A warm Saturday morning, September 10th. I arrive at the top of a long, steep dirt road in the woods of Pomfret later than I planned. Four parking attendants in neon pink shirts, older gentlemen with gray beards, greet me. Birds tweet, crickets chirp, and insects buzz in the background. Mists of gnats swarm my face. I rush to braid my hair in the reflection of the car window, clip my helmet, pull up my bib straps, zip my jersey, and tie the laces of my cycling shoes. “Deep breaths, deep breaths,” I whisper to myself, willing my jittery hands to stop shaking. Due to nerves and too much coffee, they don’t. I quickly stow my sunglasses in my helmet vents, bidons in their cages, and gloves in my jersey pocket. It’s the Repro Ride. And I go.
I roll down the hill to check in aboard El Guapo, my blue Trek Boone gravel bike. More volunteers in pink shirts welcome me behind the registration tables book-ended by red, white, and blue “Vote Yes on Article 22!” signs.