Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kearsarge Klassic

The New Hampshire Cycling Club did a great job with their inaugural Kearsarge Klassic, a new event taking in lots of dirt roads around Mt. Kearsarge State Forest Park, an area of NH that we haven't spent a lot of time in before. We found ourselves on lovely lightly traveled scenic roads with some pretty awesome support, as well as a great after ride dinner of homemade chili. The ride was a fund-raiser for the Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust to support its work preserving and protecting the natural beauty of New Hampshire. The club donated over $5,000 with proceeds from the ride!

We'd heard about the ride a few weeks ago from friends who know our love for dirt, but we had not seen any publicity about it. I was reminded of the ride when I noticed a link on bikereg.com last week as I was registering us for the Burke race. I mentioned it to John and we decided to give it a go. As you can probably tell from the blog, we've had a very busy year, and when Friday evening rolled around we were having second thoughts about loading up the car yet again to go do yet another event. Frankly, we are worn out! Not so much from riding, but loading and unloading the car, driving and laundry!

The forecast was a bit dreary for Saturday, although it seemed the morning wouldn't be so bad and it was still quite warm, so wet wouldn't be cold wet.

Just after John got home from work on Friday, a very intense thunderstorm rolled through Eastern Massachusetts, so we had dinner at home and delayed our departure a bit longer. But motel reservations had been made and entry fees were already paid, so we stuck with the plan and drove up to New London after dinner.  We stayed in a very nice motel just around the corner from the start, so we didn't have quite the early start that many of our Boston friends who drove up that morning did.

It was quite humid and sticky and foggy at the start. We started about 10 minutes late, but the early parts of the route were fairly tandem friendly with lots of downhill and flat sections and we caught almost everyone by the first water stop. We weren't racing the course and we took at time at all the stops, although the afternoon severe weather forecast was never forgotten!

We settled into an impromptu team of four people on three Seven bicycles, as we joined up with Jake Bridge and Jason DeVarrennes for the remainder of the ride.

Jake Bridge

photo courtesy of Jason DeVarrennes

The view from the first water stop was well earned and well worthwhile.

photo courtesy of Jason DeVarrennes
photo courtesy of Jason DeVarrennes

Some of the descents were quite fast and bumpy. Fat tires and good brakes were appreciated by all.

Three bridges.

Three Sevens

It seems we arrived a bit early at the lunch stop. Despite starting about 10 minutes late, and stopping for a while at the first water stop and then later to take photos, we reached lunch about 45 minutes before they were expecting to open. We hung out for a while and enjoyed some nice pre-made sandwiches and cookies, and then headed out for part two of the ride.

photo courtesy of Jason DeVarrennes

photo courtesy of Jason DeVarrennes

photo of Jason DeVarrennes

photo courtesy of Jason DeVarrennes

Shadows made an appearance!

more shadows

The second half of the epic route had a very different character from the first half. While I wouldn't call the first half easy, I would call the second part much tougher - lots more up and down and lots more rough surfaces. This is not a complaint by any means. We were in heaven.

We reached the third refueling spot at the top of the longest climb of the day. The wind had picked up quite a bit and I swear I heard a rumble of thunder - just like at the Gent's race. Despite this we had a long stop and chatted with the volunteers there for a while. It was after this stop that the roads got really special - with some lovely fast bumpy descents, some thigh burning climbs and a few sharp turns.

Impromptu Team Four on Sevens

There was one little climb that was so soft and loose and steep that we all found ourselves hoofing it. Fortunately, we were able to remount for the rest of the climb and the descent was surprisingly nice.

The sun was making a valiant effort to enhance our photos...

And we actually made it back to the barn without getting wet. Once home and dry, I made the fateful statement about how glorious the weather turned out to be, in spite of the forecast. We pigged out for a while on the homemade chili, while the weather gods gathered strength before taking aim on our location. We got the tandem loaded inside the car and managed to change clothes just as it started to spit rain. I felt bad for those still out on the course that I had uttered the comments about the weather. But then as soon as it started, it seemed to stop.

We decided to head into New London to check out the local craft shops and look for coffee. We found a great coffee shop and met some very nice people just as the heavens really opened and dumped bucketloads of rain with great fury. We heard later tha some of our friends who'd been taking lots of photos and enjoying a more leisurely ride paid the price by doing the final climb in this downpour. But they were still all smiles in the after-ride photos.

It was a wonderful ride and will definitely be on our list for next year. The club and volunteers did a great job with all the organizing and hopefully will be ready when word gets out and 1000 people show up next year!


  1. Thank you for this report-the photos and description are so good! Jim Duncan

  2. Nice report, great photos! We heard about this after the weekend had passed, via Paul Lohnes' Strava post. Definitely something us Tall Tree Cycles folks would be into next year. Hopefully there will be some date juggling though, as this time around it conflicted with the ProTour race in Montreal, and a great century event we always do called the Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred. I suspect the K2 will indeed blow up next year. Placing it at the end of August could be ideal....

    1. Hey Matt,

      Great to hear from you! I read your manifestly epic account of the Hastings Hilly Hundred yesterday - we were lucky with the weather this past weekend.

      The organisers asked for feedback about the event - which was superbly organised, especially for a first running - and I'll pass on your comments regarding the date.

  3. Are you hinting that the r@ingods punished me for being slow? Okay, okay point taken!

    1. Not at all. I take the blame for commenting on the fine weather while folks were still out on the course, violating my own strict rule that one cannot discuss the weather of the day until EVERYONE is home!

  4. I enjoyed your K2R2 report. We just did the route for the second year. Thought you might like to see what it looks like in the fall.