Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Weekend Roundup

A fish's view
Actually, it is more of a long weekend roundup which includes the start of the week and the end of last week as well as the weekend proper. What the weekend did not include was any racing. No, we decided to forgo the race scene in favor of some fun rides and some much needed house work based from our northern office in Bethel, Maine.

We haven't really spent all that much time in Maine since we got heavily into bike racing really. Between that and work, which for the past few years for both Cathy and I has meant traveling to and from an official office moist every day, it has been tough to find the time, or make it. Doing the whole weekend commute and fighting traffic to and fro to get to and then from the vacation home is a huge drag. Add in the racing, most of which is not near Maine anyhow and there you have it, the house sits vacant far too often. Regardless, with each visit we are reminded why we bought the place to begin with and why we have not sold it. We love the place. Bethel is a really great town with some really nice folks.

Sunday River in the distance
With Cathy working 100% from home and me "working" 100% on the homes, the time was ripe so we packed the cats and a van full of junk and headed north last Wednesday evening. My big project for this trip was to get a good start on the first of the two part shed renovation I have planned. I checked much of that work off Thursday and Friday. Next on the list was some weekend fun including a trip to KT for some MTB adventures.

What we didn't count on, despite the weather forecast, was just how oppressive 94 degrees and humid is when earlier than same week you were shivering while wearing your down jacket. I literally was melting down. I'm usually pretty good in the heat but not this time. It wrecked me. The manual work outside all day Thursday followed by the hard Gorman->Bartlett->Gorham Pinkham Notch effort that night had me reeling Friday. It was all that we could do to muster the energy to ride to Frenchman's Hole up in Newry and go wading.

Recurring theme of the weekend
Saturday was not much better and the heat was cooking my noggin and sapping my ambition, even though we were riding KT. We fought through and got in about three and a half hours and just over 30 miles but it hurt a whole lot despite not going all that hard. The one bright spot was the short interval I did go hard on; a climb out from the river on the far side of Darling Hill on the River Walk trail netted a Strava KOM. Possibly an indicator that the fitness was starting to come back around, I hoped?

Sweltering @ KT
Sunday we once again had 90 plus degree temperatures, humidity and wind so we naturally decided to go for a road ride. I planned a route that would take us south then west to Freyburg then north through Evans Notch and back. We had done this 75 or so mile route a few times in the past, but never in that direction. After fighting the headwind out Vernon Street then going into the wind and baking sun up the Hunts Corner climb and turning onto RT118 and then RT35 we decided to cut bait on the long loop at the famous world points sign. Instead we headed back via RT35 onto the Forest Service Road, a sweet gravel road that connects to the Flat Road. Something about riding gravel on my road bike encourages, no, commands me to drill it. We flew up the rise and just after the top I promptly smacked a rock and pinch flatted the front tire. Dumbass! From there we came back Grover Hill Road, which we rode as a TT from start to finish. Solid effort and a great road which is now immortalized in a Strava segment.

Cathy finishing the Jordan sufferfest
Monday was back to work, both for Cathy officially making money and for me, officially spending money. That money was squandered on PT 4x4's and 84' linear feet of ship-lap. Most of the day was spent again working on the shed improvement. The bonus was that with the huge front and rain that moved through Sunday evening, the temperature and humidity subsided. The weather by Monday mid day was fantastic.

After the days labor we decided to do a short ride with one interval, a climb up to the Jordan Grand at Sunday River. In all my years riding the area I'd never done that climb. Cathy did years ago but not me. Don't know why. I researched the climb on the Strava and found it was a solid Cat3 gaining 1500' in under 4 miles. Top times were just around 20 minutes so I knew that it was a good solid interval for sure. We fought brutal headwind over and brutal head and crosswind up. The climb was horrific, steep enough that the 39x25 was arduous once the legs loaded and crushing in the one really steep section, which also had really bad pavement. At the top it flattens to maybe four or five percent for the last quarter mile, fooling you into thinking you should be going faster than possible. Finally at the top is the hotel and relief, which was short lived once the black flies found you. Cathy soon emerged and finished and we made our way precariously back down the slope, fighting the winds and gravity all the way to remain in control.

The shed project continues
Yesterday we planned to head back home in order to do some chores there but also had some tree work done in Maine. This involved removing two huge and nasty pine trees in front of our house. These trees just made a mess and blocked the sun from reaching that section of the house. The result was lots of mildew and pine needles everywhere. Watching the removal was impressive and though it was expensive, I think that it will make a huge difference. It will also let some of the other trees fill in and grow a little better. Once the tree work was done most of the day was as well.

Int'l flair in ME
I'd planned to ride toward home and have Cathy pick me up on the way somewhere. Optimistically I'd though of riding all the way home but we'll save that stretch goal for another day. I settled on leaving an hour before Cathy and riding Vernon Street to RT35 south to RT302 east toward Portland. These are all secondary roads with posted speed limits from 30 - 50 mph, traveling by numerous lakes and ponds. On the map it was basically a straight shot. I started out and quickly noted the favorable cross/tail winds, so treated Vernon Street, which used to be one of the Maine TT series courses, as a TT. I was working really hard but moving really fast. This continued all the way along Vernon and onto RT35 where I was moving well on mostly flat terrain. Suddenly as RT118 forked off and RT35 veered right it also pitched up for what looked like a good climb. Having never traveled it before I had no idea how long it was but with legs loaded for effort I nearly came to a stop. A little over two miles later I finally crested the top and rolled quickly down the back side. That hurt. The rest of RT35 was scenic roller coaster of gentle grades and quaint lakeside communities.

Not happy being rescued on Vernon Street
My realistic goal for the ride was to make it two hours before Cathy caught me, which would mean it took her an hour to do so in the van on the same roads. I'd hoped that I could make it to RT302, which was just about 40 miles. What I hadn't counted on was the favorable conditions allowing me to go faster than I'd expected. I treated the first hour as a TT and told myself I'd ease off after that but because I was moving so well, I continued working pretty hard this far into the second hour as well. I soon found myself at RT302 well before the two hour mark.

Two moose on RT2 Concord, VT
Once onto RT302 I was blessed with wide open road, a HUGE shoulder lane and a pure tail wind. Long stretches of 30 mph just cranking the pedals over. Before I knew it I was at 47 miles. Around this point I started to wonder if maybe I could make it the whole way and beat Cathy to Portland. There were only 15 miles left to go and at the speeds I was going, maybe I could.

Shortly there after I hit Raymond and a myriad of endless traffic lights. The up side was that there was still a shoulder and I could actually go faster than traffic. The down side was it was really, really dangerous. It wouldn't matter as literally within a mile Cathy caught me. I told her I needed another mile to make the 50 mark, which I did and then willingly got in the van, satisfied and tired. Secretly, I think that she may have been speeding trying to catch me though.

All in all a great trip, a great weekend and a great block of rides. I'm thinking more time will be spent there in the near future. Much more time in fact. After all, I still have a whole list of projects that I need to work on there and with the time spent at the house, the list just seems to get longer.

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