Photo by Jason DeVarennes

2011 Rapha Festive 500

Redemption, Damnation, and Salvation

Rapha offered up a challenge for the last week of 2011 called the Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption. The idea was to ride 500 km between December 23 and December 31. We took it all quite literally and kicked off the week by Riding to Redemption Rock on December 24, and then tried to stick with a somewhat irreverent take on the redemption theme throughout the week, heading out to Purgatory, Brimstone and World's End. We invited others to join and had some company along the way. The challenge provided great motivation for Pamela to make use of her new camera.

We had great company and help along the way. Pamela logged 838 km, while John who had to work part of the time, got in 609 km. Our riding companions during the week logged 2740 kms at well, so maybe we should really get to count 4182 kilometers worth of redemption.

We blogged each day, and have copied all those blog entries to this page for posterity...

Dec 23 - Seeking out Redemption Centers
Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km

The first day of the Festive 500, Dec 23, started grey and dreary. We've got lots of long hard rides planned for the rest of the week. Today should just be an easy ride - save something for tomorrows ride to Redemption Rock. But I think I will seek out some inspiration. I'll ride the Green Queen, my workhorse fixed gear commuting bike with a pannier so I can pick up some coffee beans for the weekend.

First off, how do I take a self portrait?
I did say it was a grey day!
At least I'm not at work in that office park across the reservoir!
We have some hard rides planned. Hopefully I won't feel like settling down here by the end of the week
And hopefully my legs won't be all twisted like this tree in Lincoln Center.
I did stop at the airport and considered redeeming my frequent flyer miles...
hopping on a plane to somewhere warm and sunny
but I stopped into my favorite local hangout, Ride Studio Cafe, and Rob served up a most excellent Cortado.

Then the sun came out
Hmm, should I seek redemption over there?

Oh no, this looks is much better!
Dec 23 - 55km

Hmm, does Strava not care I wasn't racing, but stopping to take photos in the middle of all those climbs :-)

Dec 24 - Ride to Redemption Rock
Pamela and John - 164 km

It all started innocently enough. John and I were talking about a theme for the upcoming Festive 500 rides, when we realized Rapha had already provided the theme for us: Ride to Redemption. John suggested we simply Ride to Redemption Rock out near Mt Wachusett. Next thing I knew, we were also talking about riding to Purgatory and Brimstone and Grace, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Before all those other rides we would kick off the week with a long, hard, hilly ride to Redemption! When we planned this 90 mile ride, starting from Ride Studio Cafe, for the eve before the day when everything is closed, little did we know the temperature would never even think about rising above freezing. But given the long hard day and the early sunset at this time of year, we figured we should get an early start, so we planned an 8:30AM departure from the Studio, which meant a 7:30 AM departure from home, which meant a 6:30 AM alarm. Oh that hurt.


We got to the Studio as Rob and Patria were tuning the grind so our espresso would be perfect. Henry arrived a short while later, as the only other person insane enough to do this ride on this day. David joined us for the first bit out to Concord before heading home to meet family obligations.


It was somewhere around Concord, that Gigi, my GPS became very unhappy that I was ignoring her, and I realized that we were doing the route in reverse! I'd put together 8 routes in a very short period of time, 4 of which leave from RSC. I made an effort to try to have different ways in and out of Lexington, so before we left home, I had a quick look on the computer to remind me how I'd planned to go out for this one. I saw a line heading out to Concord. Silly me - I didn't pay attention to the distance on that line, or I would have realized it was the return leg. Well it didn't really matter, the ride should flow well either way. But Gigi, the 705, simply could not cope, and stopped displaying a track. Fortunately John has an 800 on the front of the tandem, and his GPS continued to display the track. I know most of the roads around here well enough that I can find my way out and back to Mt. Wachusett without GPS or maps, but if we just let me pick on the fly, we might end up with a 160 mile day, rather than a 160 km day!

Once we'd figured out we were riding in reverse, we relaxed and enjoyed a few roads in a direction we don't normally ride. It was like being on new roads. We continued out through Harvard before coming to the out and back part of the route. Years ago we discovered a lovely series of quiet roads that lead straight to the mountain. If we tried to make a loop and stay on lovely quiet roads, we'd have to go around the reservoir and be back approaching 160 miles, so I had made the decision that I love these roads in both directions, so that's what we'd do. We did have a little loop at the far end, where we climbed the mountain using a series of tiny steep roads, and then descended on the main road in search of Redemption, or at least Redemption Rock. Then it was up Justice Hill before the downhill trending ride home.

Did I mention it was cold? As you can see John was willing to pay any price for toe warmers!
It was especially nice to be on the tandem in the cold.

A lovely stone house served as a great photo op to break up the climb up the mountain.
The lads stood out in their red jackets!
It was cold, but the sun and blue skies were brilliant! Fortunately the road to the summit is closed now and covered in snow and skiers at this time of year.

Ah, Redemption. This is what we came for!
Having achieved Redemption...

Redemption Rocks!
The high temperature for the day - yes that's -2.1 C
John's none too happy about his frozen bottles.
Riding past the one hill we didn't ride over today!

Special Congratulations to Henry. This was his longest ride ever! But it didn't show. He climbed like he had polka dots on under all the layers, and descended like a demon, matching pace with the tandem with ease. 

See all the photos here

Tomorrow, we will host the ride to Brimstone from Cafe Blayleys in Watertown.

Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km, John 30 km

Dec 25 -
Fire and Brimstone for the Unredeembale
Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km

December 25 is the day most of the western world sets aside to celebrate consumerism, allowing most folks a day off work to consume lots of food and exchange lots of items into which the giver may have invested great thought, like a manger scene snow globe, that will likely be returned the next day and exchanged for something the recipient really wants, like Air Jordan sneakers.

Having achieved Redemption yesterday, we chose to seek out Fire and Brimstone. But rather than descending into a hot, fiery hell, we climbed up to Brimstone Hill where it was so brutally cold, that we would have been quite happy to roast our toes on a bit of fire.

Since this holiday seemingly honors shopping and consumption, the folks who work so hard in all the shops and cafes are given the day off work. However, in recent years, more and more businesses (CVS, Dunkin Donuts) have decided to take advantage of lack of competition on the day, especially for the potential customer who has truly waited until the last minute and considers a bottle of shampoo and a pack of batteries to be an appropriate gift. But even the ever-accommodating Rob and Patria, of Ride Studio Cafe, our usual coffee and ride-launching point, decided to take a break and closed early on Saturday and completely on Sunday. So we decided to open Cafe Blayleys before the ride to serve espresso drinks and provide a warm meeting place.

After Saturday's long hard ride, we had scheduled a slightly shorter ride on Sunday. This would also allow a few more folks who had family obligations and such, to join us. We started with 9 hardy riders. At ride start time, it was still in the low 20's Fahrenheit as a light flurry of snowflakes delighted all the children in the area. But with the promise of Fire and Brimstone awaiting us, we pressed on.

John as Barista Extraordinaire
Riders enjoying the warmth of Blayleys Cafe
Now, all bundled up and ready for Brimstone
Rolling out through the suburban maze of roads
Rich is powered by Skittles!
The feature road of the day - seems innocent enough, eh?
Baruch making his way around the first steep corner
Pamela heading up the last few feet of gravel to the fire tower!
With a photographer ensuring that she doesn't put a foot down!

Skittle-powered Rich on his way to the fire-tower
It's all about getting photos. Passing one of the three gates on this road designed to keep the riff-raff out of either Framingham or Sudbury. Clearly it doesn't work.

Passing the view back up to the fire tower. Looking at the attractive photographer must be more interesting than the view of the tower!
Baruch and Colin on Pelham Island
Ira and Rich on Pelham Island
Pamela is getting the hang of these self-portraits!

Monday's ride is to Mt Grace, with a remote start in Westminster, MA at the Dunkin Donuts. We aim to start riding at 9AM. We will be stopping in at RSC on our way out of town to borrow the 007 tandem to test ride on some proper hills.  Let us know if you are joining us, and if you've already downloaded the route, be sure to check for the updated version. We've cut a few miles to try and finish in daylight. 

So far - Pamela-294 km,  John - 269 km 
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km, John 30 km

Dec 26 - Disgrace and Redemption
Pamela 96km,  John - 100km

To translate Robbie Burns,  "The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry"
Seeking the Abbey of Sisters of Divine Mercy of the Assumption of the Immaculate Epic Conception, we found this one

Followers of the blog may be aware that we made some ambitious plans last week for the Ride to Redemption challenge, completely ignoring the fact that it is actually late December in New England, a time and place that is often much more suitable for cross-country skiing than cycling.

Today's planned route to Mt Grace is a challenge even in the best of conditions. It has loads of climbing and descending, and is a bit on the long side for the amount of daylight we currently have. We had shortened it with a remote start, but this did mean loading up and driving to the start. We further complicated logistics by arranging to test-ride a Seven tandem, which we'd need to pick up on our way out of town.

So between the distance, the drive, and the stop to pick up the test bike and get espresso, we had an early wake-up call, so early that I think the cat was still asleep! Alarm silencing was first order of the day, then petting the cat.  Dragging ourselves out of bed and filling our bellies with porridge came next. We were thrilled to see blue skies and sunshine again, and delighted that our thermometer indicated temperatures above freezing. However, we were a little concerned by the amount of frost on the car and moisture on the ground. So we checked the forecast for Westminster, our starting point for the day, and it was to be above freezing and sunny for the time we'd be riding. We were still expecting a chilly ride, given all the descents and the elevation, so we dressed in warm clothes, and packed lots of gloves, and those toe warmers that had been so valuable a few days ago.

We arrived at Ride Studio Cafe shortly after 7. Rob started pulling shots of espresso, while we put our pedals on the 007 tandem that he was so graciously letting us try out for the day. We joked that this time, we weren't even leaving our own bikes for collateral, but Rob reminded us that he knows where we live and that Patria knows the combination to the garage. And he also knows that like Norm on Cheers, I am a fixture at the coffee bar at the Studio. To paraphrase the Governator, he said, "You'll be back!"

Now properly caffeinated, and with a cool tandem to ride, we merrily headed off to Westminster. Traffic was non-existent, due to this technically being a holiday. American merchants were thrilled that The Holiday to Honor Consumerism fell on a Sunday this year. Unlike most if the rest of the western world, normally the professional ranks in the USA just get the one day off. But with the Sunday holiday, most folks not involved in retail got the Monday as well, which would mean Sunday was just a day of rest for the retailers to prepare for shopping mayhem on Monday.  So long as we didn't try to ride near a shopping mall, this was great for us too. And unlike the kickoff to the season of gluttony and consumerism that starts in the wee hours of Black Friday, the day after the day when Americans feast on turkey and then fall asleep in front of their giant 92" televisions watching games played with odd shaped balls, today's shopping frenzy did not start early or cause heavy traffic at the time we were heading out.

We made good time to Westminster, but were alarmed when we took the exit off the highway and saw white stuff on the side of the road. As we continued up the main street into the center of town, we saw more white stuff all over the road. John started making noises about not wanting to crash a very pricey borrowed bike. I recalled last year when John took a fall on ice in Ireland, and had to take advantage of Rapha's crash repair policy to stitch up his very pricey torn tights and jacket. I noticed he wasn't wearing the patched tights, but a brand new pair. We knew we'd be on much smaller roads that this main one through town, and the elevation of Mt Grace was well above where we were now. We've also done this route a few times and the descents are screamers. We hopped out of the car and headed into the Dunkin Donuts for a conference. I pulled out my smart phone and looked for local conditions, as if I'd get any more info than the icy, snowy parking lot was providing. It was then I saw the black ice warnings to drivers. Still I was optimistic that we could be graced with better conditions. We decided to check out the first few kilometers of the route, and much to my dismay, we turned on the first small road and found it white, likely hiding lots of black ice. We've not had a proper snowfall since the freak October storm, and none of the roads have any leftover salt or sand. If we had studs and were riding our own single bikes, it might be different, but we just couldn't justify the risk, so we turned home in disgrace!

But all was not un-salvageable. We decided to go back to Lexington and do one of our favorite rides from there. Salvation from our Disgrace would come on a ride to Harvard. In Concord, we crossed paths with Henry, our riding companion from Saturday. He was surprised to see us, given our plans of grandeur out in central Massachusetts, but we told him of our disgrace and plan for salvation.
Why do I keep standing at the airport, dreaming of flying somewhere warm?

maybe with real flamingos...

We were blessed with sunshine and dry roads. The temps dropped a bit as we gained elevation and rebounded once we were homeward bound. We had a disheartening moment when we discovered the folks who run the Harvard General Store were seemingly out taking part in the shopping frenzy or maybe out on a bike ride of their own, as our hoped for source of coffee and sandwiches was closed for the day. Lack of cafes is the only disadvantage of riding on such quiet roads. Fortunately we were prepared with Probars and such, so we didn't starve, but we did start to fantasize about baby back ribs on the way home, and Redbones was the beneficiary of those cravings, as we bee-lined there after returning the tandem and getting hot chocolate and telling tall tales.

Sad face reflected in the window of the closed lunch spot!

Lovely views from Fruitlands

I will mention that shortly before we got back to the start, we came upon a sad cyclist with a serious mechanical. He'd managed to break the spring in his rear derailleur and in the process wrapped the chain around his botton bracket in a knot! I tried to free the chain, but needed some extra slack and thought of pulling the crank, but I only have an 8mm allen key in the toolkit on my single bike, so the crank remained in place. But we did have a chain tool and quick link, so we split the chain, freed it, put it back together with the quick link and got him onto the large chainring and a large cog, taking as much slack out of the chain as possible with the broken rear spring. With this setup, he could at least ride down to the nearby airport and wait for his wife to come rescue him. This should get us some redemption points, eh?

Tomorrow's ride to Paradise Lost Lake is on, starting at 10AM from Ride Studio Cafe.  John is happily going to work, but Pamela will continue to clock up big kms.

So far - Pamela-390 km,  John - 369 km 
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km, John 30 km

Pamela 130km, John 44km

The Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption continues. Today, John had to go back to work, but I continue to enjoy freedom from proper employment. A few weeks ago I started leading a social pace ride out of Ride Studio Cafe on Tuesdays, so today's Redemption Ride was just my Tuesday Social Pace Ride, meaning I would likely have a bit of company. We started with a total of eleven riders, with a few planning to cut off at some point for a shorter ride, but most planning for the full distance. It was another amazing December day, not quite as sunny as yesterday but an almost balmy 40F at the start. I was definitely dressed lighter than in previous days. If only I had a nice pair of the Rapha Ladies Winter Tights... Maybe I can win some in this contest!

The planned route for the day was one of our favorites, heading out along off-the-beaten track roads toward Groton and featuring Lost Lake Road. We've often described Lost Lake Road as having a climb where you'll feel like using your brakes. The G-forces are amazing as you fly down, then quickly up and around a 90 degree left hand bend followed by a 90 degree right hand bend, and then some more ups and downs. You really just have to experience it yourself though. Last year we'd told some of the Sunday morning gang about the road, but they had their doubts, until we led a ride there. Since then it's become a regular route out of the Studio.  With a little editorial license, we made it fit into the theme for the week.

I have to admit that I'm getting a little tired from all the riding, not just this week, but over the last few months. John and I both felt as if we were riding on worn out legs yesterday. That lucky John had an easy day of cycling since he also was expected to work, so he couldn't join us for the full day out. I get zero sympathy from him, as you might expect. But I did ask my riding companions to be kind.

Getting the hang of the over the shoulder on the move shots!
Colin and Jonathan showed clear signs of testosterone poisoning and apparently did not get the memo about this being a social pace ride. They hammered off the front and it seems they got hopelessly lost, but did manage to eventually find their way back to the Studio. I have provided links to cue sheets and GPS tracks for all the rides, and there's just not much I can do when folks speed off the front without cue sheets or GPS data. What can I say, I am beyond Redemption!

David and Emily arrived on their tandem shortly before the start. They planned to just ride out to Chelmsford with us, and then head off home to continue packing for their forthcoming move. We had a lovely chat and we rode along together. Emily had provided some enhanced photos of me and John, indicating exactly what would happen to us, should we stop riding after achieving redemption. Thanks Emily. You are a sweetheart for keeping me motivated. I will remember this!

With the victims of testosterone poisoning well off the front, and the tandem turning down the bike path, we were now down to Dena, Zabeth, Bob, Frank, Gene, Ira and me. We had truly settled into social pace, riding along side by side chatting away the kilometers. Everyone made it through the dirt stretch on Rocky Hill and the uphill braking on Lost Lake. I had said I'd stop for photos and would see the group at the Dunkin Donuts at the end.  As I neared the end of the road, I did notice a potential problem as the route actually bypassed the DD by heading though a residential neighborhood. But Bob and Dena are both very familiar with the road and the DD, and were the only two with functioning GPS units; therefore the only people actually navigating. So I figured they would get everyone to the lunch stop. However when I arrived at DD, I saw no bikes. A quick phone call to Bob's mobile, and we were all back together and chowing down.

Breaking them in gently with this little section of dirt

Paradise Lost Lake behind me
 Zabeth left us at the DD. As she is building up distance to recover from a back issue, she had arranged for husband Dave to come out. Waiting in a nice heated donut/coffee shop seemed sane!

The stone arch bridge

While we were having coffee and lunch, I took the opportunity to mention a little deviation from the route that would involve a nice photo op as well as a little more dirt. Neither Ira nor Frank are fans of dirt on the roads bikes, but they will be assimilated. Bob and I love to put dirt on our rides. Dena is phased by nothing.  So we headed up a small road and then turned off beside some train tracks before climbing up a little trail to reach a lovely railroad grade that crossed a nice stone arch bridge. We stopped for photos and then continued on toward Lexington.

Riding along the lovely unpaved railroad grade

some Festive scenery
We got back to Ride Studio Cafe in ample daylight, where we enjoyed Hot Chocolate, expertly made by Erica, compliments of Frank.

Erica, our beloved barista
I am now over 500kms for the challenge, so officially Beyond Redemption, but we already knew that, didn't we.  I still have 4 more days, so will, of course, continue to ride, or risk growing into Emily's photo. It looks like the weather will cooperate for tomorrow's ride from Hollis, NH to Purgatory Falls, so we are definitely planning to attempt it. We have a small group carpooling up. If you are coming and haven't told me, please let me know by emailing me at pb at blayleys dot com.

While John had to work, he did manage to get out at lunch time for 44km.

So far - Pamela - 520 km,  John - 413 km  
Dec 27 - Pamela 130km, John 44km
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km


Dec 28 - From Purgatory to Paradise
Pamela 110km, John 51km 

After the disgrace of Monday, I worried a bit that today's ride to Purgatory Falls might also not go as planned. But the weather gods cooperated somewhat, allowing for a glorious ride from Purgatory to Paradise and beyond. I say somewhat because the high temperature for the day, 50F, occurred in the wee hours, while it was hosing down with rain, incidentally. Then the temperature fell throughout the day, approaching freezing when we finished, but it was clear and sunny. And while the roads were wet from the evening downpour, they weren't icy thanks to the 50F overnight temperature. Dressing for these conditions (temps falling) was challenging, but we all managed to select the right combination of clothing. BTW, I mentioned my desire for some Rapha women's tights in yesterday's entry. Well, Zabeth came through for me. She had accidentally ordered an extra pair when Rapha was having a sale, so she passed them on to me at the good sale price. And I absolutely love them! Rapha can still send me a pair for free- ladies - size small, please.

Today's route includes some of my favorite roads. Years ago, John and I put together a 200km route for the local brevet series. Over time, some of those roads have gotten busy, so I have proposed replacing the middle part of the 200km with this route. I think it will happen this year. Hopefully the riders won't hate me for replacing the busy roads with some quiet, scenic (which translates to hilly) roads. There are some magnificent views along the route, but I will say that riders have to work hard to earn them.

The reward at the top of the toughest climb

Hey look at us, we are sooooo cute!

The new sections include the descent to Purgatory Falls, followed by the climb to Paradise Farm.
Pamela, Marc and Bob in Purgatory
Bob climbing out of Purgatory towards Paradise

This is followed by a descent off Pead Hill and then a wee section of dirt, which is offset by another magnificent view. The dangerous part of the ride involves a very badly angled RR crossing on a main road followed by a left turn on a right hand bend off that same main road. Then we enter a lovely tree-lined road that follows a babbling brook up toward Temple and views of Pack Monadnock, which we mercifully pass on climbing today.

Pamela is having fun with her new camera
The descent from Temple is gentle, but on brutal pavement and is followed by a climb up to another panoramic view. This climb was welcomed today as we needed to warm back up. The final big climb brings us past Parker's Maple Sugar House. It seems the town of Mason passed on all that road paving stimulus money that so many other towns took advantage of this year, as evidenced by the condition of their roads - the roughest I have been on in ages. We were pushing daylight, so we made a beeline from Brookline back to Hollis, but still came in with 110 kilometers for the day. It was a glorious day with great company and great views.

We had 4 hardy souls for today's ride: Dena, Bob, Marc and me. We all carpooled up together in my wee little Fit, which normally gets about 40 mpg, so with 4 people, we got 160 miles per person gallon.

John again had to work today, but he did get out to verify that *Pagan Hill is still there. With that assurance, we will ride out to Pagan Hill from Ride Studio Cafe at 10 AM on Thursday. It is to be brutally cold overnight tonight - quite the contrast from last night. So wear a few extra layers if joining me on Thursday. And show some mercy, I have a lot of kilometers in my legs now. 

*Pagan Hill is actually Pegan Hill, but we changed it to fit our theme, please don't sue us!


Echo Bridge
Have cross bike, will carry!

So far - Pamela - 630 km,  John - 464 km
Dec 28 - Pamela 110km, John 51km 
Dec 27 - Pamela 130km, John 44km
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km

Too many great shots to chose from, click here to see all the photos from the day

Pamela 105 km, John 28 km 

Last week, when we came up with our list of Redemption Rides, we had a few obvious choices like Redemption Rock and the two Purgatory rides, but some of the others required a bit of literary license. I must admit Pagan Hill is one. It is actually Pegan Hill , but this, the highest spot in Natick, does so fit with the original meaning, that we call it Pagan Hill. As one of the local hill-climb training spots, it also seems like a natural place for a band of druids to cast spells that make cyclists dance up hills effortlessly.

When standing atop the hill, I can almost hear the three witches from Shakespeare's Macbeth, "Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog..."

And today, I wouldn't have minded finding a boiling cauldron up there filled with hot chocolate.

We seem to be in a weird pattern of wild temperature swings. Last Thursday, I was riding with shorts, light jersey, leg and arm warmers and a vest. And my ventilated summer shoes! One of my riding companions tweeted a photo of her glove-less hands! Yesterday was 50F at dawn, but the Fahrenheits fled as the day wore on, and by this morning, their population was in the teens. Which is to say, it was actually far more seasonal than we've experienced most of this month. 

Base-layer: shorts, Ibex merino wool crop top,
Ibex merino wool zipped turtleneck, Ibex merino wool leg warmers

Outer layer: Rapha ladies winter softshell, Ibex merino wool softshell pants

Extremities: Bridgedale wool socks, Lake winter cycling boots, Chiba overshoes,
Lake Mittens with handwarmer pocket,
Ibex merino wool neck warmer, OR windstopper skullcap, Louis Garneau Helmet cover,
Oakley Progressive Transitions glasses,
Zelig Cat!
This also seems to substantially reduce the number of cyclists willing to head out on a long ride. When planning rides in hard-core conditions, it does make sense to expect just hard-core riders to show up. My usual riding buddies were also resting up after the previous few days, so they could make it to World's End on Friday.

I've been riding a lot lately, so I need two breakfasts and two lunches and two dinners!
So there I am, having my cortado and scone at Ride Studio Cafe, when Roger and Jonathan arrived with their weightless bikes and fast legs. Fortunately they were kind and took mercy on this social pace rider, sporting a bike with couplers, generator lights, fenders, giant seat bag and handlebar bag, who also had the desire to stop for the occasional photo. Chip joined in part way through the ride and fell right in to the social pace. There were lots of stories about cyclo-cross and doing hill repeats on our feature climb. I did suggest they could go up and down a few times to wear themselves out, while I rested. But no one took the bait, and they continued to be kind, and to take it easy on me.

Jonathan, Roger and Chip at the base on Pegan Hill.

Jonathan, Chip and Roger at the top.

I have a new camera, a winter solstice gift from the Fear Rothar, who expressed a desire to appear less fuzzy on the blog. After our trip to Ireland, he observed that his photos, with me as the model, were all clear, where my pictures of him were all just a bit less so. I claimed it was the Zelig effect, but he found a new point and shoot camera for me anyway. And indeed, he is appearing a bit sharper these days. But the new camera has so many new features and modes and settings, that I sometimes am overwhelmed, or accidentally forget and leave it in a mode that doesn't work so well. I did exactly this when I snapped my coffee shots this morning, so sadly all my on the road shots leading up to the feature climb were all in gourmet mode, but came out half-baked.

Pamela on the move!

John again had to work today, but managed to slip out for a 28 km ride to visit Norumbega Tower, the closest approximation of a round tower in the area. Round towers, whose origin as pagan fire towers or Christian bell towers is a source of debate among Irish scholars, are a frequent feature of John's rides in Ireland.

Another brilliant sunny day!

Friday's ride starts from World's End in Hingham, following the CRW south shore coastal route created by Andy Brand. We will carpool down and meet other riders there at 10AM. Please email pb at blayleys dot com if you are joining us.

So far - Pamela - 735 km,  John - 492 km
Dec 29 - Pamela 105 km, John 28 km
Dec 28 - Pamela 110km, John 51km 
Dec 27 - Pamela 130km, John 44km
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km

Dec 30 - World's End 
Pamela 74 km, John 87 km

Last May, we survived Harold Camping's predicted rapture and had a rapturous good time doing the East Coast Rapha Gentlemen's Race. Today, we rode to World's End and, yet again, it did not. We'll see what 12/21/2012 brings and whether the Mayans had it right. Maybe we'll plan to do this route again on that day. If I have to be somewhere when the world ends, this is as good a place as any - actually much better than most. It is an absolutely beautiful spot. I'm so glad it has been preserved and is maintained now by the Trustees of the Reservations.

We had a good crowd for the End of the World ride today. Jon, Donny, Bob, Gene, David, Rich, Frank, John and I had a glorious ride along the south shore coastline with lovely views of the Boston skyline. John, Jon and Donny took off at a brisk pace, while the rest of us enjoyed a more relaxed ride. This isn't to say, we didn't push ourselves. Noticing I was being a proper FixiePixie, riding my fixie, Bob kept proposing we climb up to various round towers we saw along the way. I cannot resist a round tower, especially on top of a hill.

Not to be outdone, the lads did a bit of rock climbing in the middle of their ride.

From Pemberton Point, we had a nice view of the Boston skyline, one I'm sure is spectacular on a clear day. 

At the end, we explored the lovely tree-lined gravel carriage paths winding around the 4 large drumlins that make up World's End.

I just don't possess the vocabulary to do justice to the views today, so I'll have to let the pictures speak for me.

BTW, I gotta love strava, we stopped for almost an hour for lunch, and I still got QOM on a stretch of road which included that stop!

John surpassed his 500km goal today and I broke 500 miles! But we had company and help along the way. Our riding companions over the last 7 days logged 2660 kms at well, so maybe we should really get to count 4042 kilometers worth of redemption.

for all the photos from today...

Jon Lawrence/MayorFixie will be leading tomorrow's ride from Framingham to Purgatory Chasm, since we've decided we truly are beyond redemption, and a visit to Purgatory just won't help us. In addition to riding lots this week, I have driven more in one week than in the past three months! Weatherspark is telling me that riders who are out in the afternoon will likely get to make use of their rain gear. If you are planning to ride, please email Jon (jonathan dot lawrence at gmail dot com) so he will know to expect you.

We will let the car rest tomorrow and probably just ride over the Ride Studio Cafe to wish everyone there a Happy New Year and pick up some coffee beans.

We will also try to catch up on some of the stuff we've neglected this week while we've been in eat/ride/eat/ride/eat/ride/eat/blog/sleep mode. I think the cat wants some attention...

So far - Pamela - 809 km,  John - 580 km
Dec 30 - Pamela 74 km, John  88 km
Dec 29 - Pamela 105 km, John 28 km
Dec 28 - Pamela 110km, John 51km 
Dec 27 - Pamela 130km, John 44km
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km

Dec 31 - Recuperating from Redemption
Pamela 29 km,  John 29 km

Chasing Redemption is hard going, especially for someone with such a cheeky attitude.

So today, we decided to sleep in. Cocoa was also tired of getting up early and, for the first time ever, I had to make the bed around her!

MayorFixie, a fellow Ride Studio Cafe Denizen, agreed to ride out to the remote start and lead the planned ride from Framingham to Purgatory Chasm, after I came up with a long list of excuses for blowing it off.
  • well and truly redeemed already
  • one visit to Purgatory per week is enough
  • chain, tires, shorts (and legs) are worn out
  • car to transport bikes and bodies to remote start is out of gas
  • can't afford the food bill anymore
  • need a new size small Rapha Ladies Rain jacket, please!
But John and I decided to have one more go at finding Redemption a little closer to home. So we looked up our nearest Redemption Center on Google Maps and made our way there.

to discover that we really must be totally beyond redemption!

The week finished the way it began, a bit grey!

But we found our way to the mothership, otherwise known as Ride Studio Cafe, where MayorFixie reported that no one else showed any interest in Purgatory today.

And then feeling we really had earned it, John and I headed for Vicki Lee's

Grand Total - Pamela - 838 km,  John - 609 km
Dec 31 - Pamela 29 km, John 29 km
Dec 30 - Pamela 74 km, John  88 km
Dec 29 - Pamela 105 km, John 28 km
Dec 28 - Pamela 110km, John 51km 
Dec 27 - Pamela 130km, John 44km
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km


Dear Rapha,

We really don't need any more bikes...

John and I lost some weight doing the Festive 500. We need new, smaller clothes. Please send the following in size small for Pamela to replace the now too big and worn out items

before Redemption
after Redemption
  • ladies small shorts
  • ladies small winter tights
  • ladies small rain jacket

and for John

before Redemption
after Redemption
  • men's medium shorts
  • men's large tights
  • winter hat (he claims his head is smaller now)

Thank you for challenging us but now nothing fits!

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