D2R2 Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée
Photography & Words by Tayler Rae Dubé.
My first Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée I didn’t ride. I wasn't cycling much at the time and was only there to celebrate my father’s birthday before heading to dinner at Richard Sach’s house. At dinner, they discussed the tough dirt climbs and rocky descents. Every since then, it has been a goal of mine to ride D2R2.
The ride not only marks my father’s birthday, but also a chance to escape the city and ride some of the best dirt roads in the country. In the past, I had only felt confident enough to do the Green River Ride, but this year I vowed to do the 100K.
The contrast between the two rides is incredible. Differing by only 20K in length, but gaining an additional 6,500 feet in elevation, I was excited to test out my climbing legs.
The first climb was the hardest, technically. Old Albany Road, a steep grade constructed of washed out gravel. The cue sheet warned me it would be rough and to not follow other riders closely. I took it slow, but my legs were fresh and my knobby tires gripped well so I made it up with little issue.
Thirty miles and 4,600 feet of climbing in, we arrived at the lunch break. Catered with sandwiches, pasta salad, pickles, chips, and drinks, my body was happy to have some real food in its system. The next part of the ride would be 10 flat miles along the Green River, a much needed moment of recovery.
Along the river, the air was cool and crisp. The road here combined of all the routes and we were lucky enough to meet up with some friends doing the 180K ride. Enjoying the lack of elevation gain, we quickened our pace, chatting and heckling each other.
“WHY ARE YOU RIDING SO SLOW."
"NEED ME TO PUSH YOU?"
"YOU'RE GETTING BEAT BY A GIRL!"
A SHARP RIGHT TURN UP A STEEP HILL SILENCED US. WE WERE ALL STRUGGLING TOGETHER NOW AND THERE IS SOMETHING POWERFUL ABOUT THAT.
Tired and sore, the paved two staged climb up to Apex Orchards had me wishing for road tires. I sat in, pedaling hard and counting each pedal stroke in my head. I looked to my left, and for a moment, the view made me forget I was in pain. Cresting the top, the climb was made worth the struggle. A fruit stand waited with perfectly ripe peaches.
The ride back from the orchard was was technical. Gnarly roads and jeep track with stones and washouts made for a long, but fun 11 miles. I flatted about 300 feet away from camp. Too tired to change my tube, I shouted to my Dad that I would just walk my bike. “Ride it!” my Dad said, “You have to finish on your bike!” He was right. And so I slowly rolled onward to the finish line.
As everyone completed their rides, the field filled with laughter and conversation over dinner and beer. Commiserating about hard climbs and sharing stories about mid ride shenanigans, we all agreed that we couldn’t wait to do it again