White & Nerdy (white_and_nrdy) wrote in curvesncanyons,
White & Nerdy

The Kank & Bear Notch Rd

Today I found myself leaving the Lake Winnipesaukee (New Hampshire) area around mid-morning, with no plans for the rest of the day other than to return home to Maine at some point. Taking a scenic route made sense. After glancing at a map, the answer was obvious - the Kancamagus Highway. I hopped north on 93 to the western end so I could work my way back toward Maine to the east.

On a Sunday afternoon there's a significant risk of encountering slow drivers/bikers and the occasional cop, but I had surprisingly good luck. Was held up behind a camper for a short while going 40 in a 50 zone (and really, that's about as fast as a camper can actually go on that road), but it was easy to pass when the line went dotted. I drove at a brisk pace, not too fast, but fast enough to be fun. One of these days I'll have to slow down and enjoy some scenery - maybe snap some pics of the car at some of the more scenic places - but today was not one of those days. (The car was filthy from yesterday's rain anyway.)

About 2/3 of the way down the Kank, there's a left turn onto Bear Notch Rd. I've heard good things about this road, so just for yuks I took it. I'm glad I did. The posted limit is 40 most of the way, and if you go much faster than that it becomes quite challenging. It's much narrower than the Kank (a state highway), and a bit twistier. It's also a bit bumpier. They literally close the gates to the road and abandon it for the winter, rather than plow it, so many of the frost heaves never quite sink back to road level. You want a compliant suspension for this road, but still stiff enough to handle well. Eibach springs worked well for me.

On the way north, I had a clear run most of the way, then ended up behind a slower Harley near the end. He was doing 40-50, but I got the feeling the rider wouldn't have been comfortable going any faster, and I didn't pressure him. When I had a place to pull over, I did so I could pause, then continue at my spirited pace, since there was nowhere to pass the Harley. When I stopped, I noticed that my brakes had faded a lot, and then realized I was basically at the end of the road anyway. So I stopped at a store in Bartlett for a drink and gave the car a rest.

On the way south, I had a clean run the entire way. I only caught up to a Jeep Liberty, nicely who pulled over and let me by without even slowing me down. Fun fun fun! No brake fade this time. Either the southern run is more uphill, and/or I wasn't using the brakes as much as I was when slowing down for the Harley guy on the northern run. I definitely used the brakes, but for short, harsh stabs to reduce speed and transfer weight before a corner.

As I turned left to continue east on the Kank, I saw blue lights in the distance, so I kept the pace down to not attract their attention. Went back to my previous brisk pace, not as wild as Bear Notch Rd., soon afterward, and had an enjoyable, uneventful trip down the rest of the Kank.

Learned a little more about my car today. Power is great. Handling is good - stiff enough for the curves, but still soft enough to soak up the bumps. I just put a set of Kumho Ecsta SPT tires on the car, and for my kind of driving, I'm loving them. Didn't squeal them once, even on Bear Notch Rd. My brakes are the only real weak point. An upgrade to autox pads and racing fluid should fix that.
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