'Praxis'

Double Whammy: Dirt Adventuring in New England

On the heels of an incredible inaugural El Camino (which I’ll post about asap), this weekend is going to be BIG. Perhaps too big…. Nah, it’s going to be awesome!

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In 2015 I met Jeremy Powers at the Paris-to-Ancaster race, and we had a nice conversation. I guess he was  convinced by my ride that I was not a spazz, so he invited me to Jam Fund’s Grand FUNdo in mid-July. “C’mon down, it’ll be awesome!” I wasn’t able to make it happen that summer, but was determined to put the pieces together for 2016. Since that April in 2015, I’ve had a couple more opportunities to talk with Jeremy, and on each occasion, became more and more convinced that the GrandFundo would be an event not to miss. So I’m going, we’re going, and I can’t wait!

The Grand FUNdo is both FUN, being a non-competitive event, and about raising FUNDs for the Jam Fund, which is a small but mighty nonprofit organization. The creation of Jeremy Powers, Alec Donahue, and Mukunda Feldmand (JAM), the Fund has been helping aspiring cyclocross racers in New England develop into the elite ranks since 2003, with notable alumni currently tearing up the North American circuit, such as Anthony Clark and Stephen Hyde. JAM’s efforts to both grow and professionalize cyclocross in the US are both impressive and inspiring. Saturday’s event is an annual gathering of passionate riders from all over the US and Canada, a celebration of what Jam Fund has accomplished, and another stone in the foundation of more good work to come.

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The FUNdo is just south of familiar territory, Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee lands, and Franklin County, about 6.5 hours south of Ottawa. For the uninitiated, this means the area, Southampton, MASS, is beautiful, and absolutely jammed with dirt roads. That’s what we’ll ride, 85miles of paved and dirt roads – up, down, sideways. This route, the longest of their options, features something like 8000 feet climbing, and is reputed to be one of the best in New England, so I am pumped! There are to other route options on offer: the Mini FUNdo, 39 miles, and the original Grand FUNdo, 68 miles.

Many great cyclocross riders will be there, including a slew of Jam Fund members, present and alumni. I have no idea what the pace will be like, but I suspect plummeting the descents will be on the menu! I’ll pack my cyclocross bike with either my 26mm or 32mm Compass tires mounted (I’ve got some internet sleuthing to do), a 34×36 low gear, and see what the day brings! Meanwhile, my family will do some exploring in the woods around the farm we’ll depart from, and we’ll all converge at the end of the ride for a big meal. It’s going to be a hell of a day!

Each rider is given the opportunity to raise funds for the organization, and I have a page set up for this purpose. If you feel good about what Jam Fund is doing, and would like to pitch in, no amount is too small. There are incentives for amounts of money raised, including a free entry for a minimum of $250 (USD). If I happen to pull in that much, I’ll randomly draw this entry from the names of those who donated. Here’s the link to my FUNdraising page.

Ok, so that’s Saturday, what about Sunday? We’re going to drive 2.5 hours north, back up to Vermont after the FUNdo party to set up camp somewhere near the start of the Farm to Fork Fondo! A friend, Marc Clemens, had been planning on attending, and wanted me to join him, but I was thinking it would be too much for me until he informed me that he’d be stuck at work on Sunday, and wanted to give his entry away. After looking at the logistics and speaking with Danielle, my wife, I decided to go for it: Double Whammy! Where will we stay? Don’t know. How will I feel in the morning? Probably not amazing. Will it be fun? Absolutely!

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The Farm to Fork Fondo is a big production that actually runs events in a few states, headed up by Tyler Wren, who also runs Wrenegade Sports. I met Tyler at the Rasputitsa pre-ride in February, where he gave out promotional wooden spoons some of you might have seen me using as an axle for truing wheels. Sunday’s route will be 109 miles of mostly paved roads, with a little gravel; not enough to need bigger than 25mm tires. Marc rode the event in 2015 and loved it, so I expect to do the same.

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As the event’s name belies, the food component is huge; it showcases a slew of local farms and has a local chef handling all the prepared foods for the event’s checkpoints and after party. If you take a look at the site, you’ll likely be as amazed as I was over how much of a production it is; truly impressive! While I’m riding, my family will do some exploring, perhaps roam Pittsfield. Whatever happens, we’ll be exploring new communities and landscapes, and I expect we’ll come away feeling enriched by the experience. The fact that I approach events like this as opportunities to enjoy new routes, ride fast when I feel like it, and meet new people means there’s no pressure; a recipe for good times.

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I’ll take on the longest of the three routes, about 110 miles of paved and drit roads, with roughly 7500 feet climbing. That’s half of D2R2, so no worries. I’m told big tires are not required, so I might be able to us my 26mm Compass tires both days.

I promise to take as many photos as I can, and to report back about the weekend’s adventures!

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