Friday, August 19, 2011

Guest Blogger Molson recaps the VT ride 2011

I go on streaks with my blog postings. I've been quite lame lately, as Jeff pointed out on the ride up to Vermont when he mentioned "You havent posted since July 12th!" I always said I wouldnt force anything up here just for the sake of posting, but I have to admit this lapse was a bit ridiculous. So, I delegated. Here's Jeff's recap of the recent Vermont ride:

Vermont Ride 2011
With the 2011 Vermont Ride still fresh on my mind I thought I would share a few comments about this year’s event with fellow Hodska clients and followers.
Let me start by saying that I am not a big fan of Karaoke! So how in the hell did I wind up in a Karaoke Bar in Brattleboro, Vermont this past Wednesday evening listening to some townie butcher an Alanis Morissette song.
The Hodska Annual Vermont ride is how!
Since 1997 Eric has been riding to VT from his home in Monroe, CT . The deal is to ride to Vermont (140 miles from Eric’s House), stay overnight, and then return the next day. 280 miles in 2 days. Eric has used this ride as a Kona build in years he was racing, but the ride has also become an annual tradition. Over the years many Hodska cronies have jumped on this ride, and there have been more than a dozen in some years and others it has been 2 or 3 people. This year we had 6 riders. Eric, Travis Funk, Baker, James Graham, Farber and myself. Farber is Eric’s friend and is one of the original founders of the Vermont ride.
Eric, Travis and James all departed from Monroe at 7:00 Am on Wednesday. The plan is for them to ride to Simsbury, CT and meet Baker and I who live in that area. It is 60 some odd miles from Monroe to Simsbury, and this year Eric, Travis and James hit it hard early and arrived ahead of schedule in Simsbury. I have done the VT ride from Monroe in the past and I can tell you that the most difficult part of this ride takes place in CT. After Simsbury the ride is actually fairly tame. So after a brief pit stop in Simsbury the group of 6 now started heading towards Massachusetts.
There are portions of the ride when you are riding with others, but for the most part you are on your own to set your own pace. After Simsbury there is one road all the way to Vermont. No need for directions you just follow Route 10 until you get to Vermont - where Route 10 becomes Route 5. The plan was to re-group again in Northampton, MA which is about 45 miles from Simsbury. This would be the 100 mile mark for Eric, Travis and James. The group kept a great pace for this leg and we all arrived within 5 minutes of each other at the Starbucks here. Northampton is one of the best people watching towns in New England. Every year it never disappoints. This year was no exception as we had a very nice conversation with the tattoo parlor owner who was outside her shop holding her bowl of fresh sage that she was burning. She saw the EH on Eric’s new uniforms and was intrigued that we would have her initials on our bike shirts.
After Northampton there are no more scheduled stops on the ride. The plan is now meet at the hotel in Brattleboro, VT which is about 45 miles from Northampton, MA. At this point it is every man for themselves. Fatigue was starting to set in for the 100 mile guys and the humid weather was starting to zap everyone a little at this point. The ride however does become very scenic at this point as you travel through Northern Mass. Brattleboro is not the first town that you come to in VT. So after you cross the state line you still have about 10 miles to ride. This part of the ride has some pretty good rolling hills and I think we all pretty much wanted to be off the bike at this point. The final few miles for me were not very quick and when I finally got to Brattleboro I was happy to get off the bike.
Eric was already showered and making our dinner plans when got to the hotel. So after a quick shower we headed over to a local restaurant called Fireworks in Brattleboro. Fireworks is an upbeat little place with a nice menu of Pasta’s and Brick oven Pizza’s. They also have some nice brews on tap as well. After a really good meal we realized that it was 6:15 PM. Too early for bed, although I did contemplate it. So what do you do in Brattleboro to kill time? You drink!!!
We head over to another pub across the street that has huge selection of draft beers. We ordered up a round and Eric began giving the history of the ride to Travis and James. Originally the destination of the VT ride was a local bar called McNeill’s pub. A great “old school” bar that makes their own beer. For some reason we have not frequented this bar the past couple of years. There was not a good reason as to why so it was decided that we were going back this year. More beer!
McNeill’s has not changed it bit and was quite nostalgic going back. We briefly spoke with the owner who remembered our group from prior years and was grateful we came back. We played some darts and finished off our beers and decided to call it a night.
Not quite sure how we wound up in a wine bar sipping alcohol infused fruit drinks but that was our next stop. The bartender was happy to see us and was so proud of his new establishment that it was hard to walk away from the bar. Drinks were again ordered up and the conversation kept flowing. After thanking the bartender for his hospitality it was time to rest up for tomorrow.
Baker and James were not quite ready though – the bartender had mentioned that it was karaoke night at the pub a couple of doors down and before we could walk by the place Baker was inside. To be honest if the townie was not butchering that Alanis song we probably would have stayed. The combination of miles on the bike and yards of beer had taken their toll.
The alarm went off at 6:00 AM on Thursday morning and let’s say that my head felt a little heavy as I attempted to get up. With the stock market in state of flux these past couple of weeks I needed to get back as soon as possible to monitor things, so I was on the road heading back at 6:30 AM. Eric and Baker were on the same schedule – in fact Eric was gone prior to 6:30 AM.
The first few miles out of Brattleboro are uphill on a great country road. Yesterday morning had a touch of Fall in the air as some light fog and dew made for a great New England scene. Legs felt better than expected as I climbed out of town, and as the miles clicked off I sweated out the beers from the night before and I got locked into the ride. I opted to make only one stop on the way home and it turned out to be a good decision as it really started to rain hard as I rode the final mile of my ride. For me it was 175 miles in 24 hours. A nice workout indeed – but for the boys who did 280 miles in 24 hours I tip my hat. That is some serious miles. Eric if you have stats on your ride you should post them – you were hauling ass out there.
I look forward to this ride every year and this year did not disappoint. We had great weather, good food, plenty of libations and great company. Over the past few years Eric, Baker and I have been on some great adventures. The Vermont Ride 2011 ranks right up near the top.
Travis and James it was great getting to know you guys a little better.
Travis I am now convinced that your real name actually is Travis Funk. You cannot blame me for being skeptical as your name is just too damn cool. I figured you made it up to get more chicks. I thought Molson was a cool last name, but Funk puts it to shame. All you single female Hodska clients (or those female clients that are in a bad marriage) get on the Travis Funk train now! This guy is the real deal. His impressive Ironman LP time is going to be shattered in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks – this guys stock is rising fast - get him in your 401k now!
James (aka Russell Brand in 10 years) you did New Zealand proud on the Vermont ride. With very little long rides in the saddle going into this you did great. Man you can drink! I hope your in-laws have a great visit here to the states. I am sure that Baker will show them a good time as promised.
Mike Biehl, Kenny Osborn and Gus Ellison – you should have been there.