Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The (New) Vermont Fall Classic 200k/100k

Update: Derek made this great little video from the ride. He and his friends arrived late for the start but met up with other riders in Randolph. See it here.

Frost and fog greeted us excited riders as we tackled the "hidden" hill not more than a half mile out of the start in Montpelier. On one hand, it helped to warm us up after standing around in the cold morning air, on the other, it was an abrupt end to any casual banter as we dug in. The hill sorted us out according to our eagerness for a stiff climb. And it just kept going....

Anthony addressing the riders at the start

Bikes wondering where the riders are

Marianne on her new Matchak bike, built by her partner Tom

Near the top I heard the lovely clonking of what I imagined to be Swiss bells on a couple of cows ambling about in the morning mist. The city of Montpelier rapidly gives way to countryside and quiet dirt roads. At this point it was icy fingers and a sweaty brow for me. At the top of the hill I grouped up with some others and we continued on. Sweeping past Berlin Pond would have been a treat if we could have seen it--its a beautiful spot for sure--but the fog was so thick that I suspect most folks didn't even notice it.

Climbing up Hill Street (how's that for a name?) out of Montpelier

More and more, it's the social aspect of riding brevets that keeps me on the hook, coupled with great scenery and a satisfyingly challenging ride. Saturday's event checked off all three in abundance. I used to worry more about controls and finishing than I do these days, which allows me to relax a bit and take the ride in whatever way feels right.

Headed towards Brookfield; I enjoyed talking with Eric (on the right), who completed PBP in August. I was curious about his nifty Soma, including 
the fork, which just looked a little too refined for a Soma, as it turned out to be. 

I almost didn't bring gloves and as it was my fingers were pretty cold

I stayed with this little group until reaching Floating Bridge info control in Brookfield and marveled at the beauty of the mist rising off the pond mixed with serenity of the warm morning sun. I decided to hold back and wait for whomever showed up next before pressing on; it turned out to be more of a wait than I anticipated, but that was okay. It was fun to join up with a new crowd for a little food and chat on the bridge and then a nice ride down to Randolph.

Morning sun on the Floating Bridge in the village of Brookfield

Coffee and caffeinated gummy bears are just the thing sometimes

The next control was the Randolph Depot. After a cup of coffee and a muffin, I made a short little side trip to my friend and fellow randonneur Harvie's place to say hello. When I noticed Emily scurrying off I got myself together and followed her up Rt. 12, catching up to her a few miles out of town. We rode the rest of the 100k route back to Montpelier including passing through the infamous (albeit brief) Devil's Washbowl, where even on the sunniest of days the light barely penetrates. Coming down off the top of Moretown Mountain is always a rush, and the decent on Howes Road is simply iconic.

Emily cruising through the Devil's Washbowl

Coming down Howes Road towards Moretown Common

The final control was at the ever-amazing Red Hen Bakery and Cafe. A home for cyclists, bread, and coffee lovers alike, it was a good place to kick back for a bit, leaving only 5 or 6 flat miles to finish off the day back in Montpelier at Onion River Sports. I knew I wasn't drinking enough when the only thing that I wanted was more chocolate milk after I'd had a chocolate milk.

A social jumble of bikes and people at the Red Hen Bakery

Marianne and Nancy nearing the end of a great ride 
(photo: courtesy of Tom Matchak)

Being the final ride of the Vermont portion of the New England Randonneurs season, there was a relaxed and fun get-together at Anthony's house later in the afternoon. A number of folks who were going to do the 200k switched gears and finished at 100k, allowing for an easy transition to the party. It was satisfying to chill out and chat with some good friends. I'm really glad to be a part of this little world of cycling and I'm looking forward to next year's rides already!


Eric Nichols said...

Great ride report Dave! I enjoyed riding with you and sharing some bike geekery. The second 100k was quite a bit more challenging but postcard pretty.
Eric Nichols

Dave Cain said...

Yes, it was great to meet you too Eric--I'll look forward to the 200 next year! Cheers.

Lisa said...

"It's the social aspect of riding brevets that keeps me on the hook, coupled with great scenery and a satisfyingly challenging ride." - Couldn't have said it better myself. Brevets can really be difficult but these aspects make the rides worthwhile!