Just a few photos from Sunday's Gravel Grinder ride in Waterbury. The event found a happy little window of reasonably clement weather in what turned out to be a cold and soggy weekend.
There were almost 150 riders at the start, I pointed out to some warmly-dressed out-of-towners that the route started by going straight up Perry Hill on the outskirts of town and that things would warm up quickly.
Gray skies -- but nothing was falling from the sky, thankfully.
The course maximized climbing possibilities on the lower slopes of the Worcester Range between Waterbury and Stowe. Pictured: Shaw Mansion Road.
On the other side of the valley, Ricker Basin was swathed in low cloud.
Stowe Hollow Road, the last climb of the day.
It was a fun event even though it proved to be a brutal exposition of my general lack of fitness and inability to get into any kind of rhythm on a mountain bike.
One guy was at the start with a helmet cam that was set to take still images at pre-set intervals (something like this) so there may be a video out there somewhere covering the whole event.
I'm riding the Waterbury "Gravel Grinder", an annual fundraising ride to benefit local trail networks. This is the third time this event has been held: For the previous two events, the weather was cooperative, and the main challenge was pedalling my heavy and undergeared 1x9 mountain bike over the local hills, especially quite early in the season.
2010, however, will be different. It is wet and cold, and 28 hilly miles promises to be a struggle against the elements. There was snow here this weekend and the forecast for Sunday morning is not promising. I haven't raced a bike in five years but I do remember racing in bad weather and do not recall it as being a particularly pleasant experience.
I still have some embrocation (hot cream and waterproofing for the skin) from my racing days and will be slathering some on my legs before heading out into the cold and wet.
The stuff is powerfully fragrant and the aroma (capsicum) will definitely hurl me back in time to when I regularly pinned on race numbers: The remberance of races past, or something like that (stealing from Proust).
Finally, I made a video of the 2008 Gravel Grinder ride (here) which is just about my only claim to fame (or recognition) among the local cycling community. Somewhat disappointly I have found that mountain bikers seem to be even more clique-ish and insular than road cyclists, where bonds are forged on group rides, in local racing series, and travelling to races -- at least in my experience.
Late spring sun and shadow, Cobb Hill Road, Moretown, VT: A few more from riding around in the damp spring woods here. One thing I've learned, is that when this track is wet, it's much easier to ride down it, than it is to try and climb up the squishy, mucky incline. And this actually does count as a road and the reason it is in such poor shape is that it is routinely used by ATVs and 4x4s so one bike and rider isn't going to make a whole lot of difference.
Like most everything that shows up on this blog, I've been here before -- previous post here.
I plan on watching the PBS program on the Bhudda this evening, despite the predictable appearance of Richard Gere... This combines many disparate threads in my life, going back to high school English (where large doses of Hermann Hesse were assigned, including Siddartha), the influence of the beats, travels to Nepal, etc.
I know it's all very mainstream and clichédbut at least I don't live in some gross McMansion in some anonymous suburb, defining my paltry existence through the debt-financed acquisition of things (things = useless crap made in China, mostly).
In 2008, Easter came one week earlier than in 2010, and Vermont was still blanketed with deep snow even at the lower elevations. I spent a sunny, cloudless Easter Sunday on a long slog up to the top of Ricker Basin and then skied back down to Waterbury reservoir. It's funny how what once seemed an epic trip into the unknown is now almost commonplace...but I digress.
Skiing through Vermont woods, two years ago. Original trip report and more images here.
In 2010, Easter arrived a week later, but one week does not explain the radical change in the weather.
Saturday the temperatures hit 81 degrees, the day felt, not like spring, but high summer.
It was a day to air out the house and to take care of some spring chores like drying clothes outdoors and raking up last season's leaves from the yard.
The unnatural warmth may have a downside, however: should weather revert to a more normal pattern, plants (apple trees, etc.) that have been rushing to bloom may suffer if there is a hard frost -- which would not be surprising.
I personally think that the global financial crisis has drawn attention away from climate change... perhaps extreme weather events like the recent inundation of Rhode Island are becoming the 'new normal'.
I know that 'climate' and 'weather' are terms that should not be used interchangeably and that there are significant variations over time -- but also that the local media is reporting that the 2010 ice out date at Joe's Pond is the earliest ever recorded. Seems pretty likely that something is going on.