Frigid Flats and… Cyberia
After another wind-whistling descent, I fall in with a couple of women from the State 9 race team. Talk of pastry-making keeps the wheels turning smoothly across the flats until we hit the base of Cyberia (remember: Russian theme here). There are some amazing-looking cookies being handed out at the bottom, but I’m a little worried about the upcoming climb, so I turn the corner and keep going… up.
At this point, potholed dirt suddenly turns into a class IV road—and we’re in Cyberia. In Vermont, “class IV” is code for 4WD-only; it’s kind of a free-for-all. Last year, Cyberia was covered in snow and everyone got off and carried their bikes. This year there’s no snow—but it’s a swamp of oozy, booger-y mud, peppered with fist-sized rocks. Fun. But just as the “road” ratchets up to an unfriendly 13 percent grade and the trees start closing in around me, I hear music. And then a full-sized unicorn jumps out of the woods, followed by a faun that looks straight out of Narnia. Tired, hungry, and probably a little delusional, I start to laugh. This is the top of Cyberia—and it features glugs of maple syrup served in frozen shot glasses… by enthusiastic magical woodland creatures and a yeti. What’s not to love? After quaffing some syrup, I point my wheels into one of the axel-deep ruts made by Vermont Overland 4x4 jeeps and start down the treacherously muddy, slippery back side of Cyberia.
After a couple of slow-mo squelches into the mud on the downhill, I cruise out the last 10 miles to the finish, now enjoying the gorgeous views of Burke Mountain and the high vistas of the Northeast Kingdom. After three hours of riding, the temps have climbed into the 60s, and I don’t even seek out the trademark fire pits that in years previous have warmed riders battling snow, sleet, and more typical April temps.
But sitting in the sunshine with a beer in one hand and a pulled-pork sandwich in the other (the afterparty at Burke Publick House rocks), I totally get why riders sign up for this. Yes, I battled mud—not snow—and I can only imagine what Cyberia looks like under a foot of snow (hint: unrideable). But even in great weather, it’s always going to be a sufferfest. However, it’s also an awesome race on gorgeous back roads that features great food, amazing volunteers, and benefits two super-worthy bike organizations.
Will I be back for 2017? You bet. But this year, I hope there’s snow.