I can’t remember the last time I rode Kinsman. Or rode in the Whites for that matter. At least two years ago. For someone who used to be up in that general area at least twice a month, it’s crazy how things change. It’s almost ridiculous that it’s been this long.
We were camping Saturday night with Kristen’s family just off Route 3, only two miles north of the Kanc and the White Mountain Cycling Classic circuit race, happening the next day. I wouldn’t say I’m “race fit” by a long shot, but I figured I could pop out of bed and make a go of it. But as I started doing the math, even being minutes up the road, I couldn’t swing it. I needed more hours than I could mortgage.
But that was fine to be honest. My lungs are pretty good right now, but my strength seems like it’s in the toilet. I guess I didn’t need to pay $35 to have that validated. I forgot my license at home anyway. So it was a night of laying low, powered by Jim Beam.
In the morning, a short walk with Kristen and we figured I had an hour on my hands. So I kitted up, pointed the bike south, and oh what a feeling. The road largely empty and slightly downhill, effortlessly cranking around 20mph. The 8am sun beaming off my pasty shaven legs, bringing the morning up to temperature. Damn that felt so good. Humming right along, letting the bars flutter back and forth as I picture myself breaking away.
A Clif Bar in my gut, the Rivet under my butt, I figure in an hour I can do Kinsman. Maybe both sides? 112 is taking longer than I remember though. I give it an honest effort once I pass the campground, but I’m definitely only going to have time for the front side. A blowing headwind and a 23t cassette have me using all the lungs as I crest. I’m sort of impressed with myself that I’m usually climbing this on a singlespeed.
I noodle to the beaver pond, the finishing point of many rides I’ve done up north. On one of the hottest days, lacking better judgement, I’ve actually swam in that pond just after climbing the back side of the notch. No call for that today, but I’m glad to at least be here, gripping that little nugget of familiarity.
I turn it around and start the rip back into town. Just as things begin to plummet, the crosswinds are giving me fits, and my knees are locked to the top tube as 50mm clinchers try to push me off the road. No heroic descents today. I back way off to live another day. Jam on it here and there until I get back. Exactly an hour as it turned out. I’m pleased.