11.11.2007

Velo retro part III: Return to West Hill, Putney, Vermont


In the spring of 1993 (if memory hasn't failed me), the 4th bike race I ever entered in my life was the Tour of the Valleys, hosted by the Putney (Vermont) Bike Club and starting and finishing at the West Hill Shop, a very funky old school emporium for cycling and cross country skiing in southern Vermont.

Later, when I was ineffectually racing cyclocross, I raced at the West Hill Shop sponsored cyclocross race two or three times... I never went very fast, slogging through the cornfield in an industrial wasteland by the banks of the Connecticut River (I also raced at the Putney-hosted mountain bike race, back when this was still an ongoing event -- I doubt their are many folks who can claim to have participated in all three of these races -- it dates me badly).

Anyway today -- it's hunting season, the woods are full of hunters, so I didn't want to go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, too much chance of being mistaken for a deer by someone with a hangover and high-powered rifle -- I drove down to Putney just to hang out again at the cyclocross race. I saw some people who knew me from back in my racing days and just watched other people suffer. It was a perfect late fall day for racing, sunny but quite cold, and the course was relatively dry. Attendance was a bit sparse: I overheard someone say during the "A" race: "Back in the day, there would be 100 people here watching..." but it was still a fun event. Even though the West Hill Shop has new ownership and a fancy brand spanking new post and beam building it is still a pretty funky place unlike most retail establishments I have been in and they did preserve the some of the old original shop, so it's still worth a visit.

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