I debated a good while on my off-Friday morning about where to ride: local 4-5hr trail ride, or take a little risk and go for something more training oriented in the White Mountains. It nearly came to a coin toss. I couldn't decide. Eventually the disappointment of my recent fitness benchmark result won over a trail ride. Let's face it, the local terrain tends to be quite technical with no sustained climbing. It is hard to maintain steady, sustained efforts. Mountain roads it would be.
I figured the roads would be ok, as it hadn't snowed in a few days. When I got to Lincoln, I was BS. An overnight dusting messed everything up. Turns out it was only in Lincoln, as within a quarter mile radius of town. Any direction away from town was ok. Sort of.
My first climb would be the Sawyer Hwy 118, aka Gonzo Pass. I nearly abandoned my ride after turning onto 118. Ice patches blended in seamlessly with patchwork asphalt, deep sand, giant wheel crushing frost heaves, and cracks deep enough to swallow rims whole. Climbing might be ok, but I'd have to come back down that afterwards.
I climbed near my threshold pace. It was freaking cold and windy. I doubt it was over 20F at altitude. My rear shifter stopped working. I could only go to harder gears as the climb got steeper. Mashing a bigger gear than I wanted did some damage. I made the top in decent time, sub-30 minutes.
Ice encroached into my lane in many places on the descent. The good thing was I saw a car about every 10 minutes. At one point, I'm taking my lane on the way down when a car was coming up the opposite way. I was well within where a car would be in my lane. Yet the driver motioned for me to get over. Last minute, she swerves right at me, presumably to send me a message. Had I been just another car, probably even closer to the centerline, I wouldn't have even registered in this driver's mind. I was livid. She didn't come all the way into my lane, but I could easily have swerved, hitting ice on the edge of the road and crashed. She has a right to question my wisdom riding in February, but she has no right to intimidate me, threaten me or endanger my life with her auto. Fortunately, no cars passed me in my lane on the descent.
I stopped at my car by the visitor center to pick up a water bottle before heading up the Kanc. The wind was really kicking up in places, mostly cross wind. I hit the Kanc at a steady, comfortable tempo pace. When I got to the top, my water bottle had turned into a Slurpee just that quick. The wind about blew me over up there. The plummet back to Lincoln was an endurance test in icecream headaches and shrinkage.
Last up was Kinsman Notch out and back. This was straight into the fierce wind. At one point on the 12% grade section, I nearly had to put a foot down to catch myself. Just crawling. The Kinsman descent was just as dicey as Gonzo, not for messy road, but for unpredictable wind. I could easily have gone over 60mph with the tail wind, but I could easily have died too. I was braking hard at 46mph down the steep part and still getting pushed all over the road. Semi-aero wheels didn't help.
After crossing I-93 with half mile to go on slight incline, both inner thighs seized up on me. No warning. I guess you could call that a perfect workout - train until failure just as you get back to the car. I finished with about 58mi, 5500ft in 3:28 on the Garmin. Wicked slow average, but riding death grip on the brakes on most of the descending will do that. A sketchy day on the bike, but exactly the training stress I need right now.