Friday, October 01, 2010

Late September


With the onset of school and the practical end of Summer coming Labor Day weekend, my bikes have gotten very lonely. I think I had about 25 total miles of riding in September leading up to last weekend with all of that composed of 3 rides in the woods. None of this lack of riding had been due to anything other than lie being too busy. Up until this week, it has been almost drought-like so the trails have been bone dry, dusty if anything. So last Friday, I was in Court and as I returned to my office, I found a note on my chair. It asked if I wanted to get out for a road ride on Saturday morning with a proposed rout that would take us up the Kanc for ten miles or so and then up and over Bear Notch into Bartlett and then to North Conway and finally home. My friend said it would be 30 something miles. I thought the idea of a ride sounded great and the weather was supposed to be spectacular. As I thought about the rout I began to question the distance as I had a relatively tight time window. So I looked at some old ride data as I had done a similar loop before, but in a different direction.

Google Earth shot of ride

It came up with a ride in the mid 40's. So I decided to do the rout on Map My Ride which if you have not played with is a pretty cool, and free site. It came up with 48 miles. SO I knew either way it wouldn't work with the times I was thinking. So I called John and said we'd have to leave pretty early and ride at a pretty good pace to make it work. He said he was game.

I then went out to the garage and wiped the cobwebs off the bike and checked it out, filled some water bottles and laid out some clothes. 5:45AM was going to come awful early.

My Alarm woke me up and I started to get dressed for a virtual night ride in late September, I was expecting to need knickers and a long sleeve jersey with arm warmers underneath. I decided to check the temp, and was amazed that it was already 61 degrees out. So I put the snivvel gear back and just went with the normal summer day kit. That was nice to not have to be bundled up at all.

I rolled down the hill towards John's house at 6:10AM. It was dark. Not like the sun's about to come up dark, but middle of the f'ing night dark. I had no headlight and just a single little knog LED blinkie light on my seatpost, but fortunately the moon was almost full and it was shining bright. It was so silent and peaceful for that first part, just coasting along sorta stealth-like.

We were on the road by 6:15AM and it was still dark. John said he would pull for the first 15 minutes as he had no light at all and that way my little red blinkie light would be at the back. We started at a pretty good pace as we headed down into Conway Village towards the Kanc. The air was a little heavy and weird. We would be riding along an suddenly hit very warm pockets of air and the cool pockets of air. I likened the warm air pockets to someone peeing in the pool.

We encountered very little traffic which was nice. The ride up the Kanc was very peaceful, the sun was beginning to brighten the skies and you could start to make out the colors in the foliage.

Lower Falls on the Kanc

With the Swift River on our right to climbed towards the first break spot, the Lower falls, which for me was a chance to realize that I wished I had brought a better camera than what was on my Blackberry Storm. As John hit the facilities, I snapped a couple of pics.

First break at Lower Falls

The sun was just starting to light up the rock face on one of the mountains near by giving a great look and feel with the colors of the leaves, top that off with the early morning blue sky and a full moon above and it was a pretty cool thing to see. Better than sleeping even.

View up the Kanc

We made our way up through Bear Notch and I was pleasantly surprised to be riding on fresh pavement. The only issue was with the weird weather we were experiencing, the road was actually wet from the humidity I was guessing. As we worked our way up through the Notch the riding was very nice and my legs were feeling good. As I approached a scenic overlook, I knew that we were almost at the top. I stopped and John rode up shortly and we each got some water and I ate a couple fig newtons. We were now refueld and readt to hit the top and descend the other side.

Looking up the road

None of this side of the Notch is super steep, just a nice consistent grade. The Bartlett side, the one we were descending was different. It was a consistent grade but much steeper and turnier. Another fun thing was the pavement was new on this side too but still wet. This can mean a greasy road surface. We started down and were quickly cruising along at 30+ mph and a desire to push it, but he wet corners were enough to give me some pause. So I just coasted. That was a great descent. Well worth the climb. The views were great, but at that speed and with those road conditions I didn't get to see all that much for too long.

Once we got to the bottom in Bartlett we were doing well on time. We figured we had enough time for a pit stop in North Conway at The Front Side Grind. We had a nice little break and a bagel and we were off on the home stretch. It was not pushing 80 out and while still feeling good, I could tell I had not been on a bike as much as I had hoped.

Once I pulled in the driveway at home, these were the numbers from the Garmin:

Time: 02:49:46
Distance: 47.43 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,258 ft
Calories: 3,516 C (wow, that's like a case of beer, or a pound of fat)

A great ride and awesome way to start the weekend.


I had sent a text to Sven on Friday to see if he wanted to get out for a ride over the weekend. With his current schedule dictating our ride location, I drove over to his place at Bridgton, Maine early Sunday morning. Once nice thing was that it wasn't quite as early as Saturday's start time.

With the upcoming TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder 4.0 fast approaching, Sven had some sections of the ride he wanted to do some recon on. The ride started out right behind Sven's parent's house following a fence-line in the woods. This was the only real singletrack of the ride and didn't last but a mile or so. We were then out of the woods riding on some powerlines trails that are part of a snowmobile network in the coming months. Most of these trails are nice rolling hills up and down. For some reason power lines are never laid out on flat ground around here.

Google Earth Image 09-26-10

After the powerlines we had a short bit of pavement before a dirt road that climbs up Hawk Mountain. This road is one that we did last year in the TWAFHGG 2009 and it is much like an access road to a ski area. It just basically goes up. This time we took another route once we had ridden most of the way up. This trail went up even further and ended up at an exposed slab on the top of Hawk Mountain.

Sven pointing something important out

We had some awesome views up there. Sven was busy pointing out all of the landmarks one could see off in the distance as I snapped a few photos. Unfortunately it was overcast instead of the bluebird sky that I had the morning before. Even still we had very good visibility.

Dennis posing at the top of Hawk Mtn.

Sven at the top of Hawk Mtn.

Sven surveying the landscape

As we were coming down off the mountain we had a very nice descent down a washed out jeep road. It was eerily reminiscent of a section of the Pat's Peak 24 Hr race course. Shortly thereafter we were on pavement for a stretch and were doing some nice fast downhill coasting.

After this section we found another jeep road which we had also ridden last year, but we took another trail off of this for some more uncharted territory for me. These were all basically doubletrack trails but pretty fast and rolling terrain. It is really difficult to find much of anything flat in these parts.

The final stretch back to Casa Cole was on the pavement. We still had some good climbing left and by this point my legs were really cooked. I felt like I had very good legs the day before, but the lack of regular riding caught up with me this day as there was little left in the tank by ride's end. Overall it was a good ride with over 16 miles and almost 2,000 feet of climbing. Stay tuned to the TWAF blog for news and updates on this year's TWAF Holiday Gravel Grinder 4.0, it's sure to be wicked good.

Time: 01:39:20
Distance: 16.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,867 ft
Calories: 1,412 C (that's like 10 beers worth!!)


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