Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée

D2R2 Organization Tent the evening before, 2011.

The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée is the most beloved late summer cycling event in New England. There’s everything to like: 110 miles (~180k) mostly on stunning scenic dirt roads, 12,500+ feet of climbing with some absurdly steep pitches, spirited but not obtrusive support (Eurostyle with real food — cheese, sandwiches, fruit, ice cream (!) — instead of racerboy gels and blocks), and all benefitting a local land trust. Here’s Bruce’s Garmin track.

August after August I’ve rued not being in town for it, hostage to the seemingly irrational shrill celebratory accolades for the D2R2 from my friends, so this year I was delighted to be able to participate before heading south of the equator. They are right. The sheer joyfulness of the ride was the best part, the landscapes and history of north central Massachusetts and southern Vermont a compelling backdrop. The wonderful diversity of bicycles ranged from Campy super record carbon road racing rigs to mountain bikes to lovely porteurs. (My favorite was Susan’s Sketchy.) It was easy to follow veterans on the route if one wanted to, but there were many occasions for me to experience the simple satisfaction of following the cue sheet at intersections of 19th century carriage paths or abandoned postal roads.

Quite difficult and endlessly sublime, enthusiastically recommended.

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I rode my cyclocross bike with a compact crankset and Michelin Jet 30’s, with mountain bike pedals and shoes. Saddle pack: Two tubes, levers, and multitool. Revelate Gas Tank: Snacks. Frame pump under top tube. I had a jacket and folded cue sheets in my jersey pocket. In my estimation this setup proved ideal, but it would not be outrageous to do this ride on a road bike with 25’s (28’s even better if they fit) or, of course, on a proper touring or randonneuring machine.