2021 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run

After the cancellation of the 2020 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was great to return to Ascutney for the 21st time. In the last 23 years, we have only missed the race twice. Once when everyone missed it (last year) and once when Debbie had a race in Japan.

Most people who know us are aware that Debbie and I met at the 1999 race, but “most is not all” and we continue to come across people who are not aware of that story and our connection with the event. It’s a cool story so we keep sharing it. Yesterday was the 19th time I’ve done the race in those 21 years. It was Debbie’s 16th finish and it was Shepard’s second. Dahlia was our chief spectator and fan.

We drove up on Saturday afternoon and spent the night with friends at a rented house near the start/finish. This is a tradition that has continued for many years. This past weekend’s weather was spectacular. Saturday evening was beautiful and mild. Sunday morning was slightly overcast and foggy, but warm. By the time I finished, the sky was clear and we had brilliant sunshine and a clear blue sky. There was a slight breeze but it was great riding/running conditions. Consistent rain during August and September including a few days before the race, made the trails soft and fun to ride. There were only a few muddy spots. The overall conditions were glorious and some of the best ever.

My main focus this fall is cyclocross, so I didn’t want to jeopardize my season with an ill-timed crash or by “blowing my legs” with an effort that took too much out of me. I went into the race knowing I was going to hold back. I even thought I might ride with Shepard, like I did in 2019, but we started in separate waves (I was 10 minutes ahead) and I never eased up. He ended up riding his mother’s pace because he had a cross country meet scheduled for Monday (tonight) and also couldn’t afford to overtax himself.

Debbie is on the race committee, and normally oversees the kids events (held on Saturday), but due to the scaled back nature of this year’s event, they weren’t held. She is excited to bring back the kids run and ride in 2022.

I rode singlespeed and ended up 7th in that small group. I was happy with my time of 5h19m19s. This year’s course was a true 50 miles, if not a bit longer, and had even more gnarly singletrack. In my opinion, it rode slower than in recent years. That didn’t stop twins Carson and Austin Beard from tearing it up. They finished in just over four hours. First female was pro mountain biker (and former Olympian) Lea Davidson in a stellar 4h35m14s. She was 20th overall out of 476 finishers.

We also had a lot of runner friends at the event. Between the 50 mile and the 50K, there were 266 finishers. So, the overall numbers were down a bit in 2021, but the race was still an important fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sport. I avoided crashing (as planned), Shepard and Debbie had a good time together, and we spent quality time in the Vermont woods.

It was awesome to reconnect with friends we hadn’t seen since 2019. Everyone I spoke with was grateful to be there and thankful that the race happened as planned. Team HORST Sports members competing in addition to Debbie, Shepard, and me were Arlen Zane Wenzel and Anthony Eisley. We were already going to have a small squad, but it was made smaller by the abrupt absence of Arthur Roti and his usual tandem partner, Mark Hixson. Mark couldn’t make it but Art had a sub. Unfortunately, he too was a late scratch after facing some of his own challenges. We wish them both well and hope to see them again in 2022. That meant it was the first year in a long time that the race had no tandems. As usual, the volunteers were phenomenal. The aid stations were stocked with awesome food and beverages. I only stopped a few times. I went the distance on three bottles of UnTapped Mapleaid, one maple syrup packet, one Clif Z Bar, two Fig Newtons, a banana, and two cups of Coke.

I rode many miles with fellow singlespeeder David Skrocki. At 56 years old, he rode like a stud. I distanced him around mile 30 before fading myself around mile 40. The bulk of the singletrack is in the last half of the race. The entire second half is vicious. That last section of hard stuff around mile 45 couldn’t end quick enough. It was beating me up badly, but I hung on. Without any suspension, my body was taking the blows. I’ve had great fitness throughout the month of September. I’m planning some “rest” so that I gain regain that speed that I need for cyclocross. The 2022 Vermont 50 Mile Ride & Run is on September 25th. Registration will open on May 25th. I’ve got those dates in my calendar.

Race Results

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