Monday, August 7, 2017

Couch to NEBRA Adventure Ride

Adventure Ride sock game on point. By Michele
I consider myself a "Gravel Specialist" Or a semi-retired, recovering cyclocross addict. We all have our internal story lines about who we are and how we identify ourselves. So when my two worlds collide I get very excited. If you are unfamiliar with NEBRA or the NEBRA Adventure Ride. NEBRA is New England's local association for USAC. They work to grow the sport of cycling in so many ways. A ton of my friends are a part of this organization so I am always happy to help them in any way I can. If it includes a cool adventure ride in Western Mass curated by Resultsboy it is like the icing on the HUPcake. This is the second year of the ride. It is like a baby D2R2. With a little bit of a VT Overland influence. Dirt roads, jeep track, some gnar as well as some fairly brutal paved climbs all add up to a really fun day on the bike. Last year I did the short ride. This year I was peer pressured into doing the long ride.

HUP There it is. Courtesy of Lesli

Ok for full disclosure. I got the email where DJ Robert instructed the team to wear Blue. As you can see from the photo above I may have missed that part of the email and grabbed my usual OG Noir. I wear the black for all the right reasons. It did make for a pretty hilarious team photo! I will say that. It has been a while since we have had a HUP crew like this all together. My excitement got the better of me I won't lie. I had told my friend Matt that we would do the short ride. Now for the record there was most definitely NOT a 35-mile option. He kept saying we were doing the 35 and I was like wut? So we rolled out with a HUGE HUP posse. I had full intentions of sticking together with the team. So when we got to the split between the 45 and 70 I went straight with the team. Then waited. Matt looked at me with pretty much a death stare across the road. And then reluctantly pedaled over to us. He was not "happy" He had just come off a week's vacation that from what I could tell was one non-stop cocktail party with maybe one ride with Jerry in to break things up a bit. But how could you be super mad about riding with the HUP train?

Rest Stop Boss Meg by Lesli

My legs felt like shit. Seriously. I have been doing ZERO riding. I have been on my bike maybe twice a week. Dadding is hard. Summers mean full on dad duty 24/7. So both Matt and I were doing this ride pretty much right off the couch. Now once you get past say 30 shit gets real. It is sooooo inspiriting to see aging athletes who stay fit and get faster as they get older. But yeah I peaked back before we had kids. The last year I was "fit" was maybe 2013. That was a long time ago. It is hard to fake a long ride even when you are young if you haven't been riding. Over 40 it is rough let's just say that. But luckily we had a lot of help from our friends. Meg, JD, John, Oscar and Steve set up some great aid stations. Each aid station was so unique and reflected each hosts personality. I brought along Endurolytes and Margarita Clif Blocks. I was not going to die without a fight. Robert's potatoes also were a life saver. The team rode so well together. HUP is so special. It is just such a great crew. Matt may have cursed me a few times but riding the first half with the team was so great. Some really hilarious moments.

HUP Train kept a rollin by Michele
I think the highlights of the first section were riding under French King Bridge and hitting the sand box section at warp speed. Guthrie and I went through those sand pits like bosses. I will say this, the team is going to be flying this September. Matt, Michele and I would get popped off the group on the extended paved climbs. It hurt. A. Lot. But it was worth it. We would always be rewarded by some screaming descent or great jeep track for all our hard work. At aid station two I knew Matt and I needed to pull the eject cord on trying to ride the tigers tail of the HUP train though. The good news was at aid station two you could rejoin the 45 loop. It wasn't a true bailout but we really weren't doing that bad. And it was mostly downhill from there right? The second half had some really awesome sectors. My favorite was definitely Rattlesnake Gutter. It was a gorge basically. Rough gravel descent that was kind of off camber. Looked like one side had washed out. We had grouped up with the Pedal Power/Atomic Roaster crew. Matt and I are built for descending so it is hard to sit back when a choice descent like this opens up in front of you like a magic unicorn. I knew the three riders in front of me were CX racers and would not totally freak if I past them. So to make it funny instead of obnoxious I used my best Quebecois accent and said "excuse me I will be taking zee French Canadian line..." and high sided the berm and then dove into a gutter and then went to Warp Factor 11. It was incredible.

Couch to Adventure Ride is no joke by Lesli

We all rode back in together. Myette, Pat and Lauren did a three up sprint for the finish. I think Pat won. I was so hypoxic I could barely even see straight. Lauren just kept laughing and laughing. She really is the best. We got back in safe and sound. Zero flats. Zero mechanicals or biomechanicals. 61 miles. Just under 4 hours. Matt is pretending he hates me but I know he's glad he did our long/short hybrid route. HUGE thanks to HUP for being so amazing. HUGE Thanks to NEBRA, Colin, JD, John, Meg, Oscar, Steve and everyone who made this ride possible. You have to do this ride next year. It is soon much fun.


Live to ride, ride to live by Guthrie
A couple of quick thoughts. One. See the above photo? My teammate and friend Guthrie rode that on the long loop like a boss. Then commuted to work the next day on the same bike. Jesse rode a single speed. Two ladies drove up from Boston with City bikes and flat pedals. They had googled "fun bike rides in Mass" and found out about the ride. They are heroes and the type of people we need to welcome and bring into cycling. It really was the best story of the whole ride. The two of them had fun, smiled the whole time, never complained, thanked everyone, had pizza and beer and hung out after. A lot of bike racers could learn a thing or two from them.