Fall Bikepacking

Wil and I took a quick overnight tour from Burlington through the Cotton Brook with a lean to bivy in Little River State Park. We left BTV later than expected Saturday afternoon, rolling out of town in spotty showers on familiar roads to Richmond and then on to Waterbury.

We had a heat lamp dinner at the Waterbury Mobil as the sun disappeared from the cloudy, dreary sky before rolling up a dark ~6 miles on busy VT 100 to Moscow. In Moscow we turned up Cotton Brook Rd., passed through the gate, and onto the double track logging road. It was well after dark, and we worked our way up and through ~10 miles of forested double track, to where we thought a mountain bike connecting trail was located. The climb was steep in places, rolling in others. We gained 1000 feet over a few miles, and I found myself hiking quite a bit. Tired, the rain luckily stopping, the ground wet and covered with leaves, and my stomach now protesting my dinner.

We eventually found a trail, closed to bikes, that was posted for snowmo, hike, and ski. We ventured (up again!) on foot a bit – but found it rather disagreeable for riding. We then rode the double track to its end, passing another turn to connect back to where we started, and eventually settled on a trail following the reservoir. After a bit of smooth single track Wil hit the brakes hard in front of me, calling out that there was wildlife in the trail. A porcupine (appropriate, as I think we were heading to Hedgehog Hill Trail) was ambling down the trail. We kept our distance and walked along behind until it wandered off to the side and climbed a tree. For the balance of this section every time I’d stop I’d swear there was something following me. I kept hearing a ‘brush brush’ in the vegetation, with nearly every step. Looking around with my headlamp I would see nothing. This went on for quite a bit, with no clear idea of what was going on.

Some rolling single track with dark views into the abyss of the reservoir to our left brought us to a trail junction. We both knew about where we were – but we both had different ideas on how to get to the campground. Wil wanted to head uphill on some double track, which would lead to the Dalley Loop trail, very rideable double track down to the campground. I wanted to head straight down, walking if needed.

At this point I was really feeling it. Tired. Stomach far worse off. Cold but not miserable. And really looking forward to a fire, warm socks, and some food. Wil didn’t even want to walk down – as he felt the trail was sketch in the daylight. So, after some disccussion, and imagining we were miles and miles away from anywhere on the TD route, we opted for more adventure – easily adding 4+ miles to our trip. Upon starting to roll out Wil noticed something caught up in my rear wheel. The mystery follower! A 6′ long piece of bailing wire was wrapped in behind my cassette, around my wheel, and into my brake. Its amazing that I had ridden for so long without the wheel locking up. It took us about 10 minutes to get it all untangled. We walked a bit uphill, then jumped on to ride. Wil disappeared over the top, and I fell over, cranks locked up. Another round of messing with my wheel – my rear derailer was jammed all up. Nothing moving forward or back. After a few minutes of cursing I was rolling again. Up some more, past old foundations and a cemetery, and finally to a trail junction. A left turn and some wonderful double track downhill, with both helmet and bar lights on high to pick out the water bars, and we were at the campground road. A short paved ride up and around the loop and we were picking out a lean to.

~57 miles from home, about 10:40 pm, and we finally stopped moving. We covered pavement, dirt road, single track, double track, way finding, rain, slippery leaves, and wildlife. Now it was time to warm, rest, eat, and sleep. I set out to build a fire. Wil made a backpacking dinner, I ate some cookies procured at our gas station stop and tried to re-hydrate. After a bit of coaxing we had a roaring warm fire, which dried our socks and warmed our cores. We stayed up way too late watching the stars and not wanting to leave the warm fire. Sometime after 1am I settled into my bag. A fitful sleep ensued – my stomach continued to protest, and Wil’s homemade Tyvek bivy sounded like an army of cats were chasing yarn balls inside FedEx packages all night…

Eventually my stomach settled and I drifted off to sleep. I awoke late (for me), put on water for oatmeal and coffee, and began packing up.

Chilly, getting into riding clothes, but much warmer than the last time I was here, so no morning fire was needed. We rolled out down the campground road – bundled in all the clothes we had for the descent. A quick breakfast in Waterbury, and then a wholesale gear rearrangement for me, and we were rolling home. Dirt and paved roads to Richmond, where I needed a warmup and calories. We parted ways at the Village Cup. I mentally regrouped from my slow morning and lack of sleep, Wil powered on home.

After calibrating my caffiene and calories, I took off through Johnnie Brook and up Governor Chittenden Rd., then the drag through Vermont semi rural suburbia back home. We totalled ~98 miles in the two days, tested out gear, pushed into the night, and generally had a great time.

4 Responses to “Fall Bikepacking”

  1. Wil says:

    Wil’s homemade Tyvek bivy sounded like an army of cats were chasing yarn balls inside FedEx packages all night…

    That is so freaking hilarious. Good thing I was asleep and didn’t have to listen to it. HA!

  2. mb says:

    I thought that description was better than ‘a badger hopped out on crack trying to open a bag of Doritos’
    ;)

    Good trip. Need to get some longer one on the calendar for next year.

  3. greg says:

    Sounds like great TD training.
    Told you to watch out for porcupines :)

  4. jim says:

    Good work, fellas!