Hell Yes

I have only ever met people who, when presented with the concept of Rasputitsa, respond one of two ways: “hell yes” or “hell no.” Rarely, there is an exception when people inquire, what IS Rasputitsa, exactly? I have yet to perfect the art of describing it without simultaneously getting them stoked, and scaring the shit out of them. But then again, stoked and scared shitless is the best way to describe how I feel every year leading up to 45-ish miles in the Northeast Kingdom. Special emphasis on the North, because at about mile 20 I’m always convinced we’ve crossed the border and are now headed straight to New Foundland. 

I wouldn’t put it past Heidi. Every year I think she and partner in crime Anthony top themselves with race-antics. If it hasn’t been made obvious, Rasputitsa isn’t your typical race. In fact, is it even a race? Still up for debate. Make it what you want, but let's be honest, on that last climb up to Burke everyone is equally thankful for the beer waiting for them at the finish line. I rode this past year with my Dad, so he had double the incentive. (Here’s a pro tip for all you Moms and Dads: race with your kids and not only do you make memories, you might even cop a bonus beer at the end.)

Between the maple syrup shots, Cyberia, pickle hand ups, breathtaking views, the stray devil/yeti/unicorn in the woods, and 1,500 of your now closest comrades in Rasputitsa insanity, it really is the coolest “race” vibe you could imagine. Bur out of ALL this quality Insta content, I’m still part of only 3% of people who do Rasputitsa that are millennials. Alright go ahead, laugh at the label all you want, but like it or not we’re the future of the sport. There should be more of us, and at a $25 registration fee for U23, I think my generation is out of excuses. 

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Don’t have a gravel bike? Put some beefy tires on your road bike. Put something skinnier on your mountain bike. Shit, grab your roommate and track down a tandem! Racing is scary? Who says you have to race? I sure as hell don’t. Enjoy the views, take advantage of the surprise aid stations, stocked with all the necessities to keep you from bonking. Do whatever you think is FUN over the course of 45 miles on a bike… and if that IS racing, that works too! If you’re the rare breed who finds solace deep in the pain cave and sprinting through lord knows what sort of early spring road conditions, more power to ya! I think that’s super badass, and everyone else will too. Just save us weekend warriors some of that incredible food from the Craftsbury General Store at the end. Don’t want to do it alone? Not even possible at Rasputitsa. Like I said, 1500 people are in this with you, and the line of bikers will stretch out far in front and behind you on those dirt roads. We’re all in this together. You’ve never heard of Rasputitsa? Well, now you have! Tell your friends! Help us millennial up that percentage.

If you’re not convinced, come hang out and cheer, introduce yourself to the world that is gravel racing/riding. You’ll just have to see it to believe it, and once you do, you’ll already be asking Heidi and Anthony when you can register for next year. Who knows what Rasputitsa will have to offer in 2019.

Written by Hazel Brewster, 2-time Rasputitsan
 

The "Full Vermonty" Experience

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Tucked away between VT Route 14 and VT Route 16 of Vermont is piece of Vermont that feels real, honest, and wholesome.  If you are familiar with Craftsbury, Vermont, you might be a nordic skier, as the Craftsbury Outdoor Center has over 85km of cross-country ski trails and is home to an Olympic development team.  If you prefer two wheels over two skis, Craftsbury is home to this year's Raid Lamoille.

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Always a ride, not a race, the Raid Lamoille features copious amounts of gravel riding (in excess of 80% of the routes are unpaved), legendary climbs, a choice of long and short routes with a phenomenal spread and craft beer awaiting finishers.

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This year’s ride, rolls out of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and will feature two routes – a 35-miler and a 50-miler – with an optional “Vermont Pave’” (Class IV) sector. The first 20 miles are entirely new terrain for the ride and 50-mile riders will then recognize some of the roads from past years.

This ride is it's a steady dose of Vermont's best.  

In presenting a “Full Vermonty” experience the ride has many local partners helping to make the day a success: coffee from Paradiso Farms (sweetened with with UnTapped Maple syrup), Vermont Peanut Butter, Cabot Cheese and Untapped Mapleaid for pre and in-ride fueling. Additionally, the post-ride meal will be provided by the Craftsbury General Store, washed down with beer from The Alchemist and samples from Citizen Cider! They also have SAG support from our good friends at Vermont Overland.  

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The Raid Lamoille comes with a guarantee.  While, we are pretty sure this looks like a gravel-grinding, hell-of-a-time, they guarantee exhaustion as the end.  You know, the kind that can only be washed down with a cold beer.

Spicoli's Doppelgänger, Anthony Clark

For those of you unable to attend the School of Rock ( a faux classroom setting with acting professors Ted King, Alison Tetrick, Jeremy Powers, Ansel Dickey, and Lyne Bessette), we re-enacted the infamous Spicoli Pizza Scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Jeremy Powers as Mr. Hand, Alex Donahue as the Pizza Guy, and of course, Anthony Clark as Spicoli,

Anthony Clark, like Spicoli, is impervious to the typical cycling demeanor and stereotypes, and what we love and adore about Clark is he doesn't project not projecting arrogance or hatred.  His hugs are real.  His nature is genuine.  His "ride on" bravado is one that not only attracts and causes the desire to assimilate, but it allures even the youngest of fans to perceive coolness as qualities of self-respect.

Anthony Clark and fan

The story of Anthony Clark was best told on the SRAM website, "A Bicycling.com feature, headlined “Saved by the Bike,” tells of how Clark was wild and reckless with multiple trips to jail and wrecked cars before discovering cycling. A chance encounter with American cyclocross star Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) helped change the course of Clark’s life. Around 2009, Clark was wearing cut-off jeans and a t-shirt while riding a 30-pound bike with down-tube shifters. Powers, on a hard workout, passed by and gave his greeting. Clark, though, dug deep and kept pace. Impressed, Powers began to mentor Clark, who became part of the JAM Fund Cycling Team co-founded by Powers."

We also touched base with Jeremy Powers as we drafted this piece.  Jeremy shared with us a piece he wrote for Velo News in 2009.  He also walked us down memory lane recalling the early days with these gems.  Pssst. note the downtime shifters:)

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This past year, before, he took the podium, Clark made one comment to us.  "I will still be doing Rasputitsa when I'm 70," Clark spoke through his infectious smile.  We hope so, Anthony.  We surely hope so.

Big Red Gravel Run

Anyone familiar with the Rouge River area of Quebec might have some rafting experience under their life jacket.  At least for me it served as my first and laster whitewater rafting experience.  Those Class V rapids urged me to trade my yellow helmet for a more ventilated version and a two-wheeled vessel.

 

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Aside from water navigation, the rural area located two hours northwest of Montreal also has an abundance of dense forests and sprawling gravel roads.  Subsequently, it is the picturesque home to the Big Red Gravel Run .

The Big Red Gravel Run is all about bike fanatics, beautiful landscapes, morning snacks, catered BBQ, craft beer and oh yeah, the option of a 50 or 130km gravel ride.  Most appealing, might just be the Braveheart Award which goes to a rider with an unforgettable story.  We are sure there will be many.

 

A Day with Little Bellas

You never can really understand the power of Little Bellas til you are right dab-smack in the middle of it.

It's like being surrounded by fun.  You aren't quite sure what's about to happen next, but you can't wait.  It's missing time schedules.  Never once did I see a mentor halt an activity to shift gears needlessly.  Instead, it just seamlessly flowed with the attention-span of the Little Bellas.  That being said, the water-blaster biathlon may have been played into overtime especially when a game of "soak the pro" was added to the shot clock.  It's constant smiles and infectious laughter.  It's 100% positive and devoid of any person young or old not feeling good enough in any capacity.

After reading last week on cyclingindustry.news that the "average age of a keen MTBer now is 45 years old? There seem to be fewer and fewer young MTBers coming through to replace them,"  I felt like shadowing this program for a day was a big 'ole bowl of chicken soup for the soul.    It is what cycling needs right now.  Heck, it's what humanity needs right now.  We closed out the day feel hopeful that there is a future to cycling.  At least there is if we all start supporting programs like this.

For those of you just tuning in, Little Bellas is a mountain bike organization whose goal is to help young women realize their potential through cycling.   They are also a huge benefactor of our profits and mission to grow cycling. 

Rasputitsa and Specialized Partnered to Raise More Than $17,000 for the Nonprofit Little Bellas

On April 21, more than 1,300 riders came together in Northern Vermont to ride the Rasputitsa Spring Classic. Riders rode 40 miles over the muddiest, coldest and most rural section of the state. Through the sale of Rasputitsa event tees, water bottles, and raffle tickets for a custom-painted Specialized Diverge frameset, the combined forces of the gravel bicycle event and Specialized Bicycles raised more than $18,000 for the nonprofit organization Little Bellas.

 

Rasputitsa, a Russian word for the mud season when roads become difficult to traverse, is a five-year-old race that was launched by Anthony Moccia and Heidi Myers. The event has been a successful effort to unite cyclists, bring economic opportunity to a remote area of Vermont, and give back to growing the sport of cycling with every dollar they profit.

“From the moment we experienced the event last year, we knew there was something special,” says Stephanie Kaplan, road product manager at Specialized. “The energy of the riders and the organizers is infectious, and we’re so glad to be a partner and to help support the race, and to help raise money for a cause that Specialized is so passionate about. Anthony and Heidi have built something incredible, and it’s no surprise that the race, the participation and the money raised keeps getting better and better every year. We look forward to the continued partnership.”

The money raised goes to help a nonprofit that has a huge impact. Founded in 2007 in Jericho, Vermont, Little Bellas is a mountain bike organization whose goal is to help young women realize their potential through cycling. Since its inception, Little Bellas has worked to get more than 2,700 girls on bikes. Centered around cycling, the organization aims to instill confidence in young girls and teach them to navigate challenges and believe in themselves.

Sabra Davison, co-founder and executive director of Little Bellas, adds, “This partnership with Rasputitsa is built on an incredible synergy and Vermont community values. This years’ fundraising effort will make a lasting impact on girls for years to come. The funds will be used to help girls in need and start new chapters to get more girls on bikes. We are thrilled to increase our impact.”

To learn more about Rasputitsa, their impact on cycling, register for next year’s race, or purchase raffle tickets for the custom-painted Specialized Diverge frameset , visit rasputitsagravel.com. Raffle ends May 1, 2018.

 

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Three Reasons Why Bowie Is The Face of Rasputitsa (This Year)

Why Bowie? Good question. This is the only cycling-related image of Bowie on the whole internet. So it’s worth an explanation.

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Because Rasputitsa makes you extra. And Bowie was all about being extra.

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, 'Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.’”
-- David Bowie

Honestly, it’s too early in the season for any normal, sane person to be riding outdoors in the northeast. If you’re riding Rasputitsa, you’re either crazy-strong all year round, super-motivated to train in numbing, dirty, dangerous conditions, or totally oblivious to suffering. Or all the above. 

Because he is an inspiration to all men who wear spandex.

Men who wear tights could learn a few things from David Bowie. If your goal is to be a skinny badass who prances about in garish Lycra, and you’re looking for some inspiration, Bowie isn’t a bad place to start.

Because Bowie was a master of reinvention, and you’re not going to get the same Rasputitsa twice.

Just when you think you know what’s in store, Rasputitsa will change. Remember the surprise cross finish of 2017? The fast-riding dust cloud of 2016? You can expect the unexpected in 2018 too, because this year, organizers have recruited local goat path aficionado Mike Rowell to add his own special touches to the course. 

They say we fear what we don’t know. The bad news is, with Rasputitsa, you never really know what you’ll be in for.

“I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring.” -- Bowie 

 

Bittersweet Women's Weekend by Jenn Minery

bittersweet
noun  bit·ter·sweet  \ ˈbi-tər-ˌswēt \

Definition of bittersweet
1 : something that is bittersweet; especially : pleasure accompanied by suffering or regret

Winter in New England is a fickle, frustrating mother of a beast at times. She can be kind, beautiful, and peacefully filled with warmth. Other times she is miserably mean, ugly, and agitatedly throwing any blisteringly cold weather event at you, seeing how much longer you can grit your teeth and bare it. When it is a mixed bag of whatever Mother Nature can toss your way, you begin looking for outlets that feed your inner fire, to keep you going.

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Growing up, I swear I was born with planks on my feet and combo that with being from the Berkshires in Western MA, as well as growing up on a 85-acre horse farm, I always made the best of winter, whether it was sledding, downhill skiing, snowboarding, horse sleigh rides, etc. It was fun and it never bothered me. However, I’ll be honest, as I have gotten older, I have struggled in the winter at times. Who knows the reasons as to why. Yet, I know once I get bundled to deal with the elements, I usually have a decent time once I cross past the threshold of my back door.

So when Heidi Myers of Rasputitsa fame posted about a possible NEK VT winter womens weekend, it was like Jim Cantore Weather Channel level thundersnow excitement on my end. It was the white lightening bolt of energy I needed in the upcoming grey winter days.

As the days prior to registration crept by, little tantalizing tidbits of what was going to be offered, kept popping up, such as it being hosted at the Northwoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston, VT, with some amazing sponsors and volunteers from Little Bellas, Colavita, Louis Garneau, Specialized, The Alchemist, and Craftsbury General Store to name a few. Numerous winter activities looked to be on the docket, with a good spattering of indoor activities mixed in because we were in VT at the beginning of Feb and it can *sometimes* be cold, along with workshop type sessions. Holy Smokes Wonder Woman: It was going to be epic!!!

Thanksgiving morning came and I had my computer ready to register well before the 8am opening, for there were only 50 entries and I wanted to ensure that we would get into what I knew would be a one in a lifetime type experience. I lucky was able to coax Kristen into signing up for it as well, for I knew it would be something she would not want to miss.

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And now here I am, the BitterSweet Womens Weekend has come and gone….

 

What can I say about it?

Strong

Fierce

Engaging

Fun

Intense

Passionate

Comfortable

Impressive

Humbling

Cool

Empowering

Athletic

Spirited

Challenging

Deep

Sharing

Growing

Knowledgeable

Enjoyable

Tenacious

Meaningful

Thankful

Gutsy

Rockin’

Creative

Feisty

Invigorating

Powerful

Collaborative

Relaxed

Grateful

Connective

Hopeful

 

Bittersweet Women’s Weekend gave me hope. As I meandered through the events and involved myself in the activities, I noticed that there was not an ounce of “suffering or regret” on a single face, regardless of the outside conditions. Only that of pleasure could be seen gracing the amazing faces of the women present.

I watched this weekend empower women from all ages and walks of life, to come together and to have fun. To be their amazing athletic selves, in a space that they were comfortable with. I watched women challenge themselves in new events/skills, myself included, and I watched the smiles spread and heard laughter roaring from all over the campus. We all took part in meaningful and heartfelt conversations on how to involve more women and to grow our numbers in the different activities we each partake in. Where there were questions; there was help and answers. Where there were inquiries; there was engaged and welcoming feedback. Where there was tentativity; there was overwhelming support. Where there was a high five; there usually was a hug that followed.  

Enough thanks cannot be said to all the amazing volunteers and women who helped make this weekend possible. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you and owe you a debt of gratitude for making this weekend be out of this world, not only for myself but for all who were there.

Bittersweet Women’s Weekend was refreshing and I hope this excitement continues forward. For where there are women, there is strength and unlimited desire. And when we come together in numbers, there is no telling what we can accomplish.