On the way up, Gareau and I decided to hit Ascutney. They looked to have a decent trail system pretty close off the highway, allowing us to sneak in the ride unilluminated. Ascutney, as a ski mountain, closed a few years back, leaving a resort infrastructure that felt a little weird.
|Having one of these doesn't mean you won't get lost.|
|Porta-Map-Changing Room - Brilliant!|
We also rode up the twisty Bypass, avoiding the straight climb up Coronary. After that is where we really blew it. We took a trail called Quarry Chase. It was a double black meant to be ridden down. We rode up it. Egad! That was followed by a heart attack climb up Bicentennial. How climby was it? It was so climby that Bryan Gareau walked. Hell, I didn't even know that he knew how to walk.
Thankfully we stumbled upon a local at the next intersection who, being a master of the obvious, informed us we were doing it all wrong. We pointed out he was riding a bike the seat of which was dangling by a dropper post cable and nothing else. He already knew that. He pointed us in the right direction.
We continued steadily up Pass the Buck to Cloud Nine to Lynx. Lynx was a fun, rolly trail which brought us to the trails on the far side of the mountain. It was nice to be on a long trail sans intersections. The stuff on the way upper right of the map - Escalator and Lollipop - was about as technical as we came across. It was gorgeous. Big rocks, steep climbs and tight trail.
|BG Rockin' It|
On the way out we also ran into the trail builder. I think his name was Jim Lyle. Very nice guy. We continued out on a pretty easy route, passing by all sorts of trails that looked all sorts of super. But daylight was waning and beer was calling. One highlight on the way out was Hayride. It's a CRAZY switchbacked trail down a crazy long hill. They thing about it, though, is that it's all through a short-mown hayfield. So weird just switchbacking back and forth ad infinitum when you could just go straight down.
At the end of the ride, we'd ridden 11.3 miles according to BG's wheel and climbed 1,703 feet. Great start to a great five days of riding.
Here is the Garmin track of our ride.
We awoke Thursday morning at the Barn after having had a few too many fabulous Vermont brews while watching the Sox the night before and headed over to Stowe to hit some of their super singletrack with our new Stowe friend, Scott Espey. This ride was Scott, BG, Mark Dupuis, Dave Violette, Brandon O'Neal and me.
It was about an hour and a half trip across some scenic back roads to Stowe. We met at iRide there and found Scott waiting. He'd been boasting of some new trails that had been cut since last time we rode there.
We set out to get in a bunch of miles, a task that was completed with weary smiles by day's end. We headed right out of iRide up the existing trails to a new trail called Connector off from Cady Hill Road. While the trail did carry us over to the Bear's/Squirrel Land/Green Chair area, it did so much more than that. This trail, which Scott insists was brand new, seemed like it had been there forever. It was super hard packed. It was flowy. It was fast. It was outrageously fun. Berms, bridges and bumps. Booyah!
We then swooped down to the lower parking lot at the bottom of Bear's on some new trail and climbed back up to Green Chair. Everyone seemed to be feeling great.
|Green Chair Face Feeding|
On the way up to the high school we took Pebble Beach. I saw no pebbles. No beach. It might have been more aptly named Slippery Root, About Face or Oh Shit. It was brutal! But we somehow managed and made it up to the school.
After that the quintessential climb up Pipeline. A 1.1 mile climb gaining 336 feet. Somehow it still feels fantastic. Stowe trail builders know how to take the bite out of climb.
|Konquering Kimmer's Klimb|
Brandon over the skinny to the boulder
|Espey Makes It Look Easy|
|Trapp's and Trek|
|Post-ride Sustenance and Libations at Rimrocks.|
All told, we rode 24.1 miles according to the Garmin and climbed 3,138 feet Thursday. Whew! Only three days of riding to go.
Friday was Millstone day. And our numbers were growing. Friday we were our original five (BG, Dave, Marc, Brandon and me) as well as BMA, Zimma, Jess, Fixie Mark, Chris LeClair, Bill Peck, Bill Lawless and Pat Royer. It had rained pretty steadily overnight and I was a little concerned heading over to Barre. We grabbed our trail passes at the store, we headed in.
The trail starts off with a decent climb and the few roots along the way quickly showed themselves to be slick. The good news is that the roots are something rarer than rampant.
|Millstone Bike Stand|
Then we started riding the ridges through Harrington. The granite here forms spines that are the trail. The crest is fairly narrow and the sides drop sharply, although not always very far. This is where I started to realize that despite the previous night's rain, the granite was grippier than the gob of goo in Lester's glove.
|BG Bikes the Balance Beam|
We wrapped this side up and took the road out to lunch back at the cars before heading back in to do the other side.
|That's for the sandwiches, Schofie!|
The south side of Church Hill Road was refreshing. We did the Fellowship of the Ring loop and lingered at some of the lookouts.
|A man, his bike and a smile.|
|Never Inviting the Bums Again.|
All said, we rode 13.1 miles at Millstone and climbed 1,796 feet. Another solid day of riding and still waiting for Kingdom come.
By Friday night, our full complement of riders was present and Saturday we were 22 riders. Adding to our numbers were the Bryan Quach Express, Erica Daigneault, Mike LaPlante, Brett and Jake Russ, Monique Trammell, Michelle Renae, Scott Espey and Matt Chandler. Holy big ride!
At least I was on a real bike. Fixie Mark decided to live up to his name, riding a fixie cross Independent Fabrications Saturday. And he rides a crazy hard gear.
After passing the largest unknown pile of fecal matter I have ever seen, we started down Moose Alley. Two miles of singletrack sweetness dropping delightfully down for what seemed forever. I hear that somewhere in here Fixie showed those around him how to somersault on a cross bike. I missed it, but sounds like it was spectacular.
We cruised through a bunch of trails I'd not yet experienced on our way back to the Barn for lunch. Farmjunk and Skydive were way cool. Plus we found Brandon and Dave out in this area somewhere.
Lunch was a feast of sandwiches, leftovers, soup and beer. I almost didn't want to go back out. Almost.
Post lunch was devoted to Darling Hill. The group started together, but slowly splintered. It's kind of all a blur, but I think we started on Harp over to Poundcake, where Jake took a HARD headfirst digger. Thinking of calling 911 hard. But he eventually got up and shook it off, although he and Brett didn't stick around much longer that day.
There was more crazy climbing up Coronary followed by a scream down Troll Stroll.
After Troll Stroll, we continued down River Run and splintered even further before it was just a handful of us finishing up in the group I was in. A nice climb and descent through Old Webs. I really like this singletrack. Smooth and well switchbacked up. The downhill just ripped. Hard-packed sand with only one sketchy corner. Woohooing and grinning all the way down.
With energy levels waning, we went after Jaw next. Jaw starts innocuously enough, but then gets bridgey. An easy bridge or two. Then a couple of higher bridges, but still easy. The last bridge though, wow. It starts wide enough, but it's long. And as it gets further along, it narrows. Multiple times. By the end it's probably eight inches wide. I cleaned it just fine.
|Monique Did Not|
By the time we were back, I had 26.2 miles on the Garmin with 3,352 feet of vertical. BG had 29+ on the wheel. Long day of riding!
Followed by a long night of Oktoberfesting!
|What the hell, Pat?|
|Ping Pong Beatdown|
|Ping Pong Spectators|
|Just a trim, please.|
|Our furry friend|
We splintered off pretty quickly, with just me, Matt Chandler, Mark Schofield, Brett and Jake in our group. Brett took the opportunity to some trailside fathering and we headed back down Poundcake, hoping Jake wasn't the cake getting pounded again.
Sunday was much more slippery than Saturday. And we seemed to find our share of roots to mess with my mojo. I was riding conservatively I had made it through four days without getting hurt. The last day at Kingdom was not going to take me down.
Everyone's legs were drained and mine were no exception, having ridden the previous four days straight with a mountain of vertical. But knowing this was the last chance to ride VT this year, I managed to dig pretty deep and muscle through.
|Mark gives up on biking. He's now into trail-sitting.|
|Chandler is up to the challenge|
|Jake and his new brain bucket.|
Matt, Mark and I headed out on West Branch and the Sidewinder reload. Then over to Jaw and a few other trails off from VAST before wrapping it up.
That day we rode 16 miles and climbed 1,722 feet.
That brought my week total to 89.1 miles and 11,711 feet. I honestly have to say, this mountain bike trip was one the best trips I've had. Great people, great place to stay, great food and great trails. Can't wait to do it again!