Monday, August 1, 2011

Cyclo-Tour to Andro'fest

Kind of strange typing this up so matter of fact now having only really come up with the idea to do this ride maybe a week or two ago.  I've wanted to do a bigger loaded tour like this ever since I started building weird monster cross bikes for that dirt road ride a few years ago.  Most of those weird bikes were never really ideal until this latest build and these kind of rides are difficult to pull off, especially with no experience.

When Joe mentioned this weekend was gonna be this year's Andro'fest and his last weekend on the east coast for awhile I figured attendance was a must.  Trying to ride my bike there almost immediately popped into my head.  Scenario seemed perfect: definitely a long challenging route, and I'd be arriving to tons of people making tons of food, and I'd have a ride home.  Might as well hang a curve ball right in my wheelhouse...c'mon.  I mapped a route out that seemed pretty doable on paper (or on the computer screen as it were) and basically just decided I was doing it before I even checked to see if I had everything I needed or if I could even really load my bike up realistically.  Ask Joe, all he got was a weird email shortly after he told me about it asking if he could give me a ride home and if he had room for a bike.

Luckily I did have all the gear I would need...maybe not the most ideal gear weight and functionality wise but it would definitely due and I made my first attempt at loading the bike up earlier this week and things seemed to work and felt solid.  I took a quick 5mi ride around the house with the tent and sleeping bag loaded on and it seemed just fine.  News Flash: some clothes, tools, food and water add a lot more weight.  When the bike was finally REALLY loaded up for the trip it weighed quite a bit.  I never actually weighed it to avoid the mental anguish of actually knowing what I was hauling but ask Pog he got to try and pick it up still fully loaded right after I arrived.

just before departure 5:30am loaded to the gills

The clearance to the fender on that downtube mounted bottle was pretty nice, 1mm at best.  Hit the road with the sun to ensure I got to work with the maximum amount of daylight if needed.  But I mounted a light just in case I needed more than 15hrs (good god).  It also was nice to have it flashing first thing in the morning.  For the few motorists on the road they probably were not on the look out for a cyclist at that hour on a Saturday.  Got off to a nice easy pace, riding through the morning fog/haze.  Temps were nice for riding, although I did rock a wind vest for the first hour or so.  That vest almost caused the first major mishap of the ride only 20 or so miles in.  I attempted to take the vest off on the bike while riding, something I have done before on many occasions both on this bike and my road problem.  However, unless you are a highly experienced cyclotourist who has loaded bikes many times and is skilled in the art of perfectly balancing your gear when you let go of the bars they will turn.

At least part of my brain was half expecting this so I was able to save things before I went down but it must have looked pretty funny to anyone watching.  Decided to come to a stop and get the vest off safely before continuing.  Besides that incident the early portion of the ride went great.  I was keeping a great pace, much faster than expected and everything felt good.  Great views of Chocorua heading into the Conway area.  I hit some heavier traffic in the N. Conway area as all the early risers tried to be the first ones to the outlets.  I also hit a solid wall of wind that didn't quit for the rest of the ride.  I'm not the best at gauging wind speeds but if I had to guess I think it was easily a sustained 10-15mph with stronger gusts for the final 80mi of the ride.  JOY.  I had been hoping for a nice gentle cruise from N. Conway to the base of Pinkham Notch, instead I got to battle the wind the whole way.

Pinkham Notch was about what I expected.  Never very steep but long and relentless.  Starting at about the turn onto Rt. 16 in Glen to the top is just about 10mi of sustained climbing.  The wind made a few of the slopes feel a bit steeper than they were and I was definitely feeling the additional weight.  But man those views.  It's different on a bike than in a car.  Plenty of time to take it all in when you are climbing at 3-4mph.  Finally made it to Pinkham Notch and my glorious 10 straight miles of descending into Gorham and some lunch.

Got to ride with a guy for a bit heading over the top and descended with him a bit.  Nothing like a friendly conversation at 35mph.  Highlights were his comments about how my friends are pussies for not riding with me and meeting me at the campground instead and asking whether I thought my wide handlebars caught too much wind.  I told him they didn't catch any more than the huge sleeping bag mounted between the drops.  He laughed and then promptly dropped me.

Stopped in Gorham to grab a quick lunch, stretch and replenish my water.  There was a gradual climb into Berlin and once I got past that Rt.16 is fairly remote and hugs the Androscoggin so it stays fairly flat for the rest of the way.  Cell service pretty much ended at that point so most people probably thought I died shortly after Gorham because I went Twitter silent.  The last 40mi or so were basically just a grind.  Lightly rolling terrain that I just tried to tick along.  My speed had normalized to about a 13mph average after Pinkham and that seemed doable so I just kept things right there.  No need to try and push any harder.  I was on schedule with plenty of daylight to use if needed.

I was getting a bit uncomfortable on the bike but honestly I was expecting it to be much worse.  I did my best to stretch on the bike and change my position regularly.  Some of the light rolls in the road past Errol in the last 12mi turned into 'massive climbs' but I have plenty of gears on that bike and I used them all.  Rolled into the campground at almost 10hrs ride time flat.  Immediately spotted the circus tent and b-lined it.  Pog was the first person I spotted who handed me a Coors that had magically exploded/opened itself in his cooler just before my arrival.  Thanks Universe.  Got the tent set up, changed and took a sweet sweet ice bath in the Andro.

Then I fished for bubble gum in a bowl of whipped cream with my face but that is a story for another day...


  1. lol....totally awesome all around....yea when you "went dark" for while there shaun and i got a little worried

  2. you're insane. next goal? ride to lakerage.

  3. cake. that would be a shorter ride than this one was. Gina would not appreciate having to drive up there on her own though.

  4. "Pog was the first person I spotted who handed me a Coors that had magically exploded/opened itself in his cooler just before my arrival. "

    True story.