So I’m leaving tomorrow for a second shot at the Green Mountain Gravel Growler, an epic adventure in north-central Vermont. My brain alternates between “you got this, girl!” to “wtf are you doing?”
Readers may remember last year’s ride, which was deeply influenced by a few key factors:
- Limited bikepacking experience (it was my 4th bikepacking ride)
- overpacking (27-30 pounds of anxiety packing)
- Not eating enough quick-energy snacks on the hills
- digestive issues, directly related to …
- having major abdominal surgery 3 months prior
While I had an amazing time on the ride last year, I’ve been pretty hard on myself for calling a taxi 18 miles from finishing the route. I have zero regrets about this, as I remember how deeply bonked I was, and used this vulnerable moment to inform my adventures this past year … but I also feel I have unfinished business with the Gravel Growler.
My girlfriends tease me about being a Finisher, but there’s an element of truth there. I want to finish what I started last year.
This year I spent a lot of time working on my bikepacking skills, starting in April with a local overnight and culminating in late July with the Cross-New Hampshire Adventure Trail: how to pack lighter, how to decide what to leave at home, how to dispersed-camp, how to know your route enough to know where other options are when your plan A doesn’t pan out.
I did another local overnight in August but have been focused on just riding and keeping the legs prepped. I have spent hours pouring over the map, dialing in contingency plans and writing down notes in case cell service is absent when we need it most.
This year, my friend Jess is flying in from Colorado to join me on this trip. To keep things light, we decided to shift from camping to lodging along the route. I think this will be a key benefit, as the weather forecast has two days of steady rain in the middle of the ride. If Brattleboro taught me anything, it’s having a warm shower and bed to sleep in is amazing after a day in the rain.
That and bringing spare brake pads in case we need to put in fresh ones after a rainy, dirty day.
I just weighed my bags for the trip … 16 pounds. A good chunk of that though is quick-energy snacks for the whole trip plus a few extra. Understanding this isn’t totally necessary as we can stop along the way to get food at convenience stores and local markets, it’s giving me psychological safety. And the load will get lighter over time.
Bottom line, I have three goals for this year:
- Have fun, one day at a time
- eat the damn pancakes
- finish the ride happy, healthy, and feeling accomplished
Stay tuned for the recap post when I return.
See you out there!