Stories From the Road

Some of the stories below were saved emails that were sent, stories by others and other oddities.  They all represent the effort and determination each rider has and of course all the fun we have when cycling.  They are not listed in any particular order. 

Sunday June 29, 2003  News Flash!  
Team Eliminator sets new mark by completing the tri-state 175.  
Team Eliminator cycling team led by team captain Ken Silvestri rewrote the books for the teams best one day distance ride.  Previously held by Ken Silvestri at 138 miles, the team set out to better the record and push themselves to a new level.
The team deployed at 5:24AM from Walnut Hill Road in East Lyme.  The team was not even 5 miles into the ride when anchorman Scott Kushman developed rear end trouble with the back sprocket.  The team of technicians led by Ken Silvestri and Kelly Behrens assessed the situation and quickly determined that the bike could not be ridden for any considerable distance.  The team backtracked to the origin of the ride and performed emergency repair work to get Scott back on the road.  After successful repair work, the team re-deployed at 6:24AM.  With the team now behind schedule, the concerned team quickened the pace to put some serious miles behind them before the afternoon came where it was likely to get much tougher.
The team rode through Norwich, CT and headed north on Rt 169 to Webster, Massachusetts.  While riding our way out of Webster the team made two critical navigation errors and lost an hour trying to get back on course.  The first error was a wrong turn.  After a few miles it was clear that we made a wrong turn but the second critical error was continuing on thinking we would hit some major road that we could use to get back to the planned route.  The team actually found themselves back in Connecticut.  After stopping and getting help from a local resident, the team was advised to backtrack and head north to get back to the elusive Rt 96 in MA.  Once the team got back on course, steady progress was made.
As the team made its way into RI, Herb Petersen recorded his first century ride.  The team refocused to keeping the pace brisk and worked their way back into Connecticut.  The afternoon sun took its toll on all team members and frequent stops were made to keep hydrated.  By the time the team reached Connecticut, the heat receded and the pace quickened.  Even after the long day the team put in a good effort from Voluntown all the way back to Walnut Hill Road (last 40 miles).

Official ride statistics:  
175.02 miles
3 states - CT, MA, RI
Elapsed time: June 29, 2003  5:24AM - 7:40PM  14 hrs 16 min
Overall Average Speed: 12.28 mph (Includes all stops and repairs)
Cycling rate:  14.7 mph
Estimated liquid consumption: ~250 oz. each
Herb Petersen

----- Original Message -----
From: "Herb Pertersen" 
To: "Kenneth Silvestri" 

Sent: Monday, June 30, 2003 6:10 AM
Subject: 175 mile ride

I'll give you the run down from yesterday:
-bad right shoulder cramping for last 60 miles
-left shoulder cramping in last 10 miles
-left ankle tender from previous injury since mile 80
-bottom of both feet cramping in last 15 miles
-right wrist sore
-both hands were getting very weak and was having trouble shifting and
- both palms of my hands looked like they were going to get sizable blisters
(all puffed up and sore)
-there was a stretch where I was going down mentally (felt dazed)
-not to forget a lick of spontaneous combustion on the rump for the last 35
miles or so...

Thank goodness the legs held out...175 is a long ride.


Boston-Montreal-Boston Randonnée (2004)

May we share this dry porch?

by Russ Loomis, six time finisher and RAAM qualified at BMB 2002  (Russ Loomis is a good friend of the Eliminator Cycling group. he and others pushed us to our first BMB in 2006)

150 riders from the USA, Canada, Sweden, France, Finland, and the Netherlands took part in the Quad Centuries, 1000k plus 200k brevet, or BMB this year. The Quads are four days of riding the hilliest section of the BMB route. The first day goes from Boston to Brattleboro, the second goes to Middlebury, the third back in Brattleboro, and then back to Boston. Riders needing a 1000k followed the BMB route to the turn-around in Huntingdon and back to Brattleboro - and rode another 200k to back to the finish. Riders who declared they were trying to qualify for RAAM, and finished within the time cutoffs, qualified for RAAM. This year three qualified: Saunders Whittlesey, 48:09, a new course record; John Jurczynski, 60:56, and Patrick Autissier, 64:37. Men age 18-49 must finish in <65 hours; men age 50-59 must finish <70 hours.

The BMB brochure says the terrain is extremely difficult with over 30,000' of climbing. It also states that riders will encounter a 12% climb into Middlebury. This is all true but there is much more. All four of the passes - Andover, Mt Terrible, Killington, and Middlebury Gap - are steeper on the return. The last few years have had a surprise in Canada, Covey Hill. The first time I rode this new route in 2001 on the way to Huntingdon I saw a mountain to the clouds with a swath cut through the trees reaching the sky. I looked at this wall with anxiety for fifteen miles before I reached the base. This is more than a hill - it is three miles to the top with an average grade of 15%.

Crista Borras finished BMB this year with tandem partner with Chuck Wood. Her observations, "Overall BMB is great - it is a truly epic ride. It rivaled PBP for scenic beauty, and Jennifer's orchestration and the volunteer support were magnificent. I do believe it is a more difficult ride than PBP (our altimeter indicated over 35,000 feet of climbing)."

Add in the weather and there is a fun mix. I have never ridden BMB without rain somewhere. Come to think of it I have never gone over the islands of Lake Champlain without strong headwinds. And, if you ride into the night it gets cold in the Vermont Mountains. Patrick Autissier, who qualified for RAAM said, "A golden rule says that it does rain at the BMB. Actually, we had pouring rain the whole third day, for me from Middlebury until the end. At this point, the brevet became much more mental than physical. I couldn't tell the number of times I wanted to drop off, find any excuses to stop that torture."

The start of this year's BMB was warm and dry. We were led from the parking lot by a pace van through Newton. After a few miles we were rolling through towns on the way to the first checkpoint, Bullard Farm at mile 78. The sun was out and it was beautiful riding through the country and over Mt. Pisgah in New Hampshire just before Brattleboro, the second checkpoint at mile 116.

Brattleboro had the first warm food and most riders got there by noon. On the roads to Ludlow we had many short and steep climbs, rough pavement, and road construction to cope with before arriving at Andover pass. Then we headed for Mt. Terrible. I am convinced that this is the hardest climb and not Middlebury Gap. At the other side was the third checkpoint, Ludlow at mile171. The descent was very fast and much anticipated after the long climb in the hot sun. Many riders reached speeds of close to 60 mph!

Fueled with mac and cheese, homemade chicken soup, salad, and brownies we headed for Middlebury. In Pittsfield the rain started but it was warm so I didn't mind the soaking - I had a change of dry clothes in Middlebury. Riding through the small town I was cheered by three young girls standing on their porch. "Go BMB'ers!" By the time I started the ascent up Middlebury Gap the rain had stopped, the sun once again was shining, and it was warm for the descent. It was going to be a warm, dry night after leaving Middlebury, the fourth checkpoint. Middlebury, 237 miles from the start, was the goal for many of the riders to stop for sleep. Those who chose to not sleep there went on 30 miles to Williston, if they had motel reservations. Others including myself kept riding and reached Rouses Point, checkpoint five at mile 325.

From Rouses Point we crossed the border into Canada and turn west to Huntingdon. Once over the rollers and Covey Hill we arrived at checkpoint six, 375 miles. After welcome food and Canadian hospitality it was back to the US. We were heading for home so every mile was subtracted from the finish unlike moments before when we were going further from the end.

Back at Rouses Point, mile 425, we got ready for the long journey back to Middlebury. This leg seemed to go on forever. It is roughly ninety miles and I don't ever remember heading south without a headwind. Sandy Whittlesey would later comment, "Coming back from Quebec, the headwinds picked up and were brutally discouraging (like 15 mph) all day."

I was planning my first sleep stop at Middlebury, mile 510, and arrived in the warm night at around 10 p.m. There was talk of rain starting before daylight. I showered, ate, and got ready to sleep. I had a wake-up call for 2 a.m. but it started raining at midnight so I left with two other riders heading for Ludlow. The overnight temperature dropped to 49š F. The descent from Middlebury Gap was painfully slow in the darkness and heavy rain; I think I climbed to the top faster! Jim Solanick crashed on the descent while John D'Elia and I waited for him below. When Jim made it down the mountain we decided that it made sense to sleep there, on the dry store porch, until daylight. This would be our three hours of sleep, not at Ludlow as planned. We awoke to find three others sleeping with us. When they saw us huddled and dry the temptation was too great for them to continue on in the cold wet night. John McClellan, Bryce Walsh, and Rick Eischen joined us and we treated ourselves to fresh coffee and muffins before leaving in the heavy rain.

It was still raining in Ludlow, mile 576, so just a quick stop to keep warm. By the time I got to Chester, VT the sky opened up as if I was riding under a waterfall. The Brattleboro, checkpoint was a welcome sight with only 116 miles remaining.

From Brattleboro it is thirty-seven miles to Bullard Farm. Leaving there for Boston, Melinda Lyon said, "Now don't do anything stupid!" As if what we had been doing for the last two days was not stupid! I was now dry and riding without a jacket. The last eighty miles seem endless with the finish so close. Fortunately, it was warm and dry.

Sunday was a warm, sunny day for the riders still coming in. The post ride meal started at 3 p.m. Tired but exhilarated randonneurs sat, ate, and recalled this epic weekend. Sitting comfortably in chairs with bikes perched out of reach, all of the struggles with nature and self evolve into fond memories.

Perhaps it is best summed up by BMB's new record holder Sandy Whittlesey, "Cycling in Vermont in late summer is nirvana, from the rolling Putney hills, to the big 'Gaps,' to the open stretches of Lake Champlain. The whole tapestry of green has its way of soothing you through some really challenging terrain."

Our First Double Century

 We left the shop about 30 minutes later than we planned in the morning.  Because of the heavy cloud cover it stayed darker longer. We rolled out at 5:45AM into a thick fog and mist.  Our route was north through Norwich and up Route 169. We had an absolute pre-planned turn around time of 1:15PM.  That would give us the same amount of daylight hours to return.  We had no lights front or rear on the bikes.  The roads were wet and it was obvious that the weather was going to be a factor.

 Everywhere we went it appeared like it had "just" rained....and it had.  We were damp and cold. Route 169 ends in MA so we continued on Route 31, which was shoulder-less and busy.  Our pace was nearly 16 mph for the first 50 or so miles than started to slowly fall off as the day and hills wore on. I announced a phone text from Herb text saying we were running slow at the border after I sent him the text of our location.  Nobody cared we were still strong....but in hind sight we now know he was 100% right.

 Not having rode as many early season miles as last year I was surprised at one snack stop that we had only 80 miles on board.  My body felt like we must have crossed the century mark.  We were all chilled to the bone.  Joe's entire body was a mass of goose bumps.  Tim's face was red like he has been in the Arctic.  My hands were numb to the point it was difficult to hold on. The skies looked like a downpour could happen at any minute for almost the whole day.  There was no question if we got soaked it would have been over.  We stopped at on of the very few convenience stores on this route and bought brown gardening gloves.  Those were a lifesaver.  Joe reminded me that when he was taking some warm clothes with him in the morning I said "what are you nuts, I heard it is going to be 90 degrees today".  I guess I must have heard the Tampa forecast.

 Wet and 45 is a long way from sunny and 90.  Let's not forget the self-generated "wind-chill" factor we create.   Well the official turnaround time came and we were short of our goal.  Joe stopped and said time to go back.  I looked at the mileage.....90. ( that would leave us 20 miles short) I was again amazed we had only traveled 10 miles since we stopped for a snack.  We knew that we had to make the turnaround then or ride lightless in the dark.  I told the other two that I had figured in a small "safety cushion" in my turnaround time and we should push forward.  Joe and Tim said we could just pack on the few missing miles near the shop when we return.  Having run the Tri-State 175 I knew when you get close to the barn there is NO WAY you want to do anything but get off that bike.  I knew we would not be up for a 20 mile loop around the lake in the dark and cold. They foolishly followed me deeper into the hills.  What I did not tell them is my "safety cushion" had us figured to run at least 1 mph FASTER on the return leg.

 As we rode I started running the numbers in my head I realized we were not going to arrive before dark....not even close.  Our average had fallen to 15.  At 95 miles I stopped and told the others we had to make the turnaround. The words no sooner left my lips and we were headed south. We were just below Princeton MA.  We agreed to make up the missing 10 miles near the shop on home turf.  It would be much safer on the un-traveled back roads with no lights.  At 5:55 I  looked the my phone and a text from Herb said....  "It is 5:30 you should be at 160 now"  My odometer said 153 and I was already 20 minutes late on his calc.  Herb’s numbers were right on the money and I knew it.  I said nothing for a while and then told the crew..."Herb has us about 20 miles behind schedule"..... no replies. Our pace had climbed to 15.3. 

  The threat of rain loomed and moonless darkness was setting in fast. When we reached 175 miles I was worn out. The pace had fallen back to 15mph average. The air had become thick with a misty fog and due to the cloud cover we must have lost at least a half our of the light we preciously needed. "Only 25 miles more" big deal.  Let me tell you 25 miles IS A BIG DEAL after you have been in the saddle pedaling hard for over 11 hours.  It was dark as we reached route 85. Once we cross this road we will be on our  "home turf" again.  As we waited for our chance to cross the road Tim looked at me with the blank look of the riding dead and said in a monotone voice….”I need sugar or something”.  I did not the energy or presence of mind to even answer him and just shot across the road towards the shop not knowing if he was even following. Tim gathered what few wits he had and followed me .

 Once we made the turn onto the back roads at the ice cream shop it went from dark to completely BLACK.  I only had sunglasses as the others.  No big deal for them to take the dark glasses off and ride without.  But I am blind as a bat without glasses.  I could hardly see the yellow line it was so dark out.  When Joe who has 20/20 vision said it was so dark HE could not see the yellow line we were in trouble.  Our pace slowed to 4-6 mph for the next 15 agonizing miles.

 The famous "Homes Road Hill"  was lurking and could prove to be particularly sinister tonight.  We crept slowly to the top and for the first time all day I dropped into my 30 gear.  I hoped to hold it off for the whole ride but with less than 12 miles to go I gave in.  Joe and I reached the corner of Upper Walnut Hill and Grassy Hill....Left is the shop and a quick end to the pain and suffering...right is another 10 miles of 4-6 miles per hour, darkness and hills. We went right. Visibility was less than 10' if you can see 20/20.  I could not see anything and I would be all done left alone....."stick me with a fork....I am done...well done".  We arrived at the shop in total darkness at 9:30pm over 15 hours since we left.

  It took "effort" for me to lift my Colnago "one of the lightest bikes made" into the back of my truck.  Driving home was difficult because my hands and feet felt funny.  When Joe met up with me at the light in Flanders he rolled down the window to tell me his hands felt funny on the steering wheel. I called Debbie to "cancel" our  plans to go out for dinner. "Order me a large pizza with everything including the kitchen sink on it".  I also told her to go pick it up because I knew it would take more effort than I had left to carry that box.  Boy was I happy to pull into the driveway.  ....Now for the SAD part.... my odometer read......199.17 miles..... You got to be kidding friggin' way .... It was so dark I could not read the little numbers on my odometer earlier Joe had 200.  With no bike shoes....legs like rubber from sitting in the truck... I hopped on the two wheeled machine of pain and rode around the block a couple times.  "The Double Century" has been conquered.   Who's dumb idea was that anyway?

Click for a link to the Ultra Marathon Race The Quad State Double.  200 miles of freezing cold racing by Joe and Ken!
QSD 200