Winter arrived here in VT over the last couple of weeks. Heavy, wet snow has blanketed the state. In BTV we have been spared the power outages and downed trees, some parts of the state went without power for 3-4-5 days. I’ve been rolling when I can between lots of travel for work and family. Put some studded tires on the Krampus after some sketchy riding in the GMNF. The 45Nrth 2.35″ Nicotines really grip – although you need to find the sweet spot of pressure – too much and the side knobs don’t grip the ruts on the dirt roads, too little, and it can be a real slog on pavement or hardpack.
I snuck out for some early winter riding in the Green Mountain National Forest. I had visions of a larger loop – but after sliding around on the hardpack / ice (primarily going downhill) from last nights sleet / rain I cut it short at about 15 miles. Steam Mill, Natural Turnpike, and a bit of exploring down the road to Spark’s Landing.
The Krampus is fast becoming my favorite bike… it just feels right in so many situations. I can’t wait to get my dyno light back from warranty, and if I had warmer gear I’d be planning some winter bikepacking trips. The Knards did admirable in the snow – but the frozen sort of iced hardpack was a bit unnerving. They wash out in deeper snow, but roll really well on hardpack and the snow that gets trampled on dirt roads. They can’t compare to a Nate on the Pugsley for grip, but the Nate cannot compare to the Knard for nice rolling. I’m hoping the Maxxis Chronicles become available in the spring stateside – they look like a good mud / slop / snow tire for 29+ and for general trail riding. The Knard would be a gt to for forest road / dirt road / tame single track bikepacking.
Greg, Wil and I did some exploring last weekend up to and through Cotton Brook. On our way into the park we met up with another Will, who I know from a MTB forum and through email chatter about gear and riding in VT. Will slept out the night before, and rode down to meet us at the park entrance. Greg was riding his new-to-him Mukluk – so he took every opportunity to ride up and over logs, rocks and roots.
Cotton Brook is a drainage east of Bolton and north of Little River State Park. Its all good fun – lots of terrain that I’ve explored on the bike and on skis. There is also alot of history here – old farmsteads, cemeteries, a sawmill, and lots of logging roads.
There was some snow on the ground up high, and we encountered some soggy sections of trail – but overall we had a good time exploring. Through some pre-planning on my GPS we found a few ‘missing link’ trails that might yield some Type 2 backcountry exploring / overnighting – its a goal of mine to link Nashville Rd, the trails at Libby’s Lookout, and Bolton Notch over to Cotton Brook / Little River. We added another small piece to the puzzle – and now need to confirm how gnarly the terrain gets, and see how we can tap into it from the Bolton side.
We covered about 16 miles and climbed 4100′. And I brought my stove, so we knocked out Coffeeneuring Ride #… 6 or 7. But I didn’t take any pictures of our rest stop – so it never happened.
Greg, Wil and I did a S24O to Groton State Forest last weekend. Rain, sleet, some snow. Temps in the 30s during the day and 20s overnight. Dirt road, single track, double track, and forest ‘roads’, with a bit of pavement in the middle. About 16 miles each day, we started late on Saturday due to everyone’s family commitments, and we actually, for the first time in my S24O history made it to camp with daylight left over. Which was needed – as we rode in the rain / snow on and off through the afternoon and needed a good place to camp, and to build a fire to ward off the chill.
We rolled out of Greg’s place and tackled Jerusalem Rd. This started out as dirt road, then went to Class 4 road, then went to double track filled with rocks. Great fun, even going up and over. Near the top there was some recent logging, so the ‘road’ was in better shape, and we enjoyed the descent to Marshfield Pond.
We had snow and sleet up top, and at our next intersection we snacked a bit, enjoyed the view from the pond, and took off on RR East – a road / trail along the old Wells River railbed. We had 2 trucks pass us, a hunter, and another out for a ‘smoke’. Was interesting riding up in no man’s land.
We eventually dropped onto VT 232 for about a half mile of pavement to Kettle Pond. We thought about walking back into a lean to for camp – but with daylight left and the rain and snow only a minor nuisance we decided to press on to Osmore Pond, via Telephone Line trail – a ‘multi use’ path – but really a leaf covered slippery single track. We spent about half an hour actually finding the trail – but once located we made quick work of the climbing to the northern end of Osmore Pond.
Eyeing a picnic shelter with a huge fireplace, we called it a day, and began collecting wet, soggy wood, and changing into dry gear. Fire ensued, and after some careful stacking, lighting, and fussing, we had a roaring fire to warm us as we ate dinner.
Wil brought a bivy, I had my 30d down bag and e-bivy, and Greg brought his ancient synthetic winter bag. We all had insulated sleeping pads. The concrete of the shelter was damned cold though – even seeping through my riding shoes. Greg and I decided we would sleep atop picnic tables, and Wil quickly joined, moving his bivy and bag on top in the middle. We then tipped up the remaining tables in the shelter to block what wind we could… which worked for the most part. We stoked the fire and stocked it up late (for us, on a cold, wet night – until about 9pm), then turned in for the night.
I lent Greg my e-bivy as he was worried about being cold, and I have had successful nights with my gear down into the low 20s. I slept cold, a bit too cold that night, and I regretted a bit handing over my gear – but Greg was comfortable, which means he’ll keep pushing into shoulder seasons with us. The fire was glowing coals in the morning – and with Greg working a bit we had a warm fire to eat our breakfast by.
We rolled out the dirt access road, found a short cut trail, and did a few miles on pavement to connect to RR East. From there it was a mellow, but scenic and mostly downhill run into Plainfield, where we had designs on second breakfast some 16 miles later.
For an overnight, pushing the boundaries of weather, cold, and new gear – it was a great time. There is a ton to explore in Groton State Forest and surrounding central Vermont, and I can’t wait to get back. The Krampus, with its Revelate kit performed flawlessly. Even in the wet the tires gripped when needed, and the 3″ Knard softened my ride and had me rolling up and over all the obstacles the trails through at me. I have some ideas on streamlining my kit further – primarily dealing with GPS, camera, and my yet to be built dyno / charging switch. I also discovered that the matches in my waterproof kit that have been tucked away for years in my kitchen bag were all duds, likely just aged out… thankfully my fire starter and my stove allowed us to get the fire going without incident.
Some pictures of the new rig, with a proper fitting frame bag and my dyno lights… I used my Dinotte for a few days – and man I missed the Revo. So nice to have things back to ‘normal’. Really enjoying this bike, it needs a proper bikepacking trip to get a full test – but so far its a pleasure to ride.
A collection of my favorite photos from the last few years… many more can be found on my Photostream over at Flickr
Fall is here, and with it a change in daylight. I’ve been riding early – in the dark. The Krampus has been getting a thorough workout – bike path, road, single and double track. I have an 8-12 mile loop I can ride, 3 good (short but steep) climbs, can mix in rocky technical riding, and can get a good workout before the kids get up. Today included some trail work – I’ve been climbing over a 4″ tree all week – today I remembered the saw and trimmed it out of the trail.