We’ve heard that the New England apple picking businesses are suffering this fall thanks to a remarkable pattern of rainy weekends. So too were the poor souls of MIT cycling who failed to consult the Farmer’s Almanac and settled on the weekend of October 21-22 for fall training camp. Or maybe not so poor. Just wet. Despite the dire forecast, we fielded a huge crowd of old and new faces (enough to fill a second Airbnb) and made our annual pilgrimage to the leaf-peeping territory of western Massachusetts.
When Mt. Greylock is calling, we must go. The medium- and fast-paced elected a route around and up and over the cloud-shrouded massif, with many folks making their first trip to the top of Massachusetts.
On the medium ride, the crew kept in high spirits along the beautifully paved Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, with Andrew providing some excellent steady-cam footage. Even Gohar, contrary to his all-black-everything outfit and bike, was cracking grins. The mountain climb brought the challenging side of the ride, but kept us warm as we ascended into the clouds, climbing through misty roads lined with waterfalls and colored trees.
The summit lodge provided a much-needed lunch for some and a much-needed gallon of boiling water for others (Melissa). All things that go up must come down. For some like Andrea, this meant gleefully bombing down the road, despite the slippery surface. Others found the descent more exciting. To quote Vinh: “Tip-toeing down the mountain soaking wet and brakes squeaking was more painful than missing a pset deadline! And as if not enough, my rear brake decided to say “auf wiedersehen”, leaving my cold wet southeast asian ass rolling down bared before nature’s will.”
The FTC veterans were shown just how soft they have become by the spirit of the newcombers like Jody who toughed this whole thing out in shorts. While not the longest ride, the damp chills and elevation left everyone convinced it was plenty for the day, but that didn’t prevent us from taking a short cider donut stop (via car… no one wanted to put wet bike shoes back on).
The faster group nominally planned an extra loop after Greylock, but the rain ensured this was cut short. Ex-president Lee encountered a recurring issue of glasses fogging and bailed only a few miles in. On the “flatter” shorter ride, Chen, Varsha, David, and Robert tackled a remarkable >3k feet of climbing in only 34 miles. Perhaps a bit more challenging than expected but hey, there were crepes!
Part way between Cambridge and Pittsfield, yet another group cut FTC short by one day to race the Ghosts cyclocross race hosted by UMass. More on that in a future post but needless to say, it was an absolute mud fest. Tatem and Nili embraced the true spirit of cross for both of their first cx races, Hannah couldn’t come up with a time she had ever raced in worse conditions, and Berk was monotone with brown mud by the end of his race. Everyone had a great time, but by the end of the day all four were very ready to join FTC for some ‘cleaner’ road riding on Sunday.
The houses split for dinner, but the crowds reconvened to take in the words of our wise old coach Berk, who shared his hot tips for Building Your Glutes In Just 5 Minutes A Day With This ONE Trick They Don’t Want You To Know! A birthday celebration for Tatem capped off the night.
On Sunday, the groups heading towards Williamstown were lied to by the weather gods and were rained on yet again. Luckily, a well-placed coffee shop let us dry out (i.e. wring out our socks in the parking lot), and provided much needed lattes and temporary relief before we turned into icicles again soon after!
While several groups settled into their own paces, everyone managed the full circumnavigation of Mt. Greylock, with a few tackling the optional Petersburg Pass to sneak into New York. Hannah, Matthew and Berk chose this as a way to avoid immediately becoming icicles again, while Chen and Varsha embraced the season and were Chilled to the bone but with smiles for miles
Meanwhile, the fast bois Nic, Lee, Felix, William ventured out on a century, knocking off a classic tri-state route and even dabbling in a little light gravel. Along the way, they had the pleasure of picking up a couple Williams College friends as Felix rolled through his old haunts. As rated by Felix: “FTC as it ought to be.”
The three musketeers who made the daunting decision to bike all the way back to Boston managed to avoid the rain and had an “11/10 perfect ride” for the start of their day. The cracks started to form later in the day, with Aaron bailing halfway through (and spending some quality time with Hannah’s parents) and with Derek and Mason being utterly and entirely cracked by the Harvard general store. Even the pumpkin bread couldn’t bring them back to life.
It may not have been the beautifully dry fall training camp that everyone was dreaming of, but it sure was a lot of fun!
Contributions and photos from Jody M, Gohar I, Matthew G, Hannah V, Vinh T, Chen L