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Dirt road extravaganza

April 15, 2010

With scuzzy weather daring to discombobulate the happy springtime weekend plans of outdoors folk around New England, I opted to make hay while the sun shined and headed out for a dirt road ride. The only way to go downhill from Montpelier is to take Route 2 west towards Burlington, not the most pleasant ride in the area. Otherwise its uphill. Not seeking to make my life easy, I took North Street straight out of town. Its 4 miles and nearly 1000 feet up (most of that is right at the bottom) to its rarely-graded end at Horn of the Moon Road.

Wrightsville Reservoir from Horn of the Moon Road

I bombed down Horn of the Moon Road and crossed the bizarrely large flood control dam at the Wrightsville Reservoir. One climb down. My next climb took me up Culver Hill Road, French Road, and East Bear Swamp Road to South Bear Swamp Road. Calling that one a road is an opinion I’m sure not all cars and flatland drivers would agree with. It is an excellently rideable Class 4 road that eventually becomes an ordinary dirt road leading through the heart of Middlesex.

I headed back into town by climbing up East Hill Road.  The descent to Terrace Street wasn’t exactly the regular no-brakes kamikaze run, since fresh gravel had been spread and only partially graded in.  I pretty much had to stay on the semi-compacted line of the one car that had gone by…all the way down to where the grader guy was busily eating his lunch.

I buzzed by Sergeant at Arms Francis Brooks, just outside the statehouse, and trucked on over to North Street, for a second take at that climb.  A couple of minutes past noon I hooked up with Drew McNaughton for a ride of the Dan Smith’s trail that MAMBA had put in a couple of years ago.  So far, 3600′ gain in two hours.  The trail twists through the woods, a faint parting of last season’s fallen leaves.  Short brutal steep bits and a couple of impossible switchbacks were balanced out by nice stretches of flowy trail.  Spring beauties poked up in bunches here and there.  My wide touring bars and aeros were hardly the best equipment for tree slalom, and my bike handling skills have never been stupendous, but Drew was a polite riding partner for the techy bits.  We did the full out and back before parting ways.

Hunger was my primary issue, so I rolled back to my kitchen for lunch.  Then back on the road, this time up County Road past Morse Farm to follow the Central Vermont Cycling Tour (formerly known as the Eco-Tour) loop through East Montpelier, Calais, and Woodbury.

Looping around the dirt roads here is simply grand.  The roads go, but nowhere in particular.  No cars worth talking about to rudely whizz by.  Just ponds and fields and hills, plenty of ’em.  By the time I was due back for friendly family dinner I had cranked out 72.4 miles.  That’s just enough to take the riding itch out of my legs for a couple of grumpy rain days.

72.4 miles
11.9 mph moving average
6:06 hours moving time
9150′ total elevation gain

Tech note:

Since my dropped and damaged Panasonic camera got shipped to repair-land, for this ride I borrowed Linnaea’s camera, an Argus Bean.  It really works best in ideal lighting conditions, and a bit of Photoshopping never hurts, but for a kid’s camera, its 5 megapixels are remarkably functional.  And for $40 something bucks, who’s complaining?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. stephen permalink
    April 18, 2010 12:34 PM

    what are you riding these days? do you already have the replacement niner?

  2. April 18, 2010 12:50 PM

    The replacement will come in a few weeks. For better or worse, in the meantime I’m riding the cracked one. (I’m keeping an eye on it.)

  3. stephen permalink
    April 19, 2010 10:14 AM

    man’s gotta ride!

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