There are some rides that leave such an impression with you that you are left to feel the desire to continue replicating the exhilaration you experienced.
This passed weekend I had the opportunity to ride the Fools Classic put on by Kermesse Sport. I rode with Chris Bishop and Nick Murray. The route went around Bucks County, PA, through idyllic landscapes and beautiful rural communities. The first three hours of the ride were subject to long periods of rain and drizzle. So much water that eventually something in my wheels sounded like a bird call for the rest of the ride. It only drove me a little crazy.
Dirt, clay and gravel roads were the highlights of the ride. At times I felt that the unpaved roads were smoother than the chewed up asphalt of these remote towns. There were some very challenging climbs. There were some thrilling descents. There were big smiles and big "oh shit!" moments. The organization, Kermesse Sport, did an excellent job marking the course and giving fair warning of sketchy descents. 99% of the turns were well marked and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the arrows were removed by some local trouble-makers.
I had no idea what to expect going into this ride. I knew it was kind of close to Philly so in my head I ignorantly thought "how hilly can it be?" I even saw that it was a lot of elevation gain but I still was being kind of dumb about it. Starting out in the rain wasn't ideal but the weather was supposed to clear up. I basically brought a whole riding wardrobe and I'm glad I did. I used a Pearl Izumi rain jacket and it helped me stay dry and warm. Unfortunately, it isn't a packable jacket so I had to tie it around my waste when I didn't need it anymore.
Once the sky cleared up spirits were lifted. It became much more enjoyable but the nice thing about the wet dirt/gravel is it keeps the dust down and makes climbing a little easier with the ground being a little tacky. The climbs were among the best and hardest I've done in the mid-Atlantic. Four Category 4 climbs made their presence very well known. A fellow rider, Jim, had warned about the last climb on McNeil. I had been dreading the thought of it for some reason. Once I arrived to the climb I was relieved to see it was paved and not terribly hurtful. Definitely a good last climb for a long ride. By this point my lower back was suffering pretty badly but I couldn't give in to the pain. The home stretch was flat, open and fun. I rode in with Jim who was riding a really nice Lynskey.
The post-ride food provided by Nina's Waffles was excellent with a pulled pork or veggie chili option. I went with pulled pork. The post-ride beer from Mad Princes Brewing was okay but a little heavy/malty for me after such a hard ride but was appreciated none-the-less. The vibes after the ride were mellow as everyone was basking in the sun while eating their waffles. The Point Pleasant Fire Company were gracious hosts. I can't wait to do this ride again next year, but I will have to invite the Kermesse crew down the Milkhouse Brewery for a fun weekend of riding some time.
Check out my Strava to see what the ride was like.
I rode my Bishop road bike for this ride. I run a compact crank because realistically I'm not the hero I used to be. I ran an 11-26 cassette for the ride, which I thought was plenty and didn't cause me to over-spin on some climbs. I feel when I don't have a low "bail-out" gear I am able to climb a little better and faster. I mounted Panaracer Pasela PT 700x28 tires with standard butyl tubes.
I ran my new Boyd Altamont Lite rims to Pacenti/White Industries. This was definitely a demanding ride for a 20h front and 24h rear wheelset. The roads were in rough shape no matter paved or unpaved. I was purposefully (and accidentally!) hitting potholes and rough patches to see how they held up. Keep in mind I'm about 150lbs but I'm pretty hard on my equipment.
After about an hour in the rain something caused my front or rear hub to squeak the rest of the ride which drove me kind of crazy the entire time. Braking in the wet was a little sketchy at first because the rims only had a dry 43 mile ride before this ride. I prefer Yokozuna salmon pads but didn't have them for this ride. The salmon pads are superior in the rain.
These wheels have one very notable characteristic: responsive! The acceleration and stiffness for climbs was better than I'd hoped for. Once I got out of the saddle I knew I could rely on the stiffness of the rims and overall build to get me to the top of the climbs without worrying about brake rub or loss of momentum.
Once the sun came out and things dried up the descents were an absolute blast. I was only able to get to 53mph on one descent but the responsiveness of the wheels and braking made me feel stable and confident. The wheels really feel fast in the flats as well. When I was able to get in my rhythm and just pedal on the flats I felt the wheels just carried me along without effort.
After the ride I checked the state of the rims from gritty wet braking and the brake tracks felt great. The wheels are still as true as when I built them and I look forward to every ride on them. They didn't build up as light as I would have liked but there are lighter hub options out there. In addition to the squeaking of the rain I was disappointed to see that the bearings in the front hub were already feeling almost shot. I may pull the seals off and flush with fresh grease.
I applaud Boyd for providing an excellent aftermarket rim option in two depths. The quality is top-notch and straight forward. The Pacenti-designed hubs built by White Industries build a solid wheel but I plan on upgrading the bearings from the stock Enduro. There is something to be said for high quality bearings. Missing saddle time due to replacing them is always worth the upgrade.
This set of wheels is the most solid, confidence inspiring and responsive set I've ever ridden. Paired with the right tire depending on the application only enhances the experience. The Paselas performed reliably and had excellent traction on the climbs with the tread they use.
I want to thank all companies involved (Boyd Cycling, Pacenti, White Industries, DT Swiss, Sapim and Lilly Precision) with the products used for this set. They are dedicated to creating premium products and supporting independent builders like myself. The relationship I have built with these companies is extremely valuable and I'm happy to use their products and recommend them to my customers.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email!