Rapha Prestige New England

IMG_1109We left Seven in the late afternoon after a long week of building and riding bikes. We drove west on Route 2 to where 91 shoots north into Vermont and arrived at our campsite after dark. The manager had gone home for the night, and it took us a little while to figure out where to set up, but we did eventually, eating some pre-made burritos and laying down for a quick night’s sleep.

IMG_8154In the morning, we drove up to Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlett and signed in for the ride, all of us a little nervous about what the day had in store. Our friend David, from Rapha, plied us with espressso and we got our act together as quickly as we could. The Prestige is not a race, but each team has a departure time, so we needed to depart.

IMG_8172Vermont is beautiful. We all knew it was beautiful, but it was nice the way the frenzy of the morning gave way to quiet roads and dazzling views. We all woke up a few miles from the farm and settled into our rhythm, working together, enjoying the scenery.

It turned out to be one of those great days on the bike for each of us. No flats, good food, cool weather, good packed dirt and fast paved descents, it was a great route, and we were all as strong as we could have hoped to be. It was classic Evergreening terrain, hilly, some of it paved, some of it not. 116 miles and 10,500 feet of climbing.

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(L-R) Performance Designer – Greg Marchand, Production Mgr – Matt O’Keefe, IT Guy – Jake Bridge, Tool Shop Mgr – Skip Brown

Vermont never disappoints and the folks at Rapha put on quite an event. Back at the finish just over 8 hours later, we sat down to a gourmet meal before repacking the van for the long drive back to Watertown, getting in after midnight, exhausted but happy.

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We Couldn’t Have Said It Better – Linda Freeman

A lot of our riders end up here at one point or another, coming to see where their bike was/will be born, and recently we hosted Linda Freeman who is a fitness consultant and freelance writer from Vermont. We built her bike, an Elium SLX, with our friends at Fit Werx in Waitsfield earlier in the year. If you read Linda’s blog or her regular feature in the Rutland Herald, Active Vermont, then you know she’s a deep thinker on fitness and cycling. We had a great visit with her, which she wrote about here.

 

Cold Season Adventure – Evergreening Vermont

There is no off-season when you love to ride bikes. We were in Vermont over the weekend, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to put our tires on dirt, even though it was 19┬░ F when we rolled away from the house, a fresh inch of snow on the ground.

This seemed a good test for our Evergreen SLs, set up with disc brakes and file-treaded 32mm tires. The dirt roads were packed hard in the cold, and traction was challenging in the steep up and down of our route. The funny thing about riding a bike in Vermont is that distances don’t mean that much. There are few stretches of long, level ground to travel, so you are almost always either going up or coming down.

Even in the bitter cold, we worked up plenty of heat by the end of the first climb. The challenge then is to stay warm on each descent, where any sweat you’ve managed to generate amplifies the freezing wind of your hard-earned plummet.

You’d be far better off gauging the difficulty of your ride based on total climbing feet.

We had been eying these roads for a while, driving by, wondering where they went, whether or not they connected. This is evergreening in its purest form, exploring what’s in front of you, looking for trails, cobbling together long, dirt routes that take in the scenery and shut out the traffic.

We were sure we could find some trails that connected us all the way north to Lake Whitingham without having to touch the highly-trafficked Route 100. Google Earth yielded some clues about where we might find those trails, and our Garmins banked the info to make the search more efficient.

We found this Corgi Crossing just before heading into the woods for the first real off-road section of the ride. We came around a corner, nearly at the end of a dirt road, and there it was, a small wooden bridge over a creek, proudly maintained and serving almost no purpose. Beautiful.

This sign was reassuring, although we wondered for a minute whether or not we qualified.

This part of Southern Vermont is crisscrossed by trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, and we picked up on some markers shortly after entering the woods. Then it was a case of keeping our bearings as the snowy path dipped and swerved along, crossing small streams half-a-dozen times before spilling us out by the lake. You have to tip-toe across these crude bridges. Covered in snow and packed with leaves, they’re dangerous, and we thought ending up with one or both feet soaking wet at this temperature was maybe not a great idea.

Finally at the lake, we stopped to toast our first victory and realized we needed to drink quickly, before our bottles froze.

After the lake, we climbed up and over a dirt road lined by farms, before plunging back down into the town of Wilmington. From there it was up, up and up over another steep rise on the way to Mt. Snow.

The last turn on this route was a merciful right-hander onto this trail. The alternative was to continue up still another pitched climb. Instead we smiled like idiots, our tires crunching softly over the snow until we were rolling into Dover, the town clustered at the mountain’s base. We’d covered only 15 miles, but packed in 2000 ft of vertical, discovered some useful new trails, and spent 90 minutes in the woods, evergreening.

Video – Green Mountain Double Century 2012

DSC_5703The Green Mountain Double Century is a singular sort of endurance event. The 2012 version was 215 miles, 80% on dirt roads, with 26,500ft of climbing. There is a time cut off of 40 hours. Theoretically, it is a race, but such is the challenge that many ride just to finish.

The inaugural event, in 2011, saw about a dozen riders start, and only four finish. Three of them were from the Ride Studio Cafe Endurance Team, John Bayley, David Wilcox and Matt Roy. They finished in just short of 19 hours. The 2012 version saw the RSC team, all on Ti Sevens, “win” the overall again, shaving three hours off their previous best time. These guys are all randonneuring legends who keep raising the bar for the endurance cycling community. We were incredibly honored to have them all on our bikes.

Natalia Boltukhova of Pedal Power Photography, who shot most of our Love to Ride brochure as well as the photo above, traveled with the winning team in both 2011 and 2012, putting together this photo set and this video, which captures the brutality  (and humor) of the event beautifully.

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