By Jere Brophy
It is always a risky proposition to set one’s plan based on weather forecasts, and the 2014 edition of the Kelly Brush Century Ride proved this adage. Despite prognostications (some up until inside of 24 hours ahead of the event) calling for torrential rain and thunderstorms, the day dawned cloudy, and gave way to sun for nearly all of the ride, lending a sense of added good fortune to such a wonderful event.
With the Chile camp moved up a week to counter the early spring in South America (only to be met with mid-winter conditions…another story), the GMVS crew was small in physical presence, compared to our usual mob. However, the GMVS impact on the event was huge, with the GMVS team of donors and riders raising over $36,000 (and counting), more than $4k more than 19 years of Middlebury alumni (the second-placed team) and accounting for more than 12% of the total $300K plus raised by the ride.
The KBR is truly a homecoming, as I crossed paths with many familiar faces during the day. After seeing Kelly ’04 as I walked in, I was given my number by Martha McLaughlin (mother of Brian ’12), who directed me to the ‘swag’ table where Kelly’s sister, Lindsay ‘02, was holding forth, along with her 2-month-old son. Yes, I am old…
I returned to my car to see Susan Lathrop (mother of Abbi ’02, Jenny ’02 and Christin ’99) parked next to me, and she told me all about the twins’ weddings this past summer, before I headed out to the starting line. I started rolling west from the Middlebury campus into a typically fierce crosswind, as I stared ahead at the dark clouds to the north and south…hmmm. The turn to the north brought bright sun and the ego-boosting tailwind I now expect at the KBR, but that meant one thing: a headwind after Vergennes. Sure enough, once I crossed the Otter Creek and started south, the tempest raged. It made for some good gallows humor among riders I encountered, and at the final water stop (where I saw Diane and Greg Peters (Parents of Andy ‘99), I was ready to be done.
Shortly after starting out again, though, my spirits were raised by the sight of Kelly and her dad, Charlie, blazing downhill toward me. They had veered from the 25-mile course to pay the others a visit, I could only assume, and I resumed my toil in a better mood.
Then came Weybridge Hill. If you have ridden the KBR, you know that this hill is at least 75 miles long and is pitched up to rival the climb up to Alpe d’Huez. OK, it is only mile or two long and is maybe as steep as the very bottom of Bragg Hill, but its position in the final 10 miles of the ride makes it a monster for non-biker-types such as me. And, did I mention the headwind? Big fun.
In any case, I survived and arrived back at the stadium to the applause of Betsy Duffy (Danny ’12, Drew ’13, Anna’19) and Simona Croccolo ‘13, the former was staffing the GMVS sponsored tent, along with Shelly Davis (mother of Allie ’18 and Madeline ’17), the latter was part of the cheering squad of volunteers from the Castleton State College ski team.
After a brief rest on the grass, I lunched with Jim and TK Despres’20 , as well as ¾ of the Ketchel family (Elliot was running in the Essex XC Invitational with 4 of his teammates). Justin Beckwith and a crew of Nordies and friends (Josh Turner ’17, Mike Pratico (father of Sam ’15) and Terry Kellogg P’20 included) arrived a bit later, and Tiger Shaw (P ’15) was one of the lucky 100-milers to get hit with the rain, but he arrived unscathed.
While refueling at the barbeque, I also chatted with alumni Buddy Simis ’04 and Rusty Heise, ’05, and watched Alec Tarberry PG ’04 wheel around with a buddy on a tandem bike…no mean feat for 50 miles!
The skies opened up as I tossed my bike in the car for the trip back over The Gap, but that did not dampen the spirit. This event only gets better and better, and it is truly inspirational to see all Kelly, and her foundation, have done for the handcyclists who particpated. I know this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the KBF does, and all of us are lucky to have their support in the form of the safety equipment on Inverness in the Kelly Brush Race Arena, as well as on every other race hill we visit.
The level of participation by GMVS was tremendous, and if you’d like to donate to our team, you can still do so by clicking here. Just hit the ‘donate now’ button and go from there.
A final note: On Monday I had a Vermont state athletic directors’ meeting in Randolph. On the way back, I passed a grand total of 2 cyclists out for a ride on what was a gorgeous sunny day….and both were wearing blue 2014 KBR jerseys….nice.
And on a really final note: While returning from a ride in the woods on Tucker Hill, what jersey did I pass on the back of a road biker who was headed up German Flats? Yep, a KBR one, from 2012. Cool...