Sunday, August 24, 2014

D2R2 2014

There is something epic about the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee (or D2R2), even if you don't do the epic versions - the 180K, 160K, and probably even the 115K.  I rode the 100K in 2009 and while it was a hard bike ride, it was nowhere near overwhelming in terms of how much effort it is to ride it.  It was quite beautiful and surprising, however.  And you felt like you were in great company with the 180K riders (I don't recall the other distances being offered that year).  The end of the ride meal and beer brought everyone together under the same tent, so speak.  I recall seeing the guy who went over his handlebars and broke his collarbone at dinner, after I heard rumor of an ambulance having come through a section of the ride shortly before I rode that section.  It was a hard ride indeed.

I loved the ride but with kids it became impossible to think of riding it again soon.  My second son was born a week before the next D2R2 so that ride wasn't even a possibility.  The following year, 2011, with two very young children, was a bust for riding.  I think I managed just 350 road miles that season and another 500 miles commuting.  By 2012, the D2R2 fell off my radar and despite being in shape for it I didn't even consider it.  In 2013, it came back to my attention via a colleague, Alex, who's girlfriend Carla grew up in the valley and the two of them and another colleague, Carl, decided to ride the Green River Tour.  It was great fun and with a couple on a tandem, and being relatively new to tandems, we decided that the tour was best.  After the ride, my colleague decided to ride the next year, 2014, and do the extra loop, the Carpenter Hill loop.  We recently contacted Sandy, the ride designer after we heard that the covered bridge would be closed during the 2014 ride and the Carpenter Hill loop would be inaccessible.  (It was actually accessible, if you wanted to ford the river, which the locals were doing and many riders did.)

Sandy apparently thought that our interest in extending our range was worthwhile and, in a late night email, he suggested several extensions to the ride.  He also suggested that we make sure we could read maps and see if his instructions made sense, since he wrote it from memory and not by reading a map. (He nailed it.)  He gave us one loop that was self contained and then a series of extensions that sent us farther afield, sometimes on roads used in one version or another of the 2014 D2R2 and others that were not.  This was way over the top for someone trying to tie all of the details of a 1000+ person ride on the eve of that ride.  

I mapped Sandy's instructions on Ride With GPS.  Carl decided to spend the day photographing at the headquarters of the ride and Alex and Carla decided to ride only the first loop.  I decided that I'd see how I feel.  I had a decent start to the year and then got sick in the early summer.  That slowed me down substantially and I rode over 40 miles only once since June.  I didn't think I would be in shape for the 100K and with Sandy's extended version of the Green River Tour, I had the opportunity to test the waters and see how far I could get.  And now I had the chance to see.

Alex, Carla, and another rider who joined us did the first loop starting on Nelson Road, which is on the 100K loop later in that ride.  We enjoyed a nice climb despite a dog that just couldn't let us go, even after we spotted a deer and a fawn and the dog investigated their scent.  The good news from Alex and Carla is that after this excursion and the rest of the tour, they decided to ride the 100K next year.  I think I'll join them.

Alex and Carla decided to skip the next side trip.  I persevered and enjoyed a harder climb up New County Road and then Amidon Road riding solo.  At Amidon and Franklin Hill Road I met up with a number of 100K riders on a section of road that was probably in the worst shape of anything I saw that day (though probably not the worse on all of the routes).  I felt great so I left the route and opted for the second of Sandy's extensions, taking Stark Mountain Road down to Route 112 and then climbed out of the valley on Branch Road and then Jacksonville Stage Road.  I saw, and confused, a great number of 115K riders, some of whom wondered if they were going the wrong way.  I assured them that I was.  After climbing over the high point on Jacksonville Stage Road, I enjoyed a long downhill run to the lunch spot.  Sandy was the mechanic there and I thanked him for the great ride that he gave me with his instructions.  I had already done all of the climbing that I planned, about 4000 feet, and I was feeling great.

I talked with Julian of the Buffalo Lazy Randonneurs at lunch and then headed out in a mass of riders.  I chatted with Sawyer and Hannah, a couple from Sunderland, MA until the Nelson Road turnoff, where a lot of people stopped.  I was checking out this cool ANT bike then noticed the rider was Mike Flanigan, the creator of many very nice bikes, one of the founders of Independent Fabrication, and the designer of the Club Racer, the model IF that I own.  Mike was heading back to Deerfield and we decided to ride together.  Mike is a great guy and a competent cyclist.  The big crowd that we were part of broke up, between splitting off for the 100K route and stopping for a mechanical.  I enjoyed the quieter ride with Mike and we found our way back to the headquarters.  Mike went off to change before dinner and I went off to see how Carl was doing.

I spotted Carl near the food tent with his camera. He was happily shooting pictures but the process is very slow, given his equipment.  Later I somehow managed to drag Tyler Evans from Firefly and the Bayley brothers into Carl's vision.  I hope to see the results soon.  

I had dinner with Sam, a guy from New York, who was barely able to get out for a weekend of cycling.  I gather that cycling is newer in his life and something that his wife was not expecting for him to spend a lot of time on.  I hope he enjoyed the weekend and continues to get out.   I later said hello to Jamie Medeiros from Firefly and watched Tyler and Carolyn Johnson, one of the Firefly Expedition Team riders, come in.

I finally managed to extricate Carl from his camera and the gracious support folks allowed me to get my car close for carrying back the heavy equipment.  I was sad to leave the party but happy to get home a couple of hours later.

Postscript: while I didn't feel that I was in great shape, I did fine on the extended Green River Tour, riding 58 miles and climbing 4000 feet.  My Garmin told me I averaged 12 MPH and I felt I could have gone faster, farther, and climbed more hills.  I'm talking the 100K and not the 180.  There is always next year.

A second postscript: my Surly has been suffering some lately.  I needed to have a new freehub installed.  The freehub was hard to find since it is out of production.  The new one I have has a small burr on it that makes a very easy to hear sound on every wheel rotation.  On quiet roads it is annoying but I can live with it, for a while.  And the shifting has been getting worse and worse.  My mechanic tells me that I really need to replace the chain (1100 miles) and the cassette (maybe 3000 miles) but don't do it before I grind a lot of dirt during the D2R2.  I can't wait to replace these and maybe have a nearly quiet drive train.  The shifting was fine as long as I compensated (shift twice to a harder chain ring, then shift back up one) but I'll be happy when this is fixed.

I owe a lot to Sandy for taking some time to show me the way, adding some very nice hills to the Green River Tour.  The river ride is nice but the high points with the great views are, in my mind, the best part of the D2R2.  That and the camaraderie.  This was the tenth year of the D2R2 and Sandy has to be happy with it, both the fun that the riders experience and the fund raising success.

At the headquarters before the ride.  The person riding this bike planned on the family ride.  I did see similar bikes in the hills later in the day.

My companions for the first part of the ride.  Yes, they just got married!  This was quite the honeymoon.

First big view from East Colrain Road, looking down, I think, into the Green River valley.

I believe Carla noticed the banana in my pocket (which I grabbed from the first water stop, knowing I might wouldn't see lunch until 36 miles into my ride) and Curious George, who loves bananas, on my jersey.

Stark Mountain Road.  This was a fast, steep,  and long descent and wasn't part of any other D2R2 route.  Needless to say, I took great care on this descent and didn't bomb down the road as Sandy may have.

State line on a major road (by the standards of the D2R2).

A private bridge on Route 112 in Vermont.  The folks parked on this side of the river and walked over the bridge to their house.  I'm not sure if this is Hurricane Irene damage but you can see the substantial footings in some disrepair.

I didn't stop at the gun shop.  It did remind me of a tour in 1996.  We stopped for lunch in Whitingham, VT on a rainy day.  We saw a guy there with a pistol in his belt (no holster).  I guess Vermont has open carry laws.

19th century headstones in a cemetery on Jacksonville Stage Road.

Tandem riders on the 115K.

A meadow overlooking the valley in the distance.

Near the lunch spot, almost in the valley.

Julian from the Buffalo Lazy Randonneurs.

Mike from ANT.

 Tyler checking out Carl's camera, Carl checking out Tyler.

Carl photographing the Bayley brothers.

No comments:

Post a Comment