When we first were planning the Krempels King of the Road Challenge, I was convinced a hundred mile route was necessary to compete with all the grand fondos popping up worldwide. Now in our fourth year, there are options for 10 miles, 30 miles, and the maximum distance is a metric century — 62 miles to those of you not yet down with the metric system, ubiquitous in cycling. Additionally a kids’ rodeo and adaptive bike route allow any and all abilities, and an emphasis on full families, to make it to the ride. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that the furthest distance is “only” 62 miles and wouldn’t want it any other way.
There are a few punchy climbs characteristic of seacoast New Hampshire, but by in large it’s a flowing, rolling route that unfolds throughout the morning and early afternoon, so you earn your time in the post-ride beer garden. A few hundred in the initial peloton rolls out at a decently high speed, yet entirely conversational, and quickly you’ll find a group to meet your pace. Riding at a good clip gives you even more time in the two feed zones that are well stocked with our favorite nutritional needs and highlighted by New England’s own Fluffernutter sandwiches.
Rolling into the finish, we’re greeted with an enormous expo highlighted by the Cannondale Pro Cycling team RV, which is a huge treat for kids (and adults) of all ages, with demos and all the swag you can fit in your pockets; the LLBean Bootmobile makes the Wienermobile green with envy, there are tons of other supporters and sponsors, and there’s food. Tons of food. Pizza and burritos and burgers and organic yogurt and custard… oh and have I mentioned the beer garden yet? Cause that’s awesome too.
To be honest, I’m not yet sure my favorite part of the day — before the ride there’s a hum of excitement in the air. We roll out at 9am, so while that makes for an early morning, there’s still plenty of time to catch up with friends and family who come trickling in from across the country, lots of whom I don’t see more than once per year precisely at the Krempels King of the Road Challenge because my schedule has me traveling so much. Riding a bike is my profession, my therapy, my outlet, my normalcy, my fun. Showcasing the spectacular roads that got me into the sport of cycling, during the most stunning time of the year where the foliage is ablaze with color, plasters an ear to ear smile across my face. The two stops make for the perfect time to catch up with someone you might have zipped by quickly in the ever-dynamic peloton. Then once we arrive to the finish, there is truly not enough time in the day. I make my way around from person to person, from friend to friend, from former teammate to classmate to aunt to neighbor to fan to former bike shop boss to Olympian to to cousin to another friend. With hardly enough time to take a bite of food, and since it’s off-season/beer season, I enjoy that time in the beer garden.
Every year I wish the Krempels King of the Road Challenge had an extra few hours in the day. Sure a 100 mile option would emphasize the on-bike portion of the day, but there’s so much that is truly great about the day — including raising over $100,000 for the Krempels Center this year alone(!) — I don’t think I’d want it any other way.