And I thought I was well-informed about the D2R2 before finally taking part this year. It is a "dirt road randonee" with lots of climbing. It offers glorious views of rural Massachusetts and Vermont. And cyclists travel from all over the Northeast to ride it. But knowing this did not prepare me for the bike festival that unfolded before my eyes. I had brought my camera for the scenery, but before the ride even began I was running around photographing bicycles.
Boulder, Rawland, Weigle and Matchak Cycles.
There were also many vintage refurbishments and 650B conversions - some frames with aftermarket braze-ons, canti bosses and paint jobs, and others unaltered.
Current produciton road-to-trail bikes with standard front-end geometry were also well represented - both with 650B and 700C wheels - in particular the early Rivendell models.
While mass produced bikes in this category were present as well, it seemed to me that the custom, small-batch production, and vintage bikes outnumbered them. Many local custom builders were represented, including Circle A, ANT, Sketchy, Igleheart and Wojcik.
Whether modern or classic in style, handlebar bags seemed to be more popular than saddle bags, regardless of a bike's front-end geometry. I am guessing this is because a handlebar bag makes it easier to retrieve items without stopping, while providing a built-in cue-sheet holder.
Geekhouse, Independent Fabrications, Seven, Firefly, Tomii, Spooky.
Rock Lobster and Vanilla.
Some even went so far in this regard, as to leave the frames unpainted!
In the opposite camp were those cyclists who feel quite comfortable riding dirt and gravel on standard roadbikes, fitted with the widest tires the frames and fork clearances would allow - usually 28mm. Some believe there is some speed advantage for those who can manage this. But the drawback is that narrower tires tend to get more flats off road, potentially canceling out any lead time. Of those cyclists I spoke to who'd gotten flats (sometimes multiples) during the ride, most were riding tires 32mm or narrower.
There were a few cyclists hauling trailers with children and pets, which was fun to see, not to mention impressive. Wish I could have captured them in motion.
But I was surprised tandems were not popular. I spotted only two: a Seven and a Burley.
There are many choices for bikes out there for those interested in hilly off-road rides. While the D2R2 seemed to be dominated by custom, vintage, refurbished and otherwise unusual bikes, there are plenty of production models that can meet the requirements as well. Based on my own experience with this ride, I would say aim for wide tires, low gears, and handling that is as responsive as possible without exceeding your comfort zone.
The D2R2 was possibly my favourite ride ever and I will write about it soon. Meanwhile, the full set of bike pictures can be found here.