When Neal announced his plans to do a 100 mile mountain bike ride to raise money for Team ERRACE and the charities they support in March I knew I needed to be part of this effort.
We had done many longer mtb rides together, and competed in endurance length races on our own, but this ride would be crossing into uncharted territory. First we need a 100 mile route. We had easily linked together some local spots to create 40, 50 even 60 mile routes before, but getting to 100 was going to be a challenge. We wanted to minimize pavement, needed to have refueling points, and have it be fun.
Our rough plan was to take the Metacomet trail North and hit all the fun stuff that spurs off of it. We knew the first 40 miles of this ride well having done many TdTs together over the years. For the last 60, well, we were going to just sot of wing it.
We left my house at 6:00 AM Saturday. There was little discussion of routes. There were many ways we could navigate the trails of the parks we were riding but instinctively Neal and I were on the same page. On the fly we decided to hit all the harder stuff on the way out when we were fresher (genius right?).
We hit the Res, refilled water bottles at Res 6, hit Penwood, Wilcox, refilled water bottles at the Tariffville Green, hit Cowles, crossed Hatchet Hill, and continued North to Rt 168.
It was getting hot. North of route 20 water was running low. We had ridden this section only a few times before and were not 100% sure how long it was. There was an official ERRACE rest stop at the Volunteer Fire Station in Suffield we planned to use at the end of it, this is what we found when we got there:
Packed up and closed!
Fortunately we had plan B
From here it was uncharted territory. We had never ridden the Metacomet North of 168, but we had to chance it get the mileage we needed.
At first it was going great, but soon after entering Massachusetts, the trail blazes headed into a swamp.
So we turned back South.
Neal still shredding at mile 62
a little Metacomet flavor
By the time we had got back to Tariffville, we had completed 65 miles and our bottles were empty. If we continued the way we came, we'd be back in West Hartford with an elapse time of over 12 hours and be about 15 miles short. We were close to 10 hours in. Since we had been almost exclusively on singletrack to this point we decided to hit some fireroads and tarmac to connect some local trails in Simsbury and Avon, riding the remainder back at the West Hartford Res.
For the most part everything went as planned. No mechanical other than Neal burbing his tire, and me falling off my bike in the parking lot of Fisher Meadows ar the last water stop. Neal fueled us with homemade energy bars, and Naturally Fast kept us hydrated.
Yes, there is a derailleur on my bike. This wasn't much help on the singletrack (it didn't hurt), but was a big help on the fireroads and tarmac; 34x20 would have slowed us down greatly.
It was a great experience doing this ride with Neal, but we kept in mind that one day's hard effort was so insignificant to the ordeal that people with cancer must face and are hopeful that what funds we have raised will lessen that real challenge.
You can still give here