, it was much warmer up higher. This is usually not the case in the Whites. We bombed down the other side, and the temperature dropped again. Climbing Gonzo from the west is slightly shorter, around 1700ft of net gain. The hardest part is the middle section of the climb. I could not resisted turning the intensity knob up again. I owned this mountain. I knew these were warm-up climbs to the bigger ones on the other side of I-93. Just one car passed us on this climb.
Cresting Gonzo a second time, we had to stop to take in the view to the east. Mt Washington is still 100% snow capped and was brilliantly illuminated. I took my crappy camera with me and it failed to do this scene justice.
White capped Lafayette on left, Washington on right
Back in Lincoln, we shed any remaining long layers. It was now about 70F. Climbing the Kanc from Lincoln is the biggest climb of the ride, about 2200ft net gain in 13.5 miles. The last 3.5 miles are 9% grade. It's a toughy when you have three hours in the legs already, including two sustained threshold intervals.
There was far more snow in this area of the White Mtns, maybe as much as 2ft still in the woods. The roads were dry though. I brought my Ridley out of hibernation for this ride. I swapped the 23mm tires out for 25mm Michelin Pro 3 Race tires with latex tubes in preparation for Battenkill. The rear tire barely clears the seatstay brake bridge. Any sand or grit on the tire rubs and binds up in there. If the BK roads are moist, this could be a problem. Have to think hard about this one. I really liked the road feel of the bigger tires. I've ridden Michelins for many years now, and only the last couple years did I start using latex tubes. Makes a noticeable difference. That high-speed off-camber turn in BK last year scared me. I want to have more control this year. I don't think the wider tires will cost me net time.
We bombed down the other side of the Kanc to Bear Notch Rd. Another rider came zipping up the Kanc from the Conway and began to head up Bear Notch. I asked if it was open. He didn't hear me. I asked again loudly. He saw I was talking but still didn't have a clue what I said. He was jamming to tunes. He couldn't possibly hear cars. Not smart. Anyway, he said of course Bear Notch is open, it's only closed in the winter. Hmmm, I could have planned a loop ride. Maybe... still looked very wintry there to me.
Brett set a stiff tempo pace back up the Kanc. I was not going to contest the pace, blow up and embarrass myself. I don't know how those Type-I muscle fiber guys do it. Eat nothing, ride all day at hard tempo pace, never slow down. I thought surely one of us was going to pop before the top. Just when I thought about capitulating, Brett shuts it down. Of course, I couldn't let him know I was dying and ready to shut it down too, so I did my darned best to turn it up a notch for the last mile. Yeah, we're all sick like that. I felt early cramping signs coming on, but I knew once the pass was gained, it was all downhill back to the car.
When we got back, I asked at the visitor center if Bear Notch was indeed open. Nope. Guess if Brett and I had waited there a minute longer, we'd see deaf rider coming back down.
I forgot to bring sunblock. A quick check on the web says that 10 minutes in the sun in shorts and tank top can produce 10,000 IU of vitamin D. A recommended daily amount is 2000 IU. By my estimate, I got over 100,000 IU in today's sunlight, about 50x what is needed. I do have tan lines now.
I logged 4.4hrs moving time for the ride. It could not have been more perfect. Little wind, cloudless, dry roads, temp in the 70's, and very little traffic. No need to head down to North Carolina like the last couple of Aprils when opportunities like this open up right in your backyard. I suspect some of our riding in Italy at the end of May will be just like this - riding in short sleeves on warm days with huge snow banks at the passes. Looking forward to it.