D2R2, the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee, is the sort of event that challenges a rider, not only to ride great distances and climb what seem like endless New England hills, but also to come up with a bike that will meet all its challenges for traction, comfort and speed. With up to 180km of mixed-terrain and as many as 10,000ft of vertical gain, this is no small challenge. Every year we love to look around and see the bikes, and it seems that each year we also see more Sevens.
We might be uniquely suited to building this style of bike. We saw Axiom road bikes modified to take wider tires (and a flat bar) like the one below. We saw Mudhoney CX race bikes, and we saw Evergreens aplenty, our purpose built mixed-terrain bikes.
D2R2, or the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee, is an annual event on the Seven calendar. Not only does the ride support the Franklin Land Trust, an excellent cause, but it also takes in some of the sweetest back roads and sweeping vistas in New England. It is both brutally hard and magically compelling. For some of us, it is the most difficult thing we’ll do all year, but we sign up over and over. It’s that good.
This year we had Seveneers riding the 100k (Matt and Susi on their Ti tandem), the 115k (Mike Salvatore), the 150k (John Lewis on his Axiom SL) and the 180k (Jake Bridge) routes, and of course we saw more Seven riders on each of the courses, some on road bikes, some on cross bikes.
As a randonee, D2R2 is not a race. It’s a challenging group ride. It requires cooperation, camaraderie, resource planning, group navigation and a lot of hard work. It is not unlike running a bike company.
And of course it’s all smiles and tall tales back in the food tent after the ride. All the descents were gnarlier and the climbs were longer and we came that much closer to crashing, as pulled pork and mac n’ cheese and Rice Krispy treats disappear in the feeding frenzy.
Jake, who did the long route, has the best story. Two miles into the ride his rear derailleur came apart. The lower pulley and its bolt flying free across the road. Only able to locate the bolt, he road back to the start area, cased the parking lot for any charitable soul with a spare pulley, FOUND ONE, installed it, and hammered back out onto the course, doing the entire 180k of dirt and mayhem on a cobbled together drive train.
Matt and Susi cut two hours off their 100k time from last year. Susi says it’s because they stopped to chat less. Matt believes they still stopped to chat too much.
An event like D2R2 can sustain you for a year. It will leave you with much to think about, climbs you could have handled better, gearing choices that seemed right at the time, and it will send you searching for long stretches of dirt road to conquer, if only to recapture that feeling of being out in the middle of no where, on your bike and flying.