Brian and I have been traipsing all over Vermont visiting my relatives and getting in position to climb the KancamagusHighway. It is the highest peak on the last section of Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier route and despite some trepidation, we were looking forward to it.

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We really got our butts kicked yesterday and there was every reason to expect worse today. That is why we planned a short 45 mile day, from Lincoln,over the Kanc, to Conway.

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The road started rising immediately. The mountains in the New Hampshire’s Whites have a different flavor than Vermont’s Greens. The Granite State’s peaks are sharper, steeper, and have more exposed rock face. We reached the hairpin turn and were still waiting for the “wall” that would slow us to a snail’s pace and take an hour of sweat and effort before summiting. Then we saw the warning sign; 7% descent, trucks test brakes! It was so much easier than yesterday that we were a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was a challenge. But I never shifted down to my granny gear, I never felt despair, I never thought about ending it all and selling my bicycle and calling a cab (all the things that signify a tough climb).

20120801-212236.jpg Brian suggested that it was easier because we took more breaks at all the scenic overlooks and interpretive centers. Also, we were not battling a headwind, the climb came early in the day, and it was cloudy and cooler.

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We arrived at our hotel so early that the room was not ready yet. We rode the seven miles back into the tourist town in search of a bike shop to tighten Brian’s headset. Rain clouds began to surround us as we pushed on, only to find a sign on the bike shop door “gone for the day”. So we went to the main drag and found a suitable restaurant while a shower moved through.

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Anyone that’s been in Conway knows it is a shopping mecca and a tourist trap. However, we also stumbled upon an EMS store that had a bicycle mechanic on duty. As Mechanic Nick tweaked the headset, I asked him if he had time to clean my chain.

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We are all set now for the final day, into Portland, Maine. We should arrive at East End Beach between 3:00 and 5:00. I will wrestle my fully loaded bicycle across the sand for the bookend photo companion to the one I have from Seaside, Oregon, back on May 27.