Let's start at the beginning. I actually signed up ahead of time, the first time since 2013 when I rode the Green River Tour with a few friends, including a couple who had a stake in Franklin Land Trust - one of their families owns land with a conservation easement on it purchased by the trust. That was my second D2R2. I rode participated in the 100K version in 2009 but in 2010 it got difficult with a second child. Since 2013, I rode the 2014-15 and 2017-2018. If my addition is correct, that makes this year my seventh D2R2. I've shied away from the 100K, mostly because I never quite seem to be in shape.
I finally felt in like I might be in shape and a neighbor, David, asked if I wanted to ride with him, on the 115K. Well, why not? I signed up and immediately moved and then got sick and lost whatever fitness I had. And David didn't have the best summer of riding and then his 9 year old daughter decided she wanted to do the Green River Tour with him. I flailed around some but eventually decided that I'd ride the 100k by myself. But then, a few days before the ride, David said everything changed and I had a riding partner and we'd figure out if the 100K or the 115K would be best and that we could decide on the morning of the ride. That worked for me, even if it was still uncertain and all very last minute and I wasn't in the best shape. Also, I didn't have a car for the previous 3 months (my nephew borrowed it to get to his summer job) but it was delivered back to me on the Thursday before the ride. And my friends who relocated to Shutesbury were happy to have me stay over the night before the ride. That sounded like it was all working out.
I had a great evening with my friends in the valley (or above the valley as it were), and enjoyed the landscape that I grew up near. It's remarkable how home can be a place. I grew up in a hard city and my home was pretty hard too. Somehow I managed to gain a sense of home from a place, writ large. The western Massachusetts hills are familiar as are the roads up through those hills. So coming back for this ride is a pleasure and a homecoming. And it's now the usual yearly occurance that I go out for the D2R2. (That remains true but I'm now committed to being somewhere else for the 2020 edition. Don't worry, it's worth missing one D2R2 in this case.)
|Mount Toby, whoever he was. I've climbed it, skied up it, and ran up it countless times in my youth. And it is visible from my friends' deck.|
|Mount Greylock. My friends promised that, if the weather cooperated, I would see it. This mountain also figures prominently in my personal history.|
And that road was, for the route we took, the hardest and narrowest part of the ride. I recall that it was far easier last year, riding with GeoJoeK, after the month of rain. There was one incline that I walked but it was the only one that I even thought I might need to walk. With the dry weather before this year's edition of the D2R2, there were ample places where riders of my ability needed to use use caution and give the folks in front of you space to slow or stop if they needed to. But this was restricted to Old Albany Road. The other two long uphill stretches on our version of the 100K, Cooper Lane Road and Franklin Hill Road/Amidon Road, weren't nearly as soft and sandy and the riders were a lot less concentrated by then.
It was on Amidon that David and I shifted gears and decided to meet, as planned, his wife and daughter at lunch. We took the Jacksonville Stage Road cutoff, which got us to lunch within a couple of minutes of when his wife and daughter got there. And it was a nice, long downhill run that happens to coincide with the after lunch slog for the 115K cyclists. And it looked hard for them. In fact, I saw a decent number of people walking their bikes and a great number clearly working hard on a number of stretches of that road. I was happy that we were missing the 115K. Maybe I was in shape for it but maybe I wasn't.
Lunch was great. We found a place in the shade and listened to David's 9 year old recount her ride. Both of my boys know her and maybe will be inspired to ride next year after they talk with her. I mean the year after next. It wasn't the bike show that it has been in past years but I did see a few very nice bikes. We took it slow riding south from lunch to ride with with David's family back to the family ride parking area, and along the way decided that we would skip peaches at Apex Orchards, one of the highlights for David on last year's D2R2. We also decided to skip navigating over to Hawks Road for a rough finish to the ride. I recall that we rode into the finish with a number of other riders, including a family with dad pulling a couple of children in a trailer. It was a spectacular day of riding and I think both David and I enjoyed each other's company and our laid back attitude about what we needed to do that day.
I may one day say: I will ride the 115K or 160 or 100 or even 180 but finishing some certain distance turns out to be an odd goal when there are multiple routes of comparable beauty and light traffic to get back to where you are going. It's much different when I'm at home and there are busy ways home and less busy ways home and I really have to get there on my own power. And thinking about sticking to routes, I recall talking with Sandy Whittlesey at lunch in 2015, when I was using one of his extended routes. He said that many long time riders do their own mixing and matching of routes. They just need to know where lunch and snacks are and organize their ride around those, or know where stores are and bring cash. I know that I really enjoyed my 2014 and 2015 solo rides that took me on quiet roads with no one else riding and few cars.
Perhaps the best part of a D2R2 day is getting back and getting dinner. The food is not amazing but it is good and plentiful. I found a seltzer (no Polar Cola for me!) and sat down with David and enjoyed a quiet dinner. After dinner, I greeted a few friends friends and acquaintances: VeloCB, Steve Jablonski, and Hilary Coolidge, with whom I rode the 2009 D2R2. It was an early day for me. I had time to get David back to his parents' house and then drove home, getting there before 8. Good thing too, I was really needed a shower.
All of my D2R2 routes:
|The 2009 100K route is in red and my 2019 version is in orange. The rest of the rides are in black. There is some overlap, especially on the Green River Tour roads.|
|Leaving Massachusetts, heading north. This was on a dirt road. I saw the marker on Green River Road heading south but didn't stop for a picture.|