This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
David waited at the top with the videotape going. We had alerted
him that we were near with our horns. The wind was fairly active on
top and David's hair was standing straight up as we passed. He had
expressed some concern about needing shampoo that morning to avoid
having a bad hair day, but I let him know then, that the shampoo
had not helped. And we have it all on videotape!
We took a quick break on top to get jackets for the screaming white
knuckle 60+ mph descent that followed. We turned onto 100 for a few
miles of flat, and a quick stop in Stockbridge, where the sign had
been corrected and lots of riders had stopped. The climb over
Killington was like a speed bump compared to Middlebury, and we seemed
to fly into Ludlow, where we were surprised to see lots of bikes and
were greeted by surprised checkpoint personel, who thought we were
out. We tried to get in and out quickly, so our legs would not stiffen
up before climbing Terrible. We started from Ludlow at 9:00pm which
meant that we would be climbing and descending lots in the dark. The
climb back up is in two stages with the steepest part at the bottom,
but the final two miles are no cakewalk. We both started in tights,
but no jackets, knowing that we would warm up soon enough. We added
jackets and gloves on top and enjoyed the ride down. A couple of miles
later, we were back to climbing Andover. Looking down, I could see the
lights of bikes behind us, and looking up I could see a sky clear and
full of stars. The moon would not come out until very late, making
for a very dark ride to Brattleboro. We waited until after passing the
hairpin on Andover to let the bike fly, and then it was so cool that
we slowed a little to stay warm. We passed through some really cute
towns that we want to go back and visit some day, and almost missed a
turn onto 35.
Our shifting into the granny would come and go. We had not had
problems all year, until this ride. We had the bottom brackets replaced
right before the ride, and maybe the back one was a hair off enough to
contribute, or the play we had in it before was useful. Sometimes it
would work, sometimes it wouldn't go, sometimes it would go to far,
and sometimes the chain would "suck" and jam between the bottom
bracket and the chain ring.
We hit an unnamed mountain on Route 35 and snapped our chain! We then
named the climb Mount Chainbreaker. Being experienced tandem riders we
carry extra links and a chain tool. But having 600 miles in our brains
made the task more mentally challenging. I've taken chains on and off
enough I can do it blindfolded. Or so I thought. It was pretty dark
and I fumbled a bit. Fortunately a large group of riders with two
support cars came along. The last car stopped and offered us a little
light, while we got the chain back together. Support crews aren't
supposed to follow riders, but I was glad to have this one around.
David usually drove 10-15 miles between stops, just to make sure we
were OK. We had talked about having David follow us at night if we got
at all spooked, but we felt very comfortable on all the roads we
travelled in the dark, so we did not use him to follow. Due to
various mechanical and physical problems, we had not ridden at night
since June 6, and I had no idea how I would react or feel. We had
three taillights, one flashing, a traingle, a flag, sidelights on the
wheels and all over the bike, and crossing guard reflective vests.
The Nightsuns on highbeam are as bright as my car, and on low are
still pretty darn visible - we do descend with them! We were the MOST
visible thing on the road. I know that visibility, or lack thereof
played no parts in the deaths of our friends, but we just try to take
A few miles later on another granny-required climb, we lost the chain
again, I hopped off and put it back on, three times before we realized
something else was wrong. Shining our flashlight on the stainless
steel (supposedly non-bendable) chain ring showed something that
looked more like a Pringles Potato Chip than a granny gear. This climb
we named Mount Chainringbreaker. We ended up walking a little, since
the granny was completely unusable. But fortunately, when packing
everything we own into the van, I packed extra chainrings. When we
reached David in Putney, we pulled the crank and replaced the
chainring and chain. Great teamwork worked here. Steve had the crank,
I did the chain and David videotaped the whole ordeal. We were only a
few miles from the next control, but we couldn't remember the terrain.
We knew if we didn't fix it there, we would hit mountains. And it was
either then or the next morning. We reached Brattleboro at 2:24AM,
checked in, showered, ate the sandwiches from Stockbridge, and went to
bed. We planned to leave the next morning at 8AM. If we weren't going
to shatter records, then we would get lots of sleep.
The "race" was already over, with the first rider finishing in 52
Sunday morning arrived and the ankle was still swollen, but still not
hurting. I rode the entire way expecting at any moment that it would
start again. My mood was not as cheerful as usual because of this, but
I still had fun. Especially Sunday when we finally started seeing
riders again. We began the climb up Route 9 with one off in the
distance. We caught and talked with him for a while. We saw others on
the climb up 63, and passed a few more screaming down the other side.
We turned onto 119 and saw John again for the first time since
Montreal. We talked for a while and John snapped a couple of pictures.
He said the knee was all better and seemed to have healed itself on
the climbs. We told him of our fate, but that we were stubborn. He had
been riding with two other riders most of the way, so he returned to
ride with them after a short while.
We really do try to be social, but in the mountains, it is very
difficult for a tandem to stay with singles and vice-versa. So we just
rode at our own pace, and when we could ride with others and talk we
did and when we were descending, we waved as we passed.
We passed the covered bridge, where David took lots of pictures of us
and other riders going by. He then proceeded up to the top of Grace.
We stopped to peel clothes as it was starting to get hot. I had never
gone over Grace in this direction and could not remember anything
about it. David drove to the top and then back down a little to
take some pictures. As I passed I asked how far to the top. He said
a couple of turns, and we decided he was getting us back for rides
in May where we said there were no more hills, despite having
tons more. It was another mile. Then it leveled and climbed again,
and then it did it AGAIN!
Then we passed by Lake Matawa, and the water looked ever so-inviting,
but we kept going forward. 202 was coming up, and it is 10 miles of
BIG rolling hills, that I hate. Just after turning on 202, Steve
noticed a rubbing noise coming from the front wheel, so we stopped to
discover a bulge in the front tire. The glue on the casing looked like
it was melting and giving way, so we decided to change the tire,
rather than risk a blowout on one of those downhills.
We reached Barre, and I was starting to get a little hot and maybe
just a teeny-tiny bit cranky. I tried changing to my larger shoes,
since both feet were starting to swell due to the heat. We replaced
our spare tire, drank extra water, and prepared for the final assault
on Newton. We enjoyed the ride down the wall out of Barre, and happily
bounced over the bumps on the way to Princeton, thanks to the Allsop.
The route rolls from Barre to Princeton with several big climbs. There
is a town line sign on one of the hills, halfway up, and Steve
decided to sprint for it. Only noone was around, so we blew out
our quads for nothing!!!! I seriously began questioning his sanity
after that! Most people questioned our sanity at 4AM Thursday, but I
didn't doubt Steve's until that sprint!
We could see the Boston skyline from the top of the hill in Princeton,
as we passed John dumping bottles of water over his head. It had
gotten a bit warmer than in Ireland. But John wasn't the only one to
suffer in the heat. We had a great break for the next 7 miles since it
was mostly downhill. I decided at the bottom of the hill that I wanted
my old shoes back. The cleat alignment didn't seem right on the larger
ones. I also found that I was out of powder and really needed some. We
sent David in search of a bottle, and he showed up with some, just as
I was finding things unbearable.
Soon after, I really started to overheat, and so did the car. We
decided that we were abusing the car, and sent David on to the final
I would not believe that we were really going to make it until we
reached the parking lot. But when we did at 5:28PM on Sunday, we let
out hoots and hollers and honks and definitely let people know that WE
were in. I got off the bike, and out of my shoes as quickly as
possible. I sat for a minute and then realized I'd forgotten to hug my
captain and thank him for the ride, so I did. Then Michael came and
led me off to a massage. David brought over some ice cream and I was
in heaven. I finally got to talk with lots of the other riders, and
munched on a few hamburgers and hot dogs. John came in shortly after
we did, and riders continued to roll in throughout the afternoon. We
finally loaded the bike back in the van and headed home for pizza and
a bottle of champagne bought for the occassion.