The Prouty 2011

The Thirtieth Prouty on July 9, 2011 had 5,000 participants riding, walking, and rowing to raise money for research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Started by four Cancer Center nurses who rode 100 miles to honor their patient, Audrey Prouty, their first 100 mile ride raised $4,000. This year over $2,500,000 was contributed.

As stated on the Prouty web site: “All money raised supports cancer research and patient services at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Funds raised by The Prouty support Cancer Center researchers and clinicians who are working on innovative ways to prevent, diagnose, treat and hopefully, one day, cure cancer. Research conducted at Norris Cotton Cancer Center affects patient treatments around the world.”

The images on this page were taken with an LX5 camera that hung around my neck as I rode the Prouty through NH and VT along the Connecticut River. A number of the photos were taken as I rode. Others document the many Support And Gear stations that appeared frequently at perfect times. These were great spots to get off the bike for a few minutes, grab an energy bar or banana, refill the water bottle, and chat with other riders.

My good friend and riding companion, Jim Bonney, and I left the Richmond Middle School just after 5 am. Even before we set off, bikers were streaming past in the early morning gloom. It rained lightly for 5 minutes and then magically turned into a perfect day—not too warm, not too cool, just a bit windy on the westward leg along Rt. 25. But that came later. First we needed to cross the Connecticut River the first two of the four times on our ride.

We headed up Route 10 to Lyme riding for a while with Phil who started even earlier than we did. The pavement was wet so it was raining from the spray of Jim’s tires as I rode behind him. But this is a great stretch of road with a wide shoulder most of the way and little traffic early Saturday morning so I could ride beside Jim and stay drier. Some ride two abreast most of the way, but we worked hard to stay safe and to be kind to cars by riding single file anytime cars were anywhere near. We were making great time—though this was certainly not a race—and we knew the hills near Mount Cube would put us in our place.

We were too early for the Lyme SAG—we would have to visit it after we rode 90 miles—so we crossed the river without stopping until we reached Fairlee. The river was peaceful, mirror-like. The Prouty rowers would be reaching this spot in a few hours before heading back to the Ledyard Bridge. I wished I could have stopped for a photo of the river, but I was not riding alone so I chose to keep going. Up the hill we rode past Pompanoosuc Mills, Child’s Pond—a nice place to skate in the winter—and through the nice small village of North Thetford and the boat landing.

As we neared Fairlee, passed that confusing piece of road along the interstate, and the turn off to Lake Morey—a great place to skate in the area—the sun was breaking through the clouds. We knew it was going to be a great day but as we rode along that just kept getting confirmed. We were pumped for the upcoming hills but not above stopping for the first of many snacks. I bet I gained weight during the ride; we were certainly well fed at each SAG.

We glided to a stop at the first, just opening SAG in the middle of Fairlee. A banana, a stretch, a granola bar, a few photos and we were off across the Samuel Morley Bridge and back into NH—Orford and its beautiful Ridge Homes.

A left turn onto Rt. 25A, with the help of a friendly police officer directing traffic, and we attacked the climb up the shoulder of Mount Cube to the SAG at Mount Cube Farm. The hills were not nearly as challenging as we pictured in our minds. On a particularly narrow stretch with little shoulder and motorcycles approaching us, a truck with VT plates pulling a large white trailer passed me within what seemed like a foot going what must have been over 50 mph. At the Mount Cube SAG a number of us shared a similar experience with this vehicle. Except for this person, the drivers along the route were careful and courteous.

Over the hill and down the road we flew past beautful Lower Baker Pond and a great 40 mph run along Pond Brook to the left turn in Wentworth. We headed up Rt. 25 passing a sign advertising Fire Wood—Organic—No Growth Hormones. We stopped at the Warren Fish Hatchery SAG bringing back memories of stopping there on the way to many weekend canoe trips on the Saco—before it got commercial and crowded—with our young children. Half a chocolate donut while listening to live music and we were off to view the Nike Missile by the church in Warren and turn into the wind on the southern side of Moosilauke.

At the Pike SAG a group of perhaps 20 riders in a tight pack passed without stopping. They looked like they were on a mission. The new route to Woodsville was great—few cars and pleasant scenery. Much better than narrow and rough Rt. 10. In Woodsville I shot a colorful house as we sped by. (This and a few other images here have been modified by minimizing detail to somewhat resemble paintings.)

Another policeman stopped traffic so we could make the turn onto Rt 135 without skipping a beat. Then it was an easy pedal to the Woodsville SAG. Up the road and through town a smooth glide across an intersection with traffic waiting for us—nice treatment—brought us back to the NH-VT border. Over the river for the third time, we headed south from Wells River to a shady SAG stop in Newbury.

The SAGs seemed to be coming fast and furious as we headed for home. I blew by the Bradford one, then turned around when I realized Jim stopped. When we left, folks along the side of the road cheered us on.

Our bibs were color coded so you could tell who did what route—20, 35, 50, 100 mile or the grueling two day 200 mile Ultimate. For 75% of our 100 mile loop we only saw blue (100) or yellow (Ultimate) bibs. But as we headed south the road got more crowded with bikes and the bibs got more colorful. In Bradford the red bibs of the 50 milers joined us. When we passed the Thetford SAG without stopping —the 35 milers’ purple bibs appeared. I joked to Jim that I would finally get to yell “On your left” more, the warning to other riders that you were going to pass them. Most of the ride I heard this call from others closing fast on me from behind.

Approaching Lyme I came up behind a fast-moving woman who was not on a bike but in-line skates. She moved strongly up hill, but after a few quick photos I passed her on the left.

I have never seen the green in the center of Lyme so full. In fact even getting to it was a challenge. A policeman was directing traffic but this was different than the other 5 or 6 times on the ride. Since bikes were entering and leaving the SAG crossing each others paths and since there were many cars at this three-way intersection, it was a real mess. For the first time in the ride we had to stop and wait our turn to proceed. Perhaps in the future this SAG can be “redesigned” so riders from the north can be directed to enter from the east side as Jim cleverly did without my realizing. This SAG sported the full set of colors as the green 20 milers had joined the mob. And the age profile of the riders changed as few young children did the 100 but many rode the shorter routes with their families.

Route 10 heading south was a continuous line of bikes. It has a great shoulder so it is a very nice road to ride. We climbed the “Chieftain Hill”—it didn’t seem nearly as long or steep as it did on shorter rides. Perhaps an adrenaline rush was kicking in anticipation of the finish. We cruised through the impressive yellow posts of the finish line cheered on by the crowd. Our path was lined by yellow ribbons carried by the riders to honor friends and relatives afflicted by cancer.

At the bottom of this page is a panoramic image composed of many individual photos stitched together. At this size you can’t see much detail, but if you click the image you will be taken to a page where you can zoom in and pan around. But first here is a slide show of photos I took before, during, and after the Prouty ride of July 9, 2011.

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Please CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW to load a version you can explore in detail.

You can see photos from the 2012 Prouty by CLICKING HERE.