Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Thursday, June 28, 2012


...continued from The Perfect Storm.

A little more background: The Rapha Gents Race is a team event, where a team of 6 riders must do a prescribed route and cross the finish line together and as a complete team of 6. The best way to do this, of course, is to ride together all day, working together, helping each other out and, of course, having fun.  To make it a proper Rapha ride, it also must have lots of climbing and loads of dirt and gravel, and of course, something extra to make it epic - like a blizzard or a grizzly bear!

To quote from the Rapha blog, describing the recent Gent's race in Australia,  "there's no better way to find out if you're a true team, pulling together through the difficulties and attrition to get each other to the finish, or just six individuals racing the clock." This was certainly our theme for the day. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Perfect Storm

2012 has been an intense year of cycling for us. We've had some amazing rides. And while I wouldn't say that the Rapha Gent's Race was the focus of our early season, it was a big goal. We had such a blast on the ride last year, when we pulled together a very strong tandem team with experience on both dirt and with long distance, who brought 3 tandems with fat tires, low gears and good brakes to Pennsylvania and surprised more than a few folks, as we crossed the line first and earned some pretty nice swag.

Initially I had assumed that John would like to ride a single on the 2012 edition, but he was so stoked from our ride in 2011, that he wanted to ride tandem again. In fact, he loved it so much that he ordered a new tandem just for this year's event. Well that might be pushing it a bit, but we did get a new tandem, and it really was designed to do Gent's Race type roads. We got it just before Memorial Day and headed up to Vermont for the christening on some amazing dirt roads around East Burke. Those were our RGR shakedown rides, per se, to make sure everything was perfect on the brand new bike.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Green Mountain Double Century - Signs of Sanity

The Green Mountain Double Century was conceived by Sandy Whittlesey, founder of the wildly popular D2R2, for those folks who just didn't find D2R2 to be enough fun. Yeah, bring it on and make it twice as fun. Then see if 1000 people would still show up! For the first year, 2011, more than fifty people inquired about it, but maybe a dozen showed up at the start line, in the pouring rain. Among them was Fear Rothar, along with his Ride Studio Cafe EnduroTeammates, Matt Roy and David Wilcox. The torrential rains stayed with them all day. There may still be sand and grit in the socks John wore that day. But they had a great time and won the race, finishing in a bit over 19 hours. Russ Loomis took a break overnight and finished sometime the next day, but still well within the allowed 40 hours. They were the only finishers.

Sandy has kept the event very low-key. There is no website. There is just the announcement that you see to the right, linked off the UMCA calendar. He wants people who are interested to actually contact him, so he can let them know exactly what they are getting themselves into! And for anyone who has never received the detailed preview from Sandy, let me just say that he tells you everything - possibly way more than you want to know!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Magic Faerie Dust

Magic Faerie Dust is that elusive substance that sometimes comes with new bikes, making them seemingly effortless to ride. It doesn't accompany every new bike, since it results from a combination of good experiences, including the excitement of placing the order, the pleasure of working with the shop, the joy of seeing the results, and the thrill of riding the bike.

Fortunately for us, we had a great Magic Faerie Dust experience last year when we got our custom Seven single bikes from Ride Studio Cafe. So much so, that even after 10,000 miles and numerous rides in heavy rains that really should have washed the substance away by now, I still feel its presence on every ride!  John says the same about his Seven.

So we really should have known that it was risky to our bank account and retirement plan to take a Seven tandem out for a test ride last December. We instantly fell in love with both the concept of that bike and its sublime ride.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

DROVES - Days 2 and 3

We had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Vermont has such an amazing network of lightly traveled scenic, and yes, hilly, dirt roads.  We've been taking trips to various parts of the state for years, and are always delighted by what we find. Late last summer Hurricane Irene did significant damage throughout the state, but the residents and authorities responded quickly. Areas with homes were top priority, and it was amazing how fast many of the roads were repaired. I think one of the things that helped is that so many of the roads are dirt, and is  much easier to go out and regrade these roads than to repair the paved ones.  Our hearts ached for the people affected, and we hesitated to go up last fall amid the devastation, but the word went out that tourists SHOULD come. So we tried to do our part to help out the local economy. We had a hillclimb race up Burke Mountain over Labor Day weekend, and took the opportunity as we always do, to ride as many of the dirt roads in the area as we could do in a weekend. We were happy to fond very little damage in the area. With so much uncertainty about the roads on the original route, and needing to book accommodation early, we decided to move DROVES to East Burke. This gave us the opportunity to share even more parts of this wonderful state with our friends. Also by changing to a single location, it would make it easy for folks who wanted to do shorter rides. A few folks took advantage of that opportunity this year, but we still had plenty of company on the longer rides.