Sunday, June 28, 2020

Lake Winnespaukee Gravel Grinder

After I solidified my plans to drive up to Epsom, NH to buy the MINI Bike Holder (what a dumb name, probably mis translated from the BMW version, Fahrradtr├Ąger, meaning Bike Carrier), I started looking for 50 to 60 mile gravel routes near Epsom, NH.  Didn't find anything that looked good so I started looking at the maps and marking roads on my Roubaix to Brew Gravel Map. Once I found enough dirt, I developed the following route:  

It will be interesting to see how the Sex Machine works have only the granny and big ring available for the ride.

First Dirt, pictured above, occurred around mile 5.

One thing I noticed off the top of the bat is that New Hampshire dirt roads are wide and what I found in the planning stage of this ride that they are pretty visible from above making it easy to identify them.  

Even with New Hampshire's Live Free or Die state motto there seems to be an interesting contrast of political beliefs that seem polarized between our current president's version and reality or any sane adult would expect. But what I find totally hysterical is seeing a Bernie lawn sign and a flag supporting our current president. 

One thing that really stands out on a lot of the dirt roads is that most of them have this reddish/rusty hue to them. What was interesting is in the latter part of the ride I chose some Class VI roads which are essentially 4x4, jeep roads and they were interesting.  

"There's always a new reason to shop Bradlees"
Personally, I preferred Caldor back in the day

Now that's some fresh meet when they are staring you down like that.

The new water bottle arrangement (see previous post on 5 Bottle Mounts on the Sex Machine) was working out great. In fact, it was easier to reach forward to get one than it is to grab the one off the down tube. You end up holding the bottle differently, too. When you pull the bottle out from between you legs from the down tube holder you have to bend at the elbow and bring the bottle to your mouth by turning your wrist to line it up. If you want more water you have to keep turning your wrist. When grabbing it from the fork position you do the same bend at the elbow, only the bottle is in such a position that you don't have to move it for the water to come out.

As with every ride in uncharted territory not all roads go through and this was one of them. This view was from the end of the road. The start was up this really steep wall but when I looked at it I didn't want to bother with it so I rode around it. It was short anyway.

Nearing the lake I found this path that connected through this bridge from one dirt road to the next. The stream crossing even had a railroad styled trestle. In fact, from what I found later, there was a branch line of the Boston & Maine that went right through here.

Either Little League is allergy sensitive now or this New Hampshire's poor attempt of accommodating Title IX in sports

I stopped at the southern tip of Lake Winnespaukee at Alton Bay to eat the food that I brought with me. All the eateries were packed and lines for food were pretty long, too. The tourists were trying to be socially distant and wearing masks and the locals didn't seem to give a crap.

I brought along a Hot Pickle and it was pretty spicy. I was only able to eat 3/4s and then I tossed it. I brought it for the brine hoping it would stave off any cramps that might be coming my way either towards the end of the ride or afterwards.

This is the pier where the Boston & Maine traversed to get to Alton proper. That trail that I rode in on earlier met up with the road bed and it's now a residential street

After leaving Alton I contemplated just heading back to the car by the main road, Rt 28, but then said to myself what else do I have to do today? Nothing, so I pressed on and what awaited me next was the biggest climb of the route.

Berry Hill is a straight, 1.6 mile climb with an average grade a little over 7% and max grade nearing 14%. It was a tough climb in the midday heat.

It's worth it because the views from the top are spectacular!

In the shot below, I think mistakenly identified the ridge in the foreground as the Ossipie Ring Dike but I think what you are really looking at here is the Belknap Mountain Ring Dike. 

A Ring Dike is a circular mountainous structure that is the remnants of the collapse of a volcano's caldera. This part of New Hampshire has a few of these and I find them absolutely fascinating along with geology in general.  

In the background you can see Mt Lafayette

Looking back down Berry Road, way off in the distance you can just make out the Mt Washington aka The Rock Pile.

That large hump in the foreground could be Mt Piper, which is part of the Moose Mountains Reservation, which could be the remnants of the once mighty Ossipie Volcano. All that is left of that volcano is its ring dike as well.

About 500 yards past Ten Rod Road, the route turns to dirt and it stays dirty for 10 miles

Again more evidence of that interesting New Hampshire political dichotomy 

And then I encountered my first Class VI road, Snackerty Road

I am glad I was going down this and not climbing it although it wasn't really that steep, just incredibly rocky. It reminded me of Viets Road in Sandisfield State Forest.

There was one sketchy bridge crossing that I didn't trust, not so much for stability as the potential for a flat.

I turned onto this road, Shingle Mill Brook Road and came upon this truck called Nuckin' Futs. A little further up the road I saw a sign saying private property but kept riding since there was no turn around and hoped I wouldn't be hassled. I wasn't but there were some scary houses along that road.

Eventually after a few more dirt roads I came out to Catamount Road and was enjoying a cooling descent when I passed my next turn. Turning around I climbed back up the hill to Berry Road Pond, which was the start of another dirt road climb to Mountain Road.  That was another steep climb.

And totally worth it because when you turn the corner you get to look out over the Suncook Valley.

The highest point in the picture above is most likely Mt Lafayette

The descent down this road was insanely fast and half down I felt something land on my leg and then what ever it was, probably a horse fly, it bit me! I swatted it off but the area around my leg stung for a few seconds.

Then I hit the second Class VI road, Lockes Hill Road. It starts out dirt then once you past the last house it becomes a Class VI road. It's really rocky and not something to bomb down unless you were on a mountain bike.

It comes out onto a nicer dirt road, then turns to pavement and then back to dirt. Kind a funny that you would have a paved section between two dirt roads with no other outlet but it happens.

I popped out on Route 9 and rode back towards where I started but before stopping I went a little further beyond to this statue someone made out of spare parts of a happy cyclist.

I certainly was Huckin' Fappy to finally be done. Bike performed reasonably well. Would have liked to have all the gears available because most of the climbs didn't require the granny but since that was the only gears working in the lower range that is all I had to work with.

When I got to the car I got a little crampy so I started pounding the fluids and got changed. Heading towards Concord on Rt 9 it got dark and then poured cats and dogs. The rain stopped and as I was driving south on I-93, towards the motel I was going to stay at that night, I got a glimpse of a rainbow.

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