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Rainstorms Cause Revamping of Several Prouty Races

  • The Prouty event director Jean Brown, right, expresses surprise at newly donated, custom floor mats as volunteer Carolyn Frye asks staff members if she should lay a mat down by another entrance on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, N.H. The Prouty is the largest annual fundraiser for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • In preparation for The Prouty this weekend, operations manager Bruce Bouchard reviews route signage with volunteer Rosa Affleck, of Enfield, on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, N.H. The Prouty is the largest annual fundraiser for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.(Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • In preparation for The Prouty this weekend, Jean Brown, event director, left, looks over paperwork with Mary Allen, a member of the event's board of directors, on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at Richmond Middle School in Hanover, N.H. The Prouty is the largest annual fundraiser for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.(Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Hanover — Thanks to last weekend’s tumultuous rainstorms, the Prouty Century Ride will be fewer than 100 miles for the first time — and there was a time Wednesday evening when staff felt there was a possibility it even might need to be canceled.

Prouty organizers spent much of the Fourth of July holiday weekend reconfiguring signage to reflect alterations to several of the routes for Saturday’s Prouty, which draws nearly 4,000 participants annually as the largest fundraiser for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Late on Wednesday, a meeting with officials raised new concerns and forced Prouty staff to acknowledge that the Saturday cycling portion of the event, its staple since its 1982 inception, may have been in jeopardy due to a lack of needed police presence at a partially collapsed portion of New Hampshire Route 10 (Lyme Road) in Hanover.

Finally around 9:30 p.m., Prouty staff secured the availability of four New Hampshire State Police officers to man the area near the intersection of Lyme Road and River Roads, where two large swaths of the northbound breakdown lane — normally wide enough for several cyclists to ride abreast — had crumbled under the pressure of heavy, rapidly moving rain. 

Surveying the damages in the wake of Saturday’s storm, Prouty staff originally hoped to mitigate the issue with cones to help cyclists coincide with traffic, but officials at Wednesday’s meeting strongly recommended police presence.

“The manpower among local police is already going to be exhausted,” Jean Brown, executive director of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, said prior to securing state assistance. “We’re going to do everything we can not to cancel.”

Along with town officials, representatives from the Vermont Agency of Transportation were at Wednesday’s meeting and expressed concern over sinkholes and washouts along sections of U.S. Route 5, a major portion of the Prouty rides. 

Also after 9 p.m. Wednesday night, event staff decided to eliminate all northbound sections of Route 5, where the most dangerous damage lies. The new routes should be posted on the event’s website, www.theprouty.org, by today.

“We’re now simply going (north on) Route 10 and south on 5,” said Brown, in her 14th year as Prouty director.

Prouty staff had already significantly altered the Prouty Century route due to the closure of New Hampshire Route 25A, shortening it to 77 miles and avoiding its traditional ride through Wentworth and Warren.

With all routes confined to the immediate Connecticut River Valley on Routes 10 and 5 between Hanover and Woodsville, the 20- and 50-mile routes have been altered but remain options, while the 35-mile course has been cancelled.

“I wouldn’t say people are disappointed, but I think we’re all surprised,” Brown said prior to Wednesday’s meeting with officials. “No one expects roads to disappear, but people have been very understanding. They know safety is the issue.”

Prouty staff had also hoped to debut its hybrid metric-century ride, a 64-mile route (just over 100 kilometers, thus the title) that features 27 miles of dirt- and gravel-road travel through the back roads of Etna, Lyme, Orford and Piermont.

That event, which drew about 40 pre-registered riders, has been cancelled because of road closures on Baker Hill Road in Lyme and Indian Pond Road near the Orford-Piermont border.

“A lot of people were excited about that ride, because there’s a lot of interest in this kind of gravel cycling,” Prouty operations director Bruce Bouchard, of Lyme, said. “The route (had) some really nice features, going by Moose Mountain and Sunday Mountain. The idea was to get some newcomers to the race, but it looks like they’ll have to wait a year.”

All hybrid metric-century riders are now encouraged to participate in one of the remaining available routes on Saturday, Brown said.

One new Prouty route unaffected by storms is the Prouty Ultimate 100-mile ride, which in its 10th year will venture onto a loop course along state highways in Vermont rather than its traditional one-way route from Manchester to Hanover.

The new Ultimate route on Friday will span through Norwich, Hartford, Woodstock, Barnard, Bethel, Royalton, Tunbridge, Chelsea, West Fairlee and Thetford.

Ultimate riders typically partake in both Friday’s and Saturday’s events, logging up to 200 miles for the cause.

“The new route is beautiful, and it will allow Ultimate riders to stay (in the Upper Valley) for two nights,” said Brown. “In the past, they would be in Manchester the first night and have their luggage transported to Hanover. Plus, we thought it would be a cool way to honor the 10th edition of the Ultimate.”

The Prouty itself has come a long way since four nurses raised $4,000 and pedaled 100 miles in honor of Audrey Prouty, who at the time had recently died following a nine-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Today, the event draws more than 4,000 participants — 3,841 had pre-registered as of Wednesday afternoon — and in recent years has raised more than $3 million.

The Prouty today features more than a dozen participation options, from the numerous cycling choices to wooded and residential walks as well as rowing and golf events. Those unable to come to the Upper Valley participate virtually by submitting photographs from inspired remote locales.

Formerly run entirely by volunteers, the Prouty now has four year-round staffers and still draws 1,200 volunteers annually.

“They’re tireless,” Brown said. “They’re dedicated, and they really understand what it’s all about.”

For detailed maps of Prouty routes, including recent changes, visit www.theprouty.org.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.

Correction

Jean Brown is the executive director of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Her first name was inadvertently omitted from an earlier version of this story.