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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've posted a couple of ride reports from this region before. I continue to explore new areas up there and am impressed. Traditionally, I've always thought that big elevation rides require going farther north to the actual mountains but yesterday's ride afforded a higher per mile elevation gain than any of my previous mountain rides. If you're a rider who likes lots of climbing with some gravel riding mixed in, I recommend checking out some of the roads. This was my ride report about yesterday's route:

The Stafford, NH/Bow Lake area really does have some great riding terrain. This was my experience yesterday. It's not that far from the North Shore of MA to go to this area.

I had one of my best “adventure” bike rides in a while yesterday. I decided to hit some new roads in the Bow Lake/Strafford NH area. I knew I’d probably hit gravel and some of the roads were indeed that surface.

I’ve never liked gravel riding and particularly on new gravel roads, I took it very carefully on my way to my destination. Level or uphill riding is not an issue but I’m inclined to wuss out on descents on that surface. I had about 8 miles of unknown road before I’d connect with previously ridden areas. I wondered how long the gravel would continue. There were washboard sections with very high levels of vibration that took some getting used to.

I pressed on and was rewarded when after about 3 miles of gravel, the road surface switched to pavement, and not just any pavement but a perfectly smooth and pristine type. I soon began to climb and reached the aptly named Ridge Top road. I felt a surge of adrenaline mixed with wonder as I saw the road drop precipitously in front of me. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere looking across a valley to another ridge on the horizon. As I began the descent, more of the road came into view and I could see it was a plummet as far as I could see. It was straight, however, with a clear sight-line so I lowered myself into a tuck and enjoyed almost 1.5 miles of this steep descent at over 10% grade. I had the wind against me so only topped out at 47MPH but it was very enjoyable.

I rejoined previously known roads and then went a little further into new territory before turning around to go back the way I came. On Birch Hill road, I saw a mother deer and a baby fawn on the side of the road. They ran along the road for a bit before exiting into the woods. Before long, I now had to climb that long hill that I had just descended. I enjoyed the challenging climb and then took the descent the other way from Ridge Top road. This wasn’t quite as steep at 9% but I had the wind with me so I hit 47 here also. I then came to the gravel again but took it more aggressively this way because I knew what was coming. As much as I tried to avoid all the rocks I could, I inevitably hit some but my tires held. I had inflated them to just over 100 pounds knowing I would be on this surface. That pressure affords less grip but protects against pinch flats. I ended up going over 30 on some of the gravel descents which is a new speed for me. By the end of the gravel, I had even begun to enjoy the challenge of it
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I finished the ride on familiar roads including the Parker Mountain descent. I thought the wind was going to be behind me but it was at an angle and I only managed 50. I was hoping to break 51 which was the fastest I had reached previously on this particular descent.

All the newness and exciting terrain produced one of the best flow states I’ve had cycling. My world shrunk to a hyper focus of my environment and the bike.

Final Stats:
Distance: 48.87 miles
Time: 2:54:37
Average Speed: 16.79MPH
Max Speed: 50MPH
Elevation Gain: 3926 feet = 80.34 feet per mile

That glacial average speed can be partially attributed to my braking on the gravel. I'm confident that next time on this route, I'll brake far less. This is also my first route in which I exceeded 80 feet per mile. Not quite at the 100 feet per mile level that I'd ultimately aspire to but closer! I fully subscribe to the maxim that the higher you go (in elevation gain), the "higher" you'll get in endorphins.

The route:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/14860584
 

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Our old training grounds used to be in this area. We would head west from Exeter and climb the Nippo Lake Country Club climb then Parker Mountain dropping into Pittsfield where there were places to refuel. Next, climbing out of Pittsfield by way of Catamount. There were plenty of intermediate climbs between this area and the Seacoast as well. Loudon Ridge road was another tough climb in that area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Our old training grounds used to be in this area. We would head west from Exeter and climb the Nippo Lake Country Club climb then Parker Mountain dropping into Pittsfield where there were places to refuel. Next, climbing out of Pittsfield by way of Catamount. There were plenty of intermediate climbs between this area and the Seacoast as well. Loudon Ridge road was another tough climb in that area.
Did your training rides involve gravel roads or did you try your best to avoid them?
 

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No gravel. Wasn't needed. There's a good 3 or 4 mile dirt road climb to the top of Nottingham Square though on the way out to this area. When we raced through on dirt we were on 23c road bikes, like the woods at Putney's Tour of the Valleys race after the decent from the 3 mile climb.
 
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