“The absolute perfect blend of people, adversity, companionship and good times.”
— Mike Chasse
This year’s annual cycling trip to Vermont may well have been the best one yet! Perhaps the most satisfying aspect was that we were so lucky to have a truly special person/friend accompany us. It has been 9 years since Mike Chasse has been able to take an extended vacation/trip/adventure. That’s because 9 years ago Mike suffered a significant cervical spine injury while skiing out west. As a result Mike is a C5 quadriplegic …but that’s just a diagnosis …he is so much more than that. He is the most intelligent, funny, abled bodied and amazing person I know. I’ve never heard him complain, not once!
This trip was really NOT about cycling. Although we biked almost 200 miles in 3 days including an epic day on Saturday covering 87 miles, 2 gaps(Appalachian and Brandon) including a memorable start up the all gravel Goshen road out of Brandon. No this trip was really all about 11-12 guys/gals (people) getting together to show how a team of folks with a common goal of allowing Mike Chasse to be ONE with us…completely for this special week end in Vermont. This trip allowed these special people to enjoy the shared experience of challenging cycling, the beauty of nature and the green mountains, much laughter, shared meals (American Flatbread and the Gospel according to Luke) and triumph over adversity. The reward for all of our efforts cannot be adequately described here in writing. All I can say is that everyone ought to have an opportunity to experience the week end we all had in the “hills of Vermont.”
Our epic 87 mile day on Saturday began with the all gravel Goshen road climb and descent. Early morning mist soon burned off leaving the clean smell and sound of the recent rain to invigorate all of our senses. The harrowing descent into Ripton was just plain fun, the support vehicle behind, unable to keep up with us.
Appalachian Gap climb… Doug Levesque
Doug’s first time cycling out in Vermont’s Green Mountain National forest included climbing up the brutal App Gap. This climb is difficult but not insurmountable. With approximately 150 meters to the top Doug’s 34 tooth back cog Ritchey bike was virtually at a standstill in the midst of the 19% gradient. All of the fellow riders began cheering wildly and encouraging him on; “come on Doug, push it, dig in, zig zag, pedal”, then with one final and sustained effort and a sly grin the Ritchey bike was moving again to a thunderous applaud at the summit.
Brandon Gap…my wandering thoughts
With fatigue weighing heavy on our legs and saddle soreness firmly setting in we began the final climb of the long day, Brandon Gap. Thank god this one is very manageable. As I began my climb and all of the riders safely heading home my thoughts shifted to the many conversation’s Mike and I have had over the years as well as future adventures to be planned. I believe I learned something about myself and life in general on that steep hill. Just tackle what’s directly ahead of you..and nothing more.
Live for and enjoy the moment
Be thoughtful and ever cognizant for the people on the road and in your life
It really is satisfying to be concerned for other people’s happiness and success rather than always your own
Thankful for Andrew Bouchard, Mike’s brother in law and for all his fortitude in all things especially in taking care of Mike
I am forever grateful for my family and friends, my health and my ability to endure a little bit of suffering.
Biking in Vermont brings out the best in all of us. It fosters a human kindred spirit. The blissful combination of speed, freedom, and exertion only made better when shared and surrounded by a group of great people. Some crave the open road, others finding a strong “wonder wall” to draft behind, while others simply struggle to hang on a wheel, and still there are those who selflessly sacrifice by driving a support vehicle.
Mike Chasse’s presence, his energy and exuberance for life and adventure motivated us at every turn and will continue to do so long after this ride. His eyes reflect the courage and enthusiasm that still resides in his soul. It has never left since his injury, in fact it is stronger now. I could feel that strength in me as I ascended those once difficult hills of Vermont.