On Saturday, May 27th, several Northeast Multisport members set out to ride the Kancamagus Highway in the heart of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We started out of the Loon Ski Mountain. There were several routes members could choose from. Most of us chose the 65 mile option which was an out and back over the Kancamangus Highway. Others opted for a longer ride, while others created a few different loops. This is my 2017 Kranc the Kanc Recap. Read on for more.
Unlike last year’s ride which took place in late April, this ride was over a month later in May. I was pleased that the temperature when leaving for the ride was in the low 50’s with mixed clouds. This ride would provide a perfect temperature for climbing, but not be so cold on the descents. For clothing, I decided to ride in my new Maverick Multisport team kit. I also put on arm warmers as the team kit pockets weren’t big enough to hold my nutrition, phone, and a vest. The wind wasn’t nearly as bad as last year either.
Fluid and Nutrition
I’m just going to state for the record this ride had a complete and total nutrition fail…and it was somewhat on purpose. See, during the early part of the season I was experimenting with some new nutritional products (names withheld to protect the innocent). I had this nagging feeling in the literal “pit of my stomach” that if I used some of the products in a long duration event, my stomach would not be happy with me. So, I decided what better place than to practice using them and confirm my suspicion than on a ride that should last at least 4 hours?
The thing about nutrition is it is intensely personal. For some, eating a McDonald’s hamburger would be totally ok, while others require very specific products that won’t upset the GI tract. In my case, I’m realizing that I am very sensitive to certain products.
For fluids I started with four bottles with a powdered mix in them. Each bottle had 200-300 calories in them. Knowing that I would likely not make it through all four bottles I brought with me a Gu Flask which I filled with 100% pure maple syrup. I essentially created a poor man’s Untapped supplement. Also along for the ride came a few Clif bars and Clif Bloks. The Bloks were a backup should the nutrition plan go belly side up. I’ll get into more details on how the nutrition played out in the next section. The goal was to take a shot of maple syrup every 40 minutes, drink what was in my bottles every 5-10 minutes, and have a Clif bar at the top of the Kanc (both ways) and at the turnaround point in North Conway.
The ride started in the parking lot of Loon Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This time of year, all the snow was melted and the “summer session” started. Loon has hiking, mountain biking, and other cool things like a Zipline available to visitors. We found it a bit odd, however that there was a massive pile of firewood in the parking lot. I’m not sure what that’s going to be used for, but dumping it it such a public place seemed like an interesting idea.
This was my first outdoor ride of the year so I used it as a great opportunity to test out my new 2XU team kit and some other equipment like the Bolle sunglasses generously provided. I did use some chamois cream as a precaution given the long duration of the ride and the new kit. Last year, I was extremely uncomfortable by the end of the ride. This year I felt much, much better. The new saddle, fit change, and team kit performed well.
First 10.5 Miles – Up the Kanc
The route I chose was so simple I didn’t even need to turn navigation on my Garmin. I was going to ride from Loon over the top of the Kanc to the end in North Conway. We would stop at the Ranger Station and come right back over the Kanc. The tough part about this ride is directly out of Loon’s parking lot, you start climbing. You keep climbing for 10.5 miles. This year the group started at a pretty civil pace. My plan was to keep the power average to 80-85% FTP. For me, this should have been around 210-220 watts. I averaged 244. The power output was 11 watts higher than last year but 0.5 miles per hour slower on average on this segment. This was primarily due to me stopping just shy of the summit to take some photos and get a Clif bar. All the while Strava kept calculating time.
Overall the ascent was smooth and steady. People mostly rode at their own paces and we splintered pretty quick although you could usually see someone for nearly all of the ride. I lost the main group pretty early on, but stuck with my plan and was happy with the ascent.
Once you make it over the top you see the road start to pitch down. For as long as I’ve been a cyclist, I’ve always taken great pleasure knowing that when I climb a massive climb and see the yellow warning that a big descent is coming, that the pain is over. The Kanc is no exception.
Over the top of the hill I went and plunged down the hill at a maximum speed of 48 miles per hour. Dang I’m getting soft in my old age. Then began 22 miles of downhill to flat. This was a huge amount of time to recover from the 10.5 miles of uphill, but also offered an opportunity to get some work in the aero position. I wanted to hold an average of 75-80% FTP, but around the 25 mile mark, my stomach started to feel a bit uneasy. It seemed that my earlier suspicions about the nutrition wasn’t going to work well.
Once I hit the ranger station, we regrouped for a little while, ate some food, hit the restroom and headed back to Loon.
The Climb Back Up the Kanc
Remember that 22 miles of downhill? Yea, now I had to climb back up it. This was the point last year where I fell apart. Last year I had back discomfort, unhappy sit bones on the saddle, and generally super fatigued. This year I started off with nothing other than a stomach on the tipping point of going bad rapidly. Unfortunate for me was that I had 33 miles to get back to my car. I wanted to target 75-80% FTP on the summit back, but was pretty sure I wasn’t going to hit that. At some point along the way I was passed by Colin Cook and Lucas Pozzetta. Both of these Northeast Multisport teammates are among the area’s best triathletes who started an hour before we did, did 30 miles more than I did. Pleasantries exchanged, and to the top I went.
Despite my stomach being really unhappy with me and trying everything I could to make sure I didn’t get sick on the bike, I still managed to take 7 minutes off last year’s time climbing back to the summit of the Kanc. I improved by almost 1 full mile per hour average at 72% FTP. Given the way I felt, I’m pleased with that result.
After reaching the summit, I vowed to never use the same nutrition I did for this ride and get back to what I know works for me. It was a quick 10.5 miles back to the car and this puppy was done.
What I Learned
This was a good validation to practice your nutrition before your races. Plenty of things to learn here:
- It was a GREAT idea to practice new nutrition before your races. I dealt with the ramifications of my choices for hours after this ride.
- Despite a rocky start to the spring training wise, I still felt pretty good on the bike
- Dude, lose some weight. Trying to get down a few pounds would help
- Yup, I still suck at climbing
- Between a year of training and a new position on the bike, I’m stronger this year than last