Erik’s Reflections on the 2023 Kelly Brush Foundation Ride


The first weekend after Labor Day has become known for the Kelly Brush Foundation(KBF) ride in Middlebury Vermont.  This was my third time taking part, the second time doing the 50-mile ride after doing 100 miles in 2022.  I’m not sure how they do it but in my experience, the weather is always beautiful that weekend and incredibly well organized.  


For anyone who doesn’t know Kelly’s story, she was a ski racer at Middlebury College when she broke her back while racing in February 2006.  The following September her family and friends organized a fundraiser cycling event to raise money to help get Kelly back on the snow.  From there the Kelly Brush Foundation was born and snowballed to the point where this years ride, the 19th, raised over $1 million dollars that the Foundation uses to support athletes with spinal cord injuries with adaptive equipment, adaptive sports camps throughout the country, and help ski teams and clubs buy safety equipment to try and prevent more spinal cord injuries.  


The event offers various length routes for riders at all levels.  The 25, 50, and 100-mile road routes and the new 30-mile gravel route all start at Middlebury College.  From there they branch out across beautiful Vermont farmland.  The road routes that I have done head west towards the southern tip of Lake Champlain before turning north along the lake.  From there the different routes find their way back to Middlebury in different ways but along all of the routes you’ll find rest stops with food, water, mechanical, and first aid.  


In 2022 I decided I was going to do the 100-mile route with a few other handcyclists.  Over the Summer I found the time to do many 75 to 80-mile rides and many shorter ones.  On the day of the ride, I felt good through 75 miles but the last 25 hurt.  I was the last person on the road from the entire event and had all of the motorcycle escorts that had been patrolling the entire event around me.  One of the nice things about the newer recumbent handcycles is that I could pull up under a tree and eat and drink for half an hour before even trying to get off the bike.  


This year I didn’t have the time to put in enough miles to be prepared for another 100-mile day.  For me, 50 miles is more easily doable and enjoyable.  A 4-hour ride is more fun and gave me time to hang out with the Bike-on team and other handcyclists.


If you’re looking for a fun weekend in Vermont, an event to push your limits with plenty of support, or want to support the causes of the KBF think about joining us in Middlebury next year’s ride!