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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another 100km Before the Snow Flies - Festive 500

It's a bit tricky trying to plan rides in New England at this time of year. Fortunately, we are somewhat resilient, so we can cope with fluid plans and changing things on the fly! A few weeks back, as Patria and I were putting together the schedule of Festive 500 rides for the week, she heard from Derrick Lewis, Ride Studio Cafe's Rapha representative, that he and Rich Bravo, Rapha Continental rider, would be joining us for a ride on December 29. So we planned a special ride with some Rapha Epic (tm) potential.

The initial plans were for a 105 mile ride that headed out to Mount Wachusett, taking in some lovely steep back road climbs up the the park entrance, a few nice ridge views, a couple of wind turbines, and even some nice dirt for good measure. While we barely got any snow in our neighborhood in the mid-week storm, the western suburbs got quite a bit on Thursday. I received several emails from folks who live further west, about less than ideal conditions on the roads near the mountain. I'd already decided that passing on the dirt road around the back of the mountain would be wise, but still felt like the ride to the mountain would be doable, and should score us some Rapha Epic (tm) Points. However, as the day of the epic ride approached, the forecast began to suggest that snow might start to fly partway through our ride, potentially making it more epic than we really wanted. I studied lots of different forecasts, and came to the conclusion that if we scaled back to the 60 mile option, that everyone, including slow-worn-out me, should be able to do the ride and make it back to the mothership (Ride Studio Cafe) without drama. Since we'd initially planned for a century, we had moved the start time for this ride up to 8AM, so the earlier start time would definitely help with beating a potential midday arrival of the storm.

Patria fired up the social media machine and sent out updates with the revised plans. And John set up my winter bike with snow tires (to make me work harder)!

Beppe breakfasting - photo courtesy of Henry van den Broek


Ride Studio Cafe opened early Saturday morning, serving up free porridge to help fuel folks through the first half of the ride! I arrived in time to get a great mocha, and found a crowd of about 25-30 folks eagerly awaiting the ride start.

Wow look at all that Rapha clothing!
Photo by Rob Vandermark
Studly Geoff - photo courtesy of Henry van den Broek

The group rode along at a fairly civilized/social pace and mostly stayed together out through Stow, but started to stretch out a bit as we hit Woobly Hill, then Long Hill, followed by Wattaquadock Hill, and finally Old Bay. I, naturally, brought up the rear. I could claim the was all part of my role as sweep, but as I was well behind everyone for a while, I have to make excuses of too many miles, heavy bike, winter tires, and loss of concentration, as I tried to come up with a clever name for the ride for Strava!

Old Bay was a bit icy and slushy. Looks like Derrick was live-tweeting the conditions.
Photo by Neil McInnis

We took a break at Bolton Orchards, where folks seemed quite happy to warm up with hot cider, coffee, sandwiches, cookies and other assorted fare. I think the riders appreciated the stop as much as the cashiers!

photo courtesy of Henry van den Broek
Patria and Derrick getting in some calories

I'm sure other patrons were surprised to see all the bikes parked out front


We headed up in the Harvard direction before dropping down into Acton.  I started out at a nice digestive pace, allowing all the faster folks that were still getting ready, a chance to re-group and catch up. Things got a bit more spirited on the way back. A few folks decided to keep the sweep company for the return journey. The sun even made a very brief cameo appearance. I saw a shadow for about 15 seconds, and then clouds returned.




photo courtesy of Henry van den Broek

photo courtesy of Henry van den Broek

The final four riders (including the sweep) arrived back at RSC at around 1PM, just as a bit of snow was starting to fall. But that was just a teaser, and despite lingering for another hour or so over coffee, there was no snow coming down when John and I headed for home.  

John's now about 40km shy of the 500km goal. Maybe I can sell him some of my excess km's, if he needs them!

I must say I was very excited when I uploaded today's ride to Strava to discover that I have now managed to ride the length of the Runway in Knock over 5280 times in 2012, according to the Christy Moore unit of measure!


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