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.