This post easily could have been titled "Bad Santa" But it was 90 degrees out. And it is September. So why was HUP riding a Gentleman's Race during Cross season in 90 degree heat in NH? Well kids team building isn't all trust falls and Navy Seal training. We are a bike club after all. We race CX. It is a good idea to ride the CX bike. Even if it is 90 degrees in September and the gods have left an "open" weekend in September. I personally love Fall. Not just for CX but for all New England offers. When I heard a Gentleman's Race was happening they basically had me at hello. I thought initially that the whole thing was an ironic jab at the Rapha rides of the mid-2000s. I did a few of them. They were fantastic. Then they literally jumped the shark. Like all things Rapha. But credit where credit is due. Those early Rapha rides reframed how we viewed riding. I still don't know what this riding is exactly. The two Rapha rides I participated in I did on a road bike with 25s. Now my default is a CX bike and 37s. As my friend Greg says "all bikes can be gravel bikes" Hell yes they can.
I opt for those gnarly bits. I would rather be overbiking for most of the ride than underbiking on the stuff I live for. We assembled a team. I love how Michele described it. "The premise of this sitcom is that two older sprinters / rouleur types who have kids go to NH to do a gravel TTT with young, spunky, fit climbers. Hilarity ensues." She nailed it. Honestly this is why Michele and I work so well together. I had zero agenda. Maybe I did in some recess in the back of my mind. But it was simple. Get the two new young guns of HUP and the two veterans together for a rad ride. It worked out way beyond my expectation. Anyone who knows me know I go into these things with zero expectation. Come back with your shield or on it basically. We rolled up way early. Haha. HUP is a lot of things. One is prompt. The other is prepared. We have learned a few things along the way. So Joanna gets a text from Guthrie that they are the only ones in the parking lot. Hmm. Ok. So we search for a suitable second breakfast and come up with Bagel Alley. Oh hello.
We all place our orders. The kids pretty much shame Michele and I. Omelette bagel, legit second breakfasts. Michele and I share an everything bagel. We kinda pick on it. We might be a tad nervous. I was mostly nervous as I had zero idea what to expect. I was pretty sure this was a road ride. But my friend had told me there was some legit dirt. I always get excited about new to me dirt tracks. We get to Goodale's the second time and the parking lot is filling up. Some familiar faces. Some fast teams for sure. Hmm a fair amount of road bikes. Ok. Its on. The rules of the ride are simple. TTT format. All four riders stay together. Self supported. Time bonuses on the road. Bonuses include convenient store bonus, wild life bonus, mandatory selfies, and wounded warrior bonus. We nail all of them. Except the open wound one and the flat one. I can't believe how clean we rode this. Zero crashes. Zero mechanicals. Zero melt downs. PRO.
I won't lie. My legs felt horrible early on. Like lead weights. And we weren't even climbing. Things have been a tad stressful lately. No need to elaborate. We all have stress. But I had a magic bullet. I made the mistake a few times this summer of not bringing Endurolytes with me. Shit goes bad fast when I don't have those. I took four over the four hours and frankly it saved me. Zero cramps. Body felt fine once it woke up. After hour one things started coming around. We were moving pretty well. The one exposed highway climb was nasty. I mean I basically just stuck to who ever's wheel was right in front of me. I think it was Michele. But I can't be sure. I am pretty sure Guthrie pulled for 64.5 miles. Hahaha. Probably not. But I don't think I ever was at the front. God love this team. They know how to keep their elders safe.
What worked incredibly on this ride was the division of labor. Michele is a trail wizard. And an organizational ninja. She dialed the whole ride in. Guthrie was in charge of social media. Michele was in charge of the rest stops. Joanna was in charge of the wild life photos. I am not sure what I was in charge of. Which was a good thing. The first social media stop I was pretty sure we were going to get shot. But it was for the time bonus so YOLO. NH is a hot mess. I love and hate it. You will be rolling along some dirt road and see some compound for lack of a better word. And in front of that compound is an ACE Hardwares worth of lawn maintenance equipment. Guthrie wanted a team photo on a bunch of rider mowers. Thank god we survived.
The route was so rad. A great mix of climbing and really fun dirt roads. The beauty of Southern NH is the climbing doesn't kill you. Especially when you are a flatlander like me. Its all doable. We kept rolling. Found the first store with the time bonus. We purchased $15.01 in goods. Maximum bonus. Two teams rolled in as we were rolling out. That was a bit odd. We had only been passed by one team at this point. Honestly we were not thinking of this as a race. We just were rolling under Shark rules. Keep swimming. No stopping. Michele cracked the whip to keep us focused. Guthrie and I had lots of crazy I mean great ideas for team photos. At some point we came across what can only be described as Zombie Santa. Not gonna lie it made me nervous. But we snapped some pics laughed and got moving. We started just clicking off the miles. Right at the end a team "caught" us as we waited for traffic. But we dug deep and beat them to the finish. What an amazing day. I love this team and what it stands for. Guthrie and Joanna are the newest HUP. Michele and I are like Rogue and Old Man Logan bringing the next generation of X-Men into the fold. This season is off to a rad start. HUGE props and respect to Michele, Joanna and Guthrie for indulging me in this boondoggle.