A few weeks ago I was looking at the schedule on bikreg and something caught my attention. It was the Jeremy Powers Grand Fundo. Now, being a cyclocross addict, anything with his name automatically catches my interest so of course I read on. It turns out that he and 2 buddies started this fund for supporting young riders that might not normally be able to get to bike races. They were putting on a "fun ride" in the beautiful hills of their home riding area in and around Easthampton MA. Lots of it was gonna be on dirt roads and when I saw that I was in for sure. I was able to get Sammy (Morse) on board and Nate (Sam's son) just might be Jeremy's biggest fan, so he was in too. Synjen Marroco also made the trip, and he's always good to have on any ride. Always a good spirit and a smile and laugh, not to mention how strong he's gotten. So Corner Cycle was well represented, although I'd be lying if I said a lot of people didn't ask where Kevin and Bill were that day.
From the minute I pulled into Ed Hamel's horse pasture across the street from his gorgeous country home overlooking Mt. Tom and 100s of miles of longviews, I knew it was gonna be a great day. The crew already had the advertised pig roast well under way and a big tent was set up that would be critical for keeping us out of the sun after the ride while we partied for a while.
Of course Jeremy's Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com teamates supported him in this venture. So with Jeremy, Jamey Driscoll and Tim Johnson on board it was definitely gonna be a case of riding with our heros. Jeremy's road teamate from JellyBelly, Brad Huff also lent a hand, and it was colorful to say the least. That guy is a riot! Lots of local PROs and strongmen also showed up. Eric Schildge from Mountain Khakis, and Dylan McNicholas from ccb, and a very strong man named Chandler who I'd never had the privledge to meet before to name a few. It turns out Chandler is from Ipswich, and the North Shore connection to Tim made sense when he displayed his strength.
Of course Tim's world famous wife Lynne Besette was also along for the fun. One particular wirey guy was very vocal and seemed to have endless energy and spirit. That turned out to be the famous Anthony that Jeremy met while riding one day and has (from what I read on his blog) sort of mentored ever since. Anthony was the heart and soul of the ride, and kept us all laughing..... and working.
So not to be a namedropper or one of those geeks that gets too excited by all these bigshots, but let's just say it was a huge privledge to ride with this group. I had to really think about it, but I decided to wear the stars and stripes. I didn't take too much abuse for it, but some good natured ass busting is always good for everyone.
There was a pretty wide range of ability level in the 100+ rider group, but after a few climbs in 90 degree heat we had a smaller bunch up front. It was a fairly lumpy route, both in terms of course profile and also the occasional loose rock or pothole in the dirt road sections. That being said though, the best part was the dirt sections, especially when it went uphill. I wish the entire ride was on dirt. They had a nice water stop set up for us at about 25 miles or so and boxes and boxes of jelly beans. Yum! At the halfway mark there was an icecream truck stop. The dirt sections were where we ramped it up a bit and then we'd slowly regroup afterward. There was town line sprints and even a convenience store stop late in the ride. We rolled back to the start area and people slowly trickled in while we "showered" under Ed's garden hose. Then we drank some beers (after lots of water, gatorade & watermelon) and then we ate the pig. along with lots of other delicious side dishes.
After some laughs and storytelling Jeremy and Brad took to the microphone and announced a raffle of lots of sponsor schwag. We bought a bunch of tickets and when the winners were drawn our crew cleaned up. It's like Brad said "You reep what you sow". It was a super hot day and a super fun day. It was more or less a mini D2R2 so that was perfect preparation for that. They put it on the perfect weekend, because there were no major races conflicting with it. I really hope this happens again for years to come. I often comment on other people's blogs about riding for enjoyment vs. training out of a sense of responsibilty to a structured plan. This was exactly that, and at the end of the day it was perfect training too.
Thanks for reading, JB