Sunday, August 22, 2010
Imagine Tinker Hill, or the hardest hill you ever climbed. Now, imagine it as a loop, up and down, with a few tenths of a mile in between. Now, imagine it’s loose dirt, rocks, sand, with washed out trenches and/or washboard sections. Now, imagine doing that loop like, 50 times in one day. That’s the D2R2, or Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee. It turned out to be 111 miles with 17,000 feet of climbing. It took us 12 hours. It was almost all dirt. There was one road that was really just a washed out, overgrown jeep trail through the woods. The joke of the day: we would see a patch of sand on one of the rare bits of paved road, yell, “gravel!” and laugh because it seemed so silly, given what we were riding on most of the day.
To be fair, there were incredible vistas of distant mountains and farmlands at the top of each climb. And at the bottom, there were covered bridges and sweet little houses. Along the way there were rest stops chocked with delicious food and drink, and even an ice cream truck strategically placed at the top of one of the last climbs. At the end there was free beer and BBQ!
Victor rode his Long Haul Trucker and I had my Tri cross, but we were really surprised at how many road bikes with skinny tires there were. We were riding fat tires, and I had treads on mine (which really slowed me down- plus we discovered my brakes were rubbing badly for the first 25 miles- I thought I was just slow!) Victor put some low gears on the bikes, so we could actually ride the 20+ grades without walking, as we saw many people do. Truthfully, there was one spot where the road turned from flat to a 27% wall. We started to ride up, but the guys in front of us started spinning out, so we all walked the steepest 100 feet or so, and found a driveway to use as a landing. We all got in line and took off, turning up the hill, spinning out, but getting control to make it to the top.
This ride attracts the cream of the independent bike fabrication world, along with top ultra-distance, mountain and road racers who blast through trying to make a course record (8 hours). The bike porn was plentiful, and Victor was often found drooling over some classic steel beauty (truth is, there were only a handful of women to drool over, as most women have a strong sense of self preservation that prohibits doing this ride). This ride took all the strength, skills and mental fortitude I could muster to finish, so there was no question of “racing” it for me. The riders were friendly and supportive, as were the volunteers, and while Victor would have liked to ride more competitively, most folks were just riding their own pace and enjoying the day, so we were in good company.
It was a great ride, I’m glad I did it, but, I’m not sure I want to do it again. If you have read any of my adventures, you know I enjoy a challenge, but the dirt, particularly the downhill dirt, was not fun. While I did hone my bike handling skills, there were times when I was sure I was going down. I had to will myself to remain relaxed and loose and respond to spin outs without overreacting. I had to be alert every second. It was exhausting, and the vibrations were like riding on a jack hammer. Overall it was a bit more painful than I want to endure. Maybe next year I'll do the 100km and wait for Victor back at the finish, drinking beer and enjoying the bike porn. Anyone want to join me?