The Waterville TT was cancelled due to low registration numbers. My team puts it on. This opened the day up for a team ride. After a bunch of discussion on routes, we agreed on a 4NaaP ride - Four Notches and a Pass. Dave and Isaac joined four other Team Alpine Clinic riders and myself in Lincoln, NH.
It was wet leaving home, then sun before reaching Lincoln, then dark and drizzly again in Lincoln. Heading up Kinsman Notch was miserable. Strong wind in the face and drizzle that became increasingly dense as we approach the summit. Four of us crested together with the other three nowhere in sight. Ugh. We waited. Shivered. Then bombed down to Rt 16 where it would at least not be as windy. My knees never got so cold. I did not wear knee warmers, expecting the temp to promptly reach the 60's. I bet it was in the 40's and drizzling at Kinsman Notch.
Windy, drizzling and cold on at Kinsman Notch.
Isaac and Dave
Eventually Carl, Dana and Lou showed up. Guess an emergency bio stop was needed. Rt 116 throws a few rolling punches at you. It was just what I needed to get warmed back up. My feet were frozen too.
The next climb, Rt 18 up to Franconia Notch, gets a bit more serious. Now that everybody was warmed up, I expected the gloves to come off on this climb and everybody show how tough they were. Isaac's GPS was picking up my PowerTap again (as he wasn't running a PT), and he was heckling me on my wimpy power numbers. Lou starting pulling away from the group and I hopped on his wheel. Rt 18 is a long climb to hold 400W. Seems every time I looked down, I was doing over 400W. I hadn't met Lou before, so I wondering if he was going to let up at some point. Nope. I barely stayed with him to the summit, cresting ahead of the others. I fretted over how I would pay for that later in the ride.
After regrouping, we began bombing down Rt 3 to Twin Mountain. The roads were still wet and drizzle was in the air. We tried to get a paceline going, but pacelines on wet, sandy roads suck. We no more than got going when Pierre flatted. It took an eternity to fix this flat. Dave and Isaac bolted, never to be seen again. Right back to shivering.
How many Alpine Clinic riders does it take to fix a flat?
Pierre, Dana, Carl and the Hill Junkie. Photo by Lou Bergou.
We got rolling again on Rt 3, now down to five guys. Not two miles into it, Dana flatted. Nasty pinch flat on a stone. I was never going to get warmed up. Fortunately, we figured out how not to break tubes, waste CO2 cartridges or break pumps fixing this flat and got rolling much more quickly.
When we got down to Twin Mountain, the sun started coming out and dried things up. Maybe I'd get warm after all. We stopped at the Irving station to replenish fluids.
Approaching Crawford Notch Plummet.
We had a nice tail wind on Rt 302 over Crawford Notch. Made up some time. I held 54+ mph for a good while on the steep part of Crawford. It didn't feel the least bit fast. Had I punched it over the lip, I could easily have hit an all-time speed record.
By the time we reached Bear Notch Rd, my legs didn't feel so good. Remember that 400W effort on Rt 18? That was coming back to haunt me. Carl and Dana told Lou, Pierre and myself not to wait for them at the summit. This 1200ft climb has a perfectly engineered 6% grade. Just put it in a middle gear and grind for 20 minutes. It was deja vu all over again. Lou set a pretty stiff pace that eventually shelled Pierre with me barely hanging on. Lou commented that he used to run 70-80 miles per week. That base certainly carried over well to cycling.
Pierre thought that was pretty much it for the climbing and that we'd pop out on the Lincoln side of Kancamagus Pass. Um, no. Biggest climb to go. He thought we were joking. He was crushed when he realized we were serious. My philosophy is that all great rides must end in death march territory. Putting the biggest climb in at the end caps a ride off nicely. I don't understand why others don't see things the same way.
We pacelined to the final steep sections. Pierre dropped off. I was surprised I wasn't cramping yet and picked it up another 20-30W and crested solo. I was spent. Lou and I bombed back to town with Lou doing most of the work. It was one of my faster 4NaaP rides with an average very nearly 20mph.
It was great to finally meet more of the team. The day finished out nicely too, in short sleeves for the second half of the ride. Got in some good training value, particularly on the Franconia and Bear Notch climbs. I drove up solo so I could pick up my new bike at Rhino Bike Works after the ride. I've gotten a test ride in already, the subject of my next post.