68 miles. 6.5 hours.
Saturday The Clayton and I rolled out a bit after 9am, headed to try to ride an elusive loop from Concord around Mount Kearsarge in Sutton, and back. With 100 oz of water and 5 power bars we hit the railroad bed on Bog Rd and rode the series of snomobile trails and a bit of road's flat terrain up through Hopkinton to the Blackwater Dam. From there we went into the Army Corp of Engineer's land grab under canopy of old pines along the Blackwater River. It's a beautiful calming place, except for the rooty overgrown trail that meanders along side it. The undergrowth is low and lime green right now. It was wet and humid and dreamlike, a bit surreal as we passed by one meander that affected us similarly- images of naked women bathing- nymphs- in the serene forest's river. A lovely place. I had the Helmet hero in my camelbak- but it stayed there the entire ride so you'll just have to imagine a Parrish painting to conjure up the ambiance.
It didn't last long as we popped out on the class 5 Little Hill road and made our way up, up, up, the not so Little Hill. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!" shouted a bloated Chris Farley. In that humidity, it was a hard effort to make it up without dabbing- something that eluded us both- mine when after coming to a dead stop- still clipped in mind you, doing a trackstand for 1,2,3,4,5 seconds, simply unable to turn over the cranks on a supersteep while balanced, touching one foot lightly and then clipping back in and riding away. A strange moment. Damn! Almost a no dabber.
Soon we came out on Kearsarge Mountain Road - past the kiosk and rode upward, getting a wave from descenders Sean Snow and tri crew before peeling off left onto snomobile trail 8, skirting Kearsarge and dropping down through a May 2006 wash out to North Road. We came back over Kearsarge via the Winslow Park end of Kearsarge Mountain Road. It's a friggin' killer but we paced it up, taking inspiration from the long views, chatting it up with some horses, and admiring the wildflowers.
Then we dropped into the forest and the descent through more assorted class 6 roads that became streams, and more streams and more streams and more... it was wet and a thrill to go backcountry over whatever is presented- full of rounded greenish coated rocks and closed in with June overgrowth, mud spattering our faces with our arms throbbing. Finally we came out north of Andover at the covered bridge. All that was left was a long Rt4. We rewarded ourselves after the last climb, downing a 16 Molson Ice picked up during a quick watering stop at Salisbury's corner store. Success tasted pretty good while standing at the edge of a field, knowing only Colby's downhill and the flat run in to Concord remained.
It was one long day with good mileage prep for Crested Butte's July demands. I pigged out later on, doubling up on Haddock dinners and then drove to Rochester to pick up a Thule long tray for $15! All Hail craigslist. (TM)