After the NE Randonneurs 100k, I was feeling confident about my ability to ride decent distances again. My wife and I had planned a trip to Waitsfield, VT for the end of May, and it seemed like a good chance to get a bit more cycling in.
While Waitsfield is probably best known as a cycling destination for Lincoln Gap, Appalachian Gap and the other climbs on Vermont’s 6 Gap ride, I wasn’t prepared either physically or mentally to spend that kind of time biking on this vacation. Instead, we arranged for my wife to drop me in Hartford, VT and then I would head over to Rt 100 and follow that over the “mini gap” of Granville Gulf and down the other side into Waitsfield, for a total of 108k. She would drive up and meet me part way and then at our B&B.
I had been nervously watching the weather all week, as it looked like there would be a good chance of rain. I made an impulse purchase of a light, packable jacket earlier in the week, figuring worst case it staying in my pocket for the whole ride. Well, just after we finished eating lunch at the Route 4 General Store, it started to drizzle. Nothing too bad though, so we drove up the road away from the worst of the truck traffic and I set out. Only to discover a mile later that the first part of my route was on packed-dirt roads. Thankfully, the road stayed packed and my 25mm tires handled it just fine.
The first 20 miles or so were a long flat, only gradually climbing about 300 feet into Bethel, where I stopped for a cookie at the Bethel Village Sandwich Shop. From there it was only another 12 miles or so along the White River before turning onto route 100 proper.
Route 100 itself is a nicely paved road, and the section I rode wasn’t too heavily travelled this time of year, as we were in a shoulder season after skiing stopped but before summer really began. It was steady climbing up to Hancock, where we planned to meet for a snack at the Old Hancock Hotel.
While the milkshake was delicious, the news I received inside about a thunderstorm on the other side of the ridge was not. Someone in the shop asked where I was headed, and when I said Waitsfield, told me that I probably had an hour or two before the storm hit. With 25 miles to go and the Granville Gulf still to pass, I had some doubts, but pushed on ahead. If it got bad I could always call for a bailout.
The road continued to climb steadily upward, increasing in pitch, but never becoming startingly steep. I actually hit the top of the mini-gap without even really realizing it until I was headed back down again. Then, just after passing Warren on the final descent into Waitsfield, the rain caught me. It absolutely poured, and within minutes I could feel my shoes full of water. It only lasted a few minutes though, and by the time I got to town I was already starting to dry off.
Perhaps the hardest part of the ride was the last little climb to the Inn at Round Barn Farm where we were staying. After struggling up a short 20+% grade there, I was finally done. Fortunately no one else was staying at the Inn and we upgraded to a room with a giant tub where I got to soak off all the road grit.