Biking the 101 hilly miles around Quabbin Reservoir from Rutland, a spring ritual of the Seven Hills Wheelmen, there's always the temptation to make like Rosie Ruiz near the end and skip the penultimate, quad-busting climb up Coldbrook Road to Oakham Center. Instead, riders could cut straight up Route 122 to the final turn onto 122A at Long Pond.
But last weekend, ride organizer Dick "The King" Avery of Worcester specifically admonished at that point on the cue sheet, "No wimps this year!"
He needn't have bothered. Route 122 is being resurfaced, and the three-mile stretch through Oakham lay stripped to washboard texture last weekend. The 78 cyclists who turned out for the ride, from as far as South Portland, Maine, had rattled over the scarified pavement on the way to Barre at the start, and no one was going to choose that brand of torture again.
Andy Meyer of Southboro, trying out wide new 38C tires on his Cannondale in preparation for a tour in Alaska that will include many unpaved roads, had a relatively easy time of it. In contrast, maximum sympathy was extended to Graham Eacock of Westboro, who'd just had a root canal and really didn't need the extra jangling of nerves.
Fifty-nine riders pedaled the entire "century," while 10 chose a "metric century" of 62 miles and nine rode a 30-mile option on the fifth annual King's Tour of the Quabbin. An extra round of applause went to Kathy Hennigan of Haverhill, who grew up in Worcester, for choosing -- and completing -- such a challenging ride for her first century.
Hennigan got a flat tire on Route 202 in Belchertown and fixed it on the spot. A freshly flattened chipmunk lay in the road right next to her, and nearly every cyclist who passed voiced the same suspicion: Did she run the critter over? Is that how she got the flat? We'd all dodged our share of chipmunks, dead and alive.
In fact, the chipmunk's demise preceded Hennigan's misfortune. But she warmed to the role of suspected road killer and concocted a defense of justifiable slaughter, delivered deadpan and squinting like Dirty Harry: "He was a killer chipmunk. He took a bite out of my wheel, so I had to kill him."
TIP OF THE HELMET to Kurt Hackler of Bolton, who won the New England District Championship Road Race last Sunday in Hardwick. Hackler, 18, a Category 2 rider for Acton-based Northeast Bicycle Club/New England Systems, sprinted past Stefan Bumbeck (SRP/Merlin) of Middlebury, Vt., to finish the 123-mile race in 5 hours, 23 minutes.
There were 102 riders in the pro-1-2-3 race, which went around Quabbin Reservoir twice, but after the first lap, only about half remained in the competition. NEBC teammates Ray Johnson of Lexington and Kyle Gates of Boston worked for Hackler, pushing the pace on the climb into New Salem on Route 202 and chasing down a four-man breakaway near the beginning of the second lap. Hackler and Johnson were in a group that reeled in a second break that had developed a two-minute lead, and with about eight miles to go, Hackler attacked on Route 32A at the Hardwick line.
Bumbeck "came with me, and it was like a team time trial to the finish," Hackler said. "We were going up the hills in the big ring. ... At about 200 meters (from the finish line) he started to wind up the sprint, so I jumped, and I beat him by a couple lengths."
Hackler will race the first two stages of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic next month before heading to Texas for the Junior National Championships. NEBC captain Scot Benton of Framingham said he believes Hackler is the first junior to win the seniors' race at the district championships.
Hackler, who also plays alto saxophone, graduated from Nashoba Regional High School two weeks ago and plans to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston in the fall.
The Blackstone River Valley Heritage Corridor Commission will review plans for the Blackstone River Bikeway and other aspects of the Route 146-Mass Turnpike interchange at a public meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Millbury Town Hall, 127 Elm St., Millbury. For details, call Nancy Brittain or Jim Pepper (401-762-0250).
The Massachusetts Recreational Trails Advisory Board will meet
at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Auburn Public Library, 369 Southbridge St. (Route
12), Auburn. The contact is Peter Brandenburg, trails coordinator for the
state Department of Environmental Management (617 727-3180, ext. 655).
Lynne Tolman's bicycling
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