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Laid-back riders bike for Franklin Land Trust

  • On Friday, Steve Harris, a cyclist from San Francisco, prepares for Saturday's D2R2 bike ride benefiting the Franklin Land Trust.

  • Cyclists ride in Franklin Land Trust's 2015 annual Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee bike ride. Image contributed by Ben Barnhart. Contributed by Ben Barnhart

  • Cyclists ride in Franklin Land Trust's 2015 annual Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee bike ride. Image contributed by Ben Barnhart. Contributed by Ben Barnhartt

  • Cyclists ride in Franklin Land Trust's 2015 annual Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee bike ride. Image contributed by Ben Barnhart. Contributed by Ben Barnhart—Ben Barnhart

  • Cyclists ride in Franklin Land Trust's 2015 annual Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee bike ride. Image contributed by Ben Barnhart. Contributed by Ben Barnhart—Ben Barnhart

  • 2015 Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee. Image contributed by Ben Barnhart Contributed by Ben Barnhart—Ben Barnhart



Recorder Staff
Friday, August 19, 2016

DEERFIELD — Cyclists from around the world converged on Franklin County today for Franklin Land Trust’s 12th annual Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee cycling ride, also called D2R2.

Two large tents were erected in a field on Mill Village Road Friday morning, as volunteers prepared for the following day’s events.

“We have about 1,400 riders from 31 states represented,” said Mary Lynn Sabourin, development director for the land trust. She expected riders from Spain, Italy and Canada. She also said she expects more cyclists, who hadn’t signed up as of Friday, to participate.

The ride, the largest fundraiser of the year for the nonprofit land trust, isn’t a race. The term randonee is French for bike ride.

The ride winds down backcountry dirt roads throughout Franklin County and Southern Vermont, through 10,000 acres of land preserved with help from the land trust. Sabourin said 70 percent of the routes are on dirt roads. According to a news release, “the course follows our region’s narrowest, oldest, quietest and most scenic dirt roads.”

On Friday, Sabourin said riders were scheduled to set out early Saturday morning starting at 6 a.m., on six routes that range in distance from 20 to over 100 miles.

The longest ride traverses 17,000 feet in elevation and goes up through Hawley, Heath, into Halifax and Guilford, Vt., before returning to Deerfield through Greenfield and Shelburne.

“Riding on little tiny roads out in the middle of nowhere sounds like a blast,” said Steve Harris, a cyclist from San Francisco who decided to participate in the ride based on recommendations from friends. Harris said it was his first time both entering the ride and riding in western Massachusetts. He was one of the first riders at the tent Friday morning.

“This is a thrill,” he added, “warm weather for a change – it has been 60 degrees for weeks (in San Francisco).”

Sandy Whittlesey, ride designer, explained that the ride is unique because cyclists from varied disciplines — from road racers to mountain bikers — come out and participate.

“D2R2 has a very egalitarian culture,” she said. “Nobody cares how fast you are, or what your background is, or what you’re riding. We started the event with a stubborn insistence on the noncompetitive, self-reliant style.”

All proceeds from the event go toward the 30-year-old land trust, which works with the state and private land owners to make sure land is preserved and cared for.

You can reach Andy Castillo

at: acastillo@recorder.com

or: 413-772-0261, ext. 263

On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo