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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m hoping to do this ride tomorrow:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/21232758

I’ve done a pretty close variant of this loop once before but counterclockwise. Tomorrow I want to ride it starting from Storyland and proceeding on 16 over Pinkham Notch to Gorham and then 2/North Road to 113 over Evans Notch and then finally coming to Hurricane Mountain Road. I would then take a bit of virgin road on Thorn Hill road before doing a small section of 16 again in the opposite direction to finish.

My question involves doing the Hurricane Mountain Road ascent from the Evans Notch side. Last time I did the ascent from the Storyland side. Knowing how brutal the climb is, I took my beater bike with its triple to give me at the time a 30X27 low gear. I now have a 30X28 low gear on it. Is the ascent from the Evans Notch side a little easier? It seems to be when I look at the profile but reports from someone who has actually ridden both ways would mean more to me. I would hate to have to take that bike just to have that low gear for that one section. The other bike I’d like to take has a low gear of 39X28. I would really be disappointed if I had to stop on the ascent because of not having low enough gears.

Any input would be appreciated!
 

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https://www.strava.com/segments/663973

If the strava data is any accurate it could be painful on 39X28. Likely painful even on 34X28 based on my lack of enjoyment of climbing. Average grade showing 10% with spots kicking up over 15%. Showing as a Cat 2 climb so likely painful in any gearing but I personally wouldn't want to do it on a 39 up front.

For reference here is the segment for the East side, which is slightly steeper but also shorter and your only going up 991ft vs 1200ft from the other side.
https://www.strava.com/segments/648573

Let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks for posting the Strava comparisons. It's sobering that the one I thought might be easier is rated as a category 2 rather than the 3 that the other side is rated.

I’m a decent climber but that previous ascent of Hurricane Mountain Road was the toughest climb I’ve ever done. It peaked at 17% and it was quite lengthy. My heart felt like it was going to come out of my chest. One reason for wanting to do the route in the other direction this time is because I hit the Hurricane ascent very early in the ride the way I first did it. I’m not only not that warmed up but I also have two full water bottles. It’s a long way before I can refuel in Gorham so I ha to carry the full weight. The advantage of trying it from the Evans Notch side is that I can be close to empty for liquid. Of course, the disadvantage is that it’s about 62 miles into the ride so I’ll not be fresh.

For comparison, I did the Wachusett climb recently using a 39X27 low gear with no problem. I’ve also done the Kinsman ascent coming from the Lincoln side on a 39X27 and that tops out close to 13%.

It’s a tough decision. The 30X28 on the beater’s triple would give me a gear ratio of 1.07 and the 39X28 would give me a 1.39 so there’s a pretty big difference.
 

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One thing you have going for you is that you're doing this Wednesday and not this Sunday, Monday or Tuesday when you could have run out of water soon after Gorham. Did I ask before if you've done the Parker/Catamount sisters? Throw in Nippo, Bow Lake and Loudon Ridge Road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
One thing you have going for you is that you're doing this Wednesday and not this Sunday, Monday or Tuesday when you could have run out of water soon after Gorham. Did I ask before if you've done the Parker/Catamount sisters? Throw in Nippo, Bow Lake and Loudon Ridge Road.
I wouldn't have done the ride in those temperatures. I've been planning the ride for quite a while but waiting for a perfect day.

I've done Parker Mountain on route 126 from Bow Lake many times. It's a nice climb and descent.

After talking to someone who has done the Hurricane climb both ways, I've decided to use my beater bike with its triple to give me a low gear of 30X28. He said it would be exceedingly hard from either direction on a 39X28. I'll post a report when I'm done.
 

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For reference the Wachusset climb:
https://www.strava.com/segments/1533076
It only averages 5% over the 2.3 miles to the summit and you only go up 635ft vs the 1200 over 2.2 for Hurricane.

If I had one I would likely opt for a triple for a climb like that too.

I was just looking at the toughest climbs I've done and most of them top out at 7% average for climbs of that distance. Longer climbs the averages start dropping to 5% and I always thought those were pretty miserable so this Hurricane one from either side would not be something I would enjoy regardless of gearing. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ride Report

Here’s today’s ride report for those so inclined to pore over the details:

I got to Storyland just before 11:00 and was on the road by 11. There was more wind than I expected and I was going straight into it as I headed north on route 16. I prefer to ride with the wind to start if possible as it takes me a while to get into a rhythm but this was the situation today and I was against the wind all the way to Gorham. The Pinkham Notch climb is not particularly hard but I was exposed to the non-stop wind so it was a tougher slog than usual. I did enjoy the beautiful views of the Presidential Range to my left. I noticed there were still some snow fields on Washington.

Route 16 had been recently repaved from Dolly Copp to Gorham. I made my one stop to refuel at the Cumberland Farms there. It was only about 22 miles into the route so I was able to get away with just one bottle up to that point. I got Powerade, water and a protein bar. I resumed my ride now on route 2. This is not a pleasant road for cycling as there is a small shoulder and trucks pass frequently. I was only on it for about four miles though until I got to the left for North Road. I now had the wind more behind me and did not see a single car until I came out back on route 2 about 11 miles down the road. I do not use a GPS but rely on printed maps still. I took a wrong turn on Meadow but soon corrected my error. I really started to enjoy the ride more on North road as it passes through idyllic settings with zero cars.

I popped out on route 2 very briefly and then took 113 heading to Evans Notch. There was only one car that passed me on the whole ascent. With the wind behind me, I was riding close to 19MPH until the final steeper part leading to the notch itself. I stopped briefly there. The view is beautiful and very peaceful. I ate a Cliff gel there and readied myself for the descent. I had only climbed Evans Notch from the other direction before so this would be my first time doing the descent in this direction. All I can say is that it’s a descent that begs to be ripped! First, the surroundings are kind of unique. There’s a thick canopy of forest that makes it feel like you’re in a tunnel of sorts. Add in the perfect pavement and total absence of cars and just the right about of turns. Still, since it was my first time from this direction, I did brake some and only maxed out at 47MPH.

I had a nice adrenaline buzz at the bottom and continued still with the wind behind me on 113 (Stow Road). Again, this stretch of road was almost totally devoid of cars. Only one passed me in the stretch all the way to South Chatham Road. This road connects to Green Hill Road which eventually leads to the right onto Hurricane Mountain Road. I ate my last gel shortly before this. This ascent of Hurricane Mountain Road would be the big challenge of this ride. I had done the ascent from the other direction once before and had to stop twice because it was so hard. I HATED that and was determined to not let it happen from this side. The climb is rated a category 2 according to Strava. I approached it conservatively as I think part of the problem last time was doing too much standing early and my heart-rate went through the roof. This time I only stood when I had to due to its insane steepness. There were sections where you’d look ahead and just gasp at what appeared to be a wall in front of you (the sign says the climb is 17% grade). I’m happy to say I cleaned it this time with no stopping. I didn’t stop at the summit either but proceeded with the descent of the other side. Unlike the Evans Notch descent, this one did not beg to be ripped at all! The pavement is full of bumps and heaves. It addition to the steep grade the road twists constantly. I only let my speed run out to 30MPH and tried to give my rims even just seconds to cool down. I have to say, it was still a fun descent requiring constant attention to handling the bike as the corners are even sharper on this side.

I made to the bottom and came out on route 16. But did I continue on it using the quickest route back to Storyland? NO! I took the right onto 16A which leads to Thorn Hill Road. This was new territory for me. My legs were pummeled from the Hurricane ascent but I was ready for more punishment. This hill is 13% grade and I had to do a few more linked track stands at times again. I had also run out of water. No epic ride is truly great until it crosses over into death march territory. I finally made it to the top of Thorn Hill. The descent was okay but since it was my first time on the road, I had to hold it to 42MPH (speed limit was 25). I came to the end, took the left and went through a covered bridge before getting back on route 16. I emptied the tank on this last section back to Storyland. Now with the wind behind me, I topped out at 44MPH on the descent approaching the parking lot.

I got back to the car and grabbed the gallon of spring water. Water at 85 degrees never tasted so good. I took many gulps before I did anything else.

Stats:
Miles: 76.87
Time: 4:41:31
Average Speed: 16.38
Max Speed: 47MPH
Elevation Gain: 5479 feet = 71.28 feet per mile
Route:https://ridewithgps.com/routes/22140429

This was my slowest mountain ride ever. Not sure what to say except that the 22 mile stretch into a strong wind to start was hard to overcome. I was at 17.6 before the Hurricane ascent. That really did a number on things. I’m still pleased with the ride and especially feel accomplished to have cleaned the toughest ascent in my cycling career.
 

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Nice job, as I said in my last post, the Hurricane climb sounds pretty miserable. I definitely wouldn't want to do it on my 36-28. On the plus side whenever you climb you usually get to enjoy descents as a reward and it sounds like there were some good ones. It always brings a smile to my face whenever I can break the speed limit on a bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nice job, as I said in my last post, the Hurricane climb sounds pretty miserable. I definitely wouldn't want to do it on my 36-28. On the plus side whenever you climb you usually get to enjoy descents as a reward and it sounds like there were some good ones. It always brings a smile to my face whenever I can break the speed limit on a bike.
Thanks. There would have been absolutely no way I would have been able to climb that with a 39X28 gear. The 36X28 you have would also be very difficult.

It was painful but very satisfying to accomplish. If you have a lower gear option available I’d recommend this ride. It’s rare to find such long stretches of total solitude on a road bike. The whole Evans Notch section was very enjoyable especially. I haven’t analyzed options to do a similar loop but cutting out Hurricane. I’m sure there’d be a way.

I love fast descents in general but it is cool to break a speed limit while you’re at it. I don’t even know what the speed limit is for that descent of Evans – probably less than the 47 I managed!
 
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