The Rasputitsa gravel race came to our attention last winter. The promoters Heidi and Anthony held a great dirt road race called the Dirty 40 the following summer. As we learned more about the Rasputitsa we knew not only did we need to be a partner of the race but that we needed to build a bike specifically for the race. Thus was born both our sponsorship of the Rasputitsa and the Rapsutitsa-inspired All Roads.
Heidi and Anthony promised to put on a classic early spring VT gravel road race. And they delivered. Held in Newport, VT on a great mix of gravel, dirt, mud, snow and ice the race was one of those that stick with you for a while. Over 300 hundred riders including a fresh from Paris Roubaix Ted King, Tim Johnson and Lyne Bessette descended upon this quant town on the northernmost reaches of VT. In true spring classic fashion the weather report was for rain and 50 degrees. We rolled out of town with a police escort and to cheers from all the locals. Drizzle turned to hail at a few times but nothing could dampen our enthusiasm for riding these amazing roads.
We had heard lots of rumors about a very special feature on the course dubbed "Cyberia". It was supposed to be a class 4 road that was still covered in snow and ice. Reports varied widely in both its distance and makeup. Frankly nothing could have prepared us for what we were about to be subjected to. It started out simply enough. Just a patch of crusty snow mixed with mud. Oddly people seemed to be having trouble. Score one for proper tire selection and cyclocross skills. Once through this section it turned into what I can only describe as a river bed. With actual running water coming down it. I laughed out loud. I love this type of stuff. It became a hike-a-bike/russian roulette/test of who can ride the furthest between the group I was riding with. We all crashed so many times I lost count. But it was such a great way to get this adventure going! At the top of Cyberia we were met by a Yeti and handed maple syrup shots in ice shot glasses. I have never been more happy to see a large furry beast in my life.
After many selfies with the Yeti and probably too many syrup shots we got the pay off for all our suffering. The other side of Cyberia was a snow and mud covered descent that was like an adult slip and slide on bikes. We railed the downhill dodging crashed riders and mud holes. At the end we regrouped and picked up a few riders who had already had a ton of flats. These rides to me are great because they reward good bike handling as well as good bike/tire selection. I personally would rather have a slightly bigger tire than 4 flats 20 miles into a 47 mile epic.
After our descent we punched up a pretty nasty muddy incline. This would be the order of the day. Tough incline, ripping dirt bomb descent, rinse and repeat for 47 miles. I can't say enough how impressed I was by the volunteers and their support on the course. They were everywhere. They marshaled the courses like pros. We were able to descend through tricky road descents without having to brake at all. All thanks to the great marshaling throughout the day.
My personal favorite part of the ride was of course Cyberia but the roller coaster descents were a close second. We stayed together as a group of 5 for the whole ride. Sharing food, lifting each others spirits, sharing stories. It was a great day on the bike. WIth 3k to go we hit a paved run into town and put it into the big ring and flew into town where were greeted by locals cheering us for our hardwork. The town really came out to support this ride and all its riders. It was so nice to see so many people loving cyclists. After checking our bikes in we indulged in Poutine and Switchback Ale. Two bands entertained us. One of the highlights of the after party was the moment when the announcer called out that the final rider was heading into the finish. He then encouraged us all to get out onto Main street and cheer her on! It was a beautiful moment and one that more rides and races should encourage. All the riders matter and their efforts should be celebrated!
What an amazing event. A great video of the event can be found on Dirtwire.TV. HUGE tip of the cycling cap to Heidi and Anthony and the entire area that supported the race! They will be holding the Dirty 40 at the end of August. Do not miss out. I know we will be back and with a few more tricks up our sleeves!