Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vermont 2012, Part 1

On the "starting line" for SSUSA.

This post is going to be in a few different parts - just too much about this weekend to write up in one without making it a book.

Part 1 - Pre-SSUSA

On Thursday morning, I left Philadelphia for Stowe, VT, driving straight through. It's about a 7 hour drive, which is entirely doable, but not ideal. I just can't stand long drives anymore. I had mapped out a pretty direct route - through NJ to the NY Thruway and then Rote 84 to 91 to 89 to Stowe. But that's a still really long drive.

The rain was threatening almost the whole way, but it only rained in New Jersey

The weather didn't much help either -- it was threatening rain the whole day, and even though it only ever rained in north Jersey, it was pretty crappy all the way from PA to VT.

But eventually I reached Stowe and checked in to my hotel. It was actually a really nice place. I think Joanna would have loved it, but I cared less about how it looked and preferred it for two other reasons -- it was large and on the first floor, so I was able to get my bike in and out easily.

My bike fit easily in the corner

The bed was one of those four post tall beds. I practically needed a running start to get in it.
Just after I arrived, I got a call from my friend Mark who was staying up the mountain at the Stowe Mountain Resort. He wanted to try to make the Thursday evening ride out of Five Hills Shop in Waterbury. (It's owner George was running the event and invited anyone in town early to join the ride.)

But the ride was canceled when it started to rain -- George said the trails around Waterbury aren't ride-friendly when soaked. No big deal, though - we hung out at the shop for a while and shared some beers with a few other folks, both local and just visiting for SSUSA.

So Friday, I finally got a chance to ride with Mark and Jay (also from JB Mountainbikes team like Mark.) We didn't really know the trails in the area that well and ended up riding a section called "Town Loops" just across from the Rusty Nail Bar, and then heading up to climb the mountain to ride what we'd heard was the finishing section for the race, a trail called Kimmer's that dropped out just above the Matterhorn Bar where the pre-party was on Friday night. We didn't get a whole lot of miles in on the trail, but we did get a chance to sample what Stowe has to offer. Some fantastic single track and lots of flow.

One of the single track climbs in town

The view from the chair-lift overlook

The drop-off near the overlook

Creek overlook along the bike path

Lots of farms in the Stowe area ...
After we finished the ride, I headed back to the hotel before the pre-party, but got bored sitting around after a while and decided to explore the mountain, so I drove up to Smuggler's Notch above Stowe. That drive was fun, but kind of nuts -- the road narrows to about driveway width near the top of the mountain, and there's some pretty hairy sections around blind curves.

The top of the mountain has some really tight bends on a narrow road

The top of the mountain -- looks like a great hiking destination

Trees growing on top of rocks - I haven't seen this since I was out in the southwest
After the drive, it was time for the pre-party and I headed back to the Matterhorn. I got to meet a few different folks from different areas of the country - a local guy gave me the scoop on some of what we'd be riding, and I chatted with the guys from 29nsingl (who, it turns out, will be hosting the event in Minnesota in 2013.) I also got to hang with Sandie and Joe from PA for a while. Always fun to talk to Sandie - she races all over the place and does it on a rigid single speed. She's a badass. And Joe was racing a place like VT with a cast on his arm. Trust me - that's pretty badass, too.

The party pretty much closed out my day, and afterward I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next day's festivities.

To be cont'd ...


  1. lol. You're pretty bad ass yourself Martin. Wow - your room was super girly. Ours was too. Must be a VT thang...I just don't understand. ha

  2. Bummer - I missed meeting you at the shop by just a little bit. Glad it was a good time and thanks for coming up to play singlespeeds! -mandy