So this one time my buddy Myles O’Brien and I did a blissful cycling adventure consisting of roughly 230 miles in Western Mass, culminating with square-pedaling up the steep side of Mt. Greylock, which I threw a fit in front of; I bet if I had any more energy left over, I would have thrown my bike in the bushes. All because the climb we had just finished minutes before, turned out to be about a mile longer, a bit steeper, no shade and I ran out of water. We did end up beasting it up the mountain just in time to enjoy the sunset from the summit. The whole trip took us 3 days, granted we were not racing. I am telling you all this to emphasize that the annual GMDC, at the distance of a fluctuating 205-210mi of primarily dirt roads, primarily running through VT, with its 25K of climbing (also a non-fixed figure), is typically won by the team of the fantastic trio: Matt Roy, David Wilcox, and John Bayley. Usually, with the time between 16 and 20 hours, depending on weather conditions.
One of the most inspiring parts of this ride/race is the attitude of the fantastic three. It’s..well…fantastic. It may be pouring rain, 40 degrees, 15mph headwinds, and their 20th climb of the day on 15% grade. As you pass them in the follow car, or passing nutrients over, or jumping out of the vehicle to grab that shot, you’d expect them to be exhausted, grumpy, foul-mooded. They smile. They ask about how you are doing. And continue on with their pace, which is an amazement of its own: it’s almost like they are wired together, with their pedal stroke being perfectly synchronized with each other’s.
It’s about fourth year I’ve been invited to document this randonneuring race, and to be honest with you, for the past couple of years I’ve been getting a bit of a worry that I might be bored out of my mind, having seen it all already a few times over and delivered photographs and video in the past. The thrill and the spirit of randonneuring takes over each time, right about the start (4 a.m.), actually, no, earlier, right after the brain reluctantly accepts the reality of having to wake up at 3 a.m. and everyone starts to get ready in the motel room. And each time I find something new, something different, that attracts my eye, also, because I am different, too, hence the vision. This being said, please proceed to enjoying the photos from this year’s GMDC. Occasional captions will hopefully keep you informed as well as entertained.
Fixing your cycling partner’s helmet is as personal as it gets. So much love.
Matt Roy once (and repeatedly) said that if you are not looking around you and enjoying the view, while you are on a ride, you are doing it wrong. If any of you have ever done a long(ish) ride, I am sure you can relate. If you haven’t, put that on your checklist: I guarantee that you will see so much more than out of a car window. Along with the pace and effort of propelling yourself forward through nothing more than your own power, the time dimension changes drastically from what you are used to in the daily routine, and it literally opens both your eyes and your mind to the things you’ve considered familiar. Not to mention you are bound to discover something new as well. It’s that urge of exploration and discovery that every human being has in them…some have just chosen to ignore it. Do yourself a favor, don’t.
Camaraderie, brotherhood, tacit helping each other… and boy, do not mess with Matt Roy! :)
It feels borderline blasphemous to try to describe the joy and overwhelming sense of freedom filling up your lungs when you drink up that golden morning light bouncing through the saturated green lush of the woods.
The essential part of any randonneuring endeavor - checking your gear, fixing as needed, and adjusting.
What did I say about smiles and fantastic attitude? See?!
The play of light and shadow has offered so many photographic opportunities, I might have let out a yelp or two…every now and again.
We stumbled upon a cow farm, so naturally we had to pull over and get our animal fix. Especially Mo who seems to have a special ability to connect with any critter instantly. Cows were all “WHAT’S UP?”
And then I saw a run down train track up above. Who in their right mind would pass up that opportunity???
And once again, if it’s in your habit to look around, you’ll see things. Like that car that first attracted my attention. When I got close to it to grab a shot of this antique, the shed next to it, that looked like a very abandoned form of something that was meant to be very temporary, back in the day, was producing noise that was unmistakably TV-produced. I proceeded to composing my shot, half-hoping for, half-wishing against someone gnarly raging out of that shed with a shotgun in one hand and an almost empty whiskey bottle in the other.
Or maybe not raging out necessarily. Maybe I’d just take my eyes off the viewfinder and feel the stare on my back, slowly turn…. and there is an innocent looking little girl with half her hair braided, half loose, old torn teddy bear in one hand, and…Oh well, we are not on movie set here. Moving on!
Despite the above-mentioned fact of not being associated with any kind of film production, the fantastic three were apparently emitting the celebrity vibe. As soon as the rest stop was taken by a local general store, other cyclists started to flock around, take pictures and ask for autographs. The fantastic three.
You know what’s badass? Badass is when your back is all messed up because of a PhD dissertation that had you bent over it for months (that you successfully defend. mind you), but you still keep on riding, even if your superhero lycra doesn’t show a sign of the wounds hidden beneath.
And like that, dandy style, you get your helmet on…
…and blow a kiss! There is no stopping you, despite the plethora of stop signs.