Growing up the Kancamangus (Kanc) Highway was always a bit of a mystery to me. I never was the one driving it, just heading from point A to point B. I knew it accessed a ton of mountains and climbed / weaved its way over to Loon ski area but there were very few discernible landmarks along the way - except for the hairpin on the other side. When I moved back last year I revisited the Kanc but this time on a bike. I rode up to the top of the pass and was blown away at how fast it rode uphill. I was always under the impression that it was a wall of some sort but there were in fact significant flat sections along the middle section and a very easy grade for the first 10 miles from Route 16.
I had also heard about Crank the Kanc growing up but had never looked into it - I wasn't a cyclist and never looked into the details of the race. I was surprised to hear that it was a time trial and only up to the top of the pass. I figured it either went all the way to Lincoln or went out and back.
I got my name on the waiting list at the end of April. I also put Hilary's name on the wait list. Surprisingly, she got approved before me but didn't feel like she was ready and gave me her spot. So kind of her! My bike mileage four weeks leading into the race looked like this: 34 / 29 / 53 / 39 - which didn't exactly lend much confidence heading into my first bike race.
Since it was a time trial they had all the start times for each rider posted at registration. They went old to young so I was back of the pack - bib 200. I actually had a lot of time to kill so I went to my parent's house for a bit then back down to the middle school for a quick 2 mile warm up. For being a race it was a very relaxed atmosphere. They were starting the race at 9AM and releasing riders at 15 second intervals. My start was at 9:49:45. The start reminded me of a ski race with the beep release sounds. Beep Beep Beeeeeeeeeep and I was off. I'm not sure why I didn't do a better warm up but I paid for it in the first few miles. I settled into a nice pace and passed riders one after another, semi slow motion. The first 10 miles average a 2% grade and I was able to hold 20mph for that section. From mile 10 to 16.5 the road only goes up a couple hundred feet so you can hit speeds of 30+ mph. I kept leap frogging with my Dad and Hilary who were my support team. I gave them my best smile as I passed them each time, hiding the effort I was really putting in. When we hit the climb it was 4.6 miles and 1,300' of climbing to the finish. Things really slowed down here, almost dropping into single digit speed. At one point I tried to get out of my saddle to grind but my calves cramped up. Back in the saddle I got the cramping under control and dug into the final stretch and heard the crowd at the finish line. I crossed in 1:08:32 but had no context of what that meant. I knew a sub 1:10 was good for me so I was happy with my effort which landed me in 3rd place for the 18-34 yr division and 8th overall.
Since the weather wasn't that great I took a free ride down with Hilary and we went to Fire 21 Pizza for our free lunch. I was devastated to find out that it was a spaghetti plate, not pizza. At the awards I not only got an awesome coffee mug, the good guys at jetboil donated a ton of product for the raffle. I took home their java kit so that really made the day worth it. Next year I'll hopefully have a lot more time in the saddle and can cut off a few minutes.