Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Purgatory To Pack Monadnock - from Milford, NH

I like riding off the beaten track, looking for new and interesting roads and cafes.

Over the years I have mapped out loads of different rides all of which could qualify as a favorite ride on any given day. I have now created a page with links to RideWithGPS maps for many of these rides. As I go back out and do the rides again, I will add links to posts with photos to help entice folks to try a ride. This is the first!

This ride starts in Milford, NH. Due to a very rough descent, I decided it is better in the opposite direction than I rode yesterday (map link below is in the recommended direction). I'd rather climb a rough road than descend one. Either direction has stupendous views. As with most of my rides, there are a couple sections of dirt.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flèche Vélocio

My favorite randonneuring event is the Flèche Vélocio. This is a team event where all members of the team work and ride and finish together. Traditionally the event is scheduled for Easter weekend, but in northern climates, a bit of leeway is granted to accommodate for less than pleasant riding conditions at that time of year. In France, there is a single destination, but in the US, we are allowed regional destinations. The date (a range of start/finish times) and actual destination is set by the regional organizer, but the team members select their own starting point, actual start time, and route.

There are some basic rules - 24 hours, covering at least 360km, with at least 25km done in the last two hours and no stop more than 2 hours. You can do a large loop, but not repeated small loops. The team consists of between 3 and 5 cycles - so a tandem or triplet counts as one team member. At least 3 members must finish to be granted credit. Complete RUSA rules can be found here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grace, Finally Achieved!

If you've been reading the blog from the beginning (not that long ago), you may recall that last December, Fear Rothar and I took part in Rapha's Ride to Redemption. Actually, if you read yesterday's entry, you may be aware of this as well! But for those who don't know, and just want the Reader's Digest condensed version, or those with short memories...

Last December Rapha ran this little challenge to do 500km in the last 9 days of 2011.  They called it the Ride to Redemption. Fear Rothar and I decided to have some fun with the theme and came up with all sorts of irreverent redemption themed rides. We planned a ride to Redemption Rock, Purgatory Chasm, Purgatory Falls, Mt Grace, Paradise Lost Lake, Pagan Hill, Brimstone Lane, and World's End, along with a few short local rides to nearby redemption centers. We both managed to get well over the 500km, and do most of the rides, but uncooperative weather caused us to replace two of the themed rides with others with lower elevation, or in the case of the final one, when we were just exhausted, with a much less ambitious one.

Well, the arrival of our patches last week prompted me to think about those two rides. That and my new challenge which involves accumulating altitude...

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Heavenly Ride to Purgatory Chasm

According to my very extensive research on Wikipedia, Purgatory is the condition of purification or temporary punishment by which those who die in a state of grace are believed to be made ready for Heaven. We mapped out this ride last December as our final ride in the Rapha Ride to Redemption challenge. However by the time the final day came around, we were already fully redeemed - and the weather was pretty miserable, and we ended up bailing on the temporary punishment that day.

Well we finally got our Festive 500 patches last week, and it reminded me that I should go do this ride.

Unlike December 31, it was certainly a heavenly day today, as seven of us rolled out for this hellishly hilly (the temporary punishment) ride to Purgatory Chasm.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Done and Dusted

Last week I mentioned that I was taking part in a climbing challenge through the Strava website. Those who know me well know that this sort of challenge suits me to a T, since it has nothing to do with speed at all. I could ride along smelling the flowers, stopping to take photos and sampling the offerings of cafes along the way. All that said, a few of my riding buddies have been surprised by some of the gratuitous climbs I've thrown in on recent rides.

The challenge has been a bit ...ummm... challenging to do in this area, because it's so far to get to real mountains. What we do have nearby is plenty of short steep little hills, which can actually be much more painful than a long climb up a proper mountain. It's not too hard to create a route with 50 feet per mile of climbing, but it does take all day to get 3-4,000 feet of climbing! Those lucky folks out in California can easily get two or three times that climbing in a day ride :-)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Brown and Grey

As the road rose up to meet me, I became aware of all the grey and brown. As I climbed along slowly, I noticed all the various shades of grey in the rough aggregate surface. I felt I could see all the individual pebbles and pieces of broken asphalt that made up this ribbon of grey. The edge of the road was littered with the crispy brown leaves that had come down last autumn, with the occasional green tuft of grass poking through that bed of leaves.  Along one side of the road, the wooden posts anchoring the rusty cable fence were grey and weathered. The other side was lined with the ubiquitous, in New England at least, rock wall. These walls are thick, solid and sturdy in places, scattered in others. Some of these rock walls are centuries old and reflect great care and skill from the original craftsman. The rocky soil here provides a seemingly endless source of material for these walls. All through the woods, the color was still brown and grey. There were no buds on these trees, and no wildflowers sprouting here yet. In the areas devoid of houses, there were no early spring flowers like crocuses or daffodils, and no wildflowers either. Looking up, the sky was a deep brilliant blue, and clearly visible with no canopy of leaves that in the summer shelters this road from the sun. I love this shade of blue, one that seems unique to winter and early spring. Maybe it's the contrast between barren branches and the sky, or maybe it is a special shade of blue just for winter.