If you were to describe D2R2 to an alien in only two words I think the two you'd select would be “exceptionally white”. It may seem mean but it’s true. It’s a classic New England dirt road ride that pits Bernie voters against Trump country. Some call it the “original” $150 gravel grinder. D2R2 is the ‘Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee’ for the Californians in the audience. It’s a western Massachusetts ride (that just delicately kisses Vermont) compiled by the Pioneer Valley’s best and brightest and it’s bucket-list status one of the best bike rides in the whole world!
I really am intrigued and fascinated by all that cool West Coast stuff and all the gravel being ground out there but it's just different than the Northeast. Sometimes, when you're from New Hampshire and do a sleep over on the West Coast or spend a week there you start to feel like you're on a different planet. D2R2 is a celebration of my favorite things New England has to offer, from the planet to the bikes. It's the big weekend for all my favorite people. For The Drifters, it marks the end of summer. Just on the other side lies ‘cross. It's our last chance to taste the fruits of summer and let the juices drip down our chins.
This year we elected to ride the 175km ‘Mystery Ride’ which was hyped so perfectly we simply couldn't resist. We've been riding all sorts of strange through the summer but the D2R2 routes are assembled by Sandy who had ascended well into route-planning legend status when Brad and I were still riding unicycles in Allston. He's an evil jeep track loving genius and I knew that given route blanche he was really going to piece together some wild Dr. Seuss jungle shit.
I painted my Seven Cycles with a fresh coat of sharpie, loaded up my Instagram famous girlfriend's Land Cruiser and set off for my favorite weekend of the year.
Honestly, there were a bit nerves jangling around as Brad and the newest Drifter, Myles O, had been opening up a fitness gap all summer riding much of the New England randonneur series. Both of them have been chomping at the bit at the mention of another 600k. I on the other hand dry-heave at the thought of more than 12 hours behind bars. 175km was a sweet spot for our whole crew. My only real concern was that Matt Roy was going to feed us our own own legs for lunch but he broke 2 ribs a week and a half earlier so it was kind of like a perfect storm met a planning miracle and then got a skeevy motel room with some trail magic.
The route, like all D2R2 routes, was stunning. But after all these years I have to say my favorite part has become the bikes themselves. With such a high number of new custom bikes per capita - New England is the Silicon Valley of old dudes railing natural berms on $8000+ whips. Many of my most cherished moments of D2R2 are those I've spent staring at bikes. My favorites are the oldest ones there; ones that espouse so much function they don’t have any time left for aesthetics. This year, while riding, I complimented a very old man’s Fred-tastic Merlin MTB. He looked me square in the eye and unabashedly uttered: “This is a real bike”.
I swoon at the sight of all the bikes leaned up against the ropes that hold down the giant circus tent. From a Forty-Four with fenders to a fat bike with flip flop pedals... every style of bike can find its place in the sun at D2R2.
The riding was Ok I guess too. Just kidding! It was beyond perfect. Once those bikes hit the road, the dance of crews and squads climbing and descending is truly poetic.
Our crew was comprised of myself and the complete Drifters squad less Tonezan who had just completed a 5 week summer shred of Canadian gravel that left him, quote: “really wiped”. We were also joined by aforementioned leg-ripper-offer Matt Roy and our friends Marc and Chris. We picked up one of my faves, Opie, at lunch and we were whole. We had one of every type of person and then some. A good spread. I liked that and I believe it really worked well for us.
Then came Sandy’s jeep tracks... I am a fan of this kind of stuff even though I'm not super well versed in it. I just think it’s so exciting! I have picked up running in the past couple years and I like to think that has something to do with it. Bikes are great and all but moving on just your legs can be fun too if you don’t complain so much. I took lots of big steps and made a big commitment to the fact that we all paid to be there. You'd see people moving different paces coming into these sections but on the other end everyone was on the same page. We all went into a really dark funk hole in those woods it was a really special thing to share. Plus, the only non-human thing older than my 2004 Seven Tsunami was the rock walls we would ride next to in those woods. I think someone said they were something like sixty thousand years old.
The Mystery Ride was such an absolutely wild success to me because we trusted in an event, a route, and a program from the D2R2 crew we already love and they just knocked it out of the fucking park. In a world of the 24 hour hype cycle it was so cool to see someone give something a fresh spin (no garmin files!) and just absolutely nail it. When you give someone or something your trust and and commitment and they give back even more - that’s it!
The bikes are simply so spectacular that I'm ok bringing up again and gushing about a little more. It’s the bikes and how they are born from a super concentration of money and salty attitudes and unique ways and means of New England really color this event for me.