Sunday, August 16, 2009

Deerfield DirtRoad Randonee (aka D2R2)

For a second year I gave it a go and entered the 100km D2R2 in Western Mass. As with last year, it did not disappoint. It was hot this year (mid 80s, some said 90s, I don't usually carry a thermometer so I'm not sure), and I hadn't trained nearly as much as last year, but I took my time, met some great fellow riders and had a blast.
All ready to go at camp. We camped the night before and after. Luckily this year we were a long way from the registration tent, with its accompanying lights and generators, so we could sleep through the first group that left earlier to cycle the 200km route.
Though I may have been ready, Jon & Scott were desperately trying to figure out how to pump up Jon's tires...
Scott's ready to go. Both Scott & Jon have Long Haul Truckers. I gather more D2R2 cyclists ride Long Haul Truckers than any other bike.
The rid follows winding roads through the attractive farms of Western Mass. Why are barns so often painted red? I think because it looks good against the green fields.
The first checkpoint was at the Little Big House Museum, or was it the Big Little House?Jon & Scott said the door is 10' high, imagine the window sill being higher than you. Unfortunately I didn't have the energy to walk over and check it out. In a randonnée, you have an overall time limit for the ride. You check in at various checkpoints along the route, and you must reach each checkpoint within a certain time. I was almost late, and since I was always left behind I wanted to rest up and move. No time to consider out-of-proportion buildings.
Back on the road again. Jon & Scott haven't dropped me yet. I can usually keep up on the down hills. So here is a great photo of Jon.
Some beautiful views on the ride. The views are best leaving the first checkpoint. And they are mostly down hill, which helps with the sightseeing.
I hit the state line near the end of the long climb on the second stage. Jon & Scott had already dropped me, but I fell in and out of other groups. There was a lot of leap frogging with other cyclists taking rests. Rests going up hill are nice, especially in the shade with a nice view. I could catch my breath and respond to the "nice fenders, did you make them" compliments. The "is that a single speed" question is too tough to answer going up hill, but on the down hills I would acknowledge that it was a 3-speed hub gear. Most understood, but many were still perplexed.
There were many dirt roads before this shot. But this was my first photo of a dirt road. Most weren't this well graded.
Here's an old road cut for Maggie.
The welcome site of the Green River covered bridge. This means half of the 64 miles and 3/5 ths of the 7800' of climbing were behind me. Oh, and we got to dip our feet in the water and wash our faces. But chatting with new friends was the best. It seems most D2R2 cyclists are quite nice, at least those running toward the rear like me.
It was near this house that I found a very slow leak in my rear tire. I was tired and performed the most lazy tube change: I found a nice lawn in the shade, grabbed my tools, sat down with my bike, and didn't stand back up till the change was complete. Oh, I even had some water and a snack, and contemplated a nap, but got up and continued to the third checkpoint. I didn't stop at the third checkpoint long, since I was running late. But, I did grab a couple of peaches and an apple from Apex Orchards, who host this checkpoint. Some of the best produce around.
Well, this is the last farm on the ride, and it is my favorite. You ride down into this beautiful secluded valley with hay fields running forever with a simple red barn and dairy cows grazing. But all good rides come to an end, and so must this.
Well, we've returned to the Deerfield farm that hosts the ride, you can see the tents set up in the background. I was shocked when I noticed that they are growing what appears to be tulip & daffodil bulbs! It reminded me of the bulb fields that Maggie & I saw last spring in Holland. It made me smile.

From D2R2
My green Fuji got me through another D2R2. As I walked into the Registration tent for a soda Jon & Scott walked up, nicely waiting for me to show before going to dinner. I had to ask how long they were waiting. Scott said 15 minutes, he must have been delusional and exhausted after such a tiring ride, because I knew they must have been further ahead. Jon agreed that it was closer to 45 minutes, but I bet it was longer because I took my time on the last two stages.

To give you a sense of where the ride was and the type of terrain see the following map. The satalite ("Sat") is fun, because you can see where the farms are. Last year I really liked the pastoral farmlands. This year the pastoral and fields were places where I had no shade.

View D2R2 100km Route in a larger map

Though not a charity ride, the D2R2 does support the Franklin Land Trust, which is a famland and open space preservation organization in Western Mass. They are a great organization to support, since they help keep the farm lands we ride through productive. Red barns neglected or condo-converted wouldn't be nearly as exciting to ride by. And the Land Trust finds many local land owners to support the ride, especially at the check points.

The ride is usually held mid August, and they host camping on Friday and Saturday nights. Of course you can drive out in the morning before the ride, but it is a blast meeting up with friends and fellow cyclists on Friday night at the camp.

There are three ride options, a 170km route with - too much climbing for me, a 100km route - which is just right, and a flatter 50km ride along the Green River. The Land Trust website has a good amount of information from this and past rides, and they will surely have a registration link in the spring for next year's ride.

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