Greg took this shot of me on a bikepacking overnight last fall. Its a marker and a reminder of the stark contrast to how I have felt for the last several years – finally kicking fitness and health into a higher gear, dealing with an auto-immune disease, and finding my riding and adventuring spirit again. At the end of last fall I don’t think I felt as good on a bike since I was brevet training back in 2006. I couldn’t ride brevet distances right now – but things were just clicking along. Single speeding most of the summer helped – but also having energy again to actually enjoy being ‘out there’ – be it on a hike or on the bike.
Archive for the ‘fall’ Category
A ride in Cotton Brook for homemade apple pie. The plan was to ride in from the Stowe side and sit out the rain at a lean to in Little River State Park. With a late start and decent weather as the afternoon wore on we just sat trail-side and enjoyed home made pie and fresh coffee instead of riding downhill for 1.6 miles only to have to climb back up…
~2600′ of climbing, ~1600′ in the first 9.7 miles
Rain, chilly, home made pie
Greg’s Mukluk, Wil’s Ice Cream Truck, and my Pugsley
We saw a bear!
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.
Enjoyed the 2013, and likely last* (for awhile) VT Fall Classic Brevet and Populaire. I rode the Populaire, with Greg. Felt great at the start, ended up coughing up blood and struggling by the end. Finished with a couple minutes to spare.
*I’m burned out from being brevet organizer… so I’m taking some time off. There is movement to continue with some of the VT rides, and I’ll post up any solid information as soon as I hear something.
I set out with a friend and a couple of online acquaintances in early November to do a bit of late fall bikepacking. I need to write up a full trip report – but here is a photo dump from the ride. We covered 56+ miles, much of it on trail and class 4 road. Machines were all Pugsleys – a single speed, an IGH Necro, and my white 2×9 all with bikepacking bags. We also had a first generation along (the first one sold in VT) with racks and panniers.
The start was in Pittsfield, VT. We crossed the Green Mountains near Chittenden Reservoir and made our way north to Silver Lake to camp, taking the Leicester Hollow trail in from the south. Fire, chatting, eating, and then sleeping as snow started coming down.
At 2am everything was white – but by 6am when I got up to start a fire everything was just wet. We left the park on the Leicester Hollow trail, which was the only dirt on the second day.
We stuck to pavement back to start, as the weather turned as we climbed Brandon Gap – we had rain and freezing rain and sleet coming down the east side.
The last 10 miles were truly a death march – I was a little sad we eliminated all the dirt and trail – but thankful to eventually be warm and dry.
We had 40 riders start the VT Fall Classic last week. And, as a rider from Washington DC pointed out, it seems that it will not be a true ‘classic’ unless the weather offers up a challenge.
I rode the short course with friends, and in my haste as organizer I DNF’d before I even left the parking lot. My hot pink brevet card was sitting on the counter at the Old Spokes Home, where I was staging sign in and registration. Realizing this at the first control I accepted my fate but still enjoyed the ride. Any day on a bike is a good day, regardless of speed, time, and finishing status.
It has become harder and harder for me to write about this course and this ride. I developed the original route as a personal ‘birthday ride’ for myself over the course of 3 years, initially started during a time when my wife and I were adjusting to being new parents, and dealing with residual medical issues. There was alot of adjusting and pain (mental and physical) in those days, and my riding time plummeted from previous years. Getting on the bike was a gift, but one with the stark realization that my fitness was gone – and riding dirt roads with steep grades over long distances was something I was going to need to really work at – which continues to be an ongoing process.
After a few unofficial, non event scouting missions of both halves (there are almost 2 distinct north and south rides tucked within the long course) I launched the first official RUSA event in collaboration with the NERds to great weather and good roads in 2010. We’ve since grown the number of riders, tweaked the course and controls a bit, and have had rain and cold at some point during the rides ever since.
The 2012 edition proved promising from the start. A large contingent of riders converged on Burlington from ME, MA, VT, NH, NY, Washington DC. I ran into Lovely Bicycle! and her troupe on Saturday afternoon as they were exploring the Old Spokes Home (the start and finish of the ride), and I met up with more riders later that evening at a very crowded Farmhouse Taproom. Small groups were able to sit together and share food and drink, and eventually folks parted ways to rest for the late(r) (7am this year, instead of 6!) start.
Sign in went smoothly. We had quite a few folks who showed up ‘day of’. Hank Stokes volunteered at the start and finish (Huge Thanks to Hank!) and made sure everyone got off to a good start, and was at the finish with hot coffee and pizza. Bikes ranged from a few carbon racing machines, some classic and classy steel rigs, modern Indy Fabs (Ti and Steel), a couple of Rawlands, a pair of Velo Orange, and I think we had a mountain bike. We also had a rider complete the long route on a fixed gear.
At 7am I sent everyone off, and a small group of us left a few minutes later. The route rolls out of town, where eventually the road turns up, and we start to mix in dirt. I drifted between a few sets of riders near the back of the group, and enjoyed the morning fog and fall color, as well as the company of friends from Maine. I spent much of the day with Greg, who convinced a friend to ride – although he thought he signed up for our Cafe Cruise… a much different experience than the Classic.
For our little group, the rain held off until just afternoon, as we left our stop at the Village Cup. We covered the last ~22 miles in various stages of downpour and solid rain. At some point I got separated from Greg and others, and after soft pedaling and standing under an oak tree I just couldn’t wait any longer as I was getting cold – so I finished solo. I was about 7 minutes out of the time limit, had it mattered. I changed into dry clothes, wolfed down some hot coffee and pizza, then got picked up by the wife and girls, so I could snag our car. I made it back to Old Spokes, relieved Hank from volunteer duty, and waited and welcomed 200k riders in from the wet.
Despite the rain everyone returning was pleasant and had smiles on their faces, many excited that they finished, and offering compliments on the course. By about 7:15pm we had accounted for all riders, and for the first time ever running an event I was able to get home early.
40 starters (50, had all that preregistered been able to make it)
10 riders officially finished the 123k route within the time limits. Another 4 finished after the cutoff. And 3 of you finished on time but walked off with your brevet cards, or didn’t turn them in…
12 very wet riders finished the 200k route.