This weekend I set out for Deerfield, Massachusetts with my friend Jonathan to take part in another great riding adventure: D2R2 2015. If you are not familiar with D2R2, their website has a pretty apt description:
“The Deerfield Dirt-Road Randonnee was conceived in the 1990’s as just a favorite dirt-road loop in the hilltowns of Franklin County, Massachusetts. Since its birth as an organized event in 2005, many have hailed D2R2 as the hardest, most beautiful, most fun, most traffic-free, most unique, and overall best ride that they have ever done.” – Franklin Land Trust D2R2.
D2R2 is definitely all of those things, but it is also an important fundraiser for the Franklin Land Trust’s land conservation efforts in the region. Currently there are a number of route options (2015 map) including 180k, 160k, 115k, and 100k courses, as well as a 40-mile Green River Tour and a 20-mile family ride.
D2R2 draws a huge crowd of cycling enthusiasts, who tackle the challenging terrain of Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont on a plethora of amazing, dominantly randonneuring-style bikes. This year we had our sights set on the 160 km route, albeit with one variation to the norm: somewhere along the line we got the idea that we should leave our rando bikes at home and attempt to do this on true fat tires!
The idea to roll on rubber greater than 38c was spawned by a number of factors, including a new dynamo setup on my Surly Krampus Ops that needed a solid field test, and, more importantly, the fact that Jonathan recently became the proud owner of a custom Wiseman Frameworks fatbike that was built for NAHBS this year. As you will see in the pictures below, it is a true beauty that was calling for participation this sort of a crazy adventure!
Details of the ride can be found along with the photos below, but suffice it to say that the day turned out to be some of the best and most challenging riding I have ever done in my life. In taking the fatties, we were perhaps a bit optimistic about the pace we could keep; consequently, we did end up making a modification to our route about midway through the day in the interest of time. At the end of the day we had covered 120 km and climbed over 4000 feet of vertical – a bit short of our intended goal but an effort that I was more than happy about as we crossed the finish line back in Deerfield.
D2R2 turned out to be everything I had hoped for: perfect backcountry dirt and gravel roads, epic climbs and singletrack descents, and riding through some of the most beautiful and remote country in Massachusetts and Vermont. Of course I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the great community of cyclists out here and time spent with good friends that really make these types of events meaningful. I am definitely looking forward to D2R2 next year, where I think Jonathan and I both agreed the fattest tires we will be rolling are 38c!
Just arrived at this years D2R2. Time to crack some beers and start tinkering with our bikes before the start of the ride tomorrow!
In his own words, this is Jonathan “Trying to look badass and calm before getting destroyed the following day on D2R2.” Yeah… that’s about right!
Closeup of the Wiseman Frameworks NAHBS fatbike. There was no expense spared on the choice of components, and I’m particularly drawn to the custom striping and attention to detail even onto the Bluto sus. fork.
Closeup of the Wiseman Frameworks NAHBS fatbike that Jon was rolling on D2R2. Hard not to love fillet brazed custom steel and custom paint. Incredible work!
A beautiful setting for an even more beautiful bike: a custom fatbike designed by Dave Wiseman of Naperville, IL (Wiseman Frameworks), which was entered to NAHBS this year and recently acquired by a very happy rider, my friend Jonathan.
I may have overdone it when purchasing Gu, Pro bars and Shot Bloks. Still, I was glad to have options for energy sources on the ride which were much needed. Preference definitely goes to Shot Bloks and Gu gummies with caffeine for the extra energy boost they provided on those hills.
A few of the early arrivals to the camping field at D2R2. By nights end this field would be full and a huge bon fire would be raging!
The shadow of the Krampus looms large over D2R2.
Jonathan on his custom fatbike designed by Dave Wiseman (Wiseman Frameworks) the night before the ride. The light was incredible in evening and really brought out the details of the beautiful custom paint job on this 2015 NAHBS entry fatbike.
My Surly Krampus Ops looking glorious in the waning light. She was all packed up and ready to go for D2R2 the next morning and I couldn’t have been happier.
Jonathan and his wife rolling fatties through historic Deerfield MA the night before D2R2.
Jonathan and his wife rolling fatties into the sunset near historic Deerfield MA on the night before D2R2.
Nature was clearly conspiring with Jonathan to result in this glam shot with his Wiseman Frameworks fatbike.
Nothing quite like camping with hundreds of bike enthusiasts as part of the 2015 D2R2, complete with massive bon fire the night before the ride.
Early morning risers for D2R2. Beautiful start to an epic day of riding!
Jon and his custom Wiseman Frameworks NAHBS fatbike ready for our early morning roll out on the 160k route of D2R2.
Yours truly all prepped and ready to roll out early in the morning on my Surly Krampus Ops. I was looking forward to seeing how a few recent upgrades would pan out on the 160k D2R2 route, namely the swap to a Krampus fork with anything cage mounts, a new 11-40T Praxis Works rear cassette, and the addition of a Son 28 dynamo front hub. All performed admirably!
This is what it is all about – riding through picturesque mountains on gravel roads with good friends on a perfect day.
Double checking the cue sheet early in the day on the 160k D2R2 route. We couldn’t have asked for a better day, or a better mix of riding. Definitely a must do!
The more I ride my Surly Krampus, the more convinced I am that it is the perfect do-all bike. The advantages of 29plus are many, but one perhaps the one thing that I appreciate most is that the 3 inch Knard tires do a pretty darn good job on whatever surface you need to be on and hence are good for mixed surface riding like that on D2R2.
Perfect setting for a perfect bike – Jon’s Wiseman Frameworks custom fatbike hanging from a covered bridge at checkpoint number one: a much needed break after 20+ miles of climbing early in the day.
I can only surmise that due to the slight blur on my face and tires that I must have just been crushing this climb with speed. #inmydreams
Jonathan on some archetypal D2R2 gravel roads in the middle of nowhere, Massachusetts.
Arriving in Jacksonville we came quickly to the realization that we were not going to be able to continue to follow the 160k D2R2 route. Our pace was a bit slower than we thought and while we thought this would be our lunch stop, it turns out that was to be another 20 miles down the road and we would arrive after that checkpoint closed. Luckily we were able to get sandwiches at the Deli in the Jacksonville General Store, and quickly devised a plan to pedal 15 miles down VT 112 to connect with the 115k D2R2 route further down where we would finish the last 15 miles or so.
Obligatory shot of our trusty steeds somewhere around mile 60 on our bail-out connection route along VT 112. Despite being slower going, the Wiseman and my Krampus Ops were more than up to the task!
Feeling good to have just finished ~120 km of the hardest riding I’ve ever done in my life, and on my Surly Krampus. Jon, of course, was riding his custom Wiseman Frameworks fatbike, both of which carried us through to a successful (albeit modified) completion of D2R2.
Post ride food and beers with hundreds of other riders at D2R2.