First let me say that if you want an awesome campfire, invite Ted to your event. Ted builds the best fires. He's a pro, coming prepared with his own special fire starting kit, which he conveniently keeps in the trunk of his car at all times for the spontaneous campfire.
Sadly for the curious cat, Megatron, open trunks must be explored, and while we were enjoying tall tells, strange music and great beer, Megatron was getting cozy inside Ted's car.
But then, without realizing he had a visitor, Ted closed up the car, and once the beer was gone and fire died down, we all headed off to bed.
Nick and Jutta rose early Monday morning to head down to Waterville Valley to meet up with her traithlon team, and discovered a sad Megatron, trying to drive Ted's car away! The rest of us woke to the sound of a panic'd Jutta trying to wake Ted to get the keys and free the trapped cat.
I'm happy to report that no harm was done, either to Megatron's curiosity or the interior of Ted's car. Megatron STILL insists on exploring every open car as folks pack up to leave. So be warned, if you stay at the Burke Bike Barn, check your car upon leaving so you don't accidentally drive away with the barn cat. He's got a good cushy life in East Burke. I don't know why he's so determined to ggo on a road trip, but he does love to explore the insides and tops of cars.
Once this drama was past, we settled in to making breakfast and planning the ride for the day.
In the past DROVES has included a couple of 100 mile days sandwiched around a 50 mile rest day. 100 feet of climbing per mile is the minimum standard for route choice with dirt being the preferred surface. But over the years, the rides have changed for various reasons. The first change was the year after Hurricane Irene, when we switched to stay in one place, rather than riding point to point. Many of the roads on our point to point route had been washed away, and it was unclear at the time if they'd be repaired by spring. The Northeast Kingdom escaped most of the damage, so we decided to relocate there. Staying in one place and doing day rides allowed some new folks to come, without committing to 250 hard miles with no easy bailout. It also meant we could adjust distances (make rides shorter) and switch routes easily.
In the early years at East Burke, we still stuck to the hardcore rides with 80 and 90 mile routes the first two days, followed by a shorter, but the not at all easy Willoughby ride. Thanks to some dodgy weather, and too much familiarity with the same old routes, we've added a few shorter and different routes now. This year ended up being all variations!
As usual on Day 3 this year, we were down to a small crowd. We'd lost some due to work and other play plans and some from pure fatigue. This left just 5 of us heading out on Monday morning. I had initially not planned to ride on Monday, but I was still feeling good, so I threw caution to the wind, or maybe threw John under the bus, because then he had to push my lazy carcass up all the hills.
I logged into RideWithGPS and modified one of the long rides to come up with a shorter, but still high quality (with a high climbing to mileage ratio) loop that would head west and take in the very aptly named Vertical Mile Road. John has been a good sport about hauling me up these hills. And it's good training for him after all. So I graciously continued to act as coach/training aid.
Aside from the scarily named climb, the other key feature of the day was fields of tulips. We'd remembered some lovely tulip gardens along the route and tried to entice our Dutch friends out to see the tulips, because you know, they don't get to see tulips enough. These gardens were a little past prime, but they were still lovely.
Trees were still flowering and everything else was green. Well the sky was a bit grey, but nothing was falling, so we just kept our thoughts of bad weather to ourselves. (I have rules about such things, after all!)
We made a quick stop in Wheelock for coffee. Domi had taken her espresso machine when she left on Sunday and the coffee pickin's at the barn were slim. Based on Henry's pace after his coffee infusion, I'll just recommend that you don't let Henry have coffee if you want to see more than his backside disappearing up the road.
We did find some interesting signs at the store. This suggests that everyone HAS a bear. But if you don't need the fat, these folks can take it off your hands ... along with the bear's hands!
Next up was Vertical Mile Road. This road has been on the long route out to Craftsbury as an optional loop near the end of the ride. Not surprising, it has always been skipped at the end of the long hard day with loads of climbing and another big ridge between it and home base. Last year, Ted made a special trip out to do the road on Tuesday, and told us it was worthwhile. So we decided this year to create a Strava segment and make it the focus of the ride.
The photos do not do it justice. The name does!
After this short ride, my legs were toast. I was happy to be done for the day. Ted, not having had enough, headed back out to climb Radar Road again.
Henry, Paula, Eddie, John and I cleaned up, had some leftovers for lunch and then made our way back toward Boston, where summer heat made a definitive appearance in Massachusetts on Memorial Day as if on cue.