Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Populaire

Soon after heading out on Poor Farm Road, one of the brief dirt sections

Saturday Nancy and I rode our first brevet event together, and it was a real pleasure. It was that kind of fun that is in spite of the conditions, not because of them.

The first ride of the brevet season here in Vermont was a 119k Populaire out of Burlington. The forecast all week was improving, promising temperatures in the 50's and a small chance of rain early in the day.
Steve giving us the low down for the ride, just before we left the Old Spokes Home

In fact, it never got out of the 40's and was in the upper 30's for portions of the day and the rain only stopped when it briefly changed to hail for a bit. Well, it actually did clear up for the last 15 miles or so, but it never did warm up.

Greg. This was the last ride on his Surly. At the end of the ride he rolled the bike into the Old Spokes Home for a planned exchange for a new bike

I get unaccountably excited leading up to a brevet. It's just a bike ride in one sense, but on the other it is a really fun and tangible challenge, and that challenge requires a lot of really small details be all sorted out in order to insure a reasonable expectation of success.

Nancy on her new Tom Matchak bike. She seems quite happy with it. 

We had the pleasure of spending the day riding with our friend Greg. Often the opportunities for socializing at the beginning and end of the rides are marginal. Everyone is tense and busy in the minutes before heading out, and rarely do folks happen to end close enough at the finish to cross paths. Doing the whole ride with Greg was a nice chance to chat and experience a ride together. We also rode for a while with our friend Joe, who was doing his first brevet, and he had ridden to the beginning of the ride from South Hero and was on track to ride home at the end. And here we were all feeling bad for ourselves for doing such a long ride!

 Rolling up towards Jericho

Our first stop

  Our second stop in Underhill. Serious foot warming was needed 

Knowing I was doing this with Nancy, I consciously chose not to sweat the performance aspect of the event. Adding the pressure of the control times and such might make an otherwise fun day an exercise in stress, so we just rode it comfortably and let what happened happen when it did. It felt good to not sweat it, and its probably just as well because the cold was a serious factor that required some extended warming stops and a bit of General Store foot-warming creativity. By the time we reached Underhill, Nancy's feet were totally wet and heading toward potential frostbite, if they weren't there already. Luckily, the store in town sold both thick hunter's socks and chemical foot warmer packets. Those, combined with plastic bags over the fresh socks were just what we needed to continue the ride. Besides chilly fingers and bouts of cold after our stops we were generally okay for the rest of the ride, but never actually really warm. It was a lesson in preparing for a slightly greater range of conditions. Greg and I agreed: plan for rain and 10 degrees colder than the forecast is predicting.


The route took us towards Richmond and then up through Jericho onwards Underhill and then out to Cambridge. It was lovely country, especially as we approached Cambridge on Pleasant Valley Road. Almost the whole ride was new territory for me, so it was great just to take in the views.
Sweet sign seen at Brown & Jenkins coffee shop in Cambridge

The return doubled back on much of the route out, but diverted to Richmond village its self and then looped over East Hill Road back towards our destination at the Old Spokes Home in Burlington.

My view

We've only just started to be on our bikes, so the 75 mile ride felt kinda tiring at the end, but we eventually rolled into town and enjoyed the satisfaction of having come through a somewhat tough day. I suspect if we'd known what the weather held in store we might have skipped the ride altogether, but I'm glad we kept to our plan and did the ride. I loved sharing the experience with Nance and it was fun to spend time with Greg.

The skies lighted up at the end portion of the ride

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