So, despite some very hectic and challenging times that have culminated in me planning a move back to nyc in the first week of october, i still went out and rode the 115 km course at d2r2 up in massaschussets this year. i rode the same ride last year and it was spectacular, so i was excited to get out there again. it is a rugged course of dirt roads, jeep tracks, double track, and gravel roads that winds around northern massachussets up into vermont and then back down again. it is sort of a secret industry event, as most of the people you meet on the ride work in the biz somehow. my friend (and stunning frame builder) chris bishop also went up to ride, and several folks from the shop i used to work at in nyc were also present, so it was a pleasant social scene as well as a ride. i did the ride with my friend andy, who i grew up with and have gotten into any number of bicycle and gearhead related adventures with over the years.
orange bike, the rando-gnar, akratic numero uno, was the obvious bike for this route. when i lived out in oregon i did a lot more of this sort of back country road riding, and orange bike was build expressly for this sort of ride. the rock n' road tires are spectacular, measuring 43 mm, nicely tubeless, and despite their aggressive looking tread, plenty fast for this sort of ride on and off of pavement. they, and the bike, really shine on rough gravel/broken pavement descents, when you can float away from folks on cross bikes or ambitious folks on road tires. while cantilever brakes are often sneered at, the paul components brakes i have set up with compression less yokozuna housing are phenomenal. it works if you work it, folks. set up a a nice quality set of cantis with good housing, appropriate straddle cables, and nice pads, and they work really, really well. both mushy when you want modulation but also strong when you want to reef on them.
the weather was perfect on saturday, low 80s, sunny, not too muggy. we had all camped out the night before, grabbed some coffee and breakfast and hit the road at a casual 8 am. the route incorporates some savage climbs on gravel, including one particularly brutal chunk of 27 percent grade. yep, that's right. that is what i have the 34/34 gearing combo on the bike for, so i can just drop down into that one to one sucker and grind. i remembered the hill from last year, and it was just as bad as i thought. on the other side, you do get a delicious descent where you can go as fast as you want. want to break 60 mph? this is a spot you could do it. i don't want to break 60, so i reigned things in at a respectable 45 mph and still felt the bike get light going over some rollers.
anyway, it was challenging, fun, and very pleasant to feel the bike doing exactly what i had made it to do. it is one thing to think that you know what you need, and it is quite another (and i think better!) to feel and see and know that you were right. it worked! and it was awesome! just what i needed.