From the desk of NER’s new volunteer coordinator, Emily O’Brien:
“This year’s 600k route will be different [from 2011 route] because we can’t use the Sandgate control as a sleep stop. But there are some new sections that need checking out in person to make sure the cuesheet is accurate, make notes about signage and landmarks as necessary, check that giant road construction hasn’t suddenly appeared, etc. The section in question goes from Pittsfield, MA to Brattleboro, VT to Amherst, MA to Willington, CT. Very pleasant, scenic, etc. If you’re interested in checking out part or all of it, contact the volunteer coordinator or the RBA via the contact page.
Although pre-ride credit is not available (it’s too soon for that) this a great way to get a sense for what a good chunk of the ride will be like. If you’re apprehensive about your first 600k, for example, here’s an opportunity to get familiar with some of it. And your fellow riders will thank you for all the places that the cuesheet says “no sign” or “turn at the funny-looking house” or “turn is halfway down the descent!” because someone actually went there instead of taking the map’s word for it.”
Please contact Emily if you are interested in helping out with any of the NER events.
26 brave riders started the 300k on Saturday morning which is excluding 7 of 24 riders who had preregistered but decided to sleep in. The forecast was not pretty and the weatherman was spot on. Light rain started at 4:15am and by 5am it was a downpour. The rain never let up once all day. Sometimes it would lighten to heavy sprinkles but mostly it was downpours heavy enough to penetrate even the zip lock bags holding the brevet cards. It was around 56 degrees when riders left Hanscom and it dropped to a low of 50 for much of the morning. This was the worst weather I’ve seen for a Brevet since I started riding in 2006. No one ever got a break.
We had 17 finishers who survived not just the rain but the climbs. As advertised, this was a hard ride — one of the hardest NER had put since the fabled northern CT routes. Most riders stayed together in small groups and were generally in good spirits at the controls. A few of the controls offered hot soup which was popular along with the Little Debbie oatmeal pies, hot chocolate, and pizza at the finish.
I want to offer a huge thanks to Bruce Gellerman, Alan Day, Walter Page, and Emily O’Brien for their terrific support during the event. For Alan it was his first NER event ever. Bruce was kind enough to give a cold rider the pants off his legs and the gloves from his hands. Emily left Hanscom via bike herself at 3am in order to be at the first control to check riders in. Walter Page stayed up late driving riders in and waiting until everyone was safe and accounted for. All the volunteers spent the day in the rain without complaint and made the ride a success. I also want to thank the control stores (Tweedo’s, Diemand Farm, and Dick’s Bikes) for their gracious assistance.
Thanks to all the riders who came out for this ride. It takes a great deal of courage to start an event knowing what weather and hills await and all the riders deserve our admiration. The riders make the ride and these 26 riders are model randonneurs.
Feedback so far is that people seemed to be very happy with the calm traffic and scenery of the route but I did receive some valid criticism about the hilliness. For future revisions I’m considering going to Northfeild from Warwick and cutting out the dirt and some climbs on the last leg. Low traffic and nice scenery is inversely proportional to hills and pavement quality so this will always be a challenging event. That said I will try to refine the route to cut down some of the climbing while still sticking to the smallest of roads.
The preliminary results were posted 15 minutes after the ride ended on the MA 300k event page.