Bully had us tack onto a regular group from the Merrimack Valley area. Nice group of guys and no real slouches among them. I want to say we maybe had 8 guys? Things started civil enough but as soon as we hit the wall that is Kinsman I knew it was going to be a longish day of yo-yo'ing off the back. I was never that far off but the pace was just a few watts above where I wanted to be for a 90+ mile ride so I did my own thing.
Descent off Kinsman and the run into Franconia was great. Really perfect weather for the day. Almost no traffic, nice reasonable pace. Then we hit Profile Rd. That one is just a bit too punchy and steep for me but kept it within myself and topped out just a bit behind most of the group. I was starting to feel pretty good at this point. Nice and warmed up and ready for the long haul. We crossed I-93 and got onto the bike path for a short stretch to get to Rt.3 and then head north to Twin Mountain and Rt. 302. That's a long slight downhill pretty much the whole way and we were strung out hammering at probably close to 30mph the whole way.
Very nearly got popped off the back just as we were pulling into town but made it to our first feed stop intact.
Little did I know, shortly after this my day would take a turn. We hit the road heading to Crawford Notch. Gentle drag with nice wide shoulders heading in that direction. We were slowly getting back going after the feed stop, double pace line, basically soft pedaling. I was right on a guys wheel just ticking along and BAM! No clue what I hit but I hit it hard. I'm assuming a rock of some sort or some other type of solid debris. Usually it comes in handy to get that stuff pointed out to you by the rider in front seeing as you can't see around him but he must have missed it until last second.
So I got right into what is the ridiculous ritual of trying to get the bead off my Easton Vista wheels (never ever buy Easton Vista's). Got the tube in and the first stupid issue I had was a too short valve stem. I must have grabbed a tube that came from my commuter stash because the valve wasn't long enough to extend past my deep(ish) rims on the road bike. Luckily somebody had a valve extender that we were able to get to work and dodged that particular bullet.
Second issue was I didn't inspect the rim or tire well enough and about 2-300yds after rolling back out I hear the tell tale sound of the rear going flat again (thats the 2F, 2 Flats). My drive for the day dissipated pretty quickly at this point. I was REALLY far from the car and looking at having to steal a tube and closely inspect the tire to try and find debris and then more than likely limp home if possible. As is the norm Carl is my savior in these situations. I stole his tube and we made a plan for me to continue on if I could on the planned route and the group would continue on and he would back track in his truck / SAG wagon and pick me up. Just like old times!
I was able to find where the second tube went flat and inspected the wheel/tire in that area and low and behold a pretty nice sized dent/burr on the rim where the rock had made contact as well as a slight tear in the tire itself (TRT, taco'd rim / tire). I'm guessing the second tube snuck out that tear just a bit touched the road and tore. Luckily I keep a small role of electrical tape in my saddle bag and I had some wrappers from food as well. Booted the burr and the tire with tape and wrappers and used my last CO2 with my fingers crossed.
tape boot for the rim
gash in the tire
I settled on "Whatevah" and got to it. Low and behold I turned onto Bear Notch and shortly after heard a group coming up behind with Carl yelling "He's back from the dead!" Turns out I had just rolled through as their regroup was wrapping up. So now I was back in the ride, no SAG wagon, and pretty tired. Whoops. Usually Bear Notch would be a great climb for me but I was out of gas and had to keep things reasonable with the Kanc looming.
I am currently working very hard to purge the rest of the ride from my memory but lets just say as soon as the road ticked up at the bottom of the Kanc my legs informed me that they were cooked and cramps were imminent (CrK, cramp the Kanc). I was out of electrolyte pills, and rationing fluids at this point. The next 7-8mi were rough, lets just leave it at that. Topped out and had a nice lazy drag back down into Lincoln. TRAINED.