Monday, March 26, 2012

The BIG Four-O

Yup, just yesterday, March 25, 2012,  around 3 am, yours truly hit the only sometimes "ripe" young age of 40. No big deal right? Actually according to several, potentially part time pessimist's, it's all over from here, all down hill, no turning back, doom and gloom, blah, blah, blah. This kid is not picking up what they're putting down, I'm riding right by.

Steph, focused on the road ahead.
Kancamagus highway, NH.

Speaking of riding, I couldn't think of a better way to pass some time on the big birthday weekend than on my bicycle. So to that, we arrive at the start of the Kancamagus highway in Conway, NH. It's a beautiful summer like weekend in March, in the white mountains, and rather than gearing up for an epic day skiing powder, or a nice little cross country ski through the wilderness, we're donning short sleeve jerseys and knickers for a leisurely stroll on our bicycles up to Kancamagus Pass and back. This was a course preview for Steph, she'll be racing Crank the Kanc in May. Crank the Kanc starts in Conway and you race time trial against the clock, twenty one miles to the top of the pass. We've ridden on the Kanc many times, but never specifically on the full course. The ride is nice, though it could stand to have a little wider shoulder on this end, but traffic was pretty low volume and we were soon riding comfortably with a larger bike lane. It was an incredible ride, exceptionally warm for March, the only snow was on the very side of the road from the plowing, or in the most shaded, densely wooded spots we rode by. Even at nearly 3,000 feet on the summit, it was snow free. It was super windy on the way up, but we knew at some point we would get a bit of tail wind. As much as we had the wind in our face, It would turn in a tailwind direction often, then just as quick as your speed increased, you get slammed with a brutal head wind, slowing you right back down. Not a big deal really, but more of a trusty training partner.

So our plan was to ride up the pass and back to the car, but we also had reports of riders trying to come over to the Kanc on Bear Notch road from Bartlett the day before. They turned back and headed down, not wanting to hike and bike through what ever snow they might encounter higher up. When we went by Bear Notch road junction on the Kanc, it was all pavement as far as we could see. So I suggested to Steph we see what kind of time we had left on our way back and ride up to check it out.

After much effort while making excellent time, we arrived at the top of the pass, 2855ft. I guess the good news is we both agreed that every year that climb gets easier. I absolutely love riding my bike up these roads. What an amazing ride we were having. We didn't stick around long and I forgot to check the temperature up there, but we both got little cold on the way down even with our light wind jackets, arm warmers, and light hats we packed in our pockets. We did as planned having plenty of time to ride up Bear Notch to have a look-see. We stormed the "road closed" gate and just kept riding. It was nice not having any cars coming up from behind, but I couldn't keep from wanting to look for cars back. There was no snow at all on the south side of Bear Notch and only a 75 yard long stretch of thin cover on the Bartlett side. Officially, I'd say it's ready to ride! We finished up riding route 302, to west side road, than west side all the way to Conway and back to our car at the Ranger station. Fifty Seven Freaking Fantastic Miles!

Other birthday weekend happenings included a post ride dinner at the Moat Mountain House followed by Beach Pea chocolate cake in our hotel room for dessert. Saturday we drove to Sunday River in Bethel for "some" skiing. We got in three runs on what snow they had, with a million other people. Not quite a million, but enough to wear out our welcome enough so that when we got the cost per run down to an acceptable $20 bucks each, we figured we were good to go. It was exactly how I now remember the river to be, long lift lines, with hordes of people plummeting down the trails. Considering the conditions and rapidly disappearing snow, it was a good decision to head out. We made stops in Portland on our way home for some Mexican food as well as picking up a few items at Trader Joe's. 

The big birthday brought rain in the morning, so I postponed a bike ride until around noon.  I was chasing a few PR's and KOM's (It's a Strava thing) and so I was red line pretty much the whole time in certain sections. Then I fell into a brook up to my bum, got cold pretty cold so I rode directly back to the car. That was a great ride too!

I really thought I had a PR on Dam to Dam trail. I hooked up the whole time. Then to get the KOM on Animal was weird. I was going pretty good, but I crashed and then fell in the brook, so I would have thought I had zero chance at anything there. Still had a great ride and it felt good to be pushing myself. So whatever, just another day in the life.

Steph said to me yesterday, "Fourty Kicks Ass, Live Big, Birthday Boy".
I think she's right, so I'll keep on doing just that. 

Thanks for reading! 


1 comment:

Tammy Chamberland said...

Sounds like an fantastic, albeit exhausting birthday weekend. I'd say the energy expended and the motivation displayed blow those pessimists' claims of it being "all down hill from here" out of the atmosphere!

Ride on!!