The 2013 Edition of Autumn in Vermont

Amazing how quickly time has passed this year, and yes… I know I’m repeating myself. I just keep getting reminded of that in a bunch of different ways at a bunch of different times.

The last bike riding I did was back in April, back in North Carolina, back before I hurt myself. And so Wednesday in the parking lot of the East Burke bike shop (and by the Kingdom Trails office) it really didn’t surprise me to be talking about Pisgah to someone who’d spent a lot of time there. Jesse Livingston & his partner Lori Reed (Trail Care Crew for Subaru/IMBA) we just headed up this way from that area and were here for the first time. But that’s later in the trip report so let me get back to the beginning.

We got the camper loaded up in good time on Thursday and didn’t hit too much rush-hour traffic getting away from the city. I was up for 5 or 6 hours of driving and we planned on getting to our usual first night stop in Massena, NY. We made good time and got there shortly after 10pm with time to unwind and watch a little TV (likely the only TV we’ll see until we’re on our way home except for little bits in pubs & such). It was filled with politics of course and certainly got us up to speed on the various positions of the parties and groups of thugs within the parties who seem to be holding the rest of the country hostage until they get what they want. It was a good refresher before heading into Vermont and spending some quality time with Guy & his wife Joan. He is well versed in the national and local scenes and always interesting to talk politics with (something I generally don’t do so take that as high praise if you’re reading this Guy!).

Driveway camping with Joan & Guy

We got to their place around 5pm on Friday and got the first part of the tour from Joan, including her favourite place in the house. I can see why too… the view across the valley to Mt. Mansfield was gorgeous. I can imagine many hours spent there reading, petting a cat or dog, or just lost in thought. Perhaps a nap or two as well! When Guy got home we got the tour of his beer-making facilities with a tasting. What a great setup, with multiple delicious beers on tap by the keg (no bottling, just straight up).
When we were about to head to Jericho for a nice evening dining at one of their favourite restaurants (Joan told us she’d just been there that afternoon) Babe decided it was time to act up… the problem I’ve been having lately with the positive lead to the solenoid on the started coming off did exactly that. It’s not hard to put back on but with the camper loaded and bikes on the back it would take 15 minutes just to get to it. Guy suggested we go in their camper so off we went. I realized I hadn’t been in the back of a westy before (or if I have I’ve forgotten it). Definitely a lot of room between the front and back seats!

After a leisurely meal (inspired by slow service as much as anything else but still very enjoyable) we headed back and decided to fix the starter wire once and for all. Guy dug out a few tools, I dug out the offending wire and we proceeded to clean it up, solder on a 3 inch extension to make up for the inch we took off plus making up for the short length, double protected it with heat shrink and then added on a good connector (soldered not crimped and protected with heat shrink as well). I’m happy to report that 5 days later the problem has not reoccurred and I would be very surprised if it dare to! So… a big thanks Guy.

Smugglers Notch

One more thing he shared with us is a great camping spot and that’s where we headed to the next morning. Rickers Pond CG is part of Groton State Forest and is set between the lake and an old railway bed that’s now a multi-use path. It turned out to a perfect place for me to get back on a bike with gentle grades and not too many bumps. There are some nice campsites too, they get booked early I expect and we were happy to take what was left. They are a little close together for my liking but then again we got to meet some great people (including Lesley & Bill and their dog Casey). Next time we head to Watkins we’ll let them know and perhaps get together. There was also the blacksmith from down around Putney (I think I got that right) who used to have a westy but decided to switch over to a trailer. He came by to take a look, chat about the pleasures of travel, and recumbent bikes. Interesting guy. And he very helpfully came by the next morning to let us know about the weather heading east. It didn’t catch up to us until late Monday afternoon but it definitely hit a few areas really hard (including the Burke Mountain CG which had a few trees come down on sites).

Back to Rickers Pond though… on top of camping (which I love), it also represents my return to riding a bike with two days in the saddle in a row. Saturday, October 5th 2013 was just 2 days shy of 7 months since my fall in NC. The first ride was tentative and about an hour and a half along some rail-trail. Up hill for about 50 minutes at a gentle grade, then back down to the campsite. It was long enough that my tender butt told me about it the next day though. And the other part that complained was my neck… it’s been almost 7 months since I’ve tilted my head back like that.

Mushrooms, in HDR

The next day was a little easier and definitely a lot more fun. We headed in the opposite direction and even played a little off the trail. Not exactly single track but riding through a hydro cut and then a bit of pine forest. That ride was closer to 2 hours.

Monday (the day the weather was supposed to turn on us and the rest of New England) was a day of travelling, shopping and exploring. That included a stop @ King Arthur Flour in Norwich of course. Our final stop of the day was to buy a tarp since we’d forgotten to bring one along and figured we should have one handy. I guess there was another stop as the folks at the Burke CG suggested we might want to wait until around 8 when the storm would definitely be past before setting up camp. And as we were the only people booked into the CG for that night and the next they gave us their phone # in case we needed some help.

Dinner was in the pub in East Burke where we kept an eye on the weather and then made our way up to our campsite. A good fire to keep us warm, the rain stopped and we got to enjoy the night. It was cool but we were rewarded with sun the next day. And it’s been sunny ever since (and still cold at night).

Campsite #6

We rode some gravel roads on Tuesday… what was a short loop turned out to be a long loop as we missed a turn. It made for a better ride though and put us on some “roads” that would pass as technical double track. And it helped me with my comfort and confidence on the bike. Which brings us to Wed., and meeting Jesse and Lori in the parking lot.

Parked at Kingdom Trails
This road was on Andrea’s GPS

Andrea was all set for a good 3 hour ride and I was just puttering around the camper as she was getting ready. Jesse has friends who are full-timers and has spent time traveling in a westy so he knows the pleasures (and challenges). As paid Subaru/IMBA reps, they get to travel around staying in hotels/motels riding their bikes… and loving it. He mentioned a blog they’re keeping, I’ll have to check it out.

And on that note I’ll wrap up this blog entry. Our trip is about ½ done so there’ll be another installment which will start with how our ride on Thursday goes. We’ll both buy trail tickets and I’m intending to ride mostly double track plus some easy single track connectors. Then a little more riding on Friday and we’ll see how that goes. For now, it’s stack up some firewood and get things ready for a cosy evening by the fire.

Here are a few photos to enjoy… they are @ 1024px resolution so they might work as a desktop background.

the end of one season marks the beginning of another.


Colour and sky

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