Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, June 9, 2014

DROVES 2014 - Day 2

Dirt Roads of Vermont with Exquisite Scenery - Day 2

We woke to brilliant sunshine, making it much easier to hop out of bed after a hard ride the day before, finished off with good food and drink and late night shuffleboard. We got the day started right with Neil's delicious Steel Cut Oats and some pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup.

Next up, Neil definitively showed off that he brought some fresh legs as he powered up the first climb and then every one after that. Fortunately for him, the exquisite scenery distracted us from knocking him down and beating those fresh legs with our pumps. 

Burke Mountain, rising above the clouds

As well as providing a great contrast of fresh legs versus tired legs, that first big climb also brought us up to a ridge with more of that exquisite scenery, including the peaks of Burke Mountain and what we refer to as Radar mountain. One of our alternate DROVES routes takes in the gated off very steep multi-surface road to the top of this mountain where one can wander around reading signs warning of asbestos on all the abandoned buildings in this old cold-war radar installation. We've been up a few times over the years and a few folks even rode up it in the snow last year, when John decided to use the descent to bed in his brand new disk brakes! However there were no takers this year - maybe we'll get back up there in the autumn.

Anyway back to the day at hand. A bit farther up the road, the Sheffield Wind Turbines could also be seen off in the west, along with the very distinctive Willoughby Gap.

The gang is ready to go

more lovely Vermont hardpack roads

What a spectacular day for a ride!

The skies were lovely and blue with big fluffy clouds that just demanded we stop and document it all in photographs.

More climbs and descents along perfectly smooth Vermont hardpack dirt roads led us past what we initially thought to be a lemonade stand. We all came to a rapid halt and found two adorable little girls selling bracelets and necklaces and earrings made from rubber bands braided together - for $1 each. We bought their entire inventory, with at least one smart-arse rider asking if they had change for a hundred dollar bill!

Geoff never seems to get tired!

Bernie couldn't get enough on day 1 and came back for more (wedding plan avoidance)

The rock provides amazing shelter along with a lovely view of Lake Willoughby down below.

We earned this screaming descent

The route for the day was short at only 45 miles, but with 5500 feet of climbing, it was to be a tough day. Heading north from East Burke, we circumnavigated Bald Mountain, climbing over the shoulder 4 times! But in addition to all the climbing, we also had some phenomenal screaming descents as rewards and to really put all the new disk brakes to the test. They were all definitely bedded in after this ride!

After a scrumptious lunch at the Willoughby Lake Store (which we are so happy to see doing well), we began the long hard climb on Long Pond Road. What is it with road names that include the word - pond? Do they all go up forever? This was a good climb to ride at digestive pace - which is not, and let me repeat not, edge of puking pace, but a speed well below the VO-Puke threshold. The climb was followed by another screamer of a descent, which ended in a 180 degree turn onto the steepest cruelest climb of the day. Fortunately after that we soon hit a fast and smooth paved descent and all was forgiven. Sometimes it's risky being a route designer!

Henry couldn't resist ice cream at lunch

Henry's (also) fresh legs were ready for more, so when we got back to the barn, John, Rob, Ted and Henry headed off to ride up Burke Mountain, while the rest of us rode the mile down to the village for ice cream.

Ted, John and Henry not quite atop Burke Mountain

Rob with his back to Willoughby Gap

Sadly, for all the effort, the lads were prevented from getting to the top, as there was a race taking place on the top mile of the mountain road, with skateboarders and longboarders having a great time flying down the upper slopes at speeds exceeding 50mph! Actually this was just practice runs. The race was scheduled for Monday.

Back at the barn, guacamole and chips were again a big hit. And beer sharing and sampling continued. Another great dinner followed. Henry made Dutch pea soup, while Geoff grilled a small cow. Salads, ravioli and veggies completed the menu, followed by pie complete with birthday candles.

The pyromaniacs did another great job with a fire, followed by more Dutch Shuffleboard, and finally some well earned sleep before a final day of riding on Monday.


  1. Great write-up! what a wonderful weekend!

  2. It just keeps getting better. I never knew how beautiful the Burke Mountains were. Those unpaved roads without cars look so perfect. A good group of riders with nice bikes too.

  3. Hello Pamela and John -- Thanks for your route notes, and the inspiration to check out our "backyard". We are heading up to Westmore for the weekend and will follow your DROVES Lake Willoughby Loop. -- Nancy and Dave, who met you at the Luka Bloom show in May

    1. Hi Nancy and Dave,

      Enjoy the route, We are off to see Richard Thompson this weekend, where we've also in the past had random encounters with fellow randonneurs, It could happen again. Enjoy your weekend and hopefully we will be able to ride together someday!