Monsoon Diaries: Bike-packing #wildvermont
Posted on 30 June 2017
Sometimes the best laid plans become the worst laid plans--but if everything in between is gold, you won't know the difference. This June, Skida founder Corinne Prevot linked up with pals Elliot Wilkinson-Ray and Thaddeus Cooke, and took to Vermont's backroads in search of that gold. Here's what they found.
Our Colorado-residing Vermonter friend, Elliot, called on local pals Tad and I for a multi-day jaunt through some of Vermont's lesser known farm, logging, and gravel roads. While recovering from a shoulder injury, I'd fallen in love with a sturdy little cyclocross bike from Craigslist (fit with a back rack already!), and had been itching for more miles. We had planned to hit our favorite swimming holes around the state, while connecting a point-to-point route.
The day before departure, I bumped into Elliot at the Outdoor Gear Exchange. In search of pannier bags that could withstand the torrential rain in the forecast, I scored a pair of extremely-waterproof color-coordinating bags. We were set for an adventure in the rain because that's the kind of summer we're having in #wildvermont.
We got a jumpstart on our soggy adventures. Having decided last minute to bag the shuttle logistics of starting in Middlebury, we signed on the extra miles and hit the road from my doorstep in Burlington.
[morning of day 1: but first, change plans]
We found ourselves emerging from the jungle on day one of the #wildvermont bike packing mission. Somewhere in New Haven I packed up my hammock and rolled on to meet Tad in Ripton.
Burning daylight, our phones buzzed with flash flood warnings as we rolled into Waterbury. A dry shirt change in the bathroom of Prohibition Pig, a big ol' plate of mac n cheese, and plenty of whiskey made the soggy day laughable. An old friend at the bar offered us some floor space just a couple blocks away and we reluctantly set aside our camping dreams.
[day 2: worth the whiskey]
We woke up groggy to find that the rain clouds passed and I dug deep in my bags to find my sunglasses. Today's route wiggled through the steep old cut trails around the Waterbury Reservoir, spitting us north towards Stowe. These trails brought some variety to the almost monotony of pavement and gravel. We covered eight miles in three hours, logged some serious vertical, and spent a lot of time pushing our heavy rigs up the old natural trails of Little River State Park. It was invigorating to be out in the lush, soaked woods after last night’s rain. The mountain brooks swollen, the dirt soft, and the air cool and refreshing.
Bikes were tippy with all that gear!
A break in the clouds where #wildvermont meets Wes Anderson meets Shutter Island meets... this very groovy zone overlooked the Waterbury Reservoir, and the steep hills where we were headed ~
[day 3: bloody and muddy]
When the going gets rough... just keep on going...
Other than a short section on Route 15, the last leg from Stowe to East Hardwick was almost entirely unpaved and exceptionally hilly. A few thousand feet of climbing brought us to some of the most exciting and backwoods roads, ending blissfully on a farm road filled to our hubs with mud and standing water.
Tad going full turbo in a mud puddle in East Hardwick, Vermont on an off-the-map section of Stagehouse Road.
No finale could have beat this barnyard chicken coop before the old Stagehouse Road hits East Hardwick's Center Street, our predetermined destination. Muddy dance moves in the mist ~
My bruises have faded, and the mud has washed from my socks, but riding in the mud will never be the same!
Photography: Elliot Wilkinson-Ray
Riders: Tad Cooke & Corinne Prevot