The weather couldn’t have been better for our 6th Annual CCCP White Mountain Memorial Day Ride. After a 6:30 departure, and picking up a few friends along the way, we arrived at the start in Fryeburg at 8am. That gave us enough time for preparation prior to the start of the ride. (I hate arriving too late and having to rush around.)
The ride started at 9:15 after a short “meeting” and a couple group photos. 32 riders started out.
Somehow I ended up leading the group out. I think everyone was just waiting for someone to leave first and I was it. So I snapped a couple shots of the riders behind me as we rolled along as a group.
A group of 27 chose the much harder course that included a climb up Hurricane Mountain. 5 of us decided to take the alternate route around the mountain and into North Conway. It was cool to be cycling up Route 16 with snow on Mount Washington in front of us.
We regrouped at Red Jersey Cyclery. It was a long regroup. Perhaps too long. I think we were all waiting for someone to leave.
After the regroup we were on our way to the top of Pinkham’s Notch for some lunch.
The group didn’t seem interested in hanging around much after lunch, perhaps making up time for the long stop at the Red Jersey Cyclery. Last year we at least let our food digest a bit before hopping back on the bikes. I guess it didn’t matter much because we had a few miles of descending to do before we had to put in much effort. Plenty of time for the lunch to digest then.
Now, last year I climbed Evan’s Notch twice, which was the last climb of our ride. The first climb on Memorial Day last year was a long an arduous one. In the fall during the Loon Echo ride it didn’t seem nearly as bad. This year I thought it would be a piece of cake. It wasn’t. I did have a friend pulling the entire way. I told him I’d help but he declined my offer. So I sat on his wheel, happy to have it.
I knew when the grade kicked up I’d get dropped and that’s exactly what happened. I did have to stand a bit to give my legs and butt a break, but not much. I find a seated climb works much better for me.
Evan’s Notch is a funny little climb, when approached from the Route 2 side. It’s a long stretch of 8 miles at a slight grade, which allows you to find a nice rhythm and even gain some speed. Then in the last two miles the grade increases, but it’s not horrible. Then there is a flat, a slight down hill, just enough to get a nice recovery and power through the last very short section of a climb. I found that sitting most of the way left me with the energy to crank it to a higher gear at the end and push the last little bit, blowing by a couple of the guys I was climbing with.
Then it was downhill into Fryeburg. The decent can be a little tricky. There are a lot of S-turns with some rough patches. One guy, cruising at 35-40 mph, came across a couple walkers on his side of the road, and a motorcycle on the other. Hitting the breaks he skid and went down. Medical assistance and ambulance transportation was required. Luckily there were a couple doctors and EMT personnel in the group. And by a small miracle Mike didn’t break anything. (You always suspect a broken collar bone.) It only proves the high speed crashes are better than slow ones.
The stretch from the bottom of Evans to Fryeburg seems to get longer every time I ride it. It’s 25-miles from the top of Evan’s. Since it’s 8 miles of climbing you think it’s equally as long on the other side. But it’s only 3 miles of decending. Then it’s flat, and long, and flat, and not very interesting at all. And what little hills there are on the road they seem to suck the life out of you.
I couldn’t wait to be off the bike. So much so that I really had to just pick up the pace so I’d finish sooner than later. Let the suffering end!
After a drink and food at a local pub, Ebenezer’s, we finally headed home. After departing my home at 6:30am, I finally arrived back home after 8 pm. Now, that’s not terribly long, but after all the climbing, some of it done in the blazing sun, and 5 hours in the saddle, I just wanted a hot shower and a comfortable bed. Only to have to get up the next morning for work. Next year I’m taking the day after Memorial Day off!