Saturday, October 26, 2013

Vermont Oktoberfest 2013!!

This past week marked our Wednesday night group's second Oktoberfest in VT.  This year the whole group was staying at the Burke Bike Barn in East Burke, literally right on the White School trail at Kingdom Trails.

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 left out of a small parking lot near the hotel and, not really knowing where we were going, climbed up the slope on Last Mile to Wind Up. It was climby, but lots of switchbacks to ease the blow.  We then hit some nice singletrack in Cross Cut, Gracies and Falls from Grace.  Gorgeous bench cut trails with scenic ravines.

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
After we finished Escalator and Lollipop, we started heading out.  It was impossible to figure our way out.  Because we're not very smart.  The signs had yellow arrows on them guiding us to the parking lot.  You just had to know to look for them.

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.

Yoga Marc!
Green Chair Face Feeding
Scott then showed us Inner Schween Haus or, as he liked to call it, Dick House.A rugged, ancient trail (by comparison), replete with gnarly roots, rocky climbs and blind turns.  Love it!

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.

Goofball O'Neal
After passing through Trapp's, we headed toward Kimmer's.  Scott has the brilliant idea of taking Hardy's down, climbing Kimmer's and then taking Kimmer's down before climbing back up Hardy's.  This likely sounds like gibberish if you aren't familiar with the area.  Both Hardy's and Kimmer's are phenomenal downhills.  They are also huge climbs.  Dave was beside himself.  With despair.  But he soldiered up and slogged on.  Those two climbs combined for a 946' gift for downhill Dave. 

Konquering Kimmer's Klimb
 Brandon over the skinny to the boulder

Espey Makes It Look Easy
After our now traditional stop by Trapp's, where we enjoyed an Oktoberfest and some delicious curried popcorn, we headed down Pipeline and out on the road and rec path.

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.

Family Reunion
We did the requisite climb up to the overlook, where we gazed upon what I've been told is Canada.  But I can't be sure.  I couldn't make out anyone playing hockey or receiving socialized healthcare. 

Millstone Bike Stand
After that it was Screaming Demon.  Awesome name for an even awesomer trail.  Screaming Demon is a pretty techy steady descent.  It cruises over bridges spanning boulders and dives down fractured granite slides.  This is where some of our group make known their mettle. Jess, Pat, BMA and Dave ate this stuff up.  I held my own, but hot damn, those guys are good at this type o' terrain.

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
After Harrington we climbed up the the new Millstone trail - Vortex.  What a blast.  Sharp ups, tight turns, bridges and rocks.  The trails just twists and turns, packing one fun feature on top of another.  Do yourself a favor and ride Vortex next time you ride Millstone.

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!
After refueling, it was back off to ride the other side.  I think most of us were ready for some flowier, rollier terrain after the technical treachery of the Demon, Harrington and Vortex.

The south side of Church Hill Road was refreshing.  We did the Fellowship of the Ring loop and lingered at some of the lookouts.

Brandon Victorious!
A man, his bike and a smile.

Never Inviting the Bums Again.
 On the way out most of us crossed over and rode out on Roller Coaster for one last adrenaline rush.

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!

Saturday Crew
We got a little mixed up and lost Dave and Brandon off the bat, but eventually bumped back into both. Our ride started into town on White School and Herb's down to town.   Then we headed over to grab Burnham Up.  Which led to Millie's (up) to Trillium (up) to Magill Fields  (up).  That's about 4.5 miles of straight climbing totaling 805'.  On the fourth day in a row of riding.  It felt like some sort of Sisyphean hell where my bike was the boulder.

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
From there we wended our way over to Kitchel through various and sundry trails.  Kitchel, as always, was a hoot.  A fast, gravity-defying three minutes.

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?

Apple Crisp!

Ping Pong Beatdown

Ping Pong Spectators

Just a trim, please.

Our furry friend
Sunday morning was bittersweet.  First order of business was to clean and pack, but we still had one more ride in front of us.  Well, most of us did anyhow.  We were on the trail by around 10 am and fifteen of us headed back to Darling Hill.

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.
We did hit Tap and Die, which we had missed the day before.  Very similar to Troll Stroll, starting and ending in almost the same place. After that we split from Brett and Jake, who were talking about going back up the hill (that's a tough hill) to do Troll Stroll. 

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! 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

All Out at Moody Park 2013

The Fall Out at Melancholy Park

Listen with attentive ear and you shall mark
My tale of joy become woe at Moody Park.
A fantastic finale to a spectacular season end,
Laurels near grasped, but lost to a friend.
Let us now on this sorrowful saga embark.

It starts with Vermont and Boves and camping,
Ere to the Vermont Fifty they all went a tramping.
That night I spent comfortably in an Elemental bed,
With dreams of superhuman riding racing through my head
Sandwiched betwixt nasty nightmares of legs a cramping.

Up and at 'em the next morn with dawn's first light
No other car in the Moody Park lot to meet my sight.
Lucky triple ones to adorn the front of my bike.
That's a number I could get used to, a number to like.
Things were looking up, my future looked bright.

The pre-race meeting was under way at five minutes to nine.
Racer sizing up racer sizing up racer, up and down the line.
Directions had us doing a parade lap around the field,
And then into the singletrack each of us wheeled.
A little early misdirection, but it was going to be fine.

So instead of third I was eighth hitting the hole,
Passing all I could my immediate goal.
Now caught behind seventh in a Claremont Bike kit
Slower than I'd like, but great lines he knew to hit.
And once it opened up, right by I did roll.

Some climbing ahead, rooty and washed out,
But tire to ground contact left little doubt
Traction was going to be just fine on the course.
Clear to proceed to pedal full force.
So happy I just wanted to shout.

After crossing the park's main thoroughfare
A cacophony exploding in front made me aware
A rider up front had made a wrong turn
A mistake from which I was able to learn.
Looking ahead now the riders a mere pair.

The fellow in the front let number two and me by,
And we stepped it up a little, beginning to fly.
I managed to stay glued to his tail,
But for me to pass by, there wasn't enough trail.
So I settled in and for now followed the guy.

The trail turned then into some more technical stuff
And I was sick of following, I'd had quite enough.
A bobble in front replete with a quick dab
And then I was by, first place did I nab.
First place?  What?  This must be a bluff!

I knew at this point Robertson was close behind.
Time to kick it up a notch and try to grind.
I cleared the tech section, made it pretty well.
Now some wide smooth hardpack for a short spell,
Trying to gap more with bike slightly inclined.

Back to singletrack with the steepest climbing to come.
But still feeling great,  riding like a Bum.
Another glimpse of John, but a little further back
And nary a hint of the rest of the pack.
Onward and upward I steadily did drum.

Before I knew it I was back at the top
Two more laps to go before I could stop.
All alone still and feeling more'n good
I rode lap two as well as I could.
And 'fore I came round again by three novices I did hop.

Okay this was it, just stay upright through one final lap.
And then all of a sudden stop with a SNAP.
What the hell was that, I'm afraid to look down.
And then I see the hanger sheered off and begin to frown.
A race ending mechanical.  Friggin' crap.

I decide to continue onward as I push and I run.
But now the race has become significantly less fun.
Three minutes fifty seconds later Robertson flies past.
He was certainly the first, but far from the last.
Three miles before me, my hoofing just begun.

Dangling derailleur I zip tied to the frame
Which made me only really slightly less lame.
Push and shoulder, shoulder and push.
Only on downhills does the seat hit my tush.
Within ten minutes I'm out of the game.

But finish I did with a forty six minute last lap.
As opposed to twenty seven before, just call it a wrap.
The results showed me as a respectable fifth in my class,
But it's only five deep, I was handed my ass.
My performance today all over the map.

I stuck around to see the start of the next race
Steve Segenchuk looking prepared to set a fast pace.
And catch the awards, however much they hurt.
Great to see Robertson hit his paydirt,
Finishing his last Vet II contest all the way in first place.

And so ends our tale of joy and woe.
First to DFL is assuredly a tough row to hoe.
But all in all, I felt great at Moody
Despite my results looking like doody.
And next year I'll be back to give it another go.