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  1. #1
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    Kancamagus Highway Advice?

    Hi there, I'm new here. My goal for the end of this summer/early fall is to ride the Kancamagus Highway in NH. I'd be setting off from the Portland, ME area. I'm pretty confident I can manage the camping needs of the trip without needing too much advice, but this will be the most challenging, hilliest ride I've done yet. I've researched the route, so I'm pretty confident there, too. My questions:

    Has anyone ridden the Kancamagus? Is it fun? Safe? Where/which direction would you recommend starting from? How bad are the hills? I've been sitting on my duffer all winter, how much training might I need (when will I know I'm ready)? Do you recommend I ride with someone?

    Thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
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    I road it starting from Lincoln. I thought it was a good road to ride but you need to be aware of crosswinds when descending, they can be strong depending. If you're riding in peak foliage, I'd get an early start to avoid the caravan of cars. I think it's totally safe and you don't need to ride with someone, I did it solo. If I'm not mistaken, there's about 2200 feet of climbing over 30 or so miles. The hills aren't too bad but the do seem to go on forever. I'd find some local training routes that give you about the same elevation gain per mile and use that to gauge how ready you are. What do you have for gearing? Keep in mind there's towns on either side that have everything you need incase you need to call it a day or resupply (assuming you're doing a loop of some kind).

  3. #3
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    Hiya Reb,
    I have not yet ridden a bike over over the Kanc but have hiked and backpacked extensively in the area and driven that highway many times. The road has wide shoulders, perfect for riding and there are campgrounds on the Kanc also.
    There is one big climb in the middle of a mile or so at maybe 7-8% grade. http://ridewithgps.com/. Check the grade out for yourself. The area is beautiful and I'm planning a 3-4 day lightly loaded tour in that area. For myself, I'm looking to modify the drivetrain to provide about 25 Gear Inches.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    guy2600,
    Thanks so much for the reply. Very good info. I am planning on doing a loop, and spending a night or two camping. I'll probably be carrying 20 lbs worth of stuff in panniers. For my gearing, I have 11x32 in the rear, and 34x50 in the front. I will try and find some local rides with similar elevation gains, but most of the hills in my area are pretty steep but less than a mile long.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    berner,
    Thanks for the info. A mile at 7-8% is actually similar to the worst hills on my commute (just a tad shorter length). Kind of encouraging. I too am looking to do a light tour w/ camping, a long weekend type of thing. I have 11x32 in the rear and 34x50 in the front -- I think I've got a low enough gear as long as it is a light tour.
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  6. #6
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    That gearing should be fine. There's a few campgrounds along the Kanc too which I'm sure you're already aware of. I did this loop which is an interesting ride (it was only my second century on a windy day = slow): http://connect.garmin.com/activity/35277228

    Find the hill with the most evelation gain and do repeats loaded up with the extra weight, that's another option for training.

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    That gearing is fine for you young men. I've reached a point where I'm usually the oldest man in the room, hence, lower gearing. I'm also planning the load in the panniers to about 20 lbs. less food and water but with camping gear. Guy, I see from your route you hit 38 mph, likely on 302 at Crawford notch. I'm planning to spend 3 or 4 days in that area, extending your loop, possibly west from Lincoln and North to Littleton, then South through Pinkham Notch to N. Conway and finally back to Lincoln on the Kanc. Hills are the killer for me as Rhode Island is pretty flat with little chance to bone up on climbing. Nevertheless, in spite of the suffering to come, I'm getting excited by the tour as the weather warms up. Best wishes to you both.

  8. #8
    Member mcccliv's Avatar
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    I recommend you ride it westward from N Conway to Lincoln, riding on the northern shoulder. Scenic views and rest stops are on the north side.

    A few recommendations:

    - Consider a loop starting in Lincoln, north along I-93 on the bike path, east on 3 & 302 through Crawford Notch, south on Bear Notch Road, and finally back to Lincoln on the Kancamagus Highway. This entire route is breathtaking non-stop scenery.

    An extended version of this loop is at http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=hzqxdjpnxionodyr, which you can short cut through I-93.

    - In Lincoln, fill up at Elvio’s Pizzeria, 165 Main St, 603-745-8817

  9. #9
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guy2600 View Post
    That gearing should be fine. There's a few campgrounds along the Kanc too which I'm sure you're already aware of. I did this loop which is an interesting ride (it was only my second century on a windy day = slow): http://connect.garmin.com/activity/35277228

    Find the hill with the most evelation gain and do repeats loaded up with the extra weight, that's another option for training.
    Great idea, I think my lptop and clothes usually approximate the load, though probably less than 20 lbs. There are some lovely hills here I could repeat to get my legs some endurance. So if I get comfortable doing do them a few times each in a row... I think that will be 3,000/4,000 meters of climbing? Sounds a long way off, but doable. I definitely want to enjoy myself, so I better start getting ready.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcccliv View Post
    I recommend you ride it westward from N Conway to Lincoln, riding on the northern shoulder. Scenic views and rest stops are on the north side.

    A few recommendations:

    - Consider a loop starting in Lincoln, north along I-93 on the bike path, east on 3 & 302 through Crawford Notch, south on Bear Notch Road, and finally back to Lincoln on the Kancamagus Highway. This entire route is breathtaking non-stop scenery.

    An extended version of this loop is at http://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=hzqxdjpnxionodyr, which you can short cut through I-93.

    - In Lincoln, fill up at Elvio’s Pizzeria, 165 Main St, 603-745-8817
    I think I will plan on going from Conway to Lincoln, good info about the views and rest-stops being on the north side. I'd be coming from the east from Maine. Then heading north and looping around to Conway again by the way you recommended. I imagine campsites are plentiful after you turn east on 3 & 302. ? I'll research a bit.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  11. #11
    Senior Member Johnny Rebel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by berner View Post
    That gearing is fine for you young men. I've reached a point where I'm usually the oldest man in the room, hence, lower gearing. I'm also planning the load in the panniers to about 20 lbs. less food and water but with camping gear. Guy, I see from your route you hit 38 mph, likely on 302 at Crawford notch. I'm planning to spend 3 or 4 days in that area, extending your loop, possibly west from Lincoln and North to Littleton, then South through Pinkham Notch to N. Conway and finally back to Lincoln on the Kanc. Hills are the killer for me as Rhode Island is pretty flat with little chance to bone up on climbing. Nevertheless, in spite of the suffering to come, I'm getting excited by the tour as the weather warms up. Best wishes to you both.
    Good luck to you too. Definitely looking forward to it also. I am also tempted to extend the loop but as a young family man I can't get myself more than 3 days for my adventuring.

    Spring is here, so why was it snowing today?

    Cheers
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  12. #12
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I have cycled most of the roads from Portland to Conway except 302.

    My fave is 25/160/Center Conway Rd

    A longer version 104/Long Hill rd/107/117/Center Conway rd

    For training, look for windy days, ride into the wind.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

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