This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
We rode and chatted with Rick for a while. Rick and I had shared a
crew with 3 others last year at PBP. He finished the ride with only two
minutes to spare. Despite my warning him that replacement tires would
be difficult to find in France, he had chosen to use the 27" wheels.
After having a few flats early on, he lost a lot of time that he never
made up. He also wanted to keep the crew close, since he was worried
about his tires. Unfortunately this became a problem as the five
riders spread out over the course. This year, he had exchanged the
bike with the 27" wheels for one with more standard 700C wheels. We
had not seen him on any qualifiers, but he said he had been doing a
lot of training. I noticed he was using Nightsun lights and asked
about batteries. He had shelled out the $200+ for the 20 hour battery
and would not need recharging or extras. Rick had done a very good
job of freeing himself from the need of a support vehicle.
On the other hand, we needed a lifeline. We were also using Nightsun
lights, but with rechargeable batteries. The speeds we reach on
descents demand the most powerful light available, and the rate at
which we crawl up the other side causes us to shy away from
generators, so we chose the Nightsuns. We had somewhat more difficult
to find 26" tires. And, well a tandem is just more prone to break! Our
support vehicle would be charging batteries, carrying tires, and all
sorts or spare parts, clothes, and lots and lots of Ultra Energy.
Most of the group stayed together for the first 30 miles, but some
trouble makers on a mixed tandem sprinted up a hill to capture the
Berlin town line. Actually I just wanted to go ahead and find a
bathroom and have some hope of getting back in the pack. Steve claimed
we were in the right gear to get up the hill. Whatever our reasons, we
caused the pack to split, and a race began in earnest at the front. We
then stopped at a donut shop for bathroom facilities and let the
others race on to Barre.
We rode along alone for a while and settled into a comfortable pace.
Slowly we started catching riders again. We rode for a while with a
young lady from Florida. She seemed surprised by the hills, and I
looked down in horror at her 42-24 lowest gear. We made encouraging
comments, but wondered to ourselves how long her knees would last in
the mountains. This ride is advertised as mountainous, but it is
amazing how many people just don't believe it and show up with
inadequate gearing and not enough climbing miles in their legs.
Almost one third of the riders dropped out the first day for this
reason. There may well be a flat route from Boston to Montreal, but we
don't go that way. If there is a direct way and a mountain to the
left, we will go over the mountain and back over another to get there.
(Mercifully we don't go over Smugglers.) This is not a complaint,
but a legitimate description of the route. It is a great ride with
beautiful views and lots of fun, but if you come, bring your granny
gear, because Middlebury Gap doesn't accept American Express!
Our trip through Princeton and into Barre was quite pleasant thanks to
our Allsop Softride System on the back of the bike. Lots of people had
asked about the Allsop at the start and along the way. I told them
that we bought it specifically for the ride to Barre. Those riders who
had made the infamous trip to Barre, MA, the center of the New
Englanders Randonneurs Universe, the town through which all rides must
pass, knew instantly what I meant. Others would discover soon enough.
This section of Route 62 has some of the roughest pavement in all of
New England, and we pass over it 4 times in the qualifiers every year
and again on BMB. Some lunatics voluntarily ride these roads, as we
did in the early season. It was after one of these rides where Steve
performed a monologue that went something like this, "Bump! Sorry! ...
Bump! Sorry! ... Bump! Sorry!", that ride that I decided $200 was a
pittance to pay for comfort and a non-bruised butt!
We were surprised to find NO secret control in Barre, but we did find
David, so we shed our battery, some clothes and made a quick run for
the woods, then refilled our UE and water, talked to the videographer
briefly and quickly left town when we saw the other tandem heading
Unfortunately, then we started having some chain suck problems that
caused us to have to stop and put the chain back on every time we
caught the other tandem. I wonder now if they had a remote control
to our front derailleur to cause this problem! We rolled along
202 toward Lake Matawa, and eventually over Mt. Grace where lots
of prayers were said to keep the chain from jamming! I saw an
interesting patch of woods that needed exploring so we took a
quick break. At the same time David was standing around the
corner and up the hill with his video camera rolling waiting for
us to ride by. When we finally did ride by, Steve gently suggested
that the picture would be better without the lens cap. It's
kind of cute on tape!