Privilege, Recreation & Rebuilding: GMSR and The Vermont Flood.

By: Nathaniel Ward Sep 21

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There are times when racing our bikes feels hyper-important, and there are instances when life intervenes and priorities have to shift, putting racing on the back burner. Seldom is it the case that we get to race with a social conscience, but this past Labor Day weekend, in the aftermath of the devastating flooding in southern and central Vermont due to Hurricane Irene, we had just such an opportunity.

The 10th annual Green Mountain Stage Race is one of the absolute highlights of the year for racers east of the Mississippi, and it is a must for most die-hard New Englanders. The race takes place primarily in and around the Mad River Valley of central Vermont, featuring towns like Waterbury, Hancock, Bristol, Rochester, and Waitsfield. These are communities largely reliant on tourism for revenue, and events like GMSR can be the difference between make or break for some businesses struggling to remain viable in a tough economy.

This part of the state was just recently pieced back together in the wake of widespread flooding in 2008, and the now widely publicized damage from Irene was absolutely devastating to thousands of people. Our thoughts and best wishes are with the communities and families still putting the pieces back together.

In the midst of all this…a bike race? Well, yes. In the week preceding the race, GMSR founder and director, Gary Kessler, petitioned the local business association, and apparently their vote was overwhelmingly in favor of going ahead with the race. The unanimous feeling was that the influx of tourist dollars the race brings with it were sorely needed, and would be greatly appreciated.

The race itself was a mixed bag, but a blast as always. Our fearless leader, James Morrison, managed a strong 3rd place in the stage 2 circuit race, but our troops missed out on the always-anticipated downtown Burlington criterium as the event was called due to even more torrential rain.

There are a lot of ways to help with rebuilding and flood relief, for those inclined. The VT Irene fund has been established to accept donations, and they even have a Facebook page. Our friends at the Nor’Easter are also doing their part by organizing a silent auction and a fun run dubbed the “ridiculissima”, with procedes being donated to the aforementioned VT Irene fund. So sure, we’ve been hyping the Nor’Easter a bit anyway, but rest assured that going to this festival is a great way to give something back to a region that is dearly beloved by outdoor enthusiasts all over North America, and to do so while doing the kinds of things we all love to do, anyway, like racing the heck out of some cyclocross. So we’ll hope to see you there. Stop by our booth in the expo area and say hello.

We love Vermont, and we wish her a speedy and full recovery.



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