It occurred to me that reality shows and our weekend trips have much in common. You take two dozen or so strangers, throw them together in somewhat adverse circumstances and watch what happens.
Some of our early trips in particular had aspects of “Survivor.” Wonalancet cabin in particular comes to mind. It was a much better shelter than a bunch of palm fronds, but the Hilton it wasn’t. Sleeping accommodations can best be described as sardine can. The bunk room consisted of one long two level bunk, sleeping 10 or so on each level (depending on how friendly you wanted to get with your neighbor). The alternative was a somewhat rickety single person bunk that I usually made a beeline for. You had to be pretty careful when mounting this since it tended to sway more than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The snorers were flushed out early, and while they weren’t voted off the cabin, they achieved deserved notoriety within the group. You wouldn’t think such a setting was conducive to romantic interludes, but I’m told there has been incidents of hanky panky in the bunk room.
Private bathrooms were not an issue at Wonalancet, since they didn’t exist. There was however, an impressive battery of outhouses, that you did not want to be downwind of.
Some of my trips started out innocently and ended up testing the limits of human endurance. The Tour de Brew was one. The first TDB was a five day self-contained tour that visited Vermont towns with microbreweries. That venue wasn’t a huge success so the second attempt was riding from my house in Bedford to Brattleboro, home of two microbreweries, staying overnight at the hotel hosting one, and riding back. This achieved about the same number of participants (5). so the next concept involved driving to Brattleboro and riding locally from there. We had dinner with Pamela and John shortly before the weekend. They really liked the area and were especially fond of the steep windy dirt roads in the area. So my goal was to identify these roads and avoid them like the plague. In the end, I did armchair route planning with the help of my mapping program. I selected a route with what seemed like scenic back roads around Brattleboro. It wasn’t until the morning of the ride that I happened to look at a state map, and discovered that most of my route was indeed dirt. I did fess up and gave everyone the choice of going off on their own on real paved roads, but everyone elected to follow the plan. Turned out there was a lot of dirt. And a lot of climbing. Not too many people besides me had triples on their road bikes so there was a bit of walking and the occasional FDGB. I was saved from the lynch party by the fact that the last ten or so miles was paved and downhill so the previous ordeal was quickly forgotten.
Many of my early trips were run out of a funky B&B. The advantage of the place was the it was comfortable, homey, and above all cheap, a major selling point with the bike crowd. It had a number of memorable features.
There was the outdoor wood fired hot tub, whose temperature was quite hard to regulate. So it was either the scalding tub or the freezing tub depending on whether the wood stove had been stoked recently. Those who’ve have been on these trips before often stage an early breakaway in order to get back and get in a shower before the hot water runs out. Then there’s the obligatory 5pm power failure caused by Susan’s hair dryer overloading the somewhat fragile electrical system. All the rooms had quaint names but those in the know referred to one in particular as the “fly room” since on a warm summer day you might find yourself sharing the room with large numbers of six legged friends. The place is under new management, and has become a lot more upscale, so I’m afraid many of these former features are no longer to be enjoyed.
Though our trips may have an element of adventure, they are actually a lot of fun. We’ve had a lot of good times, made some good friends, and fostered two marriages that we know of on our trips.