100/200 of the 1980s grew out of a meeting of bicycle shop employees in the Burlington, Vermont area. These meetings, held approximately monthly, were dubbed the "Every-Other-Fortnightly Bicycle Mechanics' Conclaves" and were an effort designed to counter the natural sense of competition often experienced by people working for different stores in the same market. It had occured to some of us that we had a lot more in common than differences and that more was to be gained through camaraderie than badmouthing each other to customers. These conclaves, held in local taverns and greased by the brews of the day, gave rise to a number of events, including the 100/200; its antithesis, the Decadent Decade (10 miles on 3-speeds); the infamous Huffy Throw; and the Bolt-On Mountain Bike Race, Vermont's first NORBA-sanctioned off-road race.
It was at one of the Conclaves in the winter of 1983-84 where the 100/200 was envisioned as a one-day, 200+ mile
ride from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts state line, primarily on
VT 100. Jeanne Barner organized support vehicles and supplies and I did the promotion,
organized planning meetings and actually rode the ride. Jeanne drove the sag vehicls and held everything together, a role for which all of us were
grateful. Five or six riders rode the first year, and the field
eventually grew over the yearsto as many as 35 riders. We purposely never kept close track
of finish times, as just completing the ride was always our primary goal.
An article from Bicycling Magazine from early 1990 lists the 100/200 as one of "The
10 Toughest One-Day Rides in North America." At the time the ride was initiated
we thought that it was an original idea, but the story about the US
Nordic Team doing the ride in the '70s was a topic of discussion on the second
or third ride and has since been confirmed by skiers from that era, though their
route may have been down the western side of the state.
We did the ride annually for six years, consistently advertising
it as an "opportunity for a bunch of over-the-hill cyclists to prove just
how out of shape they are"--and that was 30 years ago! Where does that
leave us now? The ride series ended in 1990, when the nasty weather (windy with heavy rains in the forecast) caused us to cancel the ride, though some intrepid souls rode at least part of it, in spite of the bad weather. We realized that it was really tough to pull out of an organized event at the last minute, even though we always said that we would cancel if the weather was bad. This is the biggest reason why we vow that we're going to at least start the ride this year, no matter what the weather may be.
Certainly, many others have done their own versions of the 100/200, as it's such
a natural idea for an epic ride. We even have a pair of bikes and some photos from a couple who rode it in the early 1940s, when the roads were still dirt (though they didn't try to do it in a day). In later versions of our event, we sometimes
changed the route to add some variety. We know that a group of Vermont Bicycle Touring tour leaders borrowed the VBT van and rode it a couple of times in the 1990s. However, we've heard of no other organized versions of the ride that were open to more than small circles of friends, so we'll continue to lay claim to this classic bicycle ride.
If a fully-supported, multi-day version of the ride is more your cup of tea, POMG Bicycle Tours sometimes hosts weekend, 2-day versions of the ride.