Brett and I rode the popular "4NaaP" route, the acronym for Four Notches and a Pass. Riding it clockwise, it hits Kinsman Notch, Franconia Notch via Rt 18, Crawford Notch, Bear Notch and Kancamagus Pass. It's actually not that much climbing for 92 miles in the mountains, in the 6000-7000ft range. It's what you do with the climbs that matters. The route is pretty exposed to, so wind is a factor.
I brought my Ridley Noah out to play on. Since I don't road race anymore, that bike doesn't see much action. It is a thoroughbred race bike, not an all-day mountain epic comfort bike. Super stiff and responsive. Care must be taken on 50-60mph descents. I do not have silly low climbing gears on the Ridley either. A couple of the climbs entailed sustained grades greater than 10%. I was looking for some punishment.
The headwind was pretty brutal heading up Kinsman Notch. No Strava medals on that one! We struggled to find some tail wind all the way to Rt 302. There we got some payback. The 12% drop over Crawford Notch was pretty sketchy with deep dish rims and buffeting wind. Unable to hold a stable line, cars coming through, and people walking all over the place forced me to go for the brakes at 55mph. I could easily have gone over 60mph there with the tail wind.
Next weekend we have a bigger ride planned in northern Vermont, the Jay Peak/Smugglers Notch loop. I've tinkered with the route a bit to take out 10 miles of Rt 100, replacing it with hopefully quiet paved and gravel roads. Adds a bit of climbing too, bringing the total close to 12,000ft. Drop me a note if you'd like to join on Saturday. I'll leave you with a few photos from Sunday's ride.
Brett cresting Bear Notch
The Presidentials, Mt Washington peak on right
Approaching Crawford Notch
Crawford Notch with steep plummet just ahead
If you do any touring in the Whites, you've probably seen this in Bartlett.