Finally! A map (Picture of my ACA map… I don’t know if this is acceptable. I’ll try to find a different way to post map images. Check out http://www.adventurecycling.org for information on the Northern Tier route). A new entry! Hurrah! I am writing from Larissa and Raphael’s house in Orford, NH. Two posts tonight, since I was too sleepy this morning. 🙂 So day 5 was very memorable! I set off from the Fiddlehead campground rested and excited for what the day held in store. The ride definitely lived up to expectations. I crossed another state line (so far: Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire), saw two covered bridges, and triumphed over a major mental/physical hurdle.
When I first received the Northern Tier Maps, I was really intimidated by Kancamagus Pass. The ride took me to Conway, from where I followed Passaconoway Rd, which parallels the Kancamagus Highway. It was a beautiful, largely solitary ride that gradually ascended but in a pleasant, speedy way. Joining the Kancamagus Highway was a bit of a letdown after having so much fun biking by myself. There were more cars, but I was actually surprised by how manageable the gradient was. I even (foolish Flavia!) started to think the reputation of “the Kanc” was just hype. Ooooh did I have a lesson to learn! After cruising along for about 12 miles on the highway, the road suddenly became insanely steep (maximum gradient of 9%). The last 6 miles were one gigantic uphill, and soo painful. I stopped numerous times to breathe, drink water, and contemplate what in the world I was doing. I played mind games with myself. I told myself that of course I could quit, but no one would pick me up and take me off the mountain so I’d just have to stay there forever. That sounded even more miserable than pushing on. I also chanted the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra innumerable times. That is just what came into my head. Who knows why. But it seriously helped. At one point a couple cyclists passed me, and one lady, seeing my loaded panniers and pained expression called over “More power to you!”. I took that to heart and pretended that somehow I got a bit of her climbing power. That helped too. I really think a lot of these hills are big mental games. There are physical components as well, like burning lungs and legs that feel like they are just about to fall off. In terms of continuing upwards though, a big portion is mental. Finally I got to a point where I thought I should reach the top in about 15 minutes. When the window passed, I started to feel really defeated. There was a scenic outlook point and a car was just pulling out and going in the direction opposite me. I flagged down the driver and asked him how far away the pass was. He said 3 miles. My heart really sank. At 4 miles an hour, that was a looong way off. His wife chimed in from the passengers seat. No it isn’t 3 miles, she said. Maybe 1/4 mile! If they only knew how they were toying with my heart! She pointed up the slope and said the top was just around the bend. It was all downhill after that. I can’t describe the elation. I was really sick of going sooo slowly uphill for so long. Guffy and I struggled up the last 1/4 mile to the pass. This picture is really deceiving. I didn’t feel so smiley. I felt more queasy and exhausted. I put on a good happy face though.
It really was nearly 6 miles of straight downhill after that. My legs felt like lead jello when I arrived in Lincoln. It was an awesome feeling to know that I had a new friend waiting and dinner/sleep not far off.
My friends K and P from the first night in Portsmouth had set me up with one of their friends named Andrew who works in Lincoln. I met him at his work, an outdoor store in the heart of Lincoln. He and his coworker Osiris were just closing up the shop so I waited around until they were done, and then I got my introduction to summers in Lincoln, NH. Swimming/soaking my feet in the chilly river relaxed my muscles and dinner at the local Tuesday night hangout replenished my belly. How to measure whether you ate one or two tacos still eludes me. I’ll have to conduct a full anthropological study of Taco Tuesday next time I’m in Lincoln! By the time we made it back to Andrew’s house outside of Lincoln, I was all but asleep.