Friday, July 10, 2009


Vermont is perhaps the only place that takes it's maple syrup more seriously than we do in Canada. A whole section of the grocery store aisle was dedicated to it here in Waitsfield, the small town just at the base of the Sugarbush Ski Resort. The weather here in Vermont has been even wetter than Southern Ontario which while hard to believe seems to be true. As such I had a bit of a scramble to find some mud tires to put on the bike instead of the "dry hardpack turn lethal in wet conditions" ones I have been riding all season. Thanks to Tim and Mike at Speedriver Bicycles, I even managed a few test runs on them before driving down on Tuesday. Even though it is almost a 10hr drive down I decided it was still better than the expense of a plane ticket, plus extra bike charge and rental car. I had planned to get up fairly early to try and clear Toronto traffic before it went to hell. I was about a half hour later than planned getting out the door, but it was still 6:30am so I thought it would be alright. Nope!! I got about 20mins down the road and ended up stopped dead in traffic. For those of you who know the area I didn't even make it to Guelph Line heading east on the 401 and I had to drive the whole length of the city stop and go. It took me almost two hours to go about 70miles. A pretty ominous start to the trip. Fortunately nobody seems to drive on the 401 east of Toronto and once clear of the city I pretty much had the road to myself. I had heard from many that listening to books on CD is the best way to pass a long road trip so when the radio stations whittled down to country and hard-core religious ones I put one on. What do you know they were right and the rest of the trip flew by. I rolled into Waitsfield about 4:30pm to Betsy and Bill's who are opening up their beautiful home to Emma Garrard and I for the race and after a quick unpack and grocery store run I crawled into bed for a nap. I could have called it a night but I needed to pick up Emma at the Burlington airport at 11pm. Good thing I set two alarms or she might have needed to find another ride in. Thursday morning Emma and I headed out to the race course to do a pre-ride and run. It is a point to point bike course so we parked at the top and rode easy down the road to T1. We had been warned that the course was really muddy and steep but that it was rideable. Really?!!! The elevation gain in the first mile was 700ft, most of which was hike a bike. It probably took us 30mins to ride (mostly walk) the first 3km of the course. At the rate we were going we wondered whether the rules stated that you actually had to be in possession of a bike for the bike leg of the race as running would have been much faster. Thankfully the second part of the course was quite a bit drier and more rideable. It still took about 2:10 to ride 17km and there is a 60% chance of rain forecasted for Saturday night!!! Once back at the car we met up with Seth and headed out for one loop of the two loop run course. More mud and more uphill. We reminisced about our high school days of cross country running and using duct tape to keep our shoes on as we slogged through what looked to be paths recently carved through the forest by a bulldozer between the ski runs of the resort and a stream crossing just for good measure.

Mud Bike

Today was pretty much a lazy day. A quick swim in the pond (the swim is in the ski resort's snow making pond) and a bit of running around trying to get Emma's front tire sorted out. It wasn't holding air and we had to stop about three times for her to put air in it during the pre-ride. It took three bike shops to find one that actually had a tubeless tire. Of course today the weather was absolutely beautiful and it seems all the local cyclist decided to play hooky as they were out in droves, of course the Tour always seems to increase the number of riders on the road. Race start is 9am Sunday morning and the women's field, which has been hit and miss this season, has a solid start list. Hear's hoping for good weather and enjoying lots of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream post race!!!

The Pond, uh Swim Venue

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