2018 Ride Report

It's A Hard Rain Gonna Fall

2018 was certainly one of the toughest runs of our event—the unexpectedly heavy and cold rain being only partially offset by the way the wind died down after demonstrating its power on Route 4.

The morning was dry and quite pretty, with a light breeze from the south presenting no issues for riders. The route was altered to avoid road construction between Stowe and Waterbury, leaving VT-100 in Morrisville and picking up VT-12 to Bethel, rejoining 100 in Stockbridge. Riders added over 1,300’ to the total elevation gain, mostly on the long climb from Morrisville to Lake Elmore, but were rewarded with a smooth, low-traffic road through the wilderness of the large state forest. After cruising through Montpelier, we continued south on VT-12 through Northfield, then on to the climb and wonderful descent of Brookfield Gulf, a worthy substitute for Granville Gulf.

A few light showers around Montpelier reminded riders of the day’s forecast of rain in the afternoon, but the roads stayed largely dry through the morning. Still, most riders skipped taking the dirt detour in Bethel and simply rode VT-107. The southeast wind picked up, but was not a problem until Killington, where riders bucked a stiff headwind down US-4 / VT-100 until turning out of it in Bridgewater. The light rain was spotty through this section, especially for the leaders, but became a true rain around Ludlow. It was around this time that the skies opened up for a serious deluge.

Some with thermometers recorded an almost instant 10 degree drop to as low as 44 degrees, F, when the big dump hit. The temperature of the rain was likely significantly colder than the air temperature, that water being hurled from high in the thunderheads, seemingly directly at the cyclists. It was as if that evil demon Friksjonsskift, enemy of all cyclists, was sitting on top of the thunderheads, flinging icy arrows down on the hapless riders. Few were prepared for the coldness of the rain with adequate clothing and gloves. The natural windchill of riding quickly put many riders into distress. One went as far as to stop at a store to purchase a jacket, when he failed to regain core temperature an hour after the rain hit in earnest. Many were either forced or convinced to quit for the day, and one driver went as far as to demand that the rider she was supporting get into the car for the ride down Terrible Mountain, then change into dry kit before going back out into the rain to continue the ride.

The ride is always equally tough on supporters. Drivers not only have a very long day of staying on the route, estimating where they should stop next, and watching out for riders while driving safely; they also try to appear positive after worrying about riders who don’t arrive when expected, or who are near their limits of effort. It’s tough to watch the riders suffer through conditions like those we experienced this year.

By the time the riders near the lead reached Weston, the rain had largely stopped. It was to come back, off and on, but the temperature recovered enough that those still riding had no significant issues. Since it was still too cold and damp to encourage riders to linger, breaks were kept short or skipped entirely. This helped riders finish earlier, with the last one crossing the state line around 9:20 pm.

A smaller group of riders from southern New England looked at the forecast and decided to ride from south to north, instead. Some of the main group were able to wave to these folks as we passed in Stockbridge. Except for a bit of flatting, south of Stowe, this group had an uneventful (and largely dry!) ride to the Canadian border.

While we lack hard numbers, this was one of the years that had the highest number of riders who didn’t reach the finish. There is certainly no shame in this: to even attempt this ride is to put a lot of faith in your ability and willingness to tackle what could be an insurmountable challenge. Few people complete the ride with anything left in the tank, and it’s easy for the end of those reserves, whether physical or psychological or a combination of the two, to deplete before the arbitrary location of the state line is reached.

Interestingly, many of the riders who finished noted how good they felt at the end. One rider went as far as to say that he felt better at the end than he had at the midpoint! The cool temperatures that accompanied the rain appear to have helped riders, even if we would have preferred more summer-like conditions. This year’s ride was tough, and we hope next year’s 20th edition of the event will reward us with moderate temperatures, dry roads and a tailwind, but those who rode and who understand what this ride is all about, expressed no regrets.


RIDER FEEDBACK


Suzanne D.: This one's a link. Long, but very well written and a really good read!


Tom O'G.: Everything turned out very good.

We started at 4:30am and finished 7pm.  It is a little easier from the south and getting the climbing out of the way early compared to climbing Mount Snow with a170 miles on your legs.  The overcast and 65 degrees was very helpful along with the wind from the south.  We stayed on 100 all the way.  I flatted at the end of the construction heading into Stowe but beside that got a quick change and was going again.

We hit a few showers but nothing too bad.


Brian G.: Thanks for an epic ride.  The PA Posse had an awesome time.  We were very pleased to finish.....all four of us, ... (Brian, Adam, Mike and Mike).There is some talk of a return next year.  Not too sure about that one....we are really just curious as to what the ride would be without 100 miles of freezing rain.

We were really fortunate to have Rebecca G.from New Hampshire providing SAG for us.  She never did it before, but was a pure natural.  At the beginning of the Mount Snow climb, she filled our water bottles and we instructed her to meet us 1/2 way up the climb, as we heard past stories of riders running out of water.  She instead went about 8 miles up (2/3 of climb) and when we came to her, she explained that she felt we would be good to that point, then not have as much to go on the steeper top portion.  Wow.....what intuition.  It was exactly what we were thinking.

She also provided us with three staples that we all came to appreciate as great long distance nutrition........V8 (original), pickle juice and yellow mustard (squirt straight into the mouth).  It worked especially well.

As I shared with you at the restaurant this morning, our team made this ride into a fundraiser.  Attached is the flyer we sent out seeking donations.
We collected over $6000.00!!!!!

So, congrats to you and Jeanne.  Your efforts have directly contributed to over $1200 for each of the five charities. Thanks again. Despite the wind and rain and cold, we somehow had a really good time.   You may see us next year.


Ed A.: This is the second time doing this event and both times epic.  Our small team from Connecticut met up with, and stayed with a friend of mine, who lives in Canada.  We arrived earlier the day before and enjoyed relaxing and 2 of my buddies actually swam in a river. My Canadian buddy was crazy enough to ride 70 miles, after riding 100 miles to get to our house in North Troy, to get beer from a place that he raved about. He got back at 8pm with a backpack filled with beer. I learned just how crazy and amazing he is during that event.  None of us finished this year but there’s always next year. 


Guy M.: Thank you to the angels of mercy from Seacoast for adopting me until I could reconnect with my sag (I accept most of the blame for her wrong turn). Glad to see you guys made it to the finish. I don't think my wife would have let me out of the van at Ludlow even if I wanted to go on.


Jim P.: This ride was a special kind of difficult. I can’t say the most difficult because long rides are different kinds of difficult.  The light-hearted optimism (and light clothing worn by some riders) at the onset bore stark contrast to what awaited all of us.  All riders would experience soaking downpours, shivering descents, and non-working fingers.

My highlights include finding my hat dry in my back pocket on the Terrible mtn descent.  I stopped because I couldn’t see in the downpour and the hat solved it.  I picked up a golf ball on the Killington climb.   Equippe in Londonderry was where I bought a long sleeve jersey and rain jacket.  I was finally dry, but not warm.  I crawled up Mt Snow and dropped in a heap at the top, laying down.  I was able to calm SAGers concerned about a medical emergency, then they offered a banana and Coke.  I was now 35 miles from the finish.  That’s 2 hours on a good day.  Today was not a good day.  My cassette shifter stops working.  The climbs out of Wilmington and Wilmington Cross Road were welcome only for their proximity to the finish.  The cemetery on the left once back on Rt 100, not today, no, not today.  My final highlight was no punctures.  A puncture would’ve ended my ride after my fingers stopped working.

It was greatly satisfying to finish this year’s adventure.


Cory A.: With this being my first double century I expected the physical challenge to be tough, but it was the mental aspect that was more excruciating than I would have imagined. The wet weather played a big role in that. The downpour from Plymouth to Ludlow made me consider throwing in the towel. After Terrible Mountain, I put on a clean kit and boy did that make a difference. Immediately my pace increased and I certainly felt like I had some "pep in my step". After a few hours of reflection, the miserable miles in the rain were all worth it. This was certainly an epic ride! Thanks to all the SAG support and the cowbells helped tremendously, especially at the top of the Mt. Snow climb. This is a ride I will not forget!


Gordon P.: Thanks so much for pouring so much energy into this event. It was quite an experience and I look forward to doing it again and again!


Bill D.: Thank you for organizing this challenging, memorable, classic ride.

One question on my mind Saturday morning;  Was completing last year's inaugural ride repeatable or a fluke?  Scenarios I considered likely were singing the "Ode to Joy" at the finish, perhaps struggling and limping to the Mass. line, or perhaps having to admit last year was a fluke.  I did not envision what was about to happen.
What a difference a year makes.  I rode the first 118 miles to Killington with two friends plus off and on company with the Spoke 'n Word team from Colebrook.  All great and helpful riders, but I struggled to keep pace the whole way, continually falling behind, pushing through the persistent headwinds.  Repeatable appeared doubtful.

After leaving Killington ahead of the group, I expected my friends would catch up in short order, but that never happened.  Perhaps the wind shifted, but unexpectedly I gradually found my pace and felt my legs start to recover as I turned toward Ludlow.
It had been sprinkling in Killington and my wife, Kathy who turned out to be SAG Support Supreme, suggested I switch my vest for my rain jacket.  Good call!  When the cold, hard, stinging rain started, I was better prepared.  Not well-prepared, but enough to continue.  I heard that the temperature dropped to 44 degrees, and that sounds about right.

It is difficult to shift gears when you are shivering involuntarily, but Kathy was waiting in Ludlow and my legs felt better than they had all day.  Also on the positive side, I was able to gain a little efficiency by drinking water as it ran off the top of my helmet.  Cold and refreshing, just like summer in Vermont.

By Ludlow, the rain had abated to showers.  I added extra socks, toe warmers, wool gloves, a wool undershirt, and my vest over the rain jacket all while Kathy tolerated the car heater on full blast.  This change took quite a while as the shivering was a bit out of control, and I knew I'd need to warm up soon.  Climbing Terrible Mountain, plus the hot coffee Kathy delivered half way up did the trick.  Did I mention the importance of SAG support?  Th th th thank y y y you K K K Kathy.  

The rest of the ride was strong and without incident to a 9:20 finish.  Short stops only to refuel.  Kathy leapfrogged my ride until the top of Mount Snow.  After that, I was on my own to the finish while Kathy checked into the bed and breakfast and arranged for some take-out dinner.  I cruised through the intersection with route 9 in Wilmington at over 20 mph, which I would say was my brief "ode to joy" moment.  Kathy caught up to me on Tunnel Street about 1.5 miles from the finish where a rather large porcupine was eating by the side of the road.  My phone and garmin had both run out of battery, but headlight and taillight were both functioning.
It is so thoughtful of Steve to wait at the finish as he does each year.  And thank you for the chocolates.  Kathy enjoyed verbingo and the chocolates are almost all gone.  I'm guilty.  Thank you Steve.

This year's ride was totally different from last year's and now I realize that next year's ride will likely play out in some unexpected way.  What a great course.  I never expected to finish this long ride stronger than I started, but that is what happened and I'm still trying to figure out how.  I am very happy to confirm that I have been tested and the ride is repeatable.  Not exactly "Ode to Joy" but not "Macarthur's Park" either.  I finished almost exactly one hour longer than last year, but given the extra distance and elevation, plus the persistent headwinds and rain, I am very satisfied with the result.  I look forward to next year's ride and sure hope it does not rain.

More feedback and photos on the 100/200 facebook page!


2018 stats

  • Starters: Around 30 (+9 riding S to N)
  • Finishers: Somewhere around half
  • First finishers:
  • Last finisher: around 9:20 pm
  • Fastest Finisher:
  • Elevation gain: 13,400' / 4,400 m (elevation gain varies, depending on whose GPS you're reading)
  • Highest point: 2408' / 734 m
  • Total distance: 214 mi / 344 km

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!

Previous Year's Ride Reports

2018 Links


 
 


Red in the morning... (photo: Corey A.)


The old US Customs House still stands
(photo: Gary B.)


Friends at the border (photo: Ed A.)


Lining up (photo: Bill D.)


(photo: Gary B.)


The line up (photo: Gary B.)


The roll out through North Troy was perfect,
but that was destined to change. (photo: Gary B.)


Cruising toward Lowell (photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


(photo: April J.)


Damp roads in Elmore hint at what is to come. (photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)

 
   


And the rain begins. (photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


Go! (photo: Gary B.)


The expression says it all at the top of Mt. Snow. (photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


(photo: Gary B.)


What goes up... (photo: Gary B.)


You make it to the top of a 12-mile climb, you get bears.
(photo: Gary B.)


Rolling up to the state line (photo: Gary B.)


Corey celebrates at the finish.

 

Elevation graph

GPS elevation graph, courtesy of Chet Huang

 
 
  Last edited July 6, 2018