There are no shortage of paved options for valley road cyclists. Advanced riders can gain some serious elevation while families can roll along on the more gentler terrain even stopping for a picnic or swim. What are some of the valley's greatest roads? That’s open to debate. But here's my list of eight great roads for valley rides:
1. The Kanc. The Kancamagus Highway celebrated its 50th birthday in August 2009. The sight for more than 25 years of a May time trial, the 34-mile winding road offers some serious elevation, about 2,350 feet from the Conway side to the height of land at Kancamagus Pass in about 22 miles. Pedal all or some of the famous road.
2. West Side Road. This is the valley's de-facto bike path until it actually builds one, hopefully in less time than this whole bypass business that's been going on for a good generation. The gentle — with an occasional rise — road from Conway to North Conway has designated bike lanes and a bike-friendly posted speed limit. Farms, fields, mountain vistas, covered bridges and picnic tables make this an enjoyable ramble.
3. North-South Road. The relatively new road on the valley's east side has bike lanes and alpine views. Be on the lookout near placid Puddin' Pond as a small black bear cub that appears to dwell nearby likes to go for walks. The roadway connects a couple of commercial hubs (the village, Settlers' Green and the mall area) and has a wonderful roundabout at its southern end. Just don't do a personal crit there. (NOTE: The southern section of the North-South is slated to undergo construction for a second rotary as part of the Walmart addition project).
4. Bear Notch Road. About nine miles in length between the Kanc and Route 302 in Bartlett there's a bit of a grizzly bite to this road that gains maybe 1000 feet or so. One of the roads in the these parts that are closed in winter, riders can toss a coin in terms of which way up they want to go. Either way, be sure to check out the wilderness like vistas on occasion. My preference is up the Kanc side and down into Bartlett Village and then continuing downhill for as long as possible on Route 302.
5. Route 113 between Fryeburg and Evans Notch. The meandering Maine country road makes enough turns to make riders think they are on a different road. Along potato and corn fields, the old course of the Saco, and by homesteads and farms, the rolling roadway really is a splendid spin for all levels of riders. The mountains are beautiful and as Evans Notch approaches the road gets hillier and darts in and out of New Hampshire.
6. Passaconaway Road. Between Conway and Albany (and the Kanc), I can't say enough about this back road. There are tree canopies, rolling hills, the rushing Swift River, places to picnic, camp, swim and the Albany Covered Bridge. Love it. Just love it. Really.
7. Route 113-A between Tamworth and North Sandwich. This is a fine, snaking and sometimes hilly road that's maybe 13 miles or so with not much of a shoulder. But there are birch and pine forests, the history of the Chinook sled dogs, a wonderful bend of woods and field in Wonalancet and small town charm.
8. Green Hill Road. This under-the-radar road hugs New Hampshire and darts into Maine with some hills. But it's also a slice of quintessential New England with Webster's Store, old cemeteries, stone walls and pond views. Hey, what better way to take in East Conway and Chatham.
Marty Basch is the author of "The White Mountain Ride Guide" (2nd.) and can be reached through www.martybasch.com.
UPDATED BY TL 5-20-14