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Granite State Wheelmen - Seacoast Century - September 2011
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click any image below to enlarge

The Granite State Wheelmen's Seacoast Century had me at "flatter than The Flattest Century in the East," perhaps in part the result of the prior weekend's ups and downs along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway and nearby environs. And the Seacoast ride lived up to that tall (short?) task--of the 20 or so long rides I've done where I've recorded the elevation gain, this one had by far the lowest ratio of feet climbed to miles ridden (profile at right; cue sheet here; maps below and at, with the southern MA-NH portion on the left and the northern NH-ME portion on the right).

It doesn't get much better than a flat ride along a sun-drenched seacoast not much more than an hour from home. Or so I imagine. As the slide show and the weather map (right) attest, the sun was only an occasional participant, and not until later in the ride. Put another way, this was more a Rule 9 ride than it was a Rule 5 ride.

I unloaded the car at the Hampton Beach NH ride HQ, registered, equipped the bike, selected my gear (shorts, base layer, jersey, rain jacket), and headed south in the rain at about 7:30am for the 17 mile loop to Newburyport MA and back. On the way down, I connected up with David, and on the way back, Paul joined us. We hit the parking lot again (as planned) around 8:30am, shed a layer or two (I swapped my base layer for arm warmers and traded my full-fingered gloves for my regular pair), and quickly headed north leaving the last of the rain behind.

By this point in the ride, we'd figured out that drafting would have to be in a "rain echelon" formation--the face full of spray wasn't worth the added aero advantange of not riding with something of an offset.

We entered Portsmouth around 9:15am, crossed into ME over the soon-to-be destroyed Memorial Bridge, and reached the Fort McClary rest stop a bit before 10am. Leaving the rest stop, we connected up with Brent and Beth on their tandem.

A bit north of the rest stop, I saw a political lawn sign that perfectly sums up New Hampshire: Ron Paul 2008. Libertarian, to be sure, but with enough Yankee frugality mixed in to argue against the current year's model.

We passed through York Harbor, took a quick stop at Nubble Light, and reached the northernmost point of the ride at the York turnaround. The ride back had some small variations--it wasn't a true out-and-back. The return did take advantage of the Fort McClary rest stop a second time (we departed around 1:30p after a longish 20 minute stop), and by then, the sun was out (but not for long). One nice feature of the stop: a hose useful for spraying grit off the bike.

Just south of Wentworth, we made an unofficial stop at the Ice House for Brent and Beth's traditional frappe. Excellent tradition!

The turn inland from Rye proved to be the group's undoing--a missed turn and a quick rest separated us into three mini-groups: David and Paul in one, Brent and Beth in a second, and me in a third. By a bit of luck, I reconnected with David and Paul not far from the finish before "allowing" them to pull into the Hampton Beach lot a half mile or so ahead.

After putting my bike in the van, I said goodbye to David and Paul, availed myself of a welcome (albeit cold) shower, said goodbye to Brent and Beth, and headed for home. It's definitely not goodby to the route, though--whether through the official ride or as part of a side trip, it's a ride I definitely plan to repeat ... in sun-drenched style.