Friday, September 13, 2019

D2R2 2019

Last month I rode another D2R2.  It was Saturday, August 17, and it was a pleasure to ride.  And I had a fun weekend around it, too.

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.
The ride went well.  I picked David up before 8 and we headed to the start in time to pick up our papers and grab some breakfast.  While were weren't early, there was still ample food for us.  I ran into several people, GeoJoeK and MoreSkyBetter.  We somehow weren't all that fast in getting out but we weren't late and had a lot of company to encourage us on.  That wasn't a problem until, on Old Albany Road, when some racer type decided to pass me, and others, on a gravelly hill.  Shortly after he announced his intent to pass on a narrow stretch of road, on a hill, the person in front of us (who happened to be on a spectacular bike that he made) slowed down and stopped, slowing us all down and causing that racer to stop.  Good thing, too, since there really wasn't room to pass me and the others I was riding with.  We didn't experience anything like that at any other point in the ride.

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 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.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Mapping open space in Massachusetts, including private parcels

I have been thinking about access issues since I first noticed the signs in Estabrook Woods, warning trail users that the trails may be closed if people don't follow the rules (which are reasonable rules, in my opinion).  I have been walked, running, skiing, and biking in Estabrook since I first discovered the trails in 1998, not long after I moved to Boston.  I knew that the land there was largely private and I would love to have these trails remain open for the long term.

Someone recently asked me if a map or data of Chapter 61 exists and I looked and found one, held by MassGIS, the state agency charged with maintaining and distributing public geospatial data for the state.  (Find the links to the data and explanations at the end of the post.)  The map below uses this data.

Estabrook is primarily private land.  If you know where to look, it's a big patch of yellow on the map (P, for Private for profit) and outlined in blue.  A lot of that land is owned by Harvard University.  There is also the Pippen Tree Farm (L for Land Trust, color is sort of orange, depending on your screen), which has been the most emphatic about limiting which trails can be used on their land.  All of the private land is protected, and open, under Chapter 61, the Massachusetts law that gives favorable tax reductions if the land is managed for forestry and/or open to passive recreation.  Also see this explanation of the Chapter 61 regulations.  And the Town of Concord owns some parcels in the area.

After looking at Estabrook, I added my GPS track from the 2016 Diverged Ride out of Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington.  You can see this as a red line on the map that turns into red dots as you zoom in.  You can see that the ride largely stays on public land and sometimes on land protected by Chapter 61 (P and L among other categories - a full list of categories is below the map in this post).  At other times it is on roads or public right of ways.  I've been on several of their rides:

and always wondered what land we were on and how legal is was to be there.  The short answer is that the rides were either well researched or lucky in that they all seem to follow public or otherwise open land.  Check out the map.

One thing to note is the many small parcels that make up Minuteman National Historical Park.  Any guesses as to why the Park Service had to buy many small parcels to make this?

Another oddity: The land that the Reformatory Branch Trail runs on is public.  But the Bedford section of the Minuteman Path is owned by the town.  And the Lexington section is privately owned, at least according to the map.

The codes (FEESYM) in the map are likely to be unreadable on their own.  Here is what MassGIS says in the metadata (see link below):

F- Federal
S - State
C - County
M - Municipal
N - Private Nonprofit
P - Private for profit
B - Public Nonprofit
L - Land Trust
G - Conservation Organization
O - Other / None of the above (e.g.joint ownership)
X - Unknown
I - Inholding (a piece of unprotected property surrounded on all sides by a protected property or a recreational facility)
1 - EOEEA or alternate state agencies
2 - EOEEA or non-profit
3 - EOEEA or municipality
4 - EOEEA or private landowner

You can download this data from MassGIS here.  And here is how they constructed the data model.  It isn't new data - I found a 2008 version that has fewer private parcels in the Estabrook area.  It is nice to know that these data are available to plan mixed terrain rides, if you aren't like Vandermark and have all of them memorized already.

And you should be aware that the final arbiter of boundaries are the survey descriptions and not these lines on a map.  As MassGIS said in the download/metadata page:

"These data are very useful for most statewide and regional planning purposes. However, they are not a legal record of ownership, and the user should understand that parcel representations are generally not based on property surveys."

And I will add that your GPS tracks are from an instrument with an accuracy of 3-5 meters and less under dense foliage.

The map on this page was made with Carto.  It is pretty easy to use although I couldn't see how to make layers transparent on the free version (please let me know how to if you know how to do this).  I can make a better map using Qgis but I don't have access to a server to make it public.  But you can download Qgis and export your Garmin tracks to GPX format and make custom maps at home.  Let me know if you want some help doing that.

Friday, August 31, 2018

D2R2 2018

Another D2R2 happened a couple of weeks ago and I got to be there.  I didn't actually ride the D2R2 per se.  I rode the Green River Ride and added some extra stuff with some help.   I ended up starting the 100K with Joe (@geojoek on Instagram) and his friend Nancy.  We rode the brown route on the map at the bottom of this post.  We bailed from the main route maybe 18 miles in and Joe knew the roads to take down (as in losing elevation) to the Green River Tour.

For me, it was a pretty fabulous day.  I was hoping to ride with Joe and Alex and Carla but I was early and they were late and the rain was threatening so I was eager to get out so I could get back and avoid the thunderstorms that were in the forecast (but never materialized).  After getting an early start out of the house, I arrived at D2R2 headquarters by 7:15 and picked up my registration materials, found Joe, and ate breakfast.  After changing and getting my bike out of my car, we all met up and left with a slightly bigger group with some faster riders who soon left us behind.  The first challenge was Old Albany Road, something I heard about conditions there, thanks to Pamela Blalock:

As my comment on her posts suggest, it was time to get a second set of tires for the Surly.  That was part of the plan when I first started using Compass tires 2 years ago (and was delayed when the bike with those tires was trashed in a collision with a car).  I had Clement (now Donnelly) USH tires, which were pretty good for commuting and road rides and pretty good for dirt.  To meet the demands of this year's D2R2 (15 inches of rain fell on the area in the month prior to the ride), I got the 40 mm Donnelly MSOs.  They got me up Old Albany and made me feel pretty comfortable on the rest of the dirt roads we encountered, particularly on the descents.  I kept the tires on for the next week or so and enjoyed a late evening ride on the Reformatory Branch Trail and Battle Road and appreciated the stability on sandy stretches of trail and on the muddy sections.  They are off now for the commutes when I can look my bike up securely (the bike cage I use is temporarily out of commission).

Without going into details about the rest of the ride, let's just say it was pretty nice.  I loved the views from the high elevations and also loved the dirt sections along the Green River (but the views up high are the best).  Joe was able to get us on nice alternative roads on our way into Greenfield and we followed the official route back to finish.  Rain came but wasn't overwhelming and I saw some pretty cool bikes en route, at lunch, and at the finish.  Joe and Nancy are about my speed and it was a great social experience - a rolling conversation punctuated with some substantial climbs and quick descents.

Like my experience in 2009, the narrow roads were busy and I saw people passing others on narrow sections of dirt roads.  The crowds thinned out on the way to the Patten Hill rest stop and it was quiet on our private route to the Green River Tour.  Lunch, on the other hand, was out of hand.  There was a law enforcement officer at the lunch stop using his loudspeaker to try to get people off of the bridge and the road.  He was largely unsuccessful.  I wonder if the rain caused this by making people less interested in getting back on their bikes in the rain.

I'll end this with pictures and captions.  The rest of the Instagram posts are from Joe, who is an actual photographer.

I knew it would be raining on my morning drive to Deerfield so my bike was loaded into the car for a dry start to the day.
Some people camped and some of them camped in style or didn't pack light.
Damp morning at the food and registration tents.
Kind of a nice road, if you ask me.
I don't know this cyclist but he was working hard to get up the hill, as were most other cyclists I saw as I waited for Joe and Nancy,  This was the first big one north of Route 2.  Most everyone stopped to catch their breath here.  Peter Weigle passed me on this hill and proved to me that not only does he make some of the best bikes around but he can power up hills on his Weigle.
Even the paved roads are scenic.  That's Nancy in the light blue jersey.
A panorama of the snack stop at the little big house on Patten Hill.  This is where we decided to shorten our ride and head  to the Green River Tour.

Joe heard there was a good view from the top of the hill just west of the snack stop and it didn't disappoint.  We eventually were overtaken by rain that you can see falling here.  We had it for about the last 15 minutes of the ride to the lunch stop and through lunch but it was light and I didn't melt. I did wear a rain coat for lunch, which was better than getting cold.

A pair of matching Ebisu bikes.  I've heard of these but never saw one on the east coast.
A Firefly at the lunch stop, just thrown into the bushes, as one does with a $6,000 or $8,000 bike.
A Indy Fab at the lunch spot.
Joe lives around here so he knows all the swimming holes.  There was a fabulous series of swimming holes in a gorge above where the bikes are parked.  Swimming wasn't a priority on this year's D2R2 but would be on a hotter day.

From Joe:

A post shared by GeoJoeK (@geojoek) on

That's me on Old Albany Road.  This is a pretty nice section of road.  It got worse, particularly in the steeper sections.

A post shared by GeoJoeK (@geojoek) on

Nancy and me at the top of Patten Hill.

The route and timing from Strava.

To Nancy and Joe: thanks for the ride and the great day!

So this is what the Green River Tour looks like. Maybe. These are the roads I used over the 5 times I rode the Green River Tour.  Orange: 2014, Green: 2015, Blue: 2017, Brown: 2018.  2013 (the basic GRT) is a thicker line covered by the other years.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The 2017 coffeeneuring season

It's over, apparently.  I saw the Daily Randonneur's post for his last coffeeneuring trip of the season and thought, "uh oh, maybe time's up, I should have paid more attention to the schedule."  He should know as he is married to Mary, the Chief Coffeeneur.  So I went back to the announcement and, sure enough, it ended on November 19, the evening I saw the post.  So I narrowly missed it but here is my report for the history (of coffeeneuring) books.

My first coffeeneuring trip was an early morning ride, starting in the fog, with remarkably little traffic.  You say there shouldn't be much traffic at 5:30 AM but there is some and there wasn't any that day.  Full report is here.  In case you don't follow the link, here is what sunrise looked like:

My second coffeeneuring trip was a weekday trip, taking advantage of new rules as of 2016:

My third coffeeneuring trip was a ride from Concord to Harvard with my friend Carl.  Concord is approximately the midpoint between our homes and starting there made for a pretty short ride to Harvard.  We had very cold weather to start but the day warmed up so we could enjoy coffee outside.

On the way up the hill - time to remove some layers.

Bike parking at the Harvard General Store.

Coffee, outside.  But not a coffees shop without walls. We even sat on one.
Coffeenneuring #4 was also a weekday coffeeneuring with a shop relatively new to me:

Coffeeneuring #5 was a nice dirt and paved road ride, including the Reformatory Branch Trail and Battle Road along with a great latte at Ride Studio Cafe.

Side trail in Concord.  It was a bit rooty but I made it on 28 mm tires.

At Ride Studio Cafe.
Next, I used the "friend's house as a coffee shop" rule and rode to East Cambridge for a coffee and a great long conversation with Paul, who has joined me on a least one coffeeneuring trip, although he doesn't join in the challenge.  I left just in time and made it home in the dark and as the rain was about to get me really wet.

And, finally, I missed the ending date but still made time for an espresso at NOCA (North Cambridge) Provisions, which was worth the stop:

Coffeeneuring maps

Mary asked me to make the maps again and I happily worked with her on the maps.  Mary adds the data and I've been hosting the maps here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Lit up like a Christmas tree

Just bright enough or needlessly bright?
Yesterday I had a conversation with Emily O'Brien of Dill Pickle Gear about bike lighting, as we were standing next to my lit up bike.  She is of the opinion that one ought to ride with the required lighting, which ensures that anyone paying attention, and even those not paying complete attention, would notice.  Here is the text from the online Massachusetts General Laws:

(8) During the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, the operator shall display to the front of his bicycle a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet, and to the rear of said bicycle either a lamp emitting a red light, or a red reflector visible for not less than six hundred feet when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A generator powered lamp which emits light only when the bicycle is moving shall meet the requirements of this clause.
(9) During the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, the operator shall display on each pedal of his bicycle a reflector, or around each of his ankles reflective material visible from the front and rear for a distance of six hundred feet, and reflectors or reflective material, either on said bicycle or on the person of the operator, visible on each side for a distance of six hundred feet, when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps of a motor vehicle. This clause shall not prohibit a bicycle or its operator to be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by clauses (8) and (9).
I feel pretty safe with the above standards when out of town on unlit streets and on the Minuteman Path.  I don't feel it's enough when riding down busy streets with a lot of lights competing for drivers' attention.  So I up the lighting for my bikes a bit:

  • Small helmet light, high enough to get a driver's attention when they can't see the lights on my bike.
  • A second taillight, in slow (non siezure inducing) flashing mode.
  • A second headlight, aimed down and centered 10 feet in front of my wheel.
  • Spoke reflectors with integrated lights.  They are bright but not overpowering.

I also wear one of Emily's reflective sashes and have reflective bands on my arms and around my gloves.

Emily makes a great point that all of the extras that I use may cause a new cyclist to wonder about whether it is actually safe to be riding at all.  There is no small expense if getting all of the extras I use and I spend a decent amount of time and effort ensuring that I have the reflectors with me and put them on and take them off, along with all of the less permanently mounted lights.  I also have to admit that I use a lot less gear when I simply ride down the Minuteman and feel pretty safe even when I get on streets as I wind my way home.  And she also correctly pointed out that all of the lights and reflectors won't make an impaired driver see me.

She is right about all of this but I still feel exposed on a bike at night in the city so I will continue doing what I do.  What is your strategy?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Magic hour: coffeeneuring #1, 2017

Magic hour or golden hour is a great time to be out riding or doing just about anything outdoors.  It's commonly defined as just before sunset or just after sunrise.  I experienced a pretty different kind of magic hour on my first coffeeneuring ride of the season last Sunday.  The ride was like a lot of my coffeeneuring season rides over the years - me going for a ride and getting some coffee on the way.  That also describes many of my off season rides, too.  I have my best chance to get in rides in the early morning - I get home before anyone really notices or cares that I am gone.  During a decent part of the year that means that it's dark out when I start my rides and that was true on Sunday - I left over and hour and a half before sunrise.

I'm always a little ambivalent and very cautious when riding in the dark, especially early morning rides.  While I prefer early morning to late night rides because there are a lot fewer people out who may have a measurable BAC, those under the influence in the early morning hours may be really tired and with a higher BAC so I keep my eyes open.  I can't have eyes in the back of my head but Sunday was a case where I really didn't need to.  For whatever quirk in everyone's schedule, no one passed me from behind before sunrise.  That's right, I rode 16 or 17 miles and was out for over an hour and not a single car was in my lane.  And to top it off, not many cars, maybe 15, passed me in the other direction.  That was incredibly calming for a road ride.  But that didn't make it a magic hour. 

What made it magic was the quiet whenever I stopped.  It was just a calm, quiet night, late enough in the year and early enough in the day that birds and bugs were also quiet.  I stopped at one point and looked up in the sky and saw that the moon broke through the low clouds.  Every road was a calm, quiet place and some of the narrower roads seemed more like paved trails through a forest.  As the light increased closer to sunrise, I would turn off my lights for a second or two to experience the quiet, smooth roads in a very soft light.  It really was magical for me.

The sun rose eventually, although I didn't see it right away.  I made my way through Great Brook Farm Park and then south into Concord where I made my coffeeneuring stop.  I made it to Haute Coffee not long after it opened but there was already a longish wait for coffee.  I had a granola bar and an espresso.  I was at Haute Coffee the previous week and was there later and ended up enjoying coffee and conversation with 5 other guys out for rides.  This time I was the only cyclist and the only person eating outside.  It made for quiet coffeeneuring but also a very calm stop after a very calming ride.

Some pictures from the morning:

The moon breaks through the clouds.

Lights were required.  The brighter light is dynamo powered.  I've also been using a small, battery operated one on steady for rides like this.  I also have a second battery powered light in reserve.  The reserve light and the dynamo powered light also have integrated reflectors.  You can see the white light of the dynamo powered headlamp. I also have a 350 lumen rechargeable headlight in reserve.  I was wearing reflective ankle straps and a reflective vest and have reflectors on my wheels.  So I was legal by randonneuring standards and Massachusetts laws.

That's what I saw of sunrise at Great Brook Farm Park.  Not much to see that day.

Roads like these, at least at this hour (maybe 7:45) on a quiet Sunday.

Coffeeneuring proof 1.

Coffeeneuring proof 2.  I originally intended to ride the previous morning and had rain gear packed.  So when I warmed up, my sweater had to be tied onto the saddlebag.  I also intended only a short ride on Saturday so I had only a single water bottle, which was just enough to get to Concord.

Monday, August 28, 2017

D2R2 2017: Green River Tour with a taste of hills

After riding in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 versions of the D2R2, I missed the D2R2 in 2016 because of family scheduling issues (I can no longer remember what we did instead but it was probably important at the time) so I really tried hard to go in 2017.  I thought I could convince my boys to do the short (12 miles) family ride but that idea was ultimately vetoed.  After that, I asked my friend Carl to join me and he said he could, although he had not rode farther than 25-30 mile rides this year.  I was a better off - I rode 60 miles once and have several 40 milers under my belt this year.  That said, most of my miles this year are commuting miles, which aren't the highest impact for conditioningb ut I wouldn't die trying this.  Carl and I (and Carla and Alex) did the Green River Tour together in 2013 so Carl knew what to expect from that ride.  He considered the 100K but we settled on the Green River Tour plus Optional Loop 2.  That made for a 55 mile ride with 3,700 feet of climbing according to  That didn't seem too hard.

The plan was for me to pick up Carl and drive together to Deerfield.  Carl and I apparently share a predilection for getting started slowly.  And taking long breaks.  I managed to get out of the house only 15 minutes late and we didn't linger too long at Carl's house so we managed to get to Deerfield around 9:15.  We had called Carla and Alex, who were back in Massachusetts for the ride and enjoyed talking with them for 15 minutes before they left and we started to get ready (register, eat something, change, apply sunscreen, and get the bikes off the car.  We weren't on the road until after 10, maybe 10:20 or so.  And we took 7 hours to ride for about 4 hours.  The weather was a blue sky day with moderate temperatures, maybe into the low 80s.  It was warm but not muggy and not too hot.

One great part of stopping at Carl's house was getting a pair of gloves from him, after realizing that I left mine at home.  I remember using a pair like these on a 1985 tour of northern New England and Nova Scotia.  By the end of 7 weeks I had tanned dots over the back of my hands.  These gloves were very comfortable.

The Green River Tour is a great ride on a nice dirt road.  It was in stellar condition this year probably the best I've seen it in the four years I've done this ride.  In fact all of the dirt roads where in great shape.  We did have some paved roads on the Green River Tour but it was around half dirt, or so it seemed.  The great surface condition meant that we could ride fast (relatively speaking) and we did.  We had a few cars pass us on Green River Road but traffic was light and passing other riders (or get passed by other riders) was easy.  Still, I was happy to be running daytime running lights to give drivers a bit of an extra chance to see me when Carl and I were riding side by side.

The organizers let people know we would be on the roads.

I snapped a picture of our bikes at the first water, food stop (and also the family ride start.  Carl's Bicycle Quarterly reviewed Joshua Bryant bike is behind my Surly.  There was good food at the stop.  I ate some pickles but drew the line at pickle brine.

I saw this great child carrying set up at the first stop and late at the lunch stop.  The family is from Cambridge.  They were riding the Green River Tour.  The bike is a flat bar version of the Salsa Marrakesh.

I think this is Tyler Evan's Firefly, equipped for carrying their child.

A MAP.  We saw one on the Green River Tour and a total of three at the lunch stop.

The real fun began after lunch.  While eating, I saw a group heading up Jacksonville Stage Road and they made it look hard (although they were likely a lot stronger than we were so it was a bit intimidating.  But after a long lunch (maybe 2 hours?) and meeting a lot of cool people and checking out cool bikes, we headed up the hill and it wasn't that bad but it was long.  And, as I said, the dirt was in great condition - smooth and very few potholes.  I checked in with Carl at the summit and then proceeded down a pretty fast run to the next intersection.  We met Emma there.  She was pondering the map.  It turned out that she had missed the turn (and wondering why Green River Road was so steep).  After considering how to get back on route (with cue sheets and a bread crumb trail on my Garmin), Emma decided to ride with us.  Staying on route with the bread crumb trail was easy.

The hills were harder than the Green River Tour hill (see the image from my Garmin ride page) but the views were amazing.  Coming from western Massachusetts, these hills are just like home to me. My 34/32 gearing was just enough most of the time.  There were a few places that I had to stand up but I had no issues with that with the great road surfaces.  Carl had a much lower gear and came up slower.  He had some issues with the chain jumping off but was stayed with us.  Emma is a triathlete and conditioning coach and rolled over everything with seeming ease.

On Optional Loop 2, at the top of the hill before descending to Green River Road and back to the tour route.

One issue with taking the optional loop was that we were running low on water.   And low on time.  When we got back on route, we asked other riders (including Amy, who I hope found her iPhone) who told us we were one half mile from the water stop, in the wrong direction.  In the interest of time, we headed home and found a store about five miles down the road and bought liquid and a couple of snacks.  We also decided that in the interest of time, we would head straight back to the tent, skipping the Lower Road and Stillwater section.  Getting back on Route 5 wasn't fun but we all felt some pressure to get back.  I know Emma was heading back to her family who was texting her (as my family was but they were two hours further away).  We said goodbye to Emma at the tent and then went to find food and water.

A Chapman Cycles machine at the finish.
While we both in a hurry (me more so than Carl), we spent a lot of time checking out bikes after dinner.  There was no shortage of amazing bikes on hand, from gravel-ish bikes to randonneuring bikes.  We ended up talking to the owner of a Chapman and his wife, owner of a new Independent Fabrication.  And we took pictures of riders coming in from the 180K ride.  And a few other people.  Finally, after 7:15, we were on our way home.

I would say that was my best experience on the D2R2, from the great company of Carl and Emma for part of the ride, to the amazing road surfaces, the little taste of hills on the optional loop, and the great weather.  I will be back next year and Carl plans to be there as well, this time trying the 100K version, something I did back in 2009.

My Surly was a great bike for the ride, with 38 mm Compass tires softening what bumps there were.  The gearing was just about perfect and brakes (Paul Neo Retro) made me feel secure on the dirt decents.  Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, MA put the bike together, including hand built wheels, last November and I think this is the longest and most adventurous ride I've done on the bike.  Hopefully it carries me a few more D2R2 rides.

Strava says we only put out an average of 85 watts but it felt harder than that.

The ride, as we intended on RideWithGPS.

From Garmin:
The first little peak was on the Green River Tour.  The three bigger peaks were on the optional loop.  Note the steep backsides all four climbs.  We clearly took the right route.  The last very steep descent was on great pavement.  Surprisingly, we met three Boston area cyclists who did our route in reverse and thought we would have the harder climbs.

Carl and Emma on the optional loop.  It was a lot of extra work but also the best part of the ride for us.  Emma was on the 100K ride so she had a lot more miles under her belt by the time we met up with her.
A Circle A made by Brian Chapman and a Chapman Cycles.  Carl was looking for Brian and knew he would be riding a yellow Circle A so we knew where to look.  It was great talking with Brian.