Photo by Jason DeVarennes

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...

Both these rides had a nice vertical component, making them great candidates for racking up stravas.

In fact, it was that vertical component that caused our disgrace last December. We had arranged to take a nice shiny Seven tandem out for a real and proper test ride, 90 miles with lots of climbing and descending. But when we got to the starting point at about 1000 feet above where we live, the roads were a bit dodgy, and we decided to, for once, show some good judgement, and do a different test ride on less icy roads.

Well it wasn't icy today! And having ridden backward through heaven and purgatory yesterday, it seemed quite fitting to aim for grace today, Mt Grace, that is.

Fear Rothar had a bit of work to do this morning, so we got a late start, but fortunately we've got significantly more daylight now than we did in December. We arrived in Westminster around 11AM and decided that it would be good to fuel up a bit before heading out on this ride through very remote areas. I've worked very hard designing and redesigning this route over time to avoid numbered roads and cities. The side effect of this is that we also don't see many stores along the way. So after visiting our friends at the double d for some glutenous sustenance, we began the 5km descent towards grace. No fear, we would do plenty of climbing, but one of the fun things about this route is that it starts and finishes with a nice downhill!

The first downhill was followed by a nice climb up into Ashburnham and through Cushing Academy, across the main road and up to the Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery. What possessed the early settlers on New England to put their meeting houses at the top of the steepest hills of each town? The good news is that this was actually the highest point on the ride. So the rest would be downhill, heh, heh, heh... Well it was at least flattish for a while.  In reality, this is what it really looked like...

 We discovered a slight mistake in the GPS track, but it made for a pretty detour...


Later we came to one of the intended dirt sections on the route, where I spotted a few turtles sunbathing, but was too slow to capture them all in a photo, but I got one - look close.

I think this is someone's little slice of heaven - or maybe it's just a fishing shack.

Fear Rothar complained that I hadn't put enough dirt on the route. This section was lovely and smooth - smooth enough for me to pull out the camera.

We had a lovely day, climbing and descending lots and enjoying lovely traffic-free roads, and are very excited to have finally achieved Grace, even if we are 3 months late!


  1. Looks like a great ride... I'll have to try it from this direction.

    Come ride a Westfield brevet sometime. There's an infestation of blinking taillights that needs to be stamped out! And, of course, lots of Stravas are available.


  2. We are planning on a few Westfield brevets this year. I'm also planning to do Boston 200 and maybe 300km since I've helped out with the routes. In fact the ride above has a lot in common with the middle of the Boston 300km.

    But, I may have to give up doing all brevets if lots of folks don't get that flashing is just plain ant-social.