We'd been running Velo Vermont for a few years, when I saw an announcement for Velo New Hampshire. Sounded good, three day weekend at one of our favorite B&Bs, etc. Then I read the fine print. Seems the rides were on the order of 150 miles a day, climbing any large inclines they could find along the way. At which point I started to lose interest rapidly. The trip in its infancy was designed for the those members of the cycling world who like to push the envelope. The sort of person this would appeal to would get up and do another fifty miles before breakfast, since a day without a double century is hardly worth getting out of bed. So I wrote off Velo NH.
Then one year, it seemed there was a deficiency of serious riders, so Pamela opened it up to the great unwashed. Still, there were those 150 mile days. But then I reasoned, there was no way they could MAKE me do those rides. I could sign up for the trip under false pretenses, and do my own thing, coming in well under 100 miles. I would have to fill those extra hours showering (before the hot water ran out), drinking beer and languishing in the hot tub. I proposed this to Susan, who had long ago discarded this trip from the realm of possibility, and she said OK. So we decided to infiltrate Velo NH.
The first year we were in the vast minority. The thundering hordes would depart for parts unknown, and when the dust settled, there would be us and maybe a handful of similar wimps. But over the years, word spread of the Velo NH Lite group, and since less stigma was attached to not doing the "Official" Ride de jour, we achieved a significant following.
This is not to say that the rides were easy. Standing in the shadow of the giants of the cycling world, we would usually end up attempting a bit more than we would have in a vacuum. Several years ago, for instance, we did the famous Mousilakee Death March. This was billed as having some "hard packed" dirt. Susan and I would have ridden the tandem, but there was a fellow on the trip who showed up with a tandem and no stoker. Somewhat overconfident, he did not bring a single bike at all. He was having trouble finding a stoker, so Susan volunteered to stoke, while I borrowed a single bike. Well, the "hard packed" dirt turned out to be somewhat looser than advertised, coupled with some rather steep inclines, made for an interesting ride. There were several times when I wasn't sure I could maintain traction, but was way too late to clip out, so I just soldiered on, and managed to make it through. The tandem had a bit more difficulty, and I was beginning to wonder if I would end up in the dog house that evening. But we all survived, and I remained persona grata. Certainly did make for some interesting conversation after the ride. Suffice it to say, that due to popular demand, that ride was remodelled in future years.
This year, which may be the last year for Velo NH (see below), even the hard core seemed to have mellowed somewhat. The Saturday ride was barely over 100 miles (still had 4000 of feet of climbing, though). And the wimp ride was hardly worth mentioning. On Sunday, no one to my knowledge attempted the 150 mile Mousilakee Death March Mark II.
Of course, the real attraction of Velo NH is the apres ride activities. I mean, you can ride anywhere, but where else can you get a New England clambake imported by Woodman's of Essex, and a barbecue that can't be beat. As an added attraction this year, P&J provided beer. Not your generic Miller Lite, but real beer, including a case of Guinness Stout, several cans of which had my name on them. I figured they were safe, since not that many people have a liking for the black creamy brew, but when I arrived back, much to my horror, I found that team NEBC had descended on them like locusts. Fortunately, there was enough for all, and suitably fortified, I set out to attack the lobsters. Could barely wolf down a plateful of ice cream sundae after that feed. Sunday night was a repeat of same, with a cornucopia of barbecued goodies and all the trimmings. Oh, yes, and did I mention, we also did some bike riding that weekend.