Last week I received a late invitation from PVB to attend what is probably my last long day in the saddle in 2009. Instructions were to meet, along with Yasushi Katsumi at a secret location with our equipment in order to be shuttled north for the ride. Actually, we just met at PVB's apartment on Friday night and we piled into the Subaru and headed north to Hanover, NH.
It's been a number of years since the first Rosey, PVB, Katsumi road trip (New Gloucester, 2004?!) but we reminisced about it like it was just yesterday and quickly reformed our wolf pack during the drive. We arrived safely in Hanover and easily found our way to the accommodations: Chris Milliman's kick-ass house within walking distance of downtown. After drooling all over his garage which overflows with high end bike stuff that has been used and abused, not babied (the way it should be!), we got the tour of the rest of the abode and it is an awesome place that the Milliman family calls home.
The plan was already in place for our 7:30am rondevious at a Hanover park. We'd be meeting some of Hanover's finest dressed men (Andreas and Mike Whitfield) as well as a few friends of Chris's, all in the name of fun and suffering together. The wolf pack had agreed on traditional Belgian blue for the day's event and with the aid of some mild strength embrocation, we were well equipped to handle the early morning cool temperatures.
I was told to expect roughly 100 miles, a mixture of dirt and pavement, and plenty of climbing. I took this to mean 28mm tires on the cross bike and in the end I was satisfied with my equipment choice. Although I was a bit undergeared on some of the descents, this wasn't a race.
Before we even made it out of Hanover, Andreas suffered a tubular flat. Mind you, the man had already ridden something like 40 miles before he met us at 7:30am but I guess a house full of 5 children and a full time Dr. job forces you to adjust your riding schedule. We waited for him to go home and grab some clincher wheels since he didn't want to use his only spare tubular and be stuck with no spare many miles from home. Not sure what was taking so long (apparently he lives at the top of a mountain, that's what took so long), we decided to roll out and let him shortcut the route to meet us later which he did very successfully.
The route rolled almost immediately out of NH and across the river into VT. Chris gave us enough time to get comfortable and stretch the legs before hitting the first serious climbs and dirt roads about 10 miles in. Despite having four long time locals among the group, Milliman had managed to find a route that included some completely new roads for the four of them. This meant not knowing exactly how far to the top of some of the climbs but that made it all the more enjoyable.
With services conveniently located every 30 or so miles we didn't need to carry much beyond spare tubes and cash, always a nice feeling. The majority of roads were empty so we were able to ride two abreast or even three across on some of the really quiet dirt roads. It was a mostly leisurely pace, only elevated when Milliman came to the front on the flats or when invited guest Kurt put the hammer down on the climbs.
I noticed around mile 40 that we'd been averaging nearly 100 ft of elevation gain per mile and unsurprisingly, that trend continued to the end. With only two flat tires, we were able to make pretty good time, arriving close to Hanover by 1pm. Some of the folks had family committments so they peeled off and we were left with four: Milliman, Yash, PVB, and me. Our plan was to head up the west side of the Connecticut River in VT before crossing back in NH and hammering home. Along the way, Milliman coyly suggested that we take a detour up a nice dirt road. It was great, except that Chris didn't come with us and we got punched in the gut with a final climb up Rt 110 into Hanover (next time you're coming with us Milliman!).All in all, a great ride that is being titled the Upper Valley Century and scheduled to continue annually.