The 100/200 Returns in Style
Eighteen riders and four sag vehicles showed up for the 2009 running of the 100/200, 25 years to the day after the first ride in 1984. Being older and supposedly smarter, most people stayed in B&Bs near the border, though a thoughtless driver who laid down a patch of rubber shortly after 2 am made sure we didn't gain much advantage from the extra rest. We met at the old border station where we had so many times, decades ago, just south of the new border facility. Once, in the 1980s, we inadvertently awakened a dozing border guard, who was shocked to see dozens of cyclists milling around outside. Those days are long gone.
After a half-hour inflating tires, filling bottles, getting instructions and a few photos, the group was off, heading south on VT 105. The weather was warm and a little humid with the sun staying behind clouds the entire day. We rode the rough pavement through rolling farmland, encountering very few cars for the first 20 miles or so, chatting away and gradually increasing the pace, but pretty much staying together as a single group. A light tailwind picked up early in the ride and stayed with us the entire day. By Hyde Park, the bunch had broken up into two groups, with the pace picking up even more in the stretch through Stowe until the first break on the Waterbury town green. The first riders arrived around 7:30 am, having traveled the first 55 miles in only two hours!
After the first break, the riders regrouped, leaving Rte. 100 for a short stretch to pick up Rte. 100B in Middlesex, riding up the scenic Mad River Valley. The group split up again on the broken pavement between Waitsfield and Warren, picking up the pace as we hit the easy climb up Granville Gulf. A light mist started here, though not really enough to get people wet, letting up as we descended to the flats between Granville and Rochester.
People who haven't done it usually think there is lots of time for support people to rest, waiting for the riders to appear, but it doesn't work that way. As the ride progresses, groups of riders start getting separated. If a sag vehicle packs up after the last group leaves and drives 40 miles to the next stop, it may arrive only 15 or 20 minutes ahead of the lead group, as the car will likely be traveling only 20 mph or so faster. This year, some of the support people parked their cars and rode back to meet the other riders, giving them a chance to get in a few miles.
Riders started in small groups out of the 100-mile break on the pretty Rochester town green and the groups became quite dynamic from that point on. It started raining on the serious climb up to Killington, which really blew the bunch apart, and came down in earnest on the Rte. 4 descent. The rain let up as some riders took a short break in Bridgewater Corners and stayed away until Ludlow, where riders took a real break before starting the Terrible Mountain climb.
The rain became steady as riders climbed Terrible Mountain, coming down hard at the top and keeping speeds just under 50 mph on the descent. With the rain, we skipped the break on the Weston green, continuing over the rolling hills all the way into Rawsonville, where the rain stopped. Several riders changed into dry clothes while deciding whether to leave Rte. 100 in E. Jamaica, taking the easier Rte. 30 to Brattleboro, or continue on Rte. 100, tackling the monster Mt. Snow climb. 12 of the remaining 14 riders opted for the tougher route.
Once leaving Rte. 30 in E. Jamaica, Rte. 100 starts climbing easily for many miles. When you have 170 miles of fast riding in your legs at an average speed of 20 mph, this climbing serves to wear down any remaining reserves. After about nine miles of this, the serious elevation change starts and, of course, the rain picks up. After a couple miles of steep grades, there's a false summit, then more serious climbing all the way to the top. It's at this point that it sinks in that you're completing a truly epic ride. Even with 30 miles to go, you know you are going to finish, with the toughest part of the ride in the bag.
The next 10 miles to Wilmington were mostly downhill, and the rain gradually stopped. Riders who were spooked by the steep grade at the beginning of the Wilmington Cross Rd. and who dropped into Jacksonville were punished with a nasty mile and a half climb. After some more moderate climbing, riders were rewarded with a wonderful 2-mile winding descent into Readsboro and an easy run down Tunnel Rd to the state line, giving riders a chance to use up any bullets they had left to fly across the finish in style.
Everyone who rode was very positive at the finish. While some thought once was enough, many said they'll be back next year to do it again. The favorable conditions and strong riders yielded an average speed of 19 mph; an amazing pace for such a tough, 212-mile ride. Photos of the 2009 ride are posted online at http://picasaweb.google.com/sbarner/2009100200 The ride comes early in the year, arriving before many cyclists are in condition for a hilly double-century. Start training now and plan to join us next year. You'll be rewarded by being in amazing shape for the rest of the season!
Only 2010-6-19 05:30:00 GMT-04:00 until we start riding the 2010 100/200.
Time for more training!