Lake Champlain, Wilmington and 2015

Three themes evolved over the past week which revolved around another trip in my camper. This was a shorter one though as it was “only” 1,100 miles in total to upstate New York and back. The reason for going was a bike race that Andrea wanted to compete in. She’s been moving away from the local short race scene as it’s not as much fun as it used to be. Instead, longer enduro and epic events are becoming more interesting to her. So she signed up for the Wilmington Whiteface 100 which is a 100 km race (actually 108km) along gravel roads, a little pavement and some singletrack. All of this in the Adirondacks so you know there was some serious climbing involved.

That was the reason for the trip. It isn’t the full story though as we headed down a week before the race to enjoy some time away. I had originally booked us into the nearby KOA for the week but Andrea said she wanted to spend some time relaxing on the shores of Lake Champlain. She found a campsite that looked promising at Crown Point State Park near the bottom of the lake so we juggled reservations and plans and fit it all together.

Andrea, Perry & Cooper

First up was a Father’s Day / birthday visit with her dad and Karen along with John and his family. It was a beautiful day with much of it spent in or around their pool. In the morning it was a long slow drive under Lake Ontario as we made our way to Crown Point. It was an uneventful drive other than the naps resulting from a crappy sleep for Andrea.

We spent much of the week in the same spot, only driving up to Burlington once on the Tuesday and then not even starting Babe until it was time to pack up and go to Wilmington. I won’t recommend the campground as it’s nothing special, has no particular services worth mentioning and is next to the southern bridge across the lake so it has a lot of traffic. But if you do go… book the lean-to site. It’s the only one that has even a hint of privacy. Of course compared to the KOA we moved to next it was spacious so who am I to complain!

One note:I never would have expected to find a bronze cast by Auguste Rodin in a place like this. That was a real treat…

Look for the Rodin signature…

One thing that didn’t work out was getting a new bike rack. I’ve been trying to find a better way to carry bikes on Babe and have tried to figure out a hitch-based solution but haven’t found one that works for me. For my birthday Andrea offered to get the Fiamma rack designed to fit the back hatch of a Vanagon and I thought that was awesome so once we got into the States she tried to order it from BusDepot as they had them on sale. The plan was to order it, have it shipped to a friend in Underhill VT and use that as a reason to get together for a lunch or dinner. Sadly they were out of stock. I told Andrea to hold off and let Guy know it wasn’t happening… too bad, I was excited about that upgrade!

Instead I spent the time camped doing some minor changes and upgrades. Plus reading… it’s been a while since I felt like just sitting and reading for hours. Two books later I am quite thrilled with having the time and using it this way 🙂

An upgrade I’d been working to get the nerve to do was installing the screen door for the slider. I bought it last year, and have tried a few options to get it in. The challenge is that it requires drilling holes into my lovely camper and I was really reluctant to do that. I looked at ways to use magnets, ways to modify the screen door to align with existing screw holes, and every possibility I could come up with. In the end I got out the drill and carefully found the right places. I’m very VERY happy with the result. Having proper bug netting there makes things a lot better.
Friday came and with its arrival we packed up and relocated to Wilmington in preparation for the race on Sunday. It was a short drive to get there which meant we arrived well before the 3pm check-in time. They offered to let us in early if we donated $5 / hour to a charity box they had. It was 10am, that would have been almost the cost of an extra night so we declined and headed in to Lake Placid to shop and take care of Andrea’s slow leak in her rear tire. I’ll skip all the gory details of back and forth and delay this or gotta do that… in the end it meant a new tire. A last minute change a day before a big race is never recommended but in this case it was too late to avoid. Let’s just say we spent more on this than if we’d camped early.

With a group of 7 racers and their partners and children we had a great group together. This of course meant some pub grub and get together. And with another Westy owner in the group we had company at the campsite (all of the others were wimps and opted for motels in Lake Placid).  Gonna have to fix that before Leadville!


Eventually Sunday morning came and it was race time! The start was at 7am so all of the racers were up early having breakfast around 5:30. I opted to relax and eventually strolled out to the road where the race would pass the campground just after 7. I published a few photos to Facebook, then I went back to working on the magazine article I’d been trying to finish (which I submitted earlier today, there will be two pieces of mine in the next Pedal magazine). I had hours to work on it before heading to the finish area and it started to come together nicely. Then I hopped on my bike to get some finish line shots. I’ve seen some beat-up riders at the end of a race before, never like this though. Pained. Drained. Destroyed. Any yet there were still smiles of accomplishment. It’s a brutal race and everyone who dared start deserves recognition. Finishing is an extra accomplishment and getting a good time is awesome.

The post-race activities went on for a long time and that’s because there are coins that get handed out which entitle the recipient to enter the Leadville 100

I’ll describe that in another entry. For now I’ll just say that leading up to August 2015 I’ll be driving Babe across the States to get to Leadville. Andrea got offered a spot on the startline and took it. Let the training begin!

Each coin is a place on the startline of the Leadville 100

Andrea with Rebecca Rusch
Sip UBU Sip

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