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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hills, Hills and More Hills

Geoff and I were getting a little bored with our regular mountain biking routes so we opted for a couple of new rides this past weekend. First up was Pawtuckaway State Park on Friday night. I had only been to PSP once (and that was to volunteer at the Vulcan's Fury Trail Race) so this definitely qualified as 'new'. We had a good 2hr ride on what I would call fairly technical trails with lots of climbing. I think we followed a good portion of the Vulcan's Fury course if I'm not mistaken. It was a tough ride for sure. Afterwards we drove down to the beach for a little cooling off in the lake. Of course the water temp was probably near 80 degrees so it wasn't exactly refreshing but we did get cleaned up a bit.

Saturday morning we planned to meet up again for a pretty challenging ride in North Conway. Geoff had done a similar ride back in early May (when it was 50-60 degrees) that hit 3 mountain summits with over 5,000ft of climbing. I wasn't exactly looking forward to it but I was up for a challenge. As an added bonus, it was 90 degrees even before we started. Yippie!
Approximate route we took
Summit #1 - We started near the gate on Hurricane Mountain Rd and headed up the Red Tail Trail and then onto the summit of Black Cap. I'd call Red Tail a technical climb to say the least. Lots of switchbacks but plenty of steep sections. I was able to ride 99% of the climb with just a couple hike-a-bike sections near the summit of Black Cap. I think it was around 3 miles to the summit. The trip up to Black Cap took just about an hour of riding and I was already over-heating (as evident by my bright RED face in every picture).
Black Cap Summit
After spending about 10 minutes on the summit (catching my breathe and lowering my body temperature to just under boiling), we jumped on the Black Cap Connector Trail which took us over the entire Green Mountain ridge over to Middle Mountain and back down to the powerlines behind Pudding Pond. The ride over the ridge was a punishing grind of short ups and downs and the eventual descent that tested my brakes and my nerves. My fillings are somewhere up on that mountain. It smoothed out nicely (the bumps, not the terrain) near the end on a section appropriately called Pump Track, which brought us down to a couple of sweet sections of single track. One was called Sticks and Stones and the other one wasn't even on the map but flowed behind Pudding Pond for a couple of miles before kicking us back out on the powerlines again.

Summit #2 - Next up was Cranmore. We rode the powerlines all the way down to the back side of Mt Cranmore and stumbled upon something resembling a dump. In fact, as we rode in we scared off some guy rummaging around the collection of mostly ski resort type stuff. That's when we came across this little gem and couldn't resist the photo op. Looking back, he was probably there to warn us not to climb Cranmore. Too bad I don't speak gremlin.
Gremlin guarding the Cranmore Access Road
We headed over to the base of Mt Cranmore and began the hardest climb of the day (IMHO) up the Cranmore access road. At least Red Tail had switchbacks to recover on. The access road had nothing, just a continuous climb up a loose gravel road. All my distances are guesses (mostly) since our GPS refused to pick up a signal for most of the day. I'm pretty sure this climb was roughly 3 miles too and took nearly 38 minutes if I recall correctly. We spent less time on the summit this time, just enough time to take a couple of photos and add a few ounces of water to my Camelback.
Red face on the Summit of Mt Cranmore
We left Cranmore and headed across the Cranmore Connector Trail which brought us back to Black Cap. I'm pretty sure this entire connector trail went up. Great, more climbing. I came dangerously close to bonking on this trail, barely grinding my way back to the Red Tail junction. I told Geoff it was unlikely I would do the final climb of the day up Hurricane Mt Road. I was out of food, my hands were shaking, my face was still red and we had to pass our cars before heading up Hurricane. There wasn't a chance I would ride past my car. We headed back down the Red Tail Trail, back to the car.

Summit #3 - Well it turns out a 20 minute descent was enough of a distraction to actually get me to ride right past my car and head up the 2 mile climb Hurricane Mt Road. If I had stopped, even for a second I would not have continued, so we rode right by. We'd been riding nearly 4hrs already but I wanted to finish what we planned. Let me just say this ain't an easy climb. There were several sections I just wanted to unclip (or not unclip) and just lay down. I wanted to quit so bad. I kept telling myself around each corner HAD to be the summit. I was wrong about 37 times. Geoff was kind enough to come back down (after reaching the summit) and ride with me the last 1/3 mile or so. I think it took around 27 minutes to ride the 2 miles to the summit, then less than 5 minutes to get back down.
Red face on Hurricane Mt Road
Several people have asked me if I had fun. No, I did not have fun. This was hard, probably the hardest ride I've done. It was somewhat satisfying being able to ride 99% of the climbs (although slowly). For a guy who doesn't particularly like any climbing, I'd say I held my own today. Just don't ask me to do this ride again anytime soon.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Without admitting any bias - I can say you are completely amazing!