Green Mountain Double Century - An Endurance Odyssey

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rusto
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Green Mountain Double Century - An Endurance Odyssey

Post by rusto » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:49 pm

[I'm posting the complete reports that Gary and Chris submitted to me here, linking to them here from the News Page - Russ]

June 16, 2013

Gary Sclar's report:

For Chris and me, the Green Mountain Double Century makes us smile before, during and after the ride. That is the short version of the ride report.

This was our second year in a row and 2013’s vital statistics were - 210 miles - 23,865 feet of climbing - 80% of the ride on dirt roads. Our love for the GMDC runs deep. It is a difficult ride. You have to respect the GMDC or a truly glorious experience can go very badly. Despite Sandy’s predictions, all returning riders had a slower time this year than last year. The ride started with 12 riders at 4:00 am, pitch black, with several familiar and friendly faces. Two riders planned shortened version of half the course. As you can see from the pictures, we had a beautiful ahead of us and the starting temperature was 50 degrees.

To prepare, we participated in the MRC San Diego training festival, (it is a festival, right?), a hard paced 200k, a 90+ degree 300k, a fleche 24 hour, 262 mile fixed gear ride from Provincetown to Portland Maine and numerous MRC rides. You also need a bike with at least 32c tires, excellent lighting and outstanding crew support. We had it all. I rode my Gunnar sport with dynamo lighting, 32c Paselas, long-cage rear derailer, a mountain bike cassette and thanks to David Wilcox it rode beautifully. Chris rode a Nashbar cross frame, with disc brakes, and 700x32mm tires, MTB gearing, and a dynamo lighting system.

A returning rider from last year, DNF’d again this year and for the same reasons. He can do RAM, but cannot ride the GMDC on 25c tires. (Chris: [This guy] always rides a road bike with 25mm tires, which aren't suited for the sometimes very bad surfaces of the ride. He also tends not to be prepared for night riding. He is a very accomplished long distance rider, but all on paved roads, so the dirt road aspect of the GMDC gives him some trouble. I think he's also used to having his support car follow him directly. For the GMDC, there are predetermined points where you meet with your support vehicle. Gary and I, as well as Sandy (the ride organizer) were surprised that after his DNF last year, due to in appropriate equipment, he attempted this year on the same bike, with the same tires.")

Shortly before the ride Sandy told us: “the Reading Pond/Lynds Hill section. Yikes. Bring FATTIES for this part, guys. It has two miles of fresh gravel. Like three inches of 3/4 inch crushed rock three inches deep. After the gravel is past, big puddles and full water bars for the mile north. When you turn west onto Lynds Hill, the stream has totally overrun the road in places! No matter what you ride, you will dismount at least four times, once for about 200 yards. Depending on the rainfall in the next 24 hours, you may end up taking off your shoes and socks for stream crossings.” He could have just said to be careful riding through the rapids.

There were twelve category 4 climbs and three category 3 climbs usually on dirt or something not quite as easy to ride on as dirt. For me, the GMDC is too amazing of an event to risk bonking and in no way did I want to put myself in a position where I might let Chris down. So never once during the entire ride did we ever climb with Strava in mind. Instead, “don’t burn any matches” was the game plan. We could have gone harder, but that was not why we were there. Truth be told, we may have beat last year’s time if we did not make three wrong turns and lollygag our way over, up and down the “rapids”. The climbing just keeps coming on the GMDC. There were a few holy cow moments like seeing “Stratton Mountain Access Road” at mile 158 and mile 180 when we hit the 15%-18% grade Holland Road Climb our bikes felt like they gained an extra 100 pounds. That being said, we felt great going up all the climbs. One to check out is Old CCC Road, a 3.2 mile dirt road climb, with several sections of washed-out rode (there is a picture of it). Somehow I have the KOM, I guess the guys up front must have stopped halfway for a BBQ.

Riding through the mountains at night is beautiful and hearing nature wake-up in the hours before the sunrise is always awesome. We met a porcupine and very happy it was not a skunk!, saw a very cool mourning dove, had amazing Green Mountain views, spectacular farm landscapes with horses, cows, pigs and sheep, covered bridges and lots of maple syrup harvesting. I was craving a few shots of pure maple syrup during a few points in the ride.

The camaraderie at the GMDC is indeed special. From very warm hellos from David, Matt and John to meeting other crew and riders. Our crew kept bumping into another crew at the support stops. The rider’s name was Russ and his crew included CK from Delaware and CK’s wife and father. CK rode GMDC last year but a knee injury forced him out of this year’s event. The kindness and respect shown in supporting their friend Russ on this ride was tangible. CK was on crew duty for probably close to 30 hours and planned to ride along side Russ when darkness and fatigue were at their peak. CK invited Chris and I to ride a 24 hour fleche (235 miles minimum requirement) timed to go through the D.C. monuments and civil war battlefields during the night. GMDC is a long ride with many challenges and we thought of the other GMDC riders often during the ride.
As a final treat, our host, the SandMan, rode out to meet us for the last 10 miles or so, it was great finishing the ride with him and once back at the start, we gratefully accepted our finisher’s award from him.

The GMDC tests you and not just physically. Once again in the wee hours before dawn, I was seeing things that don’t exist, at least in our universe, and wow, that alternate universe sure was cool and best described over a beer than in print!

Special thanks to our crew of Danya and Amy who stayed up through the night supporting us. They took such good care of us that we probably gained weight on the ride.

Hope you readers like the pictures, they do more justice to the ride than my words. And is it just me, or does it look like Chris was having way too much fun.The fill in the blank for my bike would be "Nashbar cross frame with disc brakes and a MTB triple drive train."
- Russ, MRC webmaster

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Re: Green Mountain Double Century - An Endurance Odyssey

Post by rusto » Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:49 pm

Chris Pearson's report:

Photos here: https://plus.google.com/photos/11221002 ... xqiGpo38Dw

For some reason that I don't fully understand long rides always seem to start at 4am. Maybe it's so that you have more of a chance of finishing by sunset, or maybe the organizers just figure we're all nuts anyway, so we won't mind getting up in the dark. Either way, at 2:15am on Saturday, my alarm went off. Gary and I were in the car heading to the start by 2:35, hoping to get there earlier than last year, to have more time to prep everything. Half way there, and we see flashing light ahead. Turns out the police had closed the road we were on, right at the spot where we were going to get breakfast. Luckily the detour took us past a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts, and didn't add too much time.

At the start we briefly chatted with the other riders, and got our gear all sorted out just in time for Sandy's "what to expect" speech. It turned out that some sections of the course were in much worse shape that day than they had been when Sandy laid out the route earlier in the spring. As part of the fun is the challenge of the whole thing, we set off at 4, looking forward to a long day in the saddle, with some tough climbs, and spectacular scenery.

Since the ride has no staff other than Sandy, every rider, or group, needs to provide their own crew. To keep our crew, Gary's wife Danya, and my fiance Amy, happy and well rested, we had agreed that they'd leave from Harvard around 6, and meet us along the route. We were expecting to be riding the first 60 or so miles alone. We were surprised to find that Sandy was driving the first leg of the course. We ended up meeting up with him four of five times along the route, and chatting a bit each time.

Ten miles into the second leg, and only 35 miles into the whole ride, we made our first wrong turn of the day. The cue sheet called for a left turn, which we made. Very soon after, we were presented with a fork in the road. The sign post was installed at such an angle that it was impossible to tell which of the two signs was for which of the two roads. Our choices were a dirt road climb, or a paved descent. We figured that it was more likely we'd be climbing on a dirt road than descending on a paved one, and started to climb. Everything seemed fine, until we reached the end of the road, and the sign had the wrong name. Still not ready to admit we'd gone the wrong way we carried on, hoping that the next intersection would be on the cue sheet, and in the right place. It wasn't, and we eventually admitted, with some help from Google maps on Gary's phone, that we had gone the wrong way. It was back down the hill, and back on to the route from there.

The rest of the second leg, and all of the third and fourth legs were uneventful, with the fourth support point being our first change to meet up with Danya and Amy. We refilled on water and snacks, had some food, and continued on. The weather had warmed up through the morning, to a perfect sunny day in the mid seventies.

The next two legs were also pretty uneventful. We were just enjoying being out for a great ride on such a beautiful day. Support point six was at a town boat launch on a small lake, and came around lunch time. Lunch was a some very welcome real food, after spending the morning eating Clif bars and goo. It's hard to appreciate a ham sandwhich more than after eating nothing but processed bars all day. I also took the opportunity to take my shoes off and walk in the lake a bit. Cooling off your feet feels great in the middle of a long ride on a warm day.

Leaving lunch we started what was the most technical riding of the route. We started out on a normal dirt road, which at some point, became a snowmobile/ATV trail. As such, the nice smooth packed dirt we had become used to became rutted and muddy trails, with drainage ditches crossing the trails every now and then. A very steep, rough section of trail then led us to our second wrong turn of the day. At the top of the climb, we were expecting a four way intersection, but found only a T intersection. Assuming that we simply hadn't reached the junction yet, we continued to the right, which was uphill, and less overgrown. Just as we were beginning to doubt our navigation, an old Jeep came down the trail towards us. They confirmed that we were going the wrong way. We had wanted to go to the left at the previous turn.

Back down the hill again, and on to the roughest section of the ride. The previous several days had been very rainy, and three sections of the next trail had been washed away. They were now river crossings, rather than sections of trail. We were able to ride down to the first crossing. At which point we had to take off our shoes, and walk across knee deep flowing water with our bikes on our shoulders. The next mile or so of trail/road was half ridable, and half not. We did quite a bit of walking, as well as crossing the same river twice more. Exiting the ATV/snowmobile park we were greeted with a better road surface, but a long steep climb.

Support point 7 was just before the climb up Old CCC road, one of those that Sandy had mentioned in his send off speech as being particularly tough. He wasn't exaggerating, the road was closed to cars due to the poor condition. It was very steep, with several narrow washed out sections, a downed tree blocking most of the road, and half a dozen very deep drainage trenches crossing the road. Despite this, nearly all of it was ridable, and we slowly worked our way up, grinding away in our lowest gears.

Support point 8 was at 100 miles. It was at a great little grocery store, which had cold soda and cookies. At this rest stop we fully realized how much slower we were going than last year. We were still optimistic about a faster time though, under the impression that the rest of the ride would be a bit easier. Then we got a look at the elevation profile, the half of the ride we had just finished was noticeably less hilly than the upcoming half.

From there it was on to the next rest stop, with a slight detour for our final wrong turn of the ride, where we'd be having dinner from a local Italian restaurant. Again, real food was great, especially since it was hot. Leaving from dinner it was getting dark. The overnight section of a long ride always seems to me to pass quickly. There are no views to be distracted by, just the bit of the road that's in your head light to focus on.

The next few sections featured the climbing promised by the elevation chart. But, in the dark, with almost no traffic, everything went smoothly. We had three of four rest stops in the dark, they were all pretty quick, just some snacks, adding some layers to stay warm, and then moving on.

Support point 15 was just around sunrise. At 188 miles, it was just 22 miles from the finish. We checked in with Sandy, to let him know we'd be finishing in a few hours. He was riding in to the finish with two other riders, but said that he'd turn around and ride out to meet us once they finished.

The last 20 miles had only two big climbs, and the last 7ish miles are almost totally flat along the Green River. With the sun rise warming everything up, and with a little extra burst of energy knowing we were almost done, we rolled on towards the finish.

About 10 miles out, we met Sandy. Riding in with Sandy made the last part of the ride go very quickly. We talked about our experiences on the ride, stories about last years ride, D2R2, and generally had a great time.

At the finish it was hugs all around, then the drive home for a much needed nap.
- Russ, MRC webmaster

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Re: Green Mountain Double Century - An Endurance Odyssey

Post by Smudger » Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:58 pm

Totally awesome

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Re: Green Mountain Double Century - An Endurance Odyssey

Post by JeremyC » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:44 pm

You guys are nuts. Maybe one day I'll join you if my wife lets me. Congrats

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