Thursday, March 20, 2014

The year ahead: New England Dirt Road Cycling Events 2014

The winter in New Hampshire has been long & deep this year. As I write this I am recovering from a day of skiing in 10" of new snow. But winter can only last so long. My friends who ride points south are already on bare single track. So it is time to turn my attention to the season ahead.

New England Dirt Road Cycling Events of 2014!

Even two years ago only a handful of these events existed in New England, those being drop bar bike non-cyclocross race dirt rides. This year over 20 such events are in the works. BikeReg has actually added a "Gravel Grinder" category to it's listing options, crazy. Here is my working calendar:

March 23rd Vermont Overland Maple Adventure Ride:

Woodstock, VT. Peter Volers has organized a spring dirt road ride for several years. This year he is inviting more folks to come up and enjoy the start of sugar season on Vermont dirt roads. 40 miles, all dirt.

March 30th Rhodekill Spring Classic Ride

West Warwick RI. In order to ride dirt free of snow in springtime, sometimes you have to go south. This ride is new to me. 2 distances, each has some dirt sections. 63 or 43 miles, ?% dirt

April 19th Rasputitsa

Newport VT: The fine folks who put on the Dirty 40 last year are running a spring/mud season race. Given the great reviews of the Dirty 40, this should be one to line up for. 47 miles, 75% dirt road RACE!

April 26th Ride Diverged

Lexington MA. Last year the Ride Studio Cafe hosted this event as a sort of Ronde de Rosey lite. I have a feeling this years ride will be much more. A casual mixed terrain tour of the Boston 'burbs. Note that the link is to last year's event page. I will update when available. 42 miles 50% dirt

April 26th Stowe Gravel Grinder

Waterbury VT. I had not realized that the Stowe MTB Club has been hosting this ride for 7 years! Well supported with food & Long Trail beer. 35 miles 90% dirt

April 26th Detour de Connecticut

Manchester CT. This is a long one, 118 miles long. No support, but plenty of new friends to ride with. The route is a figure 8 so you have a chance to shorten the ride if you like. 118 miles 50% dirt.

* 3 event on April 26th! I'm getting misty eyed, New England

May 25th Memorial Day Dirt Road Ride

Lenox MA. This is a new event. The route through the Berkshires looks promising. 55 miles 80% dirt?

June 8th Tour de Heifer

Brattleboro VT. This event supports local farms, so the ride is also fully supported with local food! 3 routes of 15, 30, & 60 miles. The course is a D2R2 lite (even using some of the same roads). 60 miles 80% dirt.

June 8th Raid Rockingham

Newmarket NH. Arlon puts on great events. Lately cycling events have become his passion. He is also the organizer behind Ted King's ride in October. 62 miles 45% dirt

June 14th Green Mountain Double Century

Deerfield MA: This is the hardest ride in New England. 208 miles, 22,000 feet of climbing. Sandy Whittlesey is the promoter of this ride/race/challenge. He is also the organizer of a little ride called D2R2. Sandy runs the GMDC with full randonnee rules except one, he expects you to bring a crew. The difficulty of the course demands that you have a bail out plan. Expect to ride for 18-25 hours. Some more sane individuals split this up into a hard 2 day tour. 205-210 miles, 80% dirt (some very rough)

June 20th Dusk to Dawn

Lexington MA. This is a new Ride Studio Cafe event. All night on cyclocross bikes, what could be better?

June 22nd Central Vermont Cycling Tour

Montpelier, VT. Fully supported tour/race around the middle of Vermont. Last year the organizers included timing of riders in the long route, so folks who want to "race" the event can throw down. Fully supported stops & sag for the tour. 59 miles 90% dirt.

June 28th Grafton County Grand Ronde

Rumney NH: This is my challenge event. My hope is to ride cyclocross bikes from dawn to dusk. Self supported. Several good country stores along the way. But this is a big ride, 160 miles, 17,000 feet of climbing. 80% dirt (some very rough)

July 12 Raid Lamoille

Stowe VT: Arlon likes western VT and he likes dirt road rides. Expect a challenging course and a great post ride meal (including Smuttynose beer!) 62 miles, 6k climbing 80% dirt

July 19th JAM Fund Grand Fundo

Southampton MA. Technically with less than 25% of this course on dirt road, this event shouldn't make the list. But this ride is so much fun and supports such good people I have to include it. Jeremy Powers & Alec Donahue host the best cycling party/fund raiser for their development team. Fully supported including  an ice cream truck stop, sag wagon, & a pig roast post ride meal. 64/85 miles 25% dirt.

August 2nd IRR 3.0 Irreverent Road Ride

Waterbury VT. Last year Adam St. Germain told me he would do this route on 53x39 gearing & 23c tires. I told him he was nuts. This year he is warning people to run a minimum 28c tire & 50x34 gearing with a big cassette. This is a long tough route. Fortunately there are many bail out points. Self supported 125 miles, 13k climbing,  85% dirt

August 9th Pemi-Baker Dirt Road Ronde

Plymouth, NH. Save the date for my local club's event ride. Four support stops including lunch and post ride meal. 2 routes, a 100km and a 100 mile. Lots of climbing, scenic views of the White Mountains and Connecticut River valley. 100 miles, 75% dirt

August 23rd Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee D2R2

Deerfield MA, This is the grand daddy of New England dirt events. Almost a 1000 riders will attempt one of 5 routes from 60 miles to 115 miles. The long routes are very challenging with up to 12,000 feet of punchy climbing. The ride has no sag support, but many food stops, a full lunch & post ride meal. So many people are riding the routes that finding help with a spare tube is easy to come by. Every New England cyclist should do this ride at least once. 115 miles, 75% dirt

August 24th Vermont Overland Grand Prix

Woodstock, VT. Peter Volers decided to put on a dirt road race this year too! He has picked a spectacular finish & a very tough course. 6800 feet of climbing in a 53 mile route. The finish in on Main Street in Woodstock VT. Food stops for those riding this event as a tour. Limited other support. 53 miles 90% dirt

August 30th Dirty 40

Newport VT. Last year this was the first dirt road race run in New England since who knows when. By all accounts it was great. This year it should be even better. The promoters plan to have road crossings marshaled and some sag support. Mostly it is a tough 60 mile RACE over 65% dirt roads.

September 6th Kearsarge Klassic Dirt Road Randonnee

Newport NH. The New Hampshire Cycling Club puts on a fine event over a scenic route. 85 miles including a few long stiff climbs. Food stops with water & snacks, mid point lunch, and a post ride meal of home made chilli & baked goods. Starts & ends at a historic barn with a view of Mt. Kearsarge. 85 miles 75% dirt.

September 13th Honey 100

Lexington MA. No one throws a bike party like Chip Baker. This is a tour of his secret stash of trails suitable for 'cross bikes. Starts and ends with a treats at the Ride Studio Cafe. Fully supported. 62 miles, 65% dirt.

October 5th Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder 

Becket MA. A tour through the Berkshires during foliage season. Full support and post ride meal. Starts and ends at a historic bed & breakfast with camping on site. 66 miles 75% dirt?

This is a working list. I will add events as new ones come up. If you are a promoter and want to add information or other events, email me & I'll be happy do so. Enjoy the ride.

*disclaimer: these are only the events that I am aware of, but I've attempted as comprehensive a list as possible.