Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mountain groan coffee

The friend who started me roasting my own coffee beans put together a little group to buy beans in bulk. She lives at the top of a hill with only steep and steeper approaches. When the latest shipment came in, I had to figure out which of these I wanted to take.

The most direct route had always seemed like the steepest, so I had avoided it. But that straight line on the map finally convinced me to tackle it.

Haines Hill Road leaves Route 28 to the right as the highway bends to the left. You turn right by going straight instead of going straight by curving to the left. The climbing begins almost immediately, but not drastically. The forest looks like some place further north and further from civilization, though not uninhabited.

The pavement ends in a couple of miles and the road starts to descend. You think it might not be so bad, even when the unpaved part climbs again. Then you see it.

Beyond the screening trees, pavement angles up like a rocky ledge. In the car it had seemed parabolic, a brutal challenge. I paused to take the picture, hoping to capture the contrast between the approach and the initial slope.

To complicate matters, there is occasionally a psycho dog running loose at the farm at the bottom of the hill. The driveway is on the left. If that monster was out, I would be trying to start this climb with about 90 pounds of furry death snapping at my tendons.

The things we do for coffee.

Head on a swivel, ears straining for the sound of dog claws scrabbling for traction, I rode beneath the concealing foliage to view the whole climb.

It's not that bad. It's steep and continuous, but not as steep as the wall on Stoddard Road that I had done many times, even on a fixed gear. Barring attacks by the psycho dog, this could be the elusive quiet alternative to Route 28 that I've been pining for since about 1990. Funny how an impression can change when you look over the handlebars instead of through a windshield. I'm embarrassed to have waited so long to give it a shot. In my defense, it is a little longer than the Route 28 direct route home.

Bear in mind that I was fresh after two days off the bike. I don't think I would tackle this route every day. On the other hand, if it really has as little traffic as I encountered, it makes up for its gravitational challenges with the peace and quiet.

After a nice visit with my friend, I headed downhill with my seven pounds of coffee beans. The compensation for any of the North Wolfeboro routes is that the rest of my ride home is basically downhill. The few little nuisance climbs are trivial.

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