That Dirt Road Thingy

That Dirt Road Thingy

I used to live in Western Massachusetts. I can assert that it is some of the best riding in the entire country. Here’s why: Massachusetts was one of the first areas in North America settled by European immigrants. Road building began there before it began in many other places. While Connecticut and Rhode Island have loads of roads, Western Massachusetts has a much lower population density than most of both of those states. And compared to Vermont and New Hampshire, Western Mass. has a much higher density of roads. The result is a somewhat sparsely populated area (for New England) with an unusually high density of roads. It’s a good combination.

In the 1990s I explored both dirt and paved roads on Miele road bike shod with Vittoria CGs. Those Super Record calipers tended to influence my speed, but control was limited. And while there were a few events in the area that would take in the odd unpaved stretch here or there, I often dreamt of racing linked sections of dirt. Hell, even a century would have been terrific.

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So imagine my surprise when Richard Sachs told me part of the reason he moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts was because of this ride called D2R2. The  Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee starts 15 minutes north of Northampton, near historic Deerfield Village. It falls in late August and offers five (yes, 5!) different routes. As I talked with the team at Seven Cycles about our project bike, part of the plan was to use D2R2 as the bike’s initiation.

In fact, my first ride on the new bike was the day before over a route selected by Rob Vandermark, Seven’s founder and CEO, along with Patria Lanfranchi (manager of Ride Studio Cafe) and the guy who is easily everyone’s favorite race announcer, Richard Fries. When I told Richard of my plan he said, “It’s the worst event, but I go back every year.”

I had no idea what he meant.

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What I didn’t appreciate at first was how important the term “randonnee” was in the ride’s description. This is neither a century nor a gran fondo. The general idea is that because it’s a randonnee, you’re supposed to be able to read a map as you ride. I’d say that slightly more than 99 percent of all cyclists I have ever spoken to are more interested in riding than pulling over to check a map, so anything a ride organizer can do to ease navigation is welcomed. We may be masochistic, but that’s confined to the effort, not the turns.

Of course, what would have been helpful is if the route notes had always been accurate on distance. What would also have been helpful is street signs denoting the name of each road we were meant to turn onto. Both those details were shaky. I learned this because I signed up for the 115k so that I could ride with Richard once again along with Tyler and Jamie from Firefly; Wade, Jordan and another person from Parlee; and Marty and Brad from Geekhouse. There wasnt a nicer group of bikies to ride with—a fantastic group of fun people. But 115k is 72 miles, not the 92 I got back to the finish with. I’ve never been lost so many times on a ride, even though I enjoyed the company and the roads.

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Our misdirections were so epic, Alfred Hitchcock would have smiled. We never found the first and third of the three food stops. I’m lucky I rolled with as much food as I did. And technical assistance at the lunch stop? I could have used a floor pump to top off a flat I’d had earlier. There wasn’t a mechanic within the area code.

D2R2 is meant to be a charitable ride for the Franklin Land Trust, which is buying up land in Franklin County, Massachusetts, to prevent development. It’s a laudable goal because it truly is a special place. Why a ride meant to help Western Massachusetts might spend so many miles in Vermont is anyone’s guess as I’ve yet to get a response to my first email to the organizer. What’s even harder to understand is why the ride is so damned expensive. Early-bird pricing is $99; the price gradually creeps up until day-of registration is $150. That worked out to $2/mile for me. There’s a continental breakfast as well as a post-ride meal with one included beer. But with only two guys at the tap, the line was often 50 feet long.

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I get the idea behind good deeds. And I love the idea of preserving that part of Massachusetts so that I might ride it some day with my sons. But there are so many well-run events where getting to the finish is a question of fitness, not your ability to guess how to correct a cue sheet, that the entry fee seemed excessive. How about I give you guys $50 and figure out my own ride? With five different routes on the road at the same time, there were times when my group was criss-crossing riders on different routes and it made us wonder whether we were headed in the right direction or not. Once you’ve made a couple of mistakes, seeing another rider headed in the opposite direction is nothing if not a moment of directional existentialism. Why the hell five routes? Since when was three not enough?

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The issue here is that if someone with real organizational know-how comes in and starts offering a gran fondo that doesn’t guarantee extra credit miles, they can charge the same amount of money and leave people far more satisfied. Charitable giving is great until you bonk, and at a certain point it’s helpful to regard the expectations the market has set. What if someone had been injured? I saw no one sweeping the course and at all the gran fondo events I’ve done I’ve seen vehicles driven by the organizers sweeping the course, looking for problems. There was a woman at the lunch stop who had gotten so lost, had bonked so badly, that she wanted to just get a ride back to the start. They were happy to oblige, but I heard them say to her they didn’t know what to do with her bike until later that day, which meant she’d have to wait at the finish for her bike to arrive before driving home.

Again, the riding itself was stellar. The roads, both paved and unpaved, were terrific fun. But I’d have had a less anxious day if I hadn’t constantly had people saying, “No, this is wrong. We need to turn around.” Honestly, I didn’t talk to a single person who didn’t make at least one wrong turn. The question on my mind is just how that enhanced the experience. The point to me as an event organizer is not antagonism, but to treat it like a party and to act like a good host, making sure everyone has a good time.

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DIY would have been a better approach. Two full bottles, some food in my pockets and an Andrew Jackson. Part of the fun would have been seeing what was available at the various stores we passed. The serenity and enjoyment from this kind of riding is dynamite, but for that much money, I have a right to expect that the organizer will take care of me.

Now I know what Richard meant. I may go back some day, but if I do, it will only be because of the company. And I’ll figure out how to input the route into Map My Ride and upload it to my GPS before arriving. I’d love to love this ride; I can’t recall the last time I was so excited to do a ride. But this was like getting a date with the cutest girl in school, only to find out she can’t hold a conversation.

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58 comments

  1. Ken

    Sorry it sucked for you. I also rode the 115 but had a different experience but perhaps that’s because of my “suspenders and belt” approach to navigation (and I rode a Surly LHT so perhaps had a different mindset going in). A paper cue sheet from the organizers told me where to turn and a Garmin told me what road I was on. That worked quite well although I did miss one turn at the 70 mile point. Cue says “downhill left onto Taylor Rd.” I made the turn and the Garmin said i was on some other road (can’t recall what) so I continued down Bardwell’s Ferry Road across the bridge and up the other side. Quickly realized I was off track and backtracked. . .Otherwise, it was a great ride for me. The watermelon at the top of the Patten Hill climb was as tasty as I’ve ever had in my life (along with the chocolate chip cookies I smeared with peanut butter. . .. at that point I needed it.) I also recall pre-registration notes from the organizers that on-course support would be limited. Yes, there were two guys at the taps but the beer line moved quickly. The vibe in the campground was friendly. My only nit? The catered food at the end wasn’t very interesting. . .but I was hungry , had a decent beer in hand and didn’t really care at that point. Will I do it again? Absolutely.

  2. adrian

    Maybe we just got lucky, but my riding partner and I had an almost entirely opposite experience. Judging by the people I ran into during and afterwards so did a lot of other people. This was the first year I’ve ridden D2R2 – it lived up to the hype and then some. It was the best and hardest day I’ve ever had on a bike.

    I’m sorry you didn’t have the same experience but I’d encourage you to try it again, I’m already thinking about next year.

  3. Michael

    I’m sorry it wasn’t such a great day, particularly since it was your first D2R2. This was my second year at the 180K. Second year on a road bike (with 28mm tires this time…my Fat bike). Second year using the Garmin 500. I know, I know…the cue sheets. But the GPS allowed me to settle in and really enjoy the day again. No missed turns. More conversations with fellow riders. More time to take it all in. The ride is costly, for sure. But I saw A LOT of Franklin Land Trust signs out there this year, taking care of A LOT of land. If that’s where it’s going, I’ll keep giving. There aren’t many places left like that, at least not here in New Jersey. And I think I met the same girl who was wrecked at lunch. The thing is, at least in my opinion, everyone needs to know their limits and know what to expect. It’s a really hard ride, no matter what distance you’re covering. I think the 5 routes are fine, it gives plenty of people a chance to bail when they realize just how much they’re suffering (over 9000′ of climbing in the first 100K makes the last 4500′ in the final 45 miles seem easy…kind of). The food could be better, the beer could flow easier, the ride could have more support…but I don’t think I signed up for that. When I put it all together (and Vermont Overland the following day, which I was lucky/stupid enough to sign up for, too. That was another AMAZING day in a beautiful place. And the food was a bit better and the beer flowed a bit easier…) this past weekend was a celebration of everything that is good about riding bikes in the Northeast…the roads, the climbing, the scenery, the effort, the food, the beer, the people…I feel blessed to be a part of it.

  4. Chris

    Bummer you didn’t appreciate the ride. Sounds like you didn’t do much research in advance and expected to have your hand held the whole way. Even a little research would have told you that wasn’t going to happen. As you say, its right there in the name. Randonnee. Not gran fondo (ugh), not century.

    Personally, as far as I’m concerned the minimal support is one of the best things about this ride. It covers beautiful roads, roads I probably wouldn’t be able to find and link together on my own, and there are enough people out there that you can’t really get into trouble. The company, even if you’ve never met them before, is great, and the huge variety of bike porn is unmatched. I suggest you do it again, but with a better attitude. And use a cue sheet instead of a map. Or the (provided on the web site) .gpx files.


  5. Author
    Padraig

    Chris: It’s funny to me that someone assume I wanted my hand held. It’s also funny to me that someone might conclude that I used a map instead of the provided cue sheet. I didn’t expect my hand to be held, but I did expect the cue sheet to be correct, and distances were frequently wrong. Also, I don’t have a problem with minimal support, but if you’re going to charge what rides offering serious support charge, it makes you look like a cheapskate, and I really doubt that’s what they want to communicate. I’ve done numerous rides that were much better organized, from cue sheets to better food (and more) at the stops. It’s great that they offered vegan food to those who preregistered, but the fact that they’d given out all the vegan sandwiches by the time one woman who had ordered one got to the rest stop left her really upset, so criticisms of the ride aren’t mine alone. I was in a group with a number of intelligent people and they all had trouble making sense of the cue sheet at times. Giving the name of a road on a cue sheet does no good if the road doesn’t feature a sign at the intersection. The problem was not my attitude; I enjoyed myself and was smiling the whole way. I wasn’t bothered the first time we made a wrong turn, nor the second time. Eventually, it got old. But seriously, when you put on an event, you do have a responsibility for the safety of the riders and not sweeping the course at all, so far as I can tell, is not really okay. And if they did sweep, I couldn’t find that out because they never responded to email. Again, my attitude wasn’t the problem; they need a remedial course in event promotion.

    Les.B: I’ll be getting to that in some separate posts.

    1. Patrick24

      Maybe I missed it, but did you post a follow-up post on the ride quality. I may want to check it out someday and would like to get an idea on how suitable it is for a road bike. The photos show some road bikes, but I would like to hear what you have to say. Thanks.

  6. Peter Kelley

    Jeez…

    I’m sorry you don’t get D2R2. I hope Sandy takes 0.0% of your suggestions into consideration. The event is perfect to those who love and obsess over it. It’s different, tough, beautiful, and not for everyone. But I see a lot of the same faces year after year, this being my 5th consecutive.

    D2R2 is Franklin Land Trust’s biggest and most important annual fund raiser. Many register as soon as registration opens because they are afraid, “this is the year when the secret finally gets out.” The organizer offers so many routes because there are so many beautiful roads to ride. I’ve ridden 4 courses in 5 years. I love Vermont and don’t question why some of the roads ridden are in Vermont. The cue sheets add another challenge to something already very challenging, but that’s randonne.

    The D2R2 is not about a fun ride with friends. It’s tough, you suffer, you’ve got to pay attention. You can find people who ride at your pace, and you can spend time getting to know them.

    I’ve had good and bad days, but I always come back. I’m already obsessing over bike modifications for next year.

    PK

    PS – I enjoyed meeting you at lunch.

  7. Bob

    Padraig,

    I am sorry this did not work out. I have to admit I was one of the people who over the years has told you that this was the date you had to go on. Granted I have only dated her harder taller sister 180k. I can’t speak to the ticky vixen that 115k appears to be. My blurry memory of the ride has more riding with a group of close friends, friendly discussions at a cross roads over the right turn and police officers opening their trunks in the middle of nowhere to give us a needed extra drink. There I go again romancing the old girl. The ride is more about the company we keep. While I am looking forward to your follow up on the bike I would rather hear more about your companions.

  8. Nate

    Padraig,
    I come to redkiteprayer.com nearly every other day because I find many of the articles to be well informed, thought out, logical, down-to-earth and astute. We are each open to voice our opinions, which you have done so in your piece above. However, as one that has never left a reply on this webpage (or any for that matter), I am rather disappointed in your assessment.

    In fact, it was last year’s article posted to this webpage by Robot that got me to sign up for it this year, (the first day registration opened no less). In this case, I feel you have nobody to blame for your complaints other than your own ignorance for the event itself. It is rather obvious that you did not bother to do any of the pre-ride homework (which everyone should do if they are going to embark on an adventure outside the norm). As it is explicitly stated on D2R2’s webpage (the third bullet point for that matter), “Riders shall cover the course in a self-sufficient manner, without motorized crew vehicles.” Further research on randonneuring, or even reading up on how things work at D2R2, would have enlightened you on what to expect. All day long you could hear folks’ Garmin’s give a beep as to the next turn. To me, that shows preparedness. They took the time to download the GPX files that the volunteers so graciously sent out (among many other noteworthy emails).

    As Robot so eloquently put it last year, “D2R2 is not a ride you bang out and then head home to mow the lawn. D2R2 is your day, and the nature of the riding, mostly up and down in alternately daunting and thrilling bursts, defies your ability to over-plan it.”

    As someone that has a voice, and ultimately the capability to influence others here is hoping this is a one-off blip. That this is not how you or anyone at RKP approach any of your articles. If so, it would be shame to realize the voice that I and so many others rely on for eloquently putting many of our thoughts to words are nothing more than a farce.


  9. Author
    Padraig

    Peter: It’s fair to ask the question that if an event is meant to promote the beauty of an area, then why is so much of the ride spent elsewhere. There may be a dynamite response, but if the organizer won’t respond to an email, then I can’t weigh that consideration. I didn’t see anything in the ride description demanding that I suffer and given that I’ve been sick twice in the last month, I really didn’t have the form to do that. If there’s something about randonnees that doesn’t permit a bunch of guys to ride together and go easy enough to pay attention for the coming turns, that’s news to me.

    Bob: It worked out fine. I had fun. Some readers—maybe you, maybe not—think this was some sort of awful experience. It wasn’t. The ride left me wanting desperately to visit the guys at Firefly and Parlee and see the inside of those shops. Richard Fries is on my short list for sainthood. And late in the ride when a couple of riders started to fray, he really took over coaching the group to make sure we did all we could to keep the group together. It was a good bunch, what I really want out of a day like that.

    Nate: You have completely misunderstood my point regarding the sweep of the course. I’m not looking for a follow vehicle, but things happen. I’ve been on rides where people have crashed badly and needed to be rushed by ambulance to the ER. Also, I did read the entirety of the site; this isn’t a matter of me being unprepared. I took a fair amount of food, but did expect to be able to find the rest stops. As my piece noted, every rider I met and spoke with made at least one wrong turn, and all but one made more than that. And the anecdote about them running out of vegan food for the vegans had nothing to with me not understanding the ride. That’s a lack of organization.

    I’ll grant that it sounds like using the GPX file could have helped. That doesn’t excuse the route sheet having inaccurate distances. If the only reliable form of navigation is the GPX file, then don’t offer a substandard route sheet.

    Again, things happen on rides. People crash. Rider preparedness goes to being able to take care of flats, weather and food, to a degree. Am I supposed to ride with a sling in case I fall and break my collarbone? As an event organizer you have a duty to make sure that you can take care of riders if they have a big problem, like a crash. I had a long conversation with the folks at dark:30 sports about their efforts to make sure they have unbroken communication and stellar preparations in the event of a problem; they do all they can to make sure they have every inch of the course covered without it being obvious to the riders as they ride. That said, I noticed a great many vehicles with radio antennas and small markings denoting their involvement.

    As to the “many other noteworthy emails” the volunteers sent out, I wasn’t in a position to register far in advance like some other riders. How can any reasonable person argue that the decent thing to do is penalize the late registrant? I completely understanding using a rising registration cost to incent people to register early, but for those of us not in a position to do that, we should at least get all the same info. If there was helpful info in those emails that wasn’t on the web site, I had a right to get that info once I registered.

    I’ll agree that this was a one-off blip, but relative to my experience, the blip isn’t a failure on my part to do what I was supposed to. There were too many instances of a lack of organization on the part of the organizer. It’s not a terrible event, and clearly, they are trying, but for the money they charge, it falls far short of many other events I’ve done.

    1. stevep33

      I echo the sentiments and experience of many here: D2R2 is terrific. Bring a GPS. Come prepared with the right equipment and a can-do attitude….it is a randonee! Also, FLT is a great cause… I happily pay the entry fee and then some donation.
      Give it another try some time.

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  11. Matt

    I think the expensive registration needs to be viewed as a donation to preserve land plus some food that may not be the greatest but gets the job done.

    As to support, I saw a nice older lady whose seat broke off the post after 25 years of use and she kept chugging along and at the next rest stop one of the volunteers had made sure there was another saddle there. And I know in years past they have swept the 180 as I heard a horrifying story about a guy going down and breaking his fork when he sucked up another person’s water bottle and one of the sweepers drove him to the hospital.

    I think the event is great and I fully drink the d2r2 koolaid and will keep returning as long as I can.

  12. Tim

    re TBF if past D2s have been any indication I suspect either the economy has just taken a bite out of donations from restaurants/caterers or something went wrong behind the scenes and FLT kept it quiet: in past years there was way more food and it was of far higher quality. I was a little put-off at first, but when I thought about it more I figured the whole thing is really meant to be a fundraiser for FLT anyway… if they didn’t do as well getting donations one year, so be it.

    Also moot point but I’m pretty sure I only paid $70 or so when I registered at the end of 2013?

    1. Adrian

      Re food: I received an email from FLT on Sunday about an upcoming survey that stated the lunch was catered this year (“those of you on the 180/115 saw that we tested having a caterer on-site for lunch”).

      Might explain the difference in quality from previous years?

  13. Mike Arciero

    No Garmin, no cycle computer, no map, no iphone, just the cue sheet. Once or twice went 50 meters past a turn, and a couple of times I deferred to other riders on turns, but nothing more than that. I fully expected some of the roads not to be marked. Often, other landmarks were included on the cue sheet. In fact, the cue sheet often included notes that were beyond what was necessary for navigation. For me, having the route marked with signs the whole way would really have detracted, as would more frequent food stops. Though I did not do it this time, often I will trace out a route like this in advance on the DeLorme maps, and bring the pages with me. But this is as a “just in case”, and not for general navigation. It’s painstaking but gives you a feel for the route and I enjoy doing it.

  14. Douglas

    I have been tempted to travel from Texas to ride the D2R2 since hearing about it a few years ago. I participate in a lot of gravel grinders, and the experience is very different from a Gran Fondo, which you seemed to have in mind when you registered. If that’s the experience you want, with gourmet rest stops and lots of volunteers on the course, go see Levi Dopeheimer or Chris King. Despite your whiney blog, I am still tempted to travel 2,000 miles to ride this race. Complaining about the entry price is ridiculous when you know the purpose is to raise money for a local land trust. It’s not like they are donating whatever they want to some disease charity. Buying land is expensive, especially in a small state like Massachusetts. Oh, you should have been forewarned – the title does include the word Randonee. I have lost respect for RKP. What a tool, you are!

  15. Dan Murphy

    Hmmmm, the RKP that I really like has taken a turn. I’m going to consider it a blip and not be judgemental about your experience.

    I’m relatively late to the D2R2 party, having done my third last weekend (100k, 115k, 100k). It is without a doubt my favorite ride – period. I like everything D2R2 isn’t. No mass start, no big promotion, no loudspeakers, no vendor area – just show up and ride beautiful roads.

    Would it be helpful if turns were marked? Yeah, but I also understand the effort of marking 100’s of miles of routes. I also think it encourages people to stop, take a look around, and talk to other riders. “Are you doing the 115?” “Is this the right turn?”. I spent a bit of time looking for a turn for the 100k (Josh Rd, no sign). Meanwhile, I talked to other riders (all 180k riders) and spent time looking at a map. It all ended well.

    And I’m sorry, but whining about no street signs in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to get you any sympathy, especially in New England.

    I like the fact that there are multiple routes, in a pick-your-poison way. The hardcores can do a killer route with the 180k, and the less-inclined can still get a gorgeous ride in. A rider I met at the end of the ride (he started on the 115, finished on the 100) said the 100k is the perfect ride. A gorgeous route, lots of effort, but none of the killer hills like Pennel and Patten Hills. I agree.

    I sympathize a bit with the organizers because of bridge outage. That really messed things up for them. They needed two lunch sites with volunteers, had to split the food, alter the routes. It really messed up the logistics.

    As for the cost, well, I agree that it’s on the expensive side, but it’s a benefit and nobody *has* to do it. We all make our own choices.

    Anyways, I’m sorry you had a bad day, and I hope you just chalk it up to having a bad day.

    I agree with you on the Richard Fries thing. In the 90’s, Richard and The Ride helped organize a ton of events to benefit NEMBA (New England Mt Bike Assoc) and it has always impressed the hell out of me.

  16. Touriste-Routier

    As an event organizer and a pioneer in the North American Gran Fondo scene, I have a very biased opinion. I tend to agree with Padraig and Richard Fries in regards to D2R2.

    I love the ride (I rode the 115k this year), but I do not feel it offers a great value proposition. Ironically I thought this year was better than last year, since GPS files were made available (last year they were not, and I painstakingly made my own), and there were a few directional arrows in very confusing places. But even with my Garmin beeping, I still made a few wrong turns, though was quickly corrected.

    As an event organizer, the biggest complaints you get from participants are about route marking, food, porto potty lines, and response time of support.

    Catering for hundreds or thousands of people at an outdoor event where people get fed over a long period of time is an extremely difficult proposition. In addition to having to deal with individual tastes and idiosyncrasies, food is either going to be sitting around for a while or temporarily out at various points. Even if you double or triple the number of Porto Potties, there are still going to be lines (particularly pre-ride), albeit they will be shorter. Support times are always a matter of where the resources are in relation to you at the time of incident; considering they may also have t take care of hundreds of others. However, these things pale with route marking.

    I think Padraig has nailed it when it comes to rides/events (though randonees are different); in most events, one typically does not expect to have to navigate. This said, even with signs and/or road marks, some people could get lost on the back of a tandem, even if the captain went the right way, and it is amazing that one often hears, “the route marking sucked” from a few people when 99% of the participants had no problems whatsoever.

    Having a route laid out for you is a primary function of what one is signing up for when they register. The ride is the ride, an event is what production value and features wrap around the ride. Most people sign up for “rides” more so than “events”; if the ride portion doesn’t go well technically, than the post ride food or expo matters little in terms of one’s opinion on the day. Hence why I sweat (perhaps overly sweat the details of the rides I organize, and feel extremely horrible when things don’t go as planned or meet my or others’ expectations).

    Most Randonees (particularly those sanctioned by RUSA) offer no frills, but the entry fees are very low., so you get what you pay for. Most Centuries are fairly modest affairs, but the value prop is typically clear. Gran Fondos vary greatly in terms of what you receive, vs what you pay for. D2R2 is a different beast all together; I look at the entry fee as $25 for the ride, and the rest for the event. Even with this perspective, I do think it is out of balance. Yes, the money goes towards a great cause, and the ride is very special, but like I said earlier, there isn’t much of a value prop, even with low expectations. One can either accept this or not, sign up or not. I will keep going back, but I doubt I will ever feel I am getting my money’s worth. I wish I had the balls to charge what they do for what they deliver.

    Part of the charm of D2R2 is, “it is what it is”. There is no false advertizing, but it is a bit of a culture shock, if you have never been there before, or done other Randonees. When I saw Padraig after he got back in (I had expected his group to catch me along the way), I knew things didn’t go well for him Richard, and their group. I nodded in agreement with his telling me about his day/experience, but I had to sum it up with a statement of “Welcome to D2R2″.

    1. Dan Murphy

      Bottom line, it’s a benefit. There is no “value prop” as you put it. The concept of this ride being a fundraiser seems to be lost on some people. You’re not supposed to get your money’s worth. I don’t know any other way to put it.

  17. John Martin

    Sad to hear you didn’t enjoy it. I was spoiled by riding with friends who were veterans and generally knew the route. Getting lost sucks, but I do love the minimalism and DIY nature of the event. It keeps the focus on the fundamental parts of riding: spending time with friends and being free on your bike, even if that means having to do the navigation yourself. In my mind, the $100 was just a donation to the land trust; the more minimal the ride was, the more my money went to preserving the land.

    Pro tip (besides using the cue’s and/or a GPS): if you don’t know which way to go, just follow the tire tracks in the dirt! The tracks were often a nice confirmation that I was going the right way at the times I was getting anxious about it.

    Give it another chance next year!

  18. TTX1

    1st RKP post and 1st D2R2 for me. I read the D2R2 description and somehow my expectations and experience were perfectly aligned.

    I followed the advice of veteran riders and did not flat, did not rely on GPS, did not get lost, did not expect tech support or floor pumps at rest stops (it is, after, all a Randonee), and did not come away disappointed in any way.

    Although I’m sure others have a similar approach, I even created my own compact, waterproof cue sheet laminated with clear packing tape to fit easily in a jersey pocket. Easy peasy. Mileage matched up to my Garmin at each turn, no issues.

    Only one “free” beer at a benefit ride? Boohoo. Keep it up and I bet you won’t get an an invite to the Kearsarge Klassic or the Honey 100k for that matter.

    There are a bunch of great rides like these in NE each year – some for fun, some for a cause, some for both. Barring willful negligence, these rides and their organizers deserve our appreciation.

    Speaking for myself (and, well, just about everyone else I spoke with at the event), I can’t wait for next year’s DeeToo.

    Maybe rando is not your thing?

  19. Dan

    You have clearly missed the intent/vibe of the ride. I can not even be bothered to finishing reading this piece of crap.
    Special Seven Project Bike, braggin about riding with” such special people”, great weather, incredible dirt roads, good company, good fund, incredible variety of bikes and a great charity and yet you still have so much to bitch about – stick the pave path in life and see where it gets you. Certainly not the chance to go for a state line sprint on a dirt road! I have never seen anyone bitch about this event – you must be a special prima donna – that should only ride Fondos with Freds.


  20. Author
    Padraig

    Everyone: I encourage you all to actually take a moment to reread the post. While I have criticized the event, I wasn’t looking for a gran fondo and at no point did I say I didn’t have a good time. I definitely enjoyed myself, but I think the organizers failed to meet certain responsibilities. Those who think I didn’t know what I was getting into or think I didn’t have a good time failed to actually read the worlds I wrote. So it goes. The shame is that in not presenting the event in the light a few of you think I should have, you’ve concluded that I am wrong. The rebuttals have focused on navigation, but the post concerned far more than that. I had a lot of fun, full stop, but this is an imperfect event.

  21. Matt

    I think when “everyone” reads something one way it might be because that’s the way it was written.

    And I think the reactions are so strong just because most people who have done it (or at least anyone I’ve ever spoken with) leaves the event with overwhelmingly/exclusively positive feelings. And it’s not like it’s a bunch of people who have never ridden a bike doing it, but people who have sampled all kinds of riding at all sorts of levels and really love this one.

    On the other hand, discourse is good so I guess there’s value in getting other perspectives out there, though my emotional part thinks you are way wrong in your criticisms.

  22. Touriste-Routier

    @ Dan Murphy I don’t think the concept of this being a fundraiser is lost on anyone. Sure there is a value prop; there always is. The proof would be that you would most likely see participation drop off if the entry fee increased significantly. People will assess whether it is worth it or not to them, and within their means. There are plenty of fundraiser rides that offer better support and features at a lower cost of entry. You can evaluate whether you got your moneys worth out of something even if you factor in the donation value as part of your entry fee. If people aren’t satisfied, they won’t come back. Despite the stated lack of support D2R2 seems to meet expectations and succeed; this is great!

  23. Drew

    I read this once, and I thought it was misguided. I came back a few hours later and checked out the comments. After reading this again at Padraig’s request, and seeing him continue to dig in his heels, I am disappointed in the return on investment in my 3 pairs of RKP socks. This is my favorite ride. It’s almost like he’s criticizing a member of my family.

  24. August Cole

    I keep missing this ride because of a ritual family visit back to the Pacific Northwest in August. This is an important connection with my roots, particularly the Puget Sound salt air, Olympic peaks and intoxicating coffee that I just can’t match here in Boston. The thing about family is that you don’t have to agree on everything but you share a deep, deep bond that gets richer over the years. It is breakable, of course, but it should bend a lot before it snaps. The write up of this ride, and the reaction here, makes me think that’s something to not lose sight of. Cycling offers a familial connection, and Padraig through RKP has done an enormous amount of good to foster that. The old adage about not talking about sex, politics or money at the dinner table seems incomplete Add D2R2? You can disagree all you want about a veteran rider like Padraig’s day out, but we’re all still related whether we agree or not. Something else to keep in mind: it would have been a lot easier for RKP to run a nice story about a rural ride revisiting breezy late summer college memories, the earthily familiar taste of Western MA dirt in the teeth, the bliss after getting punch drunk from climb after climb after climb during an epic altruistic hammerfest. That would have gone over great with all the critics here. But it would not have been true.

  25. Hoshie99

    It’s funny, I read this differently as a sober look at what worked and didn’t about an iconic event from a first timer.

    J

  26. peter lin

    I thought the article is fair, but I honestly don’t think it’s remotely possible to make an accurate queue sheet for D2R2. I’ve never done it, but it’s on my radar. I’ve ridden around pioneer valley enough to know most paved intersections have poor signs. The dirt and gravel roads have zero signs. The only accurate way is with GPX or know the area. On more than one occasion, I’ve gotten lost around pioneer valley and cursed the god aweful road signs. I grew up around southern CA, (torrance, redondo, manhattan) so it was a huge shock when I moved to the MA. What MA transit authority calls signs is laughable and I regularly curse at how bad it is. I won’t say anything about D2R2 since I’ve never done it, but navigating around pioneer valley without GPS is an exercise in patience. For a casual 10-20 mile ride without GPS is probably fine, but a 50 mile ride it can definitely get frustrating. It’s one reason I bought an iPhone when I started getting serious about riding around pioneer valley. The thought of being 30 miles from home and lost isn’t my idea of fun. Even though I ride around pioneer valley regularly during the summer, I avoid the dirt gravel roads. One of these days I plan to do D2R2 when I have a proper bike for it.

    Contrary to other people, your article makes me want to do D2R2. I have several friends that have done it multiple times and they love it, but their reports kind of gloss over how hard and challenging it really is. I respect the honest reporting, even if it rubs some people the wrong way.

  27. Peter W. Polack

    I’ve ridden the 100k, 115k, 160k, and 180k routes. I only used the cue sheets. I never had a problem with the directions or the published distances. The routes are definitely like scavenger hunts when looking for cues, but that’s part of the deal with randonees, and FYI, I’m not a randonneur fan or follower but before doing D2R2 I read about the concept and practiced my cue reading skills. This is not meant to be an insult but if your group was so intelligent as you said, then how did you manage to get lost so much? In our group of 4 we deliberately split up duties: 2 people kept reading the cues aloud and 2 would verify and compare cue distances. We were like a crack squad of orienteers and it gave us a great sense of confidence, which paid off.

    And you knew the concept of randonee-ing with cue sheets and the event was publicized as a randonee but you’re still going to complain about the lack of route markings?

    I’d also like to point out that the cue sheets were drawn out by a veteran, accomplished randonneur, Sandy Whittlesey himself. I trust his cue sheets without question, some of which have been out for years so any errors have been found and corrected.

    From what I understand about randonnees, the rider is supposed to be self-sufficient; that includes your floor pump issue and the trashed rider that wanted a sag back to the start. Regarding the latter I know that sounds insensitive, but I think D2R2 has grown to the point where a larger portion of riders who could handle the route distances on pavement are in way over their heads on D2R2. Combining this with the self-sufficient aspect of randonees which I’ll bet many of these riders have no business participating in a ride like this which relies so heavily on self-sufficiency.

    Regarding the event’s evolution to 5 routes from the original 2, I’m guessing once the attendance got large enough, the central food stop at the crib dam could not support all the participants so separating the numbers this way was one solution.

    As for the cost-I get it. This is a huge undertaking considering all the routes and total checkpoints. I can’t even comprehend trying to get the right number of veggie wraps to show up at each rest stop. P.S. I had the pleasure of working as a volunteer in 2013 at the top of Patten Hill, which hosts 3 of the routes. When I arrived for work there was a rental van parked and waiting fully stocked
    with not only food but all the utensils, garbage bags, inventory checklists and even a selection of spare tubes. The volunteers wanted for nothing to set up and get going. To me, it was amazing, like a ready-to-go kit in a van.
    I think you need to stop viewing D2R2 as a gran fondo, which it’s not. I suppose if you were a veteran randonneur you would embrace the principles and be better prepared for an event such as this.

    And I think there’s no way you could do these routes DIY without being an experienced randonneur. Even on your 115k route there are NO convenience stores, gas stations, nothing. All the routes are so remote that you’ll be screwed without carrying way beyond the normal amounts of food and water that you might carry for similar distances on pavement.

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience but I think much of it was self-inflicted or a misunderstanding of the event itself.

  28. Les.B.

    All this foment just makes me all the more intrigued with the dirt road thingie and I can only be envious of those who have the resources to go there and do it. Had I the resources I’d sign up but would certainly take heed of the cautions cited in the article and postings.


  29. Author
    Padraig

    At this point I’m tired of the subject, tired of the debate. The only thing I have left to say is to reiterate that I really didn’t have a bad time. I enjoyed my ride and it mystifies me that so many readers keep missing that.

  30. Dan Murphy

    I took your advice and re-read the story with a clear mind. Just for fun, I took notes.

    You may say you enjoyed the ride, both in the story and in the comments, but man, overall, the story is a downer. I counted at least 11 negative aspects of the ride that you pointed out, and some were repeated. Even when you state a positive experience:
    “Again, the riding itself was stellar. The roads, both paved and unpaved, were terrific fun.”
    It’s followed by two or three negative comments. After reading the post, one can’t help but have a negative feeling towards the event.

    I also just don’t get some of the negative comments:
    – no street signs – you’re complaining about the lack of street signs in New England?
    – routes go into VT – that’s a problem why? Not every state is the size of CA
    – long beer line – 5 minutes tops. I wait longer in bars for a beer
    – why so many different routes – why not? Variety is great and offers returning riders more options

    If there were organizational issues with the ride, that’s fair game. Nobody likes long registration lines, food screwups, rest stop inadequacies, etc. Events should be well organized and any criticism in that regard should be taken seriously by the host to provide a better event in following years. For example, like you, I wonder how their coverage is in the event of a serious injury. Maybe they have it covered, maybe not.

    Regardless, in the grand scheme of things, this is a trivial matter. I will continue to visit RKP regularly. I’ve always enjoyed the site, especially your stories. Your writing really hits a nerve with me and I look forward to more great writing.

    One more thing: you passed a store? ;-)


  31. Author
    Padraig

    Dan Murphy: To the points you addressed I can offer some insight:
    – no street signs – you’re complaining about the lack of street signs in New England? It wasn’t a complaint. I lived there; I know the drill. My point was, you have to do a bit more in a route sheet to indicate just where the turn is.
    – routes go into VT – that’s a problem why? Not every state is the size of CA. It’s not a problem, but given that the ride is meant to help a county in Western Mass. and I know for fact there are tons of dirt roads in Western Mass., I just wonder why. It’s not a complaint, but it’s a question the organizer could have explained adequately if they’d responded to a single email. I’d have presented that view in my post if I knew what it was.
    – long beer line – 5 minutes tops. I wait longer in bars for a beer
    – why so many different routes – why not? Variety is great and offers returning riders more options. More routes makes for more logistics to oversee and if you’re actually sweeping the courses, it makes it harder to do the sweep. Again, maybe there was a compelling reason, but the organizer didn’t respond.

    More broadly, I’m just going to say that I’m sorry my post has offended so many at an emotional level. I didn’t anticipate the backlash and while I freely grant that had I used a GPS with a GPX file some of my day could have been different, based on my experience at many other events, I couldn’t help but think this event fell short in some ways. I traded a number of emails with Robot yesterday and we lamented that people had the feeling I’d killed the sacred cow. I was excited to do the ride; I’ve been looking forward to it for ages and that my friend had a hand injury that didn’t permit him to do the ride with me was perhaps the saddest detail of all. I love riding those roads and have missed it desperately. The final descent was silly fun, something I’ll talk more about once I get to the post on the new Seven Airheart.

  32. Old Man

    Padraig:

    This was my 5th D2R2 ride, every year I mix it up with different routes and different people to ride with. The year I did the 180 with a friend, we had no cue sheets, and we only made one wrong turn. Asking other riders or looking for tracks in the dirt worked fine. I was responsible for following the cue sheet this year, and we only went off-route a short distance once.

    The ride goes into Vermont in order to expand the possibilities of worthy dirt roads. Sure there are plenty of dirt roads in western Mass, but the point of the D2 is to choose the most best (steep, scenic, remote) roads with minimal paved roads connecting them. As the ride has become more popular, new routes have been added in order to keep the riders spread out. 95% of our ride this year we were alone w/o other riders in sight.

    Less than a week before the event, the town of Guilford VT informed the Franklin Land Trust that the Green River covered bridge would NOT be open. You can only imagine the massive amount of last-minute route changes, food planning and other details that had to be worked out. This is why you had a route that had riders going in two directions – it was the only way to replace mileage that had to be eliminated due to 2 bridge closures.

    FYI, every route has a sweeper vehicle. I’m glad you had a nice day of riding with your friends and that you enjoy the event. It is for a valid fund raising purpose, if organizations like the Franklin Land Trust didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have so many beautiful scenic places to ride. As far as value goes, you are giving a donation to the local land trust for their good work, a part of that money goes to cover expenses. More than a hundred volunteers make this event happen, perhaps you should thank them instead of complaining about a 5 minute wait for a free beer – which by the way, was donated to the F2R2 riders by Berkshire Brewing Company of South Deerfield, MA.

  33. Brett

    Gonna jump on the bandwagon– the D2R2 is worth every hard-fought mile, and I wouldn’t change much about the ride. This is my second time (did the 115K in 2011 and the 160K this year), and the experience is really special. Just a celebration of the bike, with no pecking order and none of the pretense that accompanies way too many events. I’m an active road racer and this event reminds me why bikes and bike riders are cool, which is not something I can say of many road races. Yes, I used a GPS, backed up with the cue sheet and never missed a turn. But love the adventure that self-navigation adds. Races are almost solely about the outcome at the destination, while this was all about the journey.
    I will also echo the comments of another regarding the Vermont Overland that took place in Woodstock, VT the following day. Raced that and it was a fantastic event. I flew up from Memphis for the weekend and the combo was worth every dime– hard as hell, but awesome. Get the combo on the list.

  34. Jay S.

    Folks – This is a childish post from someone who didn’t prepare for or understand the ride…If you are the soul of cycling, we are in a sad state!

    Go back to your bus and get a massage and a latte while the real cyclists enjoy a bit of adventure and magic in what remains of the real world…I would recommend this review of D2R2 in Bicycling: http://www.franklinlandtrust.org/magic.pdf

    First – the cost. It is a fundraising event — you are paying to support the organization and thus the land. Did you miss this in the pre-race materials? Did you miss the 100s of signs by the side of the road identifying land that FLT has conserved? This event is one reason that this corner of the world doesn’t look like New Jersey. Clearly you don’t value conservation. Unfortunately your post may dissuade others from supporting this good cause.

    Second – the route(s). You got lost because you can’t read a cue sheet and it is someone else’s fault? Perhaps you should have ridden with a GPS? I have ridden the D2R2 the last 2 years and had no issue with the cue sheet either time. The roads don’t have signs because they are rural…that’s the nature of the terrain, not the ride organizer’s fault.

    Third, support. This is clearly described as a randonee — not a supported ride. Carry what you need. That said, the breaks had everything I expect and more (bananas, PBJ, cliff bars, gatorade, pickles, water and incredibly positive supportive VOLUNTEERS). Not to mention Apex Orchards with fresh peaches, apples and an amazing view.

    Folks, D2R2 is MAGIC. If you want to ride on perfect pavement and check your wifi enroute, it is not for you. If you want to be challenged, humbled, and made greater by the beauty of the land, join me and the other >1000 real people who ride to support a great cause.

    1. Jay S.

      Okay – I just re-read your article and realize what rubbed me so wrong. It is the way you insulted the ride organizers, event volunteers, and groups that donated to the CHARITABLE event.

      Comments such as:
      “DIY would have been a better approach.”
      “I may go back some day, but if I do, it will only be because of the company.”
      “but for that much money, I have a right to expect that the organizer will take care of me.”

      Miss the goal of the ride and insult the volunteers who put the ride together in order to support a great cause. It’s too bad you used your high-profile platform to denigrate a worthy cause and volunteerism. I think a fairer summary of your experience would have been, “I was in poor shape, did not do my homework, and got lost…and had little or no fun because of it. In contrast, the hundreds of other riders I met seemed to be having a great time. Maybe this ride is not for me. P.S. You re paying to support a charitable cause — not for a luxury ride”

      p.s. I have no affiliation with D2R2 or FLT except that I ride it once a year.

  35. Pamela Blalock

    If your email to the organizer was a whiny as this post, I suspect you may not have heard back from him yet, as he wore out his backspace key, trying to be diplomatic in his reply.

    BTW, did you email the organizers of the Giro and the Tour asking why they ventured outside of Italy and France. Did you get a response?

    I have reread your post several times. Like many of the other commenters, I think you completely missed the point. The website clearly states it is just a ride, NOT A RACE. As a randonnee, riders are expected to be fully SELF-SUPPORTED. The website clearly states it is a fundraiser for an organization that helps to preserve land in the region. The idea of having vehicles out pacing the ride is somewhat contrary to the mission. In fact, one of the great charms of the ride is the fact that one rarely sees a car. Yes, they do sweep the routes, but one can’t really expect to see a sweep if you are not at the back of the ride, or if you are off course. (We were still around to say thanks when Sandy finished up his sweeping duties at 10PM, after starting work well before dawn)

    The first year, the announcement of the ride was spread word of mouth through the local randonneurring community. The 30-40 people who took part that first year were all quite used to navigating with a cue sheet, and doing a ride self-supported. We made use of two stores along the route, and our experience of carrying what we needed. And Sandy brought bag lunches we provided to the bridge for lunch there. Lunch and snack stops were added later. The event grew over the next few years purely from word of mouth. Over the years, D2R2 has continued to grow dramatically, without any advertising. Various articles have appeared in magazines and such, but the growth has really been through word of mouth. There have been some growing pains over the years, and Sandy and FLT have addressed the issues quite well in subsequent events. Mostly the issues had to do with crowds at lunch or on early sections of the route. Eliminating the mass start made the biggest difference here.

    Adding new routes has also spread the crowds out and given many folks a reason to keep coming back to explore new and different roads. I’ve now done the 180 km three times, the 100km twice and the 160km twice. Next year, I’ll have to check out the 115km route. This along with the Green River Tour and Family ride mean there is a ride and distance for everyone.

    As far as marking the course, riders have been able to successfully navigate their way around the various routes and back to the finish for 10 years using cue sheets. I’ve found Sandy’s cue sheets to be the most accurate and detailed cue sheets I’ve used on ANY event. If your mileage was off or a road wasn’t where you expected, it was most likely because you were OFF the route. Marking the routes would use a massive amount of resources, including fuel and course marking materials. Markings would have to be removed afterwards. Remember this organization is about preservation and conservation.

    As GPS has become more widespread, some riders have used them to supplement the cue sheets for navigation. But even a GPS takes a bit of practice to use properly. A quick search on online mapping sites will give you numerous links for the various routes that can be downloaded. The two bridge/road closures in the two weeks prior to the event meant a massive effort had to made to reroute some sections as well as to accommodate multiple lunch spots. Because of these changes, Sandy actually sent out links to GPS files to those who had the courtesy to register in advance.

    Clearly you had been *planning* to do the ride for a while, so I have issues with your complaints about the day of registration fees. Complaining about an increased fee or lack of notifications, when you don’t give the organizers any notice that you are riding is a bit hypocritical, don’t you think? Loads of emails with details about the road closures and route changes were sent out in the two weeks prior to the event. Again, actually pre-registering for the event would have ensured that you were kept up to date.

    Given that the ride has grown as big as it has without any formal publicity, I’m not terribly worried that some race or grand fondo is going to steal its thunder. Most of the participants are there because they truly love the event and all it represents. We come back year after year. Having experienced the beauty of the LOVELY QUIET roads, we get what is being preserved, and where our money goes.

    I don’t have to be diplomatic. Honestly we won’t miss you when you aren’t there next year!

    Pamela Blalock

  36. Richard Fries

    Guys,

    All good comments. I believe 10 years ago the dirt road thing was relatively new. As the Civil War general Nathan Bedford Forrest once quipped, “Who gets there first with the most wins.” The D2R2 happened to get there first. They hit on a great set of roads at just the right spot on the calendar, as ‘cross racers looked for a shake-out ride.We know that ‘cross racing has exploded by nearly 300 percent in the last 10 years. They caught a market wave at just the right time. Every body mixed. Great fun.

    R2D2 is a beautiful ride and should continue. But the market is becoming crowded and the price points may need to be adjusted, up or down.As an event consultant and promoter, I do not doubt the folks in Deerfield put some time into it. But in my own experience as the promoter of the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival, we view critiques such as the one Patrick penned above as a gift. And we adjust accordingly if possible.We read. We listen. We digest. The reaction to his comments I find curious.Guys, it is an event and not a cult. Customer comments should be welcomed; not chided and insulted.

    Like Patrick, I too paid full price as my schedule is rather chaotic. I do not know in February if I have the weekend open.

    That said, having done the R2D2 for my second year and then doing the Vermont Overland Grand Prix the following day, I can tell you the difference in the level of promotion and effort and organization proved profound. They worked a lot harder, charged a lot less, provided a lot more, and delivered a superior cycling experience. There is nothing in the Constitution that says what is the right way and wrong way to put on a dirt road race.

    But there is a market place. And when the market speaks, I recommend promoters listen and respond accordingly.

    I’ll continue to make to a donation to the Franklin Land Trust, whose work is important. And I believe everybody on this chain should support them as they see fit.

    But I’ll never miss the Vermont Overland Grand Prix so long as I can ride it.

    In closing, any body who puts on a cycling event is worthy of respect and appreciation. It is hard work regardless of the level of promotion. For those of you who commented above either way, I would ask you that you jump in and help an event out.

    Regards to all,

    Richard Fries

    1. Pamela Blalock

      Oh now I get it. We are clearly talking about different things here. Richard was doing some *race* called R2D2. The rest of us were doing an event called D2R2, that most definitely is NOT a race. Come on, show some respect. At least refer to the event by its proper name and stop trying to compare it to a race.

    2. Peter Kelley

      Richard,
      How ironic that you commend Padraig for providing feedback to the promoter. You certainly were not so appreciative to receive my feedback a few years ago when I suggested that charging spectators to view the Providence Cyclocross event was a bad idea. To your credit – you eventually took my good advice…

  37. BaconLobester

    Oof. I guess you didn’t have a good idea of what you were getting into.

    The midwest gravel events that I’ve done are a very different beast than you seem to have been looking for. Course sweeps are absolutely unheard of. No support means…no support.

    But in any case, it seems like you learned a valuable lesson about the sort of biking you enjoy, and that will be useful in choosing future events to avoid another unpleasant experience. And eventually, with more experience, you might find yourself craving a bit more challenge, at which point a whole new world of rides will be opened up for your enjoyment!

    Best of luck!

    1. Richard Fries

      ….”with more experience” ….. ????

      (LMAO)

      Anybody want to chime in here?

      Thanks for making my day!

      R

    2. BaconLobester

      Hi Richard Fries,

      Sorry if I misapprehended the author’s levels of experience, but his/her complaints all sound like rookie mistakes to me. Who embarks on a 70+ mile ride with no food? Or a mechanism for inflating tires? Or money to buy food at the stores they rode past? Who rides an off-road fund-raising event and somehow infers “a right to expect that the organizer will take care of me”?

      I guess by your comment I was mistaken, but these sort of complaints I would expect from some one with very little experience doing long, self-supported rides…

  38. Tony V

    Richard,
    Comparing a Race to a NON race is odd to me.

    “That said, having done the R2D2 for my second year and then doing the Vermont Overland Grand Prix the following day, I can tell you the difference in the level of promotion and effort and organization proved profound. They worked a lot harder, charged a lot less, provided a lot more, and delivered a superior cycling experience. There is nothing in the Constitution that says what is the right way and wrong way to put on a dirt road race.”

    You have to take your race goggles off my friend, after 2 years, you fail to see what the D2R2 is all about. It’s NOT a race, and that’s very clear in all communications up front.

    “Price points” ??? It’s a fund raising event. The more you get, the less money they raise. Simple.

    By the way, Providence is a great race, good job!
    I’ll be volunteering at Gloucester again, because it feels “right” to do so. And I still pay full price to race.. I expect nothing for volunteering, you see?

  39. Old Man

    Thanks everyone for all your good comments, I’m sure the Franklin Land Trust takes them all into consideration. 2014 was my 5th D2R2, and I’ve never been off route for more than a few hundred feet, using only the cue sheet. Rural country roads in the western Mass & southern VT area are rarely marked, but by following the multitude of bike tire tracks or just asking another rider has always worked to keep me on track w/o any problems. That IS part of being self-sufficient.

    Rural land conservation doesn’t stop at a town, county or state line. The FLT works with other land trusts on many issues, including those in VT. All the land covered by the D2R2 is special partly because of the local land trusts efforts. Your entry fee goes to conserve those lands, that’s the deal. I don’t mind registering late and paying more because I fully support the efforts of organizations like the Franklin Land Trust. I do the ride because I love the countryside, the challenge and the ability to suffer though a great ride while contributing to the land trust for their very important work.

    It sounds to me like perhaps Padraig asked for a free registration and was turned down, so his post turned sour grapes. That’s too bad – it was a perfect day, great people, wonderfully challenging ride through some unbelievable rural scenery all the while supporting a worthy cause. And there was beer at the end . . . .

  40. Spencer

    I am loathe to contribute to the car wreck that this discourse is, but I feel compelled to stand up for Sandy, FLT, and all of the hundreds of other riders who come prepared, or at least accompanied by others who are. To expect to be treated well for your money in the context of what D2R2 has been from its inception is just nonsense. Gladly make your donation, show up prepared, join the many tribes, ride hard, enjoy the scenery and company, and go home feeling good about what you did. To use an online pulpit to publicly complain about such a worthy cause that has provided so many people with so many good memories over so many years, and done so much good for the local environs is why you are getting the reaction that you are. Admit that you came unprepared, had a tough day on the bike, rode with a bunch of stoners who didn’t pay attention to what they were doing (despite many of them having ridden it many times), and chalk it up to learning. Don’t whine about not getting your money’s worth and then act indignant when people call you out for such a shallow set of values applied to such a worthy cause.

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