Every year on the May 24 long weekend I go to New Hampshire with a group of cyclists which are friends of the family. My cycling trip lasted three full days and three hundred and fifteen kilometres of giant climbs and wicked down hills! I arrived on Friday afternoon around 4:30 and decided to get an early start on the riding with a sixty kilometre ride we call the Bearís notch loop. When I was 12 years old I made my very first trip to New Hampshire and that loop was my first big ride. I have been going back ever since. Below is a picture of a lookout point along the Bearís Notch.
At this point I've been climbing for 6 km, and thereís still about 2 kilometres left till the top of Bearís notch. Almost there!
Our group always stays in a complex of condos 20 minutes from North Conway. The condos are perfectly located so that we can start and end our rides right from the door step.
With a nice sixty kilometres of riding in my legs, a hardy meal, and nine hours of sleep I was ready for the second ride of the weekend. This ride was a new route for me, which covered 123 km up three notches: Pinkham, Evanís and HURRICANE Mountain! The tricky thing about going on any adventure where you are not familiar with the area is that there is bound to be surprises. So with two full bottles of e-Load and a thick layer of sunscreen I and our group of 9 riders headed off. After about an hour and a half we had climbed over and ridden down Pinkham notch, the group was still intact despite two flats. We cycled for another half hour till the base of Evans notch. It was then that we began to realize that water was on short supply. I had a little less than one bottle left. We figured we didnít want to do a 12 km detour to get water so we continued up Evans notch counting on there being water on the other side. We had now reached the turn off for the road leading to the last notch of our ride, and still no sign of a convenience store. I had also reached the end of my water! Since I was not the only one on empty we resorted to stopping at a local Fire Station we had passed. A fire station has to have water! After wondering into the station through the open garage door between the fire trucks (fully dressed in spandex I might add) we met some firemen who generously gave us 2 bottles of water each (about 18 bottles of water in total!) and explained that the tap water was not drinkable in this area.
We filled our bottles, thanked them and headed off for the last 40 km of our ride! We regrouped at t he bottom of Hurricane Mountain at which point the strongest cyclist in our group told me that "there was no need to race the next climb, just surviving it would be good enough." Arrogantly I thought to myself, Iím a cross country skier, itís still just a paved road, Iím sure Iíve seen steeper so how bad can it be? Letís just say it was way way steeper and harder than any hill I had ever done or imagined climbing on a road bike. In my easiest gear (gearing 39 front -25 back) I could barely move my cranks forward standing on the pedals! For what seemed like an eternity I struggled in Zone 5 up Hurricane Mountain, weaving back and forth across the narrow road trying to cheat my way up the abrupt pitches. Overheated, seeing spots and feeling like every muscle in my leg was about to cramp I pushed my bike over the last steep pitch before coming to a stop at the top of the hill. Peter, the rider who had warned me at the bottom, just smiled at me and said ďtold ya it was a steep one!Ē After a few minutes of the two of us waiting at the top and being eaten alive by mosquito's we decided to go on and finish the last small stretch of the ride by ourselves. The descent down Hurricane was almost as bad as the climb with the adrenaline shakes in my legs and the brakes firmly held it was a very tense descent! I was sure that my brakes were overheating so at the bottom I sprayed the rim with water and a hissing sound was heard as my rim evaporated the water upon contact. The last 10 km of the ride was pretty flat but still felt extremely difficult for my ďbonkedĒ legs as Peter pulled me back to the condo. Upon arrival I sat down on the steps and ate and drank as the other riders from the group arrived one by one. Turns out only me and Peter had managed to climb Hurricane without stopping part way up the climb. The average grade of Hurricane Mountain was 17% (more than 2x steeper then Fortune climb in the park) and lasted over 2 km. If you donít believe me I took the below pictures of some signs at the top and bottom of the climb. With 4.5 hours of riding done I had no problem with shopping, eating and relaxing for the rest of the day. Shopping in North Conway is the second best reason for going to New Hampshire since there are loads of outlet stores!!!
How bad can it be...?
... REALLY BAD!
The top of Hurricane Mountain... it felt steeper than that!
Sunday was a far more relaxed ride with only Peter, my dad and I. From Saturdayís Hurricane Mountain group only two of us cycled again Sunday. We did a 125 km ride, which I had done before, covering two notches: Crawfordís and Pinkham. Gas Stations were abundant and the 4 hour and 45 min ride went smoothly. We topped it off with a nice trip to the Hot Tub and napped the rest of the afternoon away.
Monday was departure day so I went for a quick 1 hour run before saying bye to everyone and driving the 6 hour drive home. The weather had been perfect all weekend, only sunny skies! Couldnít have asked for a better cycling trip!