Monday, September 26, 2016

VT Fall Classic 200K randonee & Camel’s Hump Hike

More $$$ for beers than Zzzz’s

VT Fall Classic 200K Randonee & Camel’s Hump Hike--as told in photos and live text messages


Hungry Mountain Co-op mix pack. Got the only one with Sip, Light in the Window, Limited Access, and 14th Star Maple Stout.

Now watching Sox at Three Penny Taproom and drinking Hill Farmstead Abner DIPA and eating Sip of Sunshine Bratwurst sandwich.

Abner was awesome. Hill Farmstead Self Reliance #2 just ok. Brat pretty tasty.

Abner v Self Reliance. Abner even looks better.
Drinking Lawson's Sip now. Abner was better. 

Favorite tonight: Rodenbach Alexander Flemish Sour.

2nd dinner at Positive Pie. That's a Heady Topper.

Last post, I promise. Drop In Brewing's Dude Are You OK? 8% American Pale Ale. Floral, piney, candied grapefruit.

Josh: Dude! Living the life! You are not driving, right!
Me: Walking 0.3mi to my Airbnb. Thanks for asking. VT is awesome!

I lied. Last beer; last post. Good Water InspiRed. Band so loud; so good. Why ride tomorrow?

Good thing I'm walking back to Airbnb. Listening to band now. Bass is so loud, my whole body is vibrating. I love it.
Listening to Black Rabbit shred. 3 musicians. Lots of sound. Up next: Lake Superior.
Gotta get up in 6 hours and ride 120 miles on dirt roads up big hills. Ugh.


Woke up at 5am and the ride start was only 1 mile from my Airbnb, but I still got there 20 minutes late for the 6am start. Oh well, I like riding by myself.

Really cold and foggy for the first few hours.

First control point--the floating bridge in Brookfield.

A boat in a sea of grass. The quirky home across the street had a castle turret, a shrine to a gazing globe, and a bronze dragon on the gate.

The sun eventually came out and showed fluffy white clouds against a brilliant blue sky, but it stayed chilly all day.

Red Hen Baking Co, the 2nd vendor control, was so comfy. I spent an hour drinking coffee and eating pastries.
I took 5 hours to ride the first 100k even with long breaks at the controls. The second 200k was much harder and took me 7 hours, even though I took minimal breaks at the controls. All told I took 2hrs20min of breaks during the 12-hour ride.

North Face, taken while climbing North Street out of Montpelier at mile 69. The hill climbed 2.7 miles with sections over 10%.

We rode under the Ezekial Ball barn, built in 1903.

The Cabot Creamery Visitor Center was another control. They even stamped our brevet cards with a cow head.

I planned to make good time on the 15-mile downhill dropping 1600 feet near the end of the ride. But the rail trail was rough with patches of loose sand, so even pedaling hard I was only going 15mph.

The loose sand made for some near crashes, but I stayed upright. Then, after miles of riding without seeing another soul, I wiped out just as a pretty young woman was walking towards me. I blame it on the shadows and leaves hiding the long, narrow stone at an angle to my direction of travel. I was definitely not distracted by the woman, but my ego was bruised worse than my hip because she witnessed my tumble.

After 10 miles on the Cross VT Trail, much of it on an unmaintained rail trail, I needed a drink.

At Plainfield Co-op, the last control before the finish.
1 for now; 1 for later. Supah Phunk better be good; it cost $8.

To Josh: You've had the Supah Phunk? After the ride someone told me Hermit Thrush is an up and coming brewery. Btw - bought it at mile 113 so only had to carry it 13 miles. 

Notice the cow stamp from Cabot Creamery, makers of Cabot Cheddar.

Post-ride party  with New England Randoneurs.
Long Trail Farm House series is pretty good. I especially liked the tart Berliner-Style Weiss.

Got me 5 top-ten trophies. Only way I score those is ride remote places where the locals haven't heard of Strava.

My note to my Airbnb host, Rod, in his guest book.

Was biking all day. Now walking to town to sample craft beers.
La Puerta Negra
First stop après après-ride-party. College kids pre-party. I post-party.

Fiddlehead IPA and live music at La Puerta Negra.

The Nightingales.

Josh: Is the dude wearing pants?
Me: Ha! Thank god, yes. But they are red leather pants.

Now I'm at Sweet Melissa's waiting for Blue Fox and the Rocking Daddies to come on. Better have a Queen City Porter while I wait. Up next... Lost Nation Mosaic IPA.

Jalapeño poppers while waiting for Blue Fox and the Rocking Daddies to come on. Montpelier has a great bar and live music scene.

An odd thing about the music scene here is that I'm younger than everyone on the dance floor.
Some serious Peanuts dancing going on here. At least the band is really good, and so are the beers.

My love affair with Mosaic hops continues.
I've found most of the excellent VT beers on draft here in Montpelier. But no Four Quarters.
...and no Foley Brothers. I'm going to try to pick up a bottle of FB with a pirate on the label for Thirsty Thursday--VT Gaps Edition.

Oh man. Alarm goes off in 5 hours. Gotta climb a mountain.
41F. Brrrrr


I hiked Camel's Hump from the east, via Monroe Trail, Dean Trail, Long Trail to the Summit, then back down on Monroe Trail. Book time: 5 hours. My time: 3hr24min.

Plan was to meet Kevin and Jocelyn at 8:30. I got to the trailhead at 8, waited until 9, then headed out solo. No phone service, so I didn't get their message saying they were running late.

 Monroe cemetery, near the Monroe trailhead, is the resting place of Katherine and Will Monroe, plus their dogs: Scottie, the beloved collie, Bebe Alpine, Sir Hector of Arken, Landseer of New Foundland, Alpine II of Saint Bernard (both victims of distemper), Hector of Anahasitt, Alpine III of Saint Bernard, Basque of Basquaerie

At the start I put on all my layers, but after 15 minutes of climbing I stripped down to my t-shirt.

The Beaver "Pond" on Dean Trail during my hike, in the midst of the drought of 2016.

The Beaver Pond as shown at "An Insider's Guide to Hiking Camel's Hump"
The summit is the rocky peak on the right.

The wind was howling on the rocky peak, so the layers went back on.
The Patagonia Houdini jacket is awesome! Super lightweight and compact in the pack, but blocks the wind and rain when you pull it on. Thanks, Julie!

Captain Morgan-ing on summit of Camel's Hump.

To Julie: Done hiking Camels Hump. See you tonight.
Fun. But cold. Pretty quick. A bit over 3 hours [actually 3:24].
A real scramble up top. Exposed and windy.

To Josh: Hiked Camels Hump. Now getting lunch at ProPig. Drinking half glass of Hermit Thrush Party Guy, a session sour ale (3%).
Hill Farmstead Harlan is five stars for sure. Again, half glass. 

Foley Brothers Blackheart imperial maple porter. Definitely not a session Ale. There is a Craft Beer Cellar across the street. I'm gonna get Foley Brothers for Thirsty Thursday - Gaps Edition.

Josh: Nice. OK to drive?
Me: I’m walking. Ha! I'll be here another hour. No more beer. Will be ok. All half pours.

BBQ - you going? If I get home by 6, maybe I'll swing by. 

For the drive home. Don't worry; it's cold brew--coffee, not beer. I made it last week..

The Plan

  • Coffee Corner Diner for VT’s best Eggs Benedict (according to Yelp)
  • hike Camel’s Hump
  • Prohibitiion Pig for lunch and beers
  • drive home for Rippers’ 1st Annual BBQ contest and beers
  • pick Julie up from Logan at midnight

Biking the Fall Classic 200k

The 200k route is close to 70% unpaved, with ~85 miles of dirt roads. Both of these routes feature a bit of adventure along the way which riders should be prepared for. Both routes traverse a few roads which are categorized as Class IV & are minimally maintained. The 200k will follow a rail-trail which is also minimally maintained. The condition of these roads/trails largely depends on the weather leading up to & during the brevet. Riders may encounter short sections of ruts, mud, boulders, soft sand, gravel, steep descents/ascents & downed tree branches. Conditions may change along these roads within a very short distance so be prepared for variable conditions. Wide tires, 700 x 32, etc., will prove helpful, especially if the weather is inclement. The late summer weather has been very dry & so a road bike with 700 x 28 tires was sufficient for a recent pre-ride of the route. With an open mind & a bit of an adventurous spirit you’ll likely very much enjoy these quiet, scenic stretches as they pass through wooded, remote areas of Vermont.

Note: The 200k is a very challenging route, with significantly more climbing along the 2nd loop of the ride. The second loop has about 5,500 feet of climbing over 57 miles or close to 100 feet of climbing per mile. The 10 mile ride along the rail trail is gradually downhill, however, the minimally maintained, frequently rough condition of the rail trail makes this section particularly challenging. Use caution along the rail trail & be prepared to ride slowly & brake suddenly to avoid soft sand, rocks, roots, etc.

post-ride party: at the ride organizer’s house (start/finish) immediately following the 110k, from approximately 2 PM – 7 PM. Food, beverages & showers will be available.


Hiking Camel's Hump

I picked my route based on An Insider's Guide to Hiking Camel's Hump and VT State Parks trail map. Monroe Trailhead is on the east of the mountain, so closer to Montpelier, and Dean Trail goes past a pretty beaver pond.
  • 7.4 miles, Difficult, (2583' via Monroe Trail and Dean Trail)
  • Book Time: 5:00, Actual Time: 3:24
  • Start from the parking lot at the end of Camel’s Hump Road, North Duxbury, VT on the eastern flank of the mountain
  • Monroe Trail, Dean Trail, Long Trail heading north to Summit, Monroe Trail back to the trailhead

Odds and Ends

I listened to A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Blackman while driving to and from Montpelier.
The author does a great job developing the characters; I feel like they are real people, some of whom I've met.
The story unfolds slowly, and first impressions are adjusted as I learn more about Ove.
At times I was laughing out loud.