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D2R2, August 19th

What is D2R2?

Each August close to 1,500 bicyclists  descend on Franklin County to participate in the nation’s largest dirt-road cycling event, the Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée. Hosted by Franklin Land Trust (FLT), last year the ride attracted cyclists from 26 states and 5 countries.

This year, which marks the 12th anniversary of the event, promises to be the best yet!

“D2R2,” as the ride has been nicknamed, offers EIGHT dirt-road courses ranging in length from a16 mile Family Ride to the 180K challenging course. All routes begin at Old Deerfield and thread through agricultural land and forests in western Massachusetts and southern Vermont. The short course has a flat run up the Green River valley, whereas the long course is regarded as perhaps the hardest century ride in the world.

Randonneuring is a vintage French format in which riders are challenged with hard courses but encouraged to keep the atmosphere social. There are no prizes, and riders start in small groups at their leisure; however, the ride is timed and many participants aim to better their time from a previous year. The randonneuring style also engenders a level of self-reliance – riders must navigate the course and perform their own repairs.

One of the things that makes this event so unique, according to Sandy Whittlesey, Ride Designer, is that it attracts cyclists from a wide range of disciplines, from competitive road racers to recreational riders and mountain bikers. “D2R2 has a very egalitarian culture. Nobody cares how fast you are, what your background is, or what you’re riding.” Whittlesey has resisted suggestions of turning D2R2 into a race, or marking the route to make it easier to navigate. “We started the event with a stubborn insistence on the non-competitive, self-reliant style – if you wanted a race or a guided tour, there were lots of those out there. As a result, we ended up with an incredibly cool, friendly, strong group of participants, and we feel very lucky to host such a fun crowd every year.”

In the past twelve years, D2R2 has grown into the largest fund-raising event for the Franklin Land Trust, with entry fees being boosted by merchandise sales, raffles, and corporate sponsorships. The Franklin Land Trust (FLT) is a non-profit organization in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts that conserves farms, forests, wildlands, and other natural resources in western Mass. In many cases, conservation restrictions aimed at encouraging agriculture and forestry are the conservation tool of choice, where FLT holds the restriction, and the land remains in private ownership. Because FLT isn’t being asked to purchase the land, the result is far more land being conserved per dollar: last year, each rider at D2R2 effectively helped to conserve an entire acre of land – something that surely makes all the steep hills and bumpy roads seem well worth it.

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