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Crank That Kanc, by Al Hospers
 Article List
• My winter vacation
• Phil Gaimon wins 2008 Mt. Washington Hillclimb
• Biking brothers in law charge around the Whites
• Overendís ready for a Granite State nickname
• Maineís Islesboro is a seaside bicycle adventure
• Quietly cycling Connecticutís northeastís corner
• That "new bike fit"
• Cyclocross - Best way to enjoy it, watch it.
• The next step in personal training?
• What goes up, goes down along Virginiaís Skyline Drive
• Hillclimbs, heaven or hell?
• Acadiaís bikeways beckon
• Where Cycling Is Taken Seriously
• Crusing along Lake Winnipesaukee by bike and boat
• Crank That Kanc
• Wrap, ride and reward
• A Clean Sweep
Every year I want to ride the Crank The Kanc race, but it always seems as if I don't find out about it 'till it's over. This year I made a point of keeping my eye out and spotted the flyers on the day they came out. I filled out the form that night and sent it in right away. Of course now I had to get myself in shape.

I'm not a racer, more into riding at my own pace. I only rode about 2,400 miles last summer, my first real serious road-biking season, so I had a ways to go. As soon as the snow was off the area roads I was out there. By the time the race drew near I had about 500 miles on the bike, with several rides up the course, so I felt OK.

My tune up ride the Wednesday before was around Bear Notch Road and back down the Kanc. The hill felt just fine, but I was totally surprised to find the Kanc was torn up in several sections for the miles between Bear Notch and Rocky Gorge. It was a mess. I called the promoter, Phil Ostroski, that nite but he'd already heard. Nothing to do but to make sure that I had good tires and a spare tube. The race WAS going to happen regardless!

That morning was actually sunny and warmish - mid 50's. Amazing, considering how things have been this spring. I picked up my race number, #29, and did my warmup ride from the High School down to the starting line. Following a short pre-race meeting the start proceeded right on time with 30 second intervals between riders. I headed out, clicking my ride-time timer as I left. I had 2 goals:

#1 - not to embarrass myself, whatever that means,

#2 - come in at under 1 hour 40 minutes. On the slightly uphill stretch from the starting line to Passaconaway Road I felt a bit peaked. It took me a while to get into my stride and faster riders occasionally passed me. Everyone was encouraging tho and as they were all "cruzin" I didn't feel too bad. When I reached the dirt areas I was happy to see that they had been rolled recently and were in better shape than the few days before. In fact they didn't slow me down all that much.

My wife and son were in the truck as my personal "support team." They rode by me a couple of times and it made me feel good. Just before the real hill started I wolfed down a Clif Bar and water and took off my windbreaker. By this time I had actually passed a few other riders and was still feeling pretty good. I bore down & headed up the hill.

My speed slowed down to a pathetic 7-8 mph as the hill steepened. Faster riders passed me, but I passed others. It was now purely a matter of force-of-will. One of the race volunteers was part way up the hill cheering the riders on and I heard him say "Only 2 more miles to go." When I could see the Overlook building off to my right, around the bend, I knew I was getting close. My other landmark was the road-cut cliff on the left. I used that as a place to increase my pace a bit. As I came around the last curve before the finish I could hear the spectators cheering all of us. I stood up out of the saddle and Cranked the Kanc. It was a great feeling to pull across the finish line. I glanced down at my computer and noted that I had attained my goal, I was somewhere around 1:38! I was a tired and very happy guy.

I had thought about riding back down but as I stood around the temperature dropped. I also realized that I was quite tired and didn't have the right clothes for the descent. So we loaded up my truck with 4 bikes and 3 other riders and headed back down to town. There was a pasta feed at Firehouse 21 Pizza, free for riders, followed by a awards ceremony and raffle. The overall winner completed the ride in a fraction over 1:05. That's averaging 20 mph, including the hill! Now that's impressive...

Once again Phil has put on a great event, and this year the weather was just about perfect. I'm going to make sure that I get the Crank The Kanc on my permanent list of rides. It doesn't get a whole lot better.
by Al Hospers


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