Thursday, September 9, 2010

100km Soft Landing

Riding around home territory sucks for a while after spending a week in Colorado. After a rest day traveling back on Saturday, then an easy day on the tandem with Cathy in an urban environment, I got a little stir crazy. I wanted to ride something I hadn't ridden before.

Two things on my list were Russell Crag near Lincoln, NH and Flat Mountain Pond Trail off of Sandwich Notch Road. I've had reports both were rideable, although maybe challenging. Turns out I tried two new things I never need to try again.

My dualie is still in transit back from Colorado, so I prep'd up the Superfly hardtail. I was doing mostly road(ish) kind of riding anyway. Monday's planned route would go over rough seasonal Sandwich Notch Rd, pick up the Flat Mountain Pond Trail that hugs wilderness area on the other side, then take gated doubletrack Algonquin Road back.

I learned at sea level, there is air to breath again. I went hard up the 1000ft Sandwich climb. My body did not deal well with it. Came the closest to hurling in a long time. Seems I could actually go hard enough to lactate up, something I couldn't do with all that climbing I did in Colorado's thin air. I've actually done very little anaerobic work since May, just three rides with focused VOmax work. No surprise I went into immediate deflection.

I've ridden past the Flat Mountain Pond Trail many times. It is open to bikes. It starts on an old rail grade. Parts deviate from the rail grade to avoid marshy areas. It rides like singletrack. Many other trails spur off this one to go into the adjacent wilderness area. Flat Mountain Pond is supposedly 8 miles in. Photos look nice. About 2.5 miles in, I encountered an obstacle. It seems beaver have built a cascade of dams in the drainage this route follows.  You could see clearly where the trail went, maybe 30 years ago, through the middle of large beaver bonds. The trees have died decades ago. The maps I referenced do not show this. I suspect they are 30 years out of date. There were no obvious work arounds. I bushwacked around a large pond for 15 minutes, only to find an even more challenging pond to get around. My legs were already bloodied up. I abandoned the effort and bushwacked my way back to rideable trail. That was a waste. The wilderness trails sure looked tempting though. Lots of hikers were out on the holiday.

You can kind of see a corridor through the middle here where the
trail used to go. Bush wacking around this mess was very intense.

Algonquin Rd is a hoot on a cross bike and even better on a hardtail. It is upwards of 10 miles of gently downhill doubletrack along a stream. You can rip 25mph along much of it. I did flat one time on my cross bike here though. The bigger volume tires and suspension of a mountain bike have value.

I came back through Campton where I parked and topped off my water before heading out on the bigger portion of the route. I logged 24 miles on this first part. I headed north on Rt 175, went past Tripoli Rd to dirt Cox Farm Rd, which climbs to base of Russell Crag climb. Russell Crag is shown on some maps. You see it prominently from I-93 heading north past the Tripoli Rd exit. There is a nice rock face to get a view from. Reports were some of the steepest switchbacks around lead to the cell tower at the top. Um, yeah. Seems in recent history a bed of crushed asphalt was put down on the steepest parts. This was not only impossible to ride up, it was nearly impossible to walk up. I saw persistent grades of 30-35% on my Garmin on the lower portion. The middle set of switchbacks were rideable, but it got nasty steep again with crushed asphalt near the top. The climb was equal equal hike-a-bike and rideable parts. The view was nice up there, but not nice enough that I'd have to try that again. I killed myself trying to clean this climb, and I still had the monster Tripoli Rd dirt climb to go.

Nice view from top of Russell Crag, but not worth the hike-a-bike.
This interchange 1000ft below is bottom of Tripoli Rd.

Tripoli Rd was in fairly descent shape considering it was dry out and it saw a very busy weekend's worth of traffic. I was in limp mode going up it, taking 46 minutes from low point on Rt 175 to summit, a 1620ft net gain climb. At least it was all down hill back to my car in Campton. Right.... Straight into a 30mph headwind.

The ride went 64 miles (103km) with >5000ft of climbing in just over 5hrs riding time. Not quite Colorado, but I got one heck of a workout with some air to breath. I'm now regretting I didn't sign up for the Vermont 50 MTB race when I had the chance in May. I'm feeling ready for that level of punishment now.

1 comment:

Jonny Bold said...

That headwind going out of the valley on 49 can be brutal. Sounds like one hell of an adventure, I'd love to live up that way and enjoy all this stuff you do.