Mia and I participated in the 2012 Killer B Weekend. This is an “event” now in it’s 28 or 29th year (they lost count). It is a ride that started in the 1980’s by some local cyclists. They mapped out a route from the Concord, NH area up to Wateville Valley ski area, a roughly 65-70 mile one way ride. The idea is to ride up, spend the night in Waterville Valley and then ride back on Sunday.
It’s not an official fundraiser, race, or anything like that, it’s just an event thrown together by the very cycling passionate Irv Gordon and a few others. You can choose to just ride up. Ride up and eat dinner. Or ride up, eat dinner, spend the night and ride back. Irv handles all the logistics and I don’t think any of us who participate can thank him enough for all the work that goes into this event.
So all March and April we’ve had a pretty stellar late winter and early spring in NH. The weather has been fair and even down right warm/hot a few times. However, this past week was more like the April I remember. It was either raining or windy or both. Luckily the forecast for Saturday and Sunday called for wind only.
You know, just 15-25mph with gusts toward the 35mph range. No big deal right? Did I mention that they were out of the NNW direction and that basically means a headwind the whole way up to Waterville?! Did I mention the high was only supposed to be the low 50’s? Yikes!
Saturday morning rolls around and what is the best way to prep for a long ride?
With pancakes of course! What would make pancakes better you may ask? How about Star Wars themed pancakes?! Yes I’m a dork like that.
I dropped our bags off at the designated pickup spot for transport to WV and Mia and I were on the road by 8:45. The route is filled with rolling hills for the first 25-30 miles. The plus side to all the hills is that the wind was somewhat abated by the constant up and down
People roll out of the East Concord starting location between 7 – 9:30AM and you are constantly passing or being passed by various groups. Irv stresses that this is not a race, but a couple people still treat it that way. To each their own I guess. The cool thing is that you literally have everything from casual bike riders in their teens and twenties doing this to a couple gents in their 80’s who ride the whole route up and back.
I like to use it as two long days of riding with Mia! It is all about us hanging out together and spending time with friends we know from the cycling community. Plus it is a chance to meet new people.
We made it up to Plymouth, NH in about 3.5 hours. This is always our preferred lunch stop. I attended Plymouth State from 1992-1996 and it is always nice to get back into town. A lot has changed and at the same time, a lot has not. Chase Street Market is our preferred location. Most years it is grab an iced coffee and a sandwich from the deli and sit outside. This year it was grab a hot coffee and a scone and sit inside!
From Plymouth it is about 20-ish miles to Waterville Valley. The route we take is route 175 through Holderness and Campton up to the intersection with route 49 (AKA Valley Road). Then it is 10 miles to town.
There is one short punchy climb on 175 that Mia has a personal challenge with. She walked it the first year we ever did this ride, and ever since then she has kicked it’s butt. This year she even made the comment “it’s shorter than I remember”.
There’s even a giant bear to greet you at the top of the climb.
Luckily the right turn onto 49 starts you in a more northeast direction. This gave us a tailwind for the first and only time all day.
The final 10 miles plays a mind game with a lot of people. It gains over 900 feet as you head into town. I’ve never thought much of it, but lots of people at dinner talk about how rough the last 10 miles are and how it seems to “drag on” forever. The plus side is you can HAUL coming from WV to Campton. This was one of the common Wednesday Night Rides we used to do while Paul and I attended Plymouth. Ride from Plymouth to the base station of the ski mountain and then back. Some nights we’d have over 20 guys rotating through a paceline and we were just flying up and down route 49.
So, our accommodations for the weekend were the Snowy Owl Inn, this has been the hotel of choice ever since the Killer B ride started all those years ago. They treat all us cyclists really well and I am sure during the “mud season” in NH an Inn packed with cyclists is a very welcome sight.
The rooms are decent if a little dated, but comfortable enough and the shower pressure is awesome!
Some of the rooms have hot tubs too, this year we did not get one……bummer.
So, after a nice hot shower, some cheese and crackers and hanging out with some friends in the lounge, it was time for dinner at the Diamond’s Edge. Again they really treat us well with a full blown dinner of pasta, chicken, steak, salmon, and brownies and ice cream for dessert. Perfect meal after 4 hours on the bike.
Mia and I sat with some long time friends, Beth, Steve, Craig, Laurie, Jim and a new introduction for me, Matt. Steve and Craig used to beat the heck out of Paul and I on the Cracker Barrel rides back in our late teens and early 20’s. I’ve known these guys for close to 20 years now.
Steve took a very round about way to get to WV this year. He lives in Concord, yet Steve and 2 other guys, came via Hanover, NH after starting in Concord. Then over to Woodstock, NH somehow, and then over the famous Tripoli Road (dirt climb and nasty beat up paved descent) that drops you onto the access road to the ski mountain. They had a 140+ mile day and over 10 hours from start to finish. They always do something epic every year, and this year was no different. They have invited me to join them before, but heck, they are nuts. Luckily I ride up with Mia.
After a great dinner and conversation, it was time to chill out and fall asleep.
Sunday morning started off at a chilly 21 degrees with absolutely no change in the wind. Gusts were even expected to be higher than yesterday!
After a nice breakfast at the Snowy Owl Inn, we packed up our stuff and hit the road for the ride back to Concord. The usual zippy ride down route 49 was complicated by by a nasty headwind. But once we turned back onto 175 it was more or less a tailwind with the random swirling head/cross wind thrown in for good measure.
Twice now we have opted for the Bristol, Hill, Franklin route for the Sunday homeward bound option. It is a little longer, but has a lot less climbing.
Once you leave Bristol onto Route 3A there are almost no options for refueling until Franklin. The one exception is the Hill Village Store. It’s your typical middle of no where slightly run down hole in the wall. However we can stop for water and snacks and it is roughly 2/3 of the way home at this point.
A word of caution should ever stop here. Check the sell by date on whatever you are buying! I don’t think they turnover much inventory, if you catch my drift.
After this stop is is mostly flat to slightly downhill most of the way home. Throw in the tailwind we had and it was pretty easy to keep up a good pace.
About 5-6 miles before we get home we pass the Merrimack County Jail. One of my favorite signs in the world sits aside the road here.
So, Mia and I split off just before downtown Penacook so I could go get the car and our bags in East Concord. Mia turned towards home and basked in the sunshine while she waited for me to get back.
In summary……other than some of the most brutal winds I have ridden in for a long time, this was a killer fun weekend. I love doing this ride. I love spending two quality days of riding with Mia and then hanging out with friends in Waterville.
If you have ever had an invite to this ride, if you have every thought about doing it, give it a shot. It makes for a great weekend.
This is not some “invite only” ride, you just need to get on the email list or have a friend forward you the email and you too are forever on “the list”.
Thanks to Irv Gordon, all the sag wagon/luggage shuttlers, Snowy Owl Inn, Diamond’s Edge, and all the cool riders who make this ride so much fun.
Thanks for reading.