Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Saturday, June 2, 2012

DROVES - Days 2 and 3

We had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Vermont has such an amazing network of lightly traveled scenic, and yes, hilly, dirt roads.  We've been taking trips to various parts of the state for years, and are always delighted by what we find. Late last summer Hurricane Irene did significant damage throughout the state, but the residents and authorities responded quickly. Areas with homes were top priority, and it was amazing how fast many of the roads were repaired. I think one of the things that helped is that so many of the roads are dirt, and is  much easier to go out and regrade these roads than to repair the paved ones.  Our hearts ached for the people affected, and we hesitated to go up last fall amid the devastation, but the word went out that tourists SHOULD come. So we tried to do our part to help out the local economy. We had a hillclimb race up Burke Mountain over Labor Day weekend, and took the opportunity as we always do, to ride as many of the dirt roads in the area as we could do in a weekend. We were happy to fond very little damage in the area. With so much uncertainty about the roads on the original route, and needing to book accommodation early, we decided to move DROVES to East Burke. This gave us the opportunity to share even more parts of this wonderful state with our friends. Also by changing to a single location, it would make it easy for folks who wanted to do shorter rides. A few folks took advantage of that opportunity this year, but we still had plenty of company on the longer rides.

After the first day of hard riding, we were ready for a great meal at Willy's restaurant. We had our own private dining room, and all enjoyed a fabulous meal. Highly recommended!

Appetizer at Willys

The second day of DROVES continued the Bayley Hazen theme. We headed back out over the freshly graded Stannard Mountain to rejoin the old military road, this time heading up toward Crafstbury. We overwhelmed the East Craftsbury General store, and had a long leisurely stop for lunch. Andreas and Brian had come up from Hanover for the day, but family commitments ruled out the full day with leisurely stops, so they left us at lunch. David and Emily also wanted an easier day, so they left us just before Crafstbury for a more direct route home.

Enjoying traffic free dirt roads and the chance to be social

Mo seems to be coping with the long days in the saddle

A rare section of pavement - still quiet enough to ride along 2 by 2.

Panda shots are easy on the back of a tandem

Constant Bliss and Moses Sleeper, not the most fortunate individuals and who possessed somewhat ironic names

David and Emily, flying along on the tandem

Matt and Mo, chilling at the East Craftsbury store

A place to store all the maple sap!

That's one funny looking giant alpaca!

No one is ever able to resist the cute alpacas

The Wilcox's fenders seem to be having the opposite affect - they normally keep the bike CLEAN.

We took a final refueling break in Barton before climbing up to the Wind Farm on New Duck Pond Road. It was quite the climb, and may or may not have acquired a Cockney Rhyming Slang name! We had recalled having good views of the turbines last fall, but maybe that was after Irene stripped all the leaves from the trees! Our best view was at the base of the climb, and then the next day from the Lake Willoughby side.

We had planned to check out a road called Vertical Mile Hill near the end, but most folks seemed content with the climbing we had already done, and we decided to bypass the bonus loop. No fear, Ted went out and climbed it on Tuesday and this road will make definitely make an appearance next year. How could we bypass a road called Vertical Mile?

We had a nice pot-luck party at the Bike Barn Sunday night. With two kitchens and a grill, there was lots of cooking and lots of great food, beer and wine. David L built a great fire in the fire pit, and the sprinkles held off while we all enjoyed a great party.

Our Montreal friends had to work on Monday, so they left us early. Mo and David W decided to join up with a bunch of NECX folks and do some mountain biking on the Kingdom Trails, while Emily and David L decided to do some running.

This left us with Emily O, Jake, Matt, Ted, John and me. We had planned to do a loop that included the 2500 foot climb up to Radar Road and then out to Victory, but I decided that heading up toward Lake Willoughby would be nice too. We had plenty of good steep climbs and some amazing views to boot.

The rides take longer will all the stops for photos!

The token B+W shot, so we can include the word epic in our ride title!

Looking towards the old mountain-top radar installation.

We are still loving the new tandem! Our single bikes never got used this weekend!

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