Do you have any yearly traditions? I think it is always interesting to hear how a long time tradition was started. Doing something every year is difficult with this changing world we live in. People are busy, family dynamics change, health/fitness fades, etc. It takes a lot of commitment and determination to keep a tradition alive. I believe traditions are important and can bring people together. It is so easy to let a tradition slide just for convenience.
One tradition I have is riding to Newfound Lake with friends every Labor Day. This year was the 8th time we have completed this ride. The ride is just under 100 miles and believe me this is not a tradition everyone necessarily looks forward to each year. No matter how many times we complete this ride, it is still a great feeling when we get to Newfound Lake.
How did this start eight years ago?
Several friends of mine are avid cyclists and mountain bikers. A friend of mine owns a house on Newfound Lake and we kicked around the idea of cycling to his house on Labor Day weekend 2006. At first it seemed crazy but it didn’t take much convincing to get a few friends together for the attempt. The plan was to ride up on the Friday before Labor Day weekend and then spend the weekend at the lake.
After analyzing a route we determined the easiest roads to travel and found it to be 98 miles. Heading north into NH is very hilly. We tried our best to minimize the hills but still ended up with a tough route. For those familiar with cycling we have 1 cat 5, 1 cat 4, and 1 cat 3 hill on our route. For our first attempt we had 4 riders and no one made it. We had our first rider drop off around mile 65 and then everyone was done by mile 80. We had our wives drive up ahead of us in case a rider had to drop out. Good thing we did as everyone had to make the call. We ended up with a terribly hot and humid day and no one in the group had done any long distance riding. Not a great plan.
Let me fast forward to 2014. Since our poorly planned first attempt we have done this ride 7 more times and it has become a yearly tradition. A few riders have come and gone but the core group has remained steady for all eight years. I am also happy to say we have completed the ride every time since our failed first attempt. With any 100 mile ride, planning and proper nutrition are mandatory to completing the distance. It is also a big help if the weather cooperates and it is not 90 degrees.
This year we had 4 riders and perfect weather. No one in the group had done a lot of long distance training but that was not much different from years past. The day started with me crashing at the 6 mile mark. I hit a major pothole and crashed on grass/dirt on the side of the road. Luckily I was not hurt and my bike was fine. I did hear a few comments that perhaps this was a staged crash so I could get out of the ride. Really?
With temps in the low 70s and minimal humidity we all did great until about mile 80. This ride is not a race and we try to stay together as long as possible but we are all very competitive. After we hit the 80 mile mark it is understood that the race is on! At that point me and my brother-in-law Mike went ahead and got to the final climb together. Did I mention my friend lives at the top of a category 3 hill? Mike looked strong all day and luckily for me he bonked on the hill and I made it to the top first by a healthy margin. The other 2 riders in our group struggled but made it about 30 minutes later.
Mission accomplished! The tradition continues!
I have used this ride for Ironman training in the past and finished strong. Other years I was just lucky to finish due to a lack of training. Either way keeping traditions alive is important and should not be easily dissolved. How long will we continue this ride? You can never predict the future but I can almost guarantee next Labor Day another group will be heading north for the 9th time.