If you ever care to feel embarrassingly dependent on material goods, give this scenario a whirl: forget your telephone in the car which has just dropped you off at the airport and is now barreling down the road away from you at 70mph. Meanwhile you’re soon destined more than half the country away at which point your good friend will pick you up. Also be sure to have this realization the moment you’ve just passed through TSA, whereupon you’re now reinstalling your belt and subsequently pat your various pants pockets for the reassuring feeling that you have your wallet, passport, and pho… cripes!
The lightening bolt shocker hits you that without your phone you cannot readily call and alert your loving family member/driver of said car to please flip a U-ie and return your phone to it’s front left pocket natural habitat. Furthermore, you recognize that your destination is a major international airport – let’s call it Denver. Therefore, it will be frustratingly difficult to connect that final dot of your precise location, that you have your bags, that you’re ready to roll, and therefore please pick you up on the third floor by door 308. Turns out that smoke signals from baggage collection don’t travel to the Cell Phone Waiting Lot. Again, cripes.
The hardworking folks of TSA don’t take kindly when you ask to borrow their cell phones. But they will faithfully escort you to the bay of vacant pay phones — just a little FYI. Which still leaves you in a bind when you don’t have quarters nor do you feel like employing 1-800-COLLECT.
Oooh, here’s another related “if you ever want to” scenario”: if you ever want to see a lot of people “break out into stretch”, as I call it – that is, aggressively and conspicuously bust out a downward dog or throw a leg up on a table and really jut out one’s pelvis to give that hamstring a thorough stretch – then be sure to visit Boston’s Logan Airport the very evening the Boston Marathon wraps up. I know I get some leery stares when I stretch in public. Here amid a throng of marathon runners still with the medal around their necks, sneakers on their feet, and ready to sit on an airplane for hours on end, I don’t blame them for an instant to try to get limber. I once ran 25 minutes and I felt like I’d been run over by a steam roller.
This collectively serves as one of the longer prefaces to an iamtedking.com entry. Yes friends, after a typically brief swing through New England, post-spring European Classics, I’m now in the high altitude Centennial State of Colorado. Breathing the crisp, thin mountain air is certainly part of the lure in coming here. It’s also to wash away my French unibrow, courtesy of Paris-Roubaix. I’m convinced that I’m still hacking up dirt from the Hell of the North given this year’s dusty conditions.
Photo: Chris Milliman
Time at home in New England was filled with its standard full-gas excellence. So much to do, so little time syndrome may have been part of the adventure, but it’s simply a matter of rolling with the punches. Priorities remained intact, so catching up with Dear ol’ Dad to celebrate his belated birthday party was a must. Additionally, an atypical Broadway play in Boston was my gift to Dad (and Mom) du jour.
I’m an ardent believer in honoring celebrations to the fullest. So clearly birthday are very tough to top, but Rasputitsa made a worthy case. Especially since it was a belated birthday since I was anchored in Belgium for the actual birthday the day after Flanders. Seriously, the name is R-A-S-P-U-T-I-T-S-A which is seventeen and a half more badass than B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y P-A-R-T-Y.
With a launching point in Newport, VT, this is a quintessential New England town with all the requisite charms of a brick sidewalk, quaint storefronts, and a white church building, yet Newport is further enhanced with the fact that it’s located a mere stone’s throw from the original 200 On 100. When this Rasputitsa was originally cobbled together, there’s of course no way to predict the weather. Spring in northern VT could be muddy and calf deep like wet cement or it could be 85 degrees and dry as a bone. Rasputitsa is Russian for “quagmire season” after all, and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom did not disappoint!
(Hard to miss, note the wicked green Kenda tires.)
While I basked away in three weeks of dry Belgian weather, New England continued to plow through wintery storm after endless frigid storm. The morning of the ride at 6am was dry and all signs pointing to great weather! …until 6:05am when the sky opened up and it was raining cats and dogs. The temperatures dropped throughout the day so that snow flurries were falling in Cyberia, the nearly 2km running section with literally a river running through it, a foot of glacial ice, and a consistent 3% uphill grade. Thank goodness there was a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of maple syrup shots at the hands of the friendly volunteer feed station.
What a truly awesome adventure. No bike was perfect for the day. Cross bikes were popular, but still unridable in Cyberia plus lacked some kick on the rare pavement sections. Mountain bikes were obviously sluggish on the long flats and super fast sections, but were perfect during the river/mud/mid-life-crisis crossing that was Cyberia. And road bikes found a little trouble in any sort of mud section… ahem, yes Cyberia. I may have had the greatest support for this ride in that I brought my mega awesome Cannondale Synape Hi-Mod directly from Roubaix then slapped on mountain bike shoes and pedals, plus Kenda Kwick tires in Teddy issue neon green to tackle the comically slick conditions.
And that’s precisely the point of Rasputitsa. This isn’t an event for the weak, for the faint of heart, nor the poor of bike handling skill. It’s designed for the adventure. It’s catered to the person who wants to explore their inner mental workings so that two hours in and with plenty left to race, caked in frigid mud and grasping for your sanity, you ask, “Wait, WHY am I doing this?”
In a nutshell that was absolutely spectacular. Much like the after party which wisely catered to our Canadian friends who came south through our seemingly impenetrable border patrol in order to partake on the ride, as there was generous helpings of poutine! Or “recovery poutine” as it’s called when doused generously in gravy after a slogging few hours in the mud/snow/pristine Vermont grime.
Family, Easter (although not a single sighting of Easter chocolate!), friends, and recovery poutine. Life is good. Now time to carry that momentum into Colorado.