The Montpelier Vortex effect
Erik Nelson on the 2022 Grand Depart
This year I too succumbed to the sucking effect of comfort found in my parked car and did not complete
the full Super 8. The temptation to turn the car on and drive away leaving unfinished business behind
was too great. Your mind becomes stronger than your legs. The excuses start to accumulate miles
before Montpelier. Some excuses are legit like injuries, acute and chronic, and some are unconsciously
created to ease the pain of not finishing your intended goal. Sometimes, it can be a simple,” I am done”
or “Eff this”. In the end it does not really matter what you say, it is more important with how you cope
with it afterward. Did I make the right decision? Am I a quitter? Can I still be satisfied with finishing one
of the lobes?
This was my 4th Grand Depart and was hoping for my third full Super 8. I wanted to mix things up this
year and ride the route in reverse direction but after some course changes in the North Lobe I decided
to ride the north in the traditional way and then ride the South in reverse. The North Lobe went
according to plan. I rode easy out of the gate Friday morning but planned on not sleeping until I arrived
back in Montpelier Saturday night to sleep in the car (minivan with a cot and pillow). All went well but I
had 2 issues; a mild but sharp knee pain that started in the single track just before Montpelier and the
starting of numb hands. Could I have kept going? Would the pain get worse? Could I spend my week off
from work in more desirable ways? A week later writing this and I still don’t have the answers, but I am
weighing on the side of having made the right decision.
Montpelier is a route planning blessing and curse for riders. I have talked to some who don’t like the
idea of the easy out, but I think that is what makes it even harder and more admirable to finish the full
Super 8. If you can get past the Montpelier Vortex and finish the whole route, you should feel
comfortable placing yourself in the bad ass category.