When you view the world through rose colored glasses, everything is sugar and spice and optimism and bunny rabbits. Conveniently for my overall life-satisfaction level, I’m magically issued rose colored glasses when entering Vermont because I’m having an AWESOME time.
I could say the “USA Pro Cycling Challenge” or I could incorrectly say “Tour of Colorado” or I could simply say “Colorado”. Anyway, that race in the end of August in the Centennial State pretty much just came and went in my book. I won’t dwell on it, because I already did that for the days afterwards. But suffice it to say that a) it wasn’t my cup of tea and b) racing over a 30km ascent the first thing into a stage, plus pedaling yourself over 12,000 feet in the process is difficult as is. Next throw aggressively throwing up into the mix which interferes with the all important process of breathing at 12,000′. I was seeing stars going over Independence Pass and my day didn’t get much better in the 60km chase following that.
A highlight of that morning before gasping what seemed like my final breaths, though, was meeting young Dante here. The kid is a cycling fanatic, but perhaps you could have guessed that from his daily attire here. It’s so cool to see that level of passion at such a young age in America. I was playing with hockey cards and GI Joes at that age – definitely not yet playing “peloton.”
Me: “Just keep doing what you’re doing, Dante. Trust me kiddo, chicks dig scars.”
So post Colorado, I then enjoyed a bit of Boulder in all her Rocky Mountain splendor with hosts and best friends the Duggans, before setting off back to the right coast for eventually this week’s Quebec City and Montreal Grand Prix-es. Getting my head back in the right place really couldn’t happen in a better place than right here in Vermont. Middlebury College is where I fell in love with cycling, and quite literally Middlebury and Appalachain Gaps are where I found cycling (see, that’s where I first watched a bike race. I obviously picked a good one since that’s where my brother Robbie won the first of his three collegiate national titles).
If Normal Rockwell were alive today and somehow mysteriously into virtual reality instead of painting picturesque scenes, AND if he wanted to create a New England late summer weekend, he truly couldn’t have done it better than this four day Labor Day block. The perfect weather matched the impeccable scenery paralleled the idyllic roads in tandem with the lush green foliage that’s just beginning to show the hints of burnt orange and red. The pumpkins are coming out for fall jack-o-lantern’ing, the dirt roads were aplenty, and the stonewalls and maple syrup were as abundant as I remember. I’m fairly certain that I never once stopped grinning for the full 96 hour weekend.
I’m equally sure that part of the exorbitant good times are due to smashing out three progressively massiver rides on these roads upon which I found cycling. My nostalgia bone was tickled to the point of tears. I’ll quit waxing poetic here – just please recognize that even though this was merely meant as a training-block get-away, this was a very special weekend that just makes me say wow and thankful I’m able to do what I do.
Remember this very weekend in 2010? I was racing and looking dapper in the the Green Mountain Stage Race leader’s jersey for half the race. Soon after that, however, a whole bunch of political mumbo jumbo ensued that I don’t understand, and the UCI decided that they would prefer my WorldTour colleagues and I not race rather than support local races like this. The Green Mountain Stage Race is either the best race you’ve never heard of… or the best race you’ve ever heard of. Period.
This photo above is from the West Hill B’n'B looking out upon another flawless green mountain morning. With requisite “laundry” hanging on the front porch, our hosts Susan and Peter are obviously in the right mood for the weekend. I don’t what was greater: their incredibly benevolent hospitality or their selection of oatmeal toppings. Both were exquisite (yes, complete with maple syrup, obviously).
Right out my back door lays the steepest one mile of pavement in America, Lincoln Gap. Don’t believe me? Google it. I rode it twice, because there are two sides to ever coin and two sides to ever Lincoln Gap and they’re both frigging steep.
As I said, dirt roads were abundant. This is day one going from Middlebury towards Bristol. I don’t know why it looks like it’s 7:52pm because this is about 2 in the avo. More to the point, this particular ride featured a Chris Milliman-like 50′ish miles of dirt. “Rad” sells the ride very very short. It was awesome.
Waffles were available from Susan this morning, but I still went with the oatmeal. The left over waffles resulted in the perfect ride food. She had them wrapped like the perfect little ride treats with the blueberries secretly nestled inside. It was a very satisfying first bite when I gnoshed into this badboy.
Convenience stores are a token New England characteristic. Misspelling ICE is only part of the fun in Ripton, VT.
Roxbury Gap. Dirt. Steep. Very most excellent.
The final day I rode the legendary L-A-M-B ride. Aptly named since it criss-crosses the Green Mountains over four of the gnarliest gaps, Lincoln, Appalachian, Middlebury, and Brandon. In truth, I guess my ride was more LAB-M since that’s the order in which I rode. I want to swear with excitement and spike a football in celebration it was so good! But 6 hours later, I was pretty cooked so I had some corn on the cob instead. Yes, naturally it was freshly cooked, salted, and peppered at the local general store. Learning something from my roommate for the weekend, I also procured some ride beverage – a mini maple syrup.
Twist my arm, Tim and Peter. Yeah, I went golfing afterwards. It was pretty excellent since even if I was exhausted bordering on passing out; I hit a good dozen balls decently well, we didn’t crash nor flip nor flat the golf cart, no one was arrested, and I had my best score for the 14.5 holes we decided to play. That has never happened before when I hit the links.
Isn’t Vermont magic?