Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How Far?

After a 4.5 day weekend, re-entry at the office yesterday was a little tough. The weather over the past few days was perfect for our planned trip to Maine for LOTS of riding. Mike and I headed north on Thursday afternoon, and were later joined by John and then Wayne and Jean.


Friday morning, Mike, John, Wayne and I headed to Gorham where we met Alexis and Michele. The six of us were in for an extended version of what I like to call the "Around the Block Loop" - Gorham to Jefferson Notch, up and over the highest state maintained road in NH; down Crawford Notch, up over Bear Notch to the Kanc, down to Passaconaway Rd, out West Side Rd to Rte 302, and then, finally, up and over Pinkham Notch. Alexis had his GPS running, so we were able to get the map and elevation profile.

Promptly at 9:32 (oops!), we rolled out for the day. Our first adventure came as we detoured from Rte 2 onto a parallel side road. The road was officially closed for bridge repair, but the construction crew let us "pay the toll" to cross through. They already thought we were nuts, and we were only just starting out.

We hit the base of Jefferson Notch together as a group, but that wasn't to last. Mike and John, followed closely by Wayne and then Alexis, and finally myself and Michele made our way up the long, steep, dirt climb. We had to use some 'cross skills on the way up, either bunny-hopping (the boys), or dismounting to get over a log across the road. There was tons of debris that we had to be careful didn't get lodged in the derailleurs. We regrouped at the top of the climb - one down and two more to go!

Our last trip down Crawford Notch saw us pedalling like gerbils only to go about 16 mph. Thankfully the wind wasn't a factor this day - I hit my highest speed ever descending there - about 48 mph! We maintained a pretty strong paceline down into Bartlett, where we stopped to refuel before our next climb.

The route over Bear Notch, down the Kanc and back into Bartlett was relatively uneventful. We made our second stop as we entered Glen, and by that point, we were all getting tired (some more than others!). Unfortunately, we still had 22 miles to go, and most of it was UP! On the first pitch after our stop, the boys were off, and Michele and I were left to climb up Pinkham alone. We slogged it out - my arms hurt, my back hurt and my feet were killing me. We felt a sense of accomplishment getting to the top, but that was short lived - the downhill back to Gorham was into a demoralizing headwind. Add a dropped chain part way down, and we were SO HAPPY to get back to the cars - 96 miles, 5115 ft and almost 6 hours later.

Unfortunately, ahead of Michele and I, Mike and John were descending at about 38 mph when John's wheel hit a piece of tailpipe laying in the shoulder. Mike looked back and saw John flying through the air, hitting the ground and sliding. John did make it up, but with less material in his jersey and shorts, and a skin donation on the pavement. Lucky for John, and off-duty EMT happened by, providing some ice packs, and a lift back down to the cars. Hopefully John heals quickly, and is back on the bike in no time.

After dinner we set out on a moose hunt up to Grafton Notch. Given the time of day, we figured it would be prime moose sighting, but alas, it was not to be. Instead, we had a nice stop at Screw Auger Falls, and then went hunting for ice cream ;)

(Wayne and Jean - oddly, we ended up seeing a moose just off the highway on the way home on Sunday!)


We packed as much into a day on Saturday as possible! We started the day with a delicious breakfast, and then Mike and Wayne headed out for their ride. Jean and I stayed behind to do a few errands before heading out on a ride of our own.

Mike had mapped out a route for us that was to be about 53 miles, starting from the house. Starting out, I told Jean that the only rule for the day was that the ride was about having a good time. It's a good thing there wasn't any pressure, because shortly into our ride, I took us in the wrong direction and we had to double back to get onto the route we were targeting.

Part of our route took us onto Rabbit Rd - a snowmobile trail in the winter, and dirt road in the summer. With the dry weather, parts of the road were big sandpits, requiring us to dismount at one point! We traversed water crossings, rock gardens and washboard roads before turning onto the next section of dirt road - rocky and rooty, and requiring some deft handling skills. Jean handled it well, with only one minor mishap (how's that bruise???). I think we were BOTH glad to get back out onto the pavement.

After riding past Round Pond, and then along North Pond, we ended up on Rte 232 with only 18 miles. Somehow, I had done something wrong in my navigation - there was no way that we were going to hit 50 miles (I forgot the Andover part of the loop). So, I sort of offered Jean an alternative (talking while riding in the direction I was talking about going...) to ride along the Androscoggin to Rumford, and then back to Bethel. Somewhere along the way, I learned that Jean hadn't done a 50 mile ride this season - she did an awesome job getting around the loop with no complaints. It was a sense of accomplishment for Jean, and for me (it made the week my longest of the year).

Surprisingly, the boys were back when we got to the house. They had cut their plans of 100 mile ride, and finished up with 70 for the day. After eating and cleaning up, we headed out for our reward - beers at the Sunday River Brewery. We followed that with a visit to Bethel's Casablanca Cinema to see Iron Man 2, and then dinner at the Jolly Drayman. It was a full day, and we were all pretty beat when we got back to the house.


The lack of motivation Sunday morning was palpable ;). It's not often that we spend a leisurely morning just hanging out, but that's exactly what we did. We were all still in our PJ's at 10:30! I think it was at that point that we all decided we weren't up for any big activity, so we packed up and headed back home.


After a day off the bike, Monday brought another big ride for Mike and I. We went out on the tandem and tried to find flat roads after all of the climbing we had already done on the weekend. Somehow that landed us on 117 all the way into Leominster! After some navigating in the downtown, we ended up on Rte 12 into Sterling, and then onto 62 and then 110 to get back home. It was a tough ride (with more wind), but we added another 75 miles to the weekend's tally.

So, a long weekend with lots of riding (I ended up with 221 miles total). And I have to say, it was WAY more fun than I would have had racing at Killington ;)

1 comment:

Trigirlpink said...

Holy Smokes!!!! That is a ton of riding for a weekend. Sounds like you guys had a great time.