Friday Group Ride #220

Friday Group Ride #220

I first rode D2R2 three-and-a-half years ago. I rode it on a Surly Crosscheck, because that’s what I had that seemed even vaguely appropriate. The next two years I rode it on a custom road bike with 28s, not because that’s the right thing to ride, but again, because that’s what I had. I have seen people ride that event on full-suspension 29ers and full-carbon road bikes with 23s. As far as I could tell, they all had fun (though some may have fixed more flats than others).

This year I will ride it on a purpose-built Ti bike with disc brakes, an off-road adventure machine with an all-day geometry and alust for roads that aren’t and never really were roads to begin with.

D2R2 has become, for me, a season defining ride, just as Dirty Kanza, Leadville, RAGBRAI, Battenkill, Levi’s King Ridge Granfondo, etc., etc. have become anchor points for others. It seems that almost anytime I’m out on the bike during the year I have the dirt roads of Southern Vermont in my mind. If I am climbing a seemingly endless hill anywhere in the world, I immediately think of Pennel Hill Rd. Everything is hard or not-hard in comparison.

In this way, it reminds me of Paris-Roubaix or the Tour, which are reference point races for many of the pros.

D2R2 is special, but it’s not the most or only special cycling event out there. Some season-defining rides aren’t even events. They’re just annual meet-ups with friends. Some are races. Some are just group rides, but they serve as our reference points all year long.

This week’s Group Ride asks what YOUR reference point is? What is the Ur-ride in your calendar? And what is it about that ride that has captured your imagination? Is it the terrain? The company? The difficulty?

, , , , ,


  1. dlovat

    I have two rides that define my season.

    The first is the Heartbeat Hundred, put on by Planet Ultra. The course is challenging, with 8500 feet of climbing. The scenery is gorgeous, transitioning from mountainous pine forest, to high desert, and back again. Additionally, most of the ride is on secluded roads. For most of the ride,you don’t see a car.

    I’ve been doing this ride for the last 7 years. I always ride it as an individual time trial (no drafting) and I have records of all my previous times. I had a pretty decent time from 4 years ago, and have been chasing after it ever since. I was convinced that I would never equal it again….until this year. I beat it by 15 minutes, and I was so happy. I was crying at the end. Showing up to this event ready to rock is the high point of my year.

    The second event is the Ride Around the Bear century hosted by the Orange County Wheelmen. Lots of climbing here too…9000 feet. The course takes us up to Big Bear Lake, and then on up to Onxy Summit at 8400 feet. Each year I try to ride the section from the lake to Onyx as hard as I can. Often I blow up big time, but sometimes I pull it off and continue on for a strong finish. Those are the times that I really savor and remember. This is what its like to be fit and strong on a bike. Yes!

  2. Margaret

    My point of reference just changed. It was the Levi Leipheimer King Ridge ride which I look forward to doing again this fall. Now it is the BWR or the Belgian Waffle Ride. As it turned out I was not quite ready for it this year, but now that I know what it’s like I will be back. Just doing part of that ride took my cycling to another level.

  3. Ransom

    Can it be central if I’ve only attempted it once, and didn’t make it then? It made an impression I’ve only ridden over 100 miles once, and that was my failed attempt to make the 140 from Champoeg state park to my folks’ house in Eugene, OR on the Wilamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. 111 miles to Brownsville is still a real ride, but I look forward to another attempt this year, wherein I will *not* get bored with eating and drinking, and I’ll get to roll up to my dad’s burritos under my own power…

  4. Peter Lin

    For me, Greylock Century is the ride I look forward to. This year will be my forth year doing it and every year I love it. Near the end, every cat4 climb feels really long and every cat5 climb feels like a cat3. When the weather is nice, it’s just a fantastic ride around some of the most scenic areas of western MA. Even when the weather isn’t ideal, it’s still a great ride. Some people hate the third big climb up East Hawley, but it’s one of my favorites. Half way up, it feels like the pain will never end, but once you’re at the top it feels so damn good. When I’m out there, East Hawley is my favorite hill for repeats.

  5. Andrew

    Can I post two?

    Gravel: the Almanzo 100. It’s seriously hard, but just an amazing event. 1400 riders this year. Free. Twin six giving out beer at mile 75. Horses running with us this year.

    Road: dairy land dare. I do the 200km version. 12000 ft climbing. Great roads. Wonderful local people bringing you cookies at the rest stops. Beer and brats at the end.

    These are great rides.

  6. Les.B.

    “The first is the Heartbeat Hundred, ”
    You mean the HeartBREAK Hundred, right? In all other respects I totally agree with your assessment of that ride.

    After you ascend Heartbreak and then you cross the beautifully sparse Lockwood Valley, then at the end of the valley is the last climb of the ride, a 500-foot grind over the ridge. From there on it’s all downhill. So when I climb that last 500 feet I watch for the “ICY” sign. That is the top, at the apex of the climbing for the day. Legs celebrate! ICY.

    I USED to do that. Arthritis in my left knee keeps me from those great rides any more. So why do I go on living??? Well, at least I still have PV.

    And I agree with you too on RAtB. Where we diverge is that my ultimate favorite ride used to be the Mulholland Challenge.

  7. Michael

    I guess it is when I fly out to CA with my travel bike in May after finishing teaching each year and ride with my friend Paul and, sometimes, my brother. It can be a bunch of great rides out of Santa Cruz, or it can be the Davis Double Century, or it can be a credit-card tour on road and dirt for a few days. In any case, it is the chance to ride with friends and notice how we don’t even have to think about how we ride together – it just works. I am missing it this year. Paul is putting on a Meet-Your-Maker ride today but I am “stuck” on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, working. I brought my coupler bike though and have been having some incredible rides. Straight up and down – no hills shorter than 10 km or gentler than 10% average grade, and nothing seems to just contour around the volcanoes. Downhills on some are pretty scary, especially in a downpour. I can identify with the pros in the Giro, although I get to crawl if I need to.

  8. Dustin

    The Snake Creek Gap TIme Trials are the focal point of my riding year. 34 mile MTB race in the mtns above Dalton, GA. 5400ish feet of climbing, several creek crossings (some over knee deep at times), and the last 5 miles is one big rock garden. And, the races are the first Saturday in Jan, Feb, and March – it’s cold, and usually wet. The crappy weather, tough climbs, technical terrain, and the awesome folks who host and ride this event – it brings me back year after year after year. It’s also great motivation to stay on the bike as Old Man Winter sets in, and to not over eat during the holidays. If you show up at the Snake ill prepared, it makes you pay. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!!

  9. si little

    the defining ride is and now was the boston-montreal-boston ride. middlebury gap at the end of 200 miles or so the first day, the wind across the flats in champlain islands either way up or back, andover hill on the way back in the baking sun, porcupine quills in the new macadam between chester and grafton, napping in town commons and old graveyards, moose at 2 am on vt 100 just barely made out in the lights, doing b-m-b both on d/f and ‘bent.. cheers.

  10. David B

    It use to be the Santa Cruz Mountains Challenge, but yesterday I did the first ever Lost and Found ride. 100 miles and 7000 feet, 80 miles of Sierra fire roads. Excellent course, and beer at 67 miles. I’ll do my standard reference ride in a few weeks and see which stays more stuck in my head. Can I have two?

  11. Moose

    Triple Bypass from Avon to Evergreen, Colorado. 122 miles and 10,000 ft of elevation gain over three major mountain passes. Riding through snowfields at nearly 12,000 ft ASL on Loveland Pass in July is unreal.

  12. Tom in Albany

    My morning commute ends with a short hill. It’s about 1/2 mile. Big ring vs. small ring defines my daily condition. I’m about to try my first Gran Fondo at the end of September in Rensselaerville, NY. 84 miles 8000 climbing some dirt/gravel mixed in with black top. Any training advice? Tire/wheel selection advice?

  13. Dan Murphy

    D2R2 it is. Signed up back in Dec.

    I’ve done the last two and they were absolutely the best rides ever. OK, I did the weenie routes (100k, 115K), but these are downright gorgeous rides with minimal or no traffic, and a great vibe.

  14. CA Dave

    AIDS LifeCycle (ALC), formerly known as California AIDS Ride.
    550 miles over 7 days, SF to LA. Beautiful scenery, great community, nothing helps the fitness like 7 days in a row on a bike.
    The best reason: saving lives by raising awareness and money ($15 Million in 2014)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *