Tour NE-2022-Day 11: Waterbury, VT

  • Saturday, June 25, 2022
  • Waterbury, VT
  • Lodging: guerrilla camped at Waterbury/Stowe Fish & Game club.
  • Miles: 47.5 @ 9.6
  • Vertical: 2,431 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:37 am
  • Arrival time: 6:10 pm
  • Elapsed time: 8:33
A fine place to spend the night! Even had a live receptacle to charge stuff.

Today, Day 11, was a long, hot day with a fair amount of climbing. It had the added stress of not knowing where I was going to sleep, until I finally got there. On the third try. But it all ended well.

I walked a few times, but mostly not too tough.

I slept well in Doon’s backyard, waking up around 5:00 to blue skies and pleasant temperature, maybe low 60s. I had my normal camp breakfast in the garden, sitting at a picnic table under an amazing patio roof constructed with pinned joints, no nails (except for the roofing).

Doon’s patio roof

Speaking of amazing coincidences, Doon told me that this patio roof was built by a school called the Yestermorrow Design Build School, in Warren, VT. He supplied the materials, and the school students designed and built it. The coincidence is, I rode past this school later that day, traveling up Rt. 100. That’s it.

The friendliest cat ever!
The garden patio & breakfast spot.
Almost ready!

When I started riding, it was very pleasant, maybe low 70s and sunny. I wore shorts, t-shirt, WinBib, & short sleeve jersey. Not even a jacket. I also wore my sun hat, the stupid looking one with the curtain around my neck and ears. (I’ve been wearing that hat since the beginning of this ride.)

As it turns out, the day warmed up significantly, and I wish I had worn my sun shirt. As much as I love the sun shirt, the problem is that it’s too cool below 75°. So for a cool-morning-day, I don’t start with it. I will try to leave it more accessible so I can change as need be.

I had been warned that a parade in Waterbury would close the road. Sure enough, when I came to the edge of town, the police were diverting all traffic around the center of town. I asked the cop if a bike could go through. He said yes, so I rode on.

It was great! I rode down the empty street, but as more and more people were lining the sides, I moved onto the sidewalk and walked the bike. It was pretty crowded!They were all waiting for the parade to start at any moment.

I thought about riding down the center of the street and waving to everybody.  I didn’t do it. Oh well.

I made it all the way through town, to the end of the detour, before the parade even started, then I resumed riding.

There were two hotels in Waterbury near I-89, and none others that Google could show me. I turned down Best Western at a discounted rate of $295. The Fairfield hotel was full. So I was looking for a place to stay.

It took 3 tries, but I found a really good place to camp. The first spot was a vacant lot with a sign in front that said “Future home” of some business. I checked it out for about 2 minutes and decided it was uncomfortable and unsafe. The second spot was the backyard of a t-shirt business gone out of business and “For sale by owner” . Same verdict.

Finally I passed a dirt road off to the left with a sign that said “Waterbury/Stowe Fish & Game Club” and a locked metal gate. I removed my panniers, and squirmed through the gate with my bike. I intended to ride up the road just far enough to find a flat spot to camp, but I figured I may as well go up a little bit further to see what’s there. I found a gun club, similar to many I have been at in the past. It had a large pavilion with a cement floor and a tin roof and maybe a dozen picnic tables along with a wooden stage in the front. I pitched my mosquito netting on the stage and sat at a picnic table to cook my dinner and do my stuff. It was very comfortable.

Skeet range, with the high house on the left and the low house just visible on the right. You can see concrete pads for the various shooting spots. (There is another range of some sort just to the left.)
The stage life!

It occurred to me that this place was very similar to the shooting clubs I’ve been to with my friend Joe. Sunday morning was a big time to shoot. That was tomorrow morning. I did not want to be here when the first person arrived. So I resolved that when I first woke up to pee at 4:30 or so, I would get up immediately, pack up as quick as possible – no breakfast, no phone – and get out of there.

So the plan for tomorrow is to get up early, get out of here, ride 5 miles to Stowe, have breakfast, and visit a bike shop to see about some issues with Billy. Then ride 10 more miles to the town of Morrisville, where I have a reservation at a hotel. That’s the plan. Till then.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 10: Rochester, VT

  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Rochester, VT
  • Lodging: camped in back yard of Green Mountain Bikes/BigTown Gallery
  • Miles: 19.3 @ 11.3
  • Vertical: 632 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 11:04 am
  • Arrival time: 2:25 pm
  • Elapsed time: 3:21
Camping in Rochester, VT, in back yard of Green Mountain Cycles / BigTown Gallery

This is the first day of the trip where I had no idea at lunchtime where I was going to be sleeping at the end of the day. Although I only did about half the miles I expected today, it has turned out amazingly well. Best of all, I now have a full belly and a load of clean laundry! (Although not in that order.)

In yesterday’s blog, I failed to mention, except in passing at the beginning, the shower, or my poor attempt at laundry. This shower felt really good. You feed it quarters. I gave it four quarters for 10 minutes. I took as long as I wanted and the 10 minutes was still not up. There was lots of hot water, and it felt pretty clean.

Normally whenever I take a shower on these trips, I bring my clothes into the shower with me and wash them right there. In a hotel, with plenty of towels, I can usually dry the stuff pretty effectively by the time I’m ready to ride the next day. I did not do laundry in this shower because I knew it was going to be wet and damp the rest of the day, and the stuff would just never dry. So I took the shower without any laundry, then realized I had no clean underwear to put on. I had to wash my underwear. The best I could manage was to rinse it out in the sink in the men’s room. Then when I woke up this morning, of course my underwear was still dripping wet, even though it had been hanging on a clothes line overnight. There are few things more uncomfortable than putting on wet underpants. At least they were wicking, not cotton, so they got comfortable pretty quick.

What this is all leading up to is a practice well known to backpackers and bikepackers alike, and that is hanging the wet laundry outside to dry while you ride or hike. It works amazingly well.

Drying laundry

It was another beautiful Vermont day, sunny with fluffy white clouds, a bit on the cool side, maybe around 70. I started the day wearing a long sleeve jersey and leg warmers, but by late morning it had warmed up a bit. I removed the leg warmers and switched to a short sleeve jersey.

This bridge was a personal driveway.

The ride today was especially interesting, because I have driven these roads many times in the past, but almost always in the winter. As I drive, I often think what it would be like to ride these roads. Today I found out, and it was really good. If the focus of this trip has been VT Rt. 100, Rt. 100 did not disappoint today. It has been just great riding!

As I wrote yesterday, I was heading for Warren, although I could not find any lodging or campgrounds. My plan was to make sure I had enough water and camp someplace. In my mind, once I’d gone more than 25 miles, I would look for a convenience store to stock up on water, and then look for a place to camp.

As I was passing through this quaint little town of Rochester, I noticed in quick succession a laundromat, a general store, and at least two restaurants. The laundromat is what really caught my eye. Across the street was a bike shop. Excellent! I would stop at the bike shop and ask if they knew of any place around here where I might camp.

Which brings me to my camping in the backyard of the bike shop and the amazing house next to the bike shop, which is occupied by Doon, the bike shop owner and his artist wife.

It is incredibly lovely! Apparently, she is English and a gardener, and her backyard shows it. And then while sitting here, church bells played a short piece after ringing the traditional 5:00.

The front of the house/art gallery whose back yard I slept in.

Doon was very friendly & accommodating to my question about a place to camp. He offered his back yard if I could tell a joke. I gave them 2: the difference between a NH and a VT pickup truck, and the Jewish samurai. (Ask me next time we talk.) It was my big shot at stand-up with an impromptu audience of 4 shop workers and 2 customers. It must have been good enough, because they laughed, and he let me camp in his backyard.

Across the street and a block up is the laundromat, where I did a load of laundry. It cheated me out of two bucks trying to buy soap, but then I found a bottle of liquid detergent someone left, so I used that. It feels really good to have clean clothes once again.

I was able to plug in electronics in the bike shop and charge things up. As long as I have laundry and charged batteries, I can keep camping out every night. Although at some point another shower would feel good, and there’s no shower tonight.

Dinner was also across the street, at Maple Soul. It was exquisite! I sat on the front porch with the setting sun at my back. It was a comfortable 75°. For the first time in a long time, and certainly the first time on this trip, I had a beer, locally brewed, listed in the beer menu as:

Hogback Mountain Belgian White (local): Wheat beer – Witbier / 5.8% ABV / Bristol, VT

If I end up peeing a few extra times during the night, it was well worth it.

Exquisite dinner & beer!

Dinner was a quarter rack of ribs with french fries. I’m sad to say that’s the second time today I’ve had french fries, but at least these were good. The ribs were unbelievable! I declined dessert, although that was being a little bit strategic.

As you may have surmised, I have no cell service in Rochester. Not only does that mean that this blog will not get posted until later tomorrow at the earliest, it also means I cannot contact my wife and family. They don’t know if I’m okay. I’ve asked several people in town if they had cell service and could they text my wife. It’s amazing how many don’t have cell service. One woman said she actually does not own a cell phone. We talked about it; she herself was amazed.

Finally, in a park in the center of town, I found a young family with two little kids, all except the toddler eating soft-serve ice cream. They texted Jennifer for me that I was okay. I asked where the ice cream came from and they pointed to a convenience store at the corner. I later went over and got one myself, a Creemee twist. It was quite a treat!

I’m thinking tomorrow is to hopefully have lunch in Warren, although that is 20 miles away. Then go to Stowe for the night. The problem is I have no cell service right now, so I can’t do any real serious planning. It’ll be just like the old days, before cell phones were invented.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 9: off day in Killington, VT

  • Thursday, June 23, 2022
  • Killington, VT
  • Lodging: Gifford Woods State Park, Oak Lean-to
  • Miles: 12.3 @ 7.8 mph (no luggage)
  • Vertical: 1,225 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:19 am
  • Arrival time: 3:48 pm
  • Elapsed time: 6:29
My brakes are awesome once again!

This was a very interesting day. I …

  • Got new brake pads, rotors, & rear brake cable
  • Had lunch on the Access Road
  • Saw snow!
  • Rode up to the top of the Killington Access Road
  • Had ice cream on the ride back down
  • Took a shower

I spent the first part of the morning researching where I might stay tomorrow night, and the nights beyond. I thought I had identified a place in Warren. But when I spoke with them, they were full. He had 2 other properties nearby, but they were either way too expensive or too far off the route. There was nothing else.

So I went for a ride. First stop was Alpine Bike Works, the shop at the intersection of 100 and 4, pictured above, where I stopped briefly yesterday. I knew I needed new pads. They did not have the exact part necessary, but fortunately I did have a set of spares with me. So they installed my spares. Meanwhile I wandered around killing time. 20 minutes later they called to tell me my rotors were shot as well. This did not surprise, as that set of rotors has close to 12,000 miles on them. You could see the wear.  They did have new rotors in stock. They said it would be done by 2:00.

I wasn’t sure about this shop when I first walked in. It looked ok, but you never know. I stood at the service window for quite a few moments, while the guy inside was pondering a wheel he was holding. He did not even acknowledge that I was standing there. I’m sure he saw me. I was starting to get annoyed. Then he said to his coworker something to the effect that he was not comfortable putting this wheel with a worn out rotor back on the bike with the new set of pads. This was exactly my situation! This gave me great faith that they would do the job right. Which they did. Gotta have good brakes.

So I proceeded to kill time, walking around, finding a good spot in the shade to sit, then working on the blog. After an hour and 15, around 11:30, I walked over to the nearby convenience store to get a breakfast burrito. While in the store, the bike shop called to say my bike was ready. It was 11:45.  While finishing my burrito outside the convenience store, I chatted with a few Appalachian Trail thru-hikers.  They said they were in the first wave of the north bounders. The big clot of north bounders would be coming through in  another week or two. Then I went to pick up my bike.

The brakes are now awesome once again! I remember they were really good when the bike was new, but lately not quite so much. This should take care of that. I forgot to take pictures of the old parts but here are the new rotors.

After leaving the bike shop, I started riding up the Access Road. Boy, was it steep! I didn’t walk, but I did stop frequently. I was looking for a restaurant, because the breakfast burrito was not sufficient for lunch. Before I found something open, it started to rain hard. I was dressed for it, with my rain jacket on, but still it was very unpleasant.

Google said that the Lookout Tavern, near the top of the Access Road, was open. Though slightly skeptical, I pushed on, and arrived to find it open, as the rain was really picking up. I went inside and had a  turkey sandwich and salad for lunch.

Lunch at the Lookout Tavern

When I came out, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining! So I headed on up to the K1 base lodge. Instead of going right up the access road, I turned right and took a little winding road that went past all the overflow parking lots. I saw a few people camped in some of the parking lots. That’s an interesting thought, although it’s a big climb for a place to camp. And there’s no water. In a car, that is no problem.

Killington was swarming with mountain bikers. In the summertime, they repurpose the trails to a downhill mountain biker paradise. People ride the chair lifts up with their bikes, and then bomb down.

They also had a ski jump set up for the kids at the Killington Mountain School. It’s made of plastic, full size, just like in the winter, with the lips that they can jump off of and do aerial tricks, then land in a big airbag. I saw a bunch of kids leaving, wearing t-shirts, carrying their skis and boots and wearing a helmet.

Of course, there was no snow anywhere. Except, 3/4 of the way up Superstar was a big white spot. A worker I asked confirmed that was snow. That was the same trail I last skied on May 21st of this year, perhaps my best day of spring skiing ever, when it was 85° and sunny!

Snow on Superstar on June 23
Superstar on May 21 this year

I considered riding the gondola up to the top, just me, not Billy. But it cost $32, and that just was not worth it to me. I’ve been up that gondola too many times for any novelty factor.

The ride back to the camp was a hoot! It was almost all downhill, much of it really steep. Remember, I had no luggage. At one point I hit 45 miles an hour. My eyes were tearing up so bad I could hardly see, so I figured I better slow down a bit. What I really needed was goggles, not glasses.

Along the way I stopped for ice cream. It was great!

Dinner was AlpineAire grilled chicken pad thai. It was okay, but a bit too spicy for my taste. For dessert, I had a package of black Twizzlers that I found at one of the convenience stores today!

Tomorrow, I’m heading towards Warren. I don’t know of any places to stay even remotely close. My plan is to make sure I have sufficient water after mile 20, then look for a place to camp. I’m fairly optimistic I will find a good spot. I’ll let you know.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 8: Killington, VT

  • Wednesday, June 22, 2022
  • Killington, VT
  • Lodging: Gifford Woods State Park, Oak Lean-to
  • Miles: 19.9 @ 8.7 mph
  • Vertical: ? ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:45 am
  • Arrival time: 2:20 pm
  • Elapsed time: 4:35

Today was my first day with lousy weather. It wasn’t terrible, but it was chilly (mid 60s), overcast, and frequently spitting rain. My new rain jacket did well, but I was never actually warm.

Breakfast at the lean-to was my now-standard double instant oatmeal, with margarine and brown sugar. It is surprisingly good and filling. Knowing it was going to be a short day, I was leisurely at the start, finally pedaling at 9:45 am.

The first half mile, as mentioned in yesterday’s blog, was straight up. I walked much of it. After that, most of the day was up and down without a lot of walking, until I got to Rt. 4 and made the final approach to the base of the Killington Access Road. I walked much of that hill. By coincidence, my destination is about a mile from there.

One challenging aspect to today’s ride was work crews on the road. There were several significant sections of single lane only, with flaggers to stop traffic in the other direction. The longest was a mile and a half, much of it uphill. That’s a problem, both for me and the people stuck waiting on me. On that real long one, I stopped to rest next to one of the flaggers, who radioed to either end that I was off the road, and they could send traffic. Then after I was rested, and the traffic had passed, they told me when to resume.

Riding this section of Rt. 100 brought back a lot of memories for me. Back in the ’80s, I rented a ski house with a bunch of people along this stretch of road. I drove from Ludlow north on Rt. 100 every weekend for 8 years . Today, I passed the location of the old ski house. It is now a summer camp. I did not stop.

Then turning left onto Rt. 4, while still on 100, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that the Back Behind Saloon was closed. I had really hoped to have lunch there. Instead I rode on another mile until I came to the base of the gondola station. There I stopped to eat my lunch, under a roof overhang, to protect me from the little bit of rain that was falling.

Next came the aforementioned hill, much of which I walked. I still did not know if I had a place to camp tonight. I twice tried calling the campground, but could only leave a voicemail, which I did not bother doing. At the intersection where 100 North splits off of Rt. 4, there was a bike shop, where I spoke briefly with the mechanic about my brakes. Then I went to the convenience store nearby, to stock up on Diet Coke and Gatorade. Then I rode the mile or so to Gifford Woods State Park.

Fortunately there was a lean-to available for me for two nights! By tremendous coincidence, they put me in the exact same lean-to, Oak, I used when I stayed there this past March (pictured at the top). It was the closest to the bathroom, as I requested.

Tent set up in Oak

Dinner was a surprisingly good instant Mac & cheese (AlpineAire brand), with peas, corn & carrots in it. Considering that it cost three times as much as Krafts mac & cheese, it ought to be good. But it has the added benefit of requiring zero cleanup. As with all the Mountain House meals, it’s prepared in the pouch, eaten out of the pouch, and the pouch is then disposed of. The only thing the pot is used for is boiling water, which is poured into the pouch. No dirty dishes, except my spoon, which I lick clean.

Tomorrow is an off day. I’m staying here 2 nights. I plan on taking advantage of the Access Road, including visiting a bike shop to see about my brakes, hopefully finding a laundromat, and definitely having a restaurant meal. I’ll let you know how that all works out.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 7: Plymouth, VT

  • Tuesday, June 21, 2022 – summer solstice
  • Plymouth, VT
  • Lodging: Camp Plymouth State Park, Ash Lean-to
  • Miles: 37.6 @ 8.6 mph
  • Vertical: 3,086 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:20 am
  • Arrival time: 5:03 pm
  • Elapsed time: 7:43
Starting my day.

Internet and cell service has been very spotty the last few days, as if you hadn’t noticed the delay in these posts. In fact, I’ve had no service at all since before arriving at Jamaica campground the day before yesterday, except for a brief spell this afternoon.  I can write the blog without cell service, but I can’t insert photos. I’ve found that if I try, the whole thing just chokes. So I write the blog without the photos, then wait until I have cell service or WiFi to insert the photos, edit, and publish.

When I realized I had cell service while riding this morning, at the top of a long climb, I tried to work on the blog, upload photos, check my email, etc. I apologize for all the delay in everything. It is what it is.

That rest stop to work on the blog was especially interesting, because a minute or two after I got situated, a pair of work trucks came by painting a new white line on the right edge of the road. This would be a disaster for my bike if the paint were wet. However I sat there 15 to 20 minutes and by the time I left, the paint was good and dry. I checked.

The line striping operation was fascinating: A first nozzle sprayed the paint, and then a second nozzle, more like a chute, laid down a layer of glittery powder. I tried to take a photo but could not get my phone up in time.

There was a line of five or six cars behind the two trucks, and one of them, a fancy black Jeep with big fat tires, drifted right, over the wet line, and painted the right tires white. Hah! That’s what they get for not staying between the lines.

Breakfast this morning at Jamaica was a double-serving of instant oatmeal. It was surprisingly good. I add a glop of margarine and a bit of brown sugar. Good enough that on the way out of town, I did NOT stop at the local general store and get a breakfast sandwich, which I have eaten in the past during ski season, and I know it to be quite good.

This morning I called Camp Plymouth campground to reserve a spot for tonight. They said they weren’t really that kind of a state park, they only hosted group camping. But they would check with the supervisor, and I would call back in a couple of hours. When I called back (Plan B was to stay at a hotel in Ludlow), they said no problem, you can stay here. But you have to pay the full rate for a group spot, $44. I’ll take it.

I was so proud of myself for not walking until an hour after lunch, when all of a sudden the world turned a lot more vertical. Maybe being tired had something to do with it. In any event there was a lot of walking in the 5 miles before the last 5 miles, which were all downhill, much of it thrilling. The final kicker was the last mile and a half to the campground had one hill – straight up, straight down. I had to walk it. This means I will be walking first thing tomorrow morning. It was a respectable day with 3,086 ft of vertical according to Strava, more in this RideWithGPS screenshot.

This RideWithGPS screenshot seems to have added 10 miles to the ride. Both my bike computer and Strava agree on 37 point something, not 48.8.

As usual, there was great VT scenery. Here are some shots.

Just another climb.
My favorite signs!

Dinner was Mountain House beef pasta marinara. Not bad, but I think I was a bit short on the water. It was preceded with about a quarter pound of Vermont cheddar and crackers, and followed with black licorice strips, all bought at some cute little store near the end.

Dinner!

The plan for tomorrow is to ride to Gifford Woods State Park, a very short day, probably less than 20 miles. I’m very much looking forward to this stop.

I camped at  Gifford Woods this past March, between two days of skiing at Killington, which is right next door. As with my winter camp at Jamaica, I had the place to myself back in March.

In addition, Gifford Woods is right on the Appalachian Trail, so hopefully I will get to talk to some thru-hikers, and reminisce about my younger days.

Finally, I’m planning on staying two nights at Gifford Woods, in order to rest and restock, and go for a day ride up the Killington Access road and poke around a bit sans luggage.

Hopefully I will have better internet, make that any internet, tomorrow night.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 6: Jamaica, VT

  • Monday, June 20, 2022
  • Jamaica, VT
  • Lodging: Jamaica State Park, Juniper Lean-to
  • Miles: 31.4 @ 9.4 mph
  • Vertical: ? ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 9:15 am
  • Arrival time: 3:35 pm
  • Elapsed time: 6:20
Ride magic from the next-door neighbors

Today was an outstanding day! That is because:

  • I reached my planned destination in about the time and distance expected.
  • It was easier than expected. (How often does that happen?)
  • Both the weather & scenery were absolutely gorgeous!
  • My rear brake failed, but I was able to fix it. (That will need more attention.)

It is no coincidence that I am staying at Jamaica State Park campground, right off of VT Rt.100, for the second time this year, especially on this Tour of New England. I last stayed here back in March, between 2 days of skiing at nearby Stratton Mountain. There was a foot or two of snow on the ground, and not a soul in the campground after dark. A few weeks later, I camped at Gifford Woods State Park, near Killington, also on VT Rt. 100.

Then I had the great idea! How about a bike ride up the length of Vermont Rt. 100, from Massachusetts to Canada? I would stay at as many Vermont state parks along the way as possible, partly because it’s inexpensive, and mostly because I really like camping in state parks & commercial campgrounds.

The route just sort of ballooned from there. I decided to go over to New Hampshire after traversing Vermont, and then on to Maine. In each area, I have specific destinations in mind, for different reasons. If and when I reach those places, I’ll let you know.

This morning was a typical hotel morning, especially for a Hampton Inn. I slept okay, not great, and was up for good at around 6:00. The free breakfast was mediocre, but I had  a yogurt, some apple juice, some manufactured eggs, and a turkey link. I was packed and out by 9:15, including time spent lubricating the chain and installing a new battery in the bike computer sender. (That is the part attached to the left chain stay which detects both wheel and pedal revolutions, and sends it wirelessly to the head unit.)

Having reconnoitered the day before, I first went to a Dunkin’ Donuts a half mile from the hotel to get a couple of bagels for dinner and breakfast the next day. The line was too long so I left. Then I went to the McDonald’s next door, and had a second breakfast. Then I went to the Hannaford supermarket across the street, again looking for bagels. No luck – they only sold them in packs of four and they didn’t feel very fresh.

I did, however pick up a bottle of Diet Coke at Walgreens next door, because I was not confident there would be any place along the way to get one for the next morning. That turned out to be a mistake, and I carried that stupid 20 oz bottle of Diet Coke (which weighs 1.36 pounds – I weighed it) all the way up all those hills, when I could have bought it right here in Jamaica on the way into the park. Oh well.

Speaking of Diet Cokes, I wanted to buy a bottle at the hotel this morning when I woke up. All they sold was 12 oz cans, no bottles. So I bought two cans, thinking I would certainly finish both of them before I started riding. However I never opened the second one, so I brought it with me, thinking I would drink it sooner rather than later, or lunch at the latest. The problem with cans of course, is that once open they cannot be closed. You must either finish it or dump it out.

My route today involved a lot of climbing. I did not want to carry both a can and a bottle of Diet Coke up these hills. I also knew it didn’t get steep until after about Mile 10 or 12. So I resolved to finish the can of Diet Coke before it got steep. That didn’t really happen, but at the top of the first big climb, at a few minutes past noon,  I felt it was time to have a snack and drink a can of Diet Coke. Which I did. Not lunch, mind you, just a Kind bar.

That was followed by a long descent, interrupted when I saw the Bigfoot coffee shop on the side of the road to my right. It was a tiny shack, with a small gravel parking lot, no seating at all, and a statue of Bigfoot standing by the side of the shack. I had a really excellent breakfast sandwich on a ciabata roll for lunch.

Although today was mostly uphill, there were a few screaming descents. But the interesting thing was I did not walk once the entire ride. I did stop frequently and put my feet down and catch my breath, before going on, but I didn’t walk.  I’m learning better how to pace myself and stop to catch my breath before I bonk. It makes the steep and difficult sections much more doable.

In addition to all the wonderful scenery, I passed several very interesting bridges. Here are some photos.

I called the State Park in the morning before I started riding. She assured me that there would be a spot for me, and sure enough, when I arrived I had my choice between a tent site or a lean-to. For an extra $11, for a total of $32, I took the lean-to. It is a lot more comfortable. As it turns out, I set up my tent, minus the rainfly, inside the lean-to. This way I have the benefit of the mosquito netting, while still being able to see out. It’s very comfy.

Dinner was a pig out! I had one Mountain House, which was good, but not sufficient. So I had a second. That too was good, and plenty sufficient. Just as I was finishing the last bites of the second Mountain House, my neighbors came over with some strawberry shortcake for me! You can see it at the top of this post. It was a lot to eat, but I managed. 🙂

Tomorrow I go to Ludlow. I had thought I would stay in a hotel there, but don’t feel the need at this point. So it looks like I will be staying Camp Plymouth State Park, just north of Ludlow.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 5: Brattleboro, VT

  • Sunday, June 19, 2022
  • Brattleboro, VT
  • Lodging: Hampton Inn
  • Miles: 25.9 @ 9.3 mph
  • Vertical: 1,421 ft (per Strava)
  • Start time: 8:40 am
  • Arrival time (Brattleboro): 12:16 pm
  • Arrival time (Hampton Inn): 2:51 pm
  • Elapsed time – to Brattleboro: 3:36

Today was a good, interesting, and ultimately, a successful day. Yes, I did get the fuel (along with most of the other items on my shopping list).

Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters in Brattleboro! What a store!

The plan for today was to get an early start and ride to Brattleboro, where a guy at Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters told me, yesterday, that they had the exact kind of gas canister that I needed. Also, my good friend David and his wife Lea live near Brattleboro, so I had texted him yesterday.

I was up at 5:30am after a mediocre night’s sleep. There goes that theory about hotel beds versus camping.

The Days Inn included a free breakfast, but after taking a look at what they had to offer, I walked across the street to McDonald’s. Then it was back to the room to pack and be pedaling by 8:30, which is early by my standards.

The key to an early start is to have this blog written the night before. Not necessarily published, but written, so that all I have to do in the morning is some editing and then publish. This is helped immensely by good internet, something that is often lacking.

I knew it was going to be a short, but intense, day of riding. The weather was beautiful, a bit cool, mid-60s, sunny and very breezy. I wore shorts and a long sleeve jersey and a WinBib, and my windbreaker came on and off every 20 minutes. Once again, the scenery was stellar, as I left Massachusetts and rode into southern Vermont.

Bike path out of Greenfield, MA, passes under I-91
MA – VT border. Note the clear signage on the pole on the left, and the solar panel-covered barn roof in the distance.
I actually saw very few farmers out working in the fields, although it all appeared very well-tended.

I met up with David and Lea at this delightful little lunch place called Yalla’s, right next door to Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, in the center of Brattleboro. I had a Yalla Yalla, which is basically a falafel in a bowl. Really good!

Lunch at Yalla’s, my new go-to spot in Brattleboro.

After lunch, followed by a visit to Blueberry Haus for some homemade ice cream, I said goodbye to David and Leah, then went into Sam’s.

What a great store! What a throwback! Before Amazon and the internet hollowed out America’s downtown, every town had a store like this. That’s why I didn’t think there would be a problem getting gas. I remember Northampton used to have a camping store like this back in the day. No more. Oh well.

After shopping, I rode to the Hampton Inn 2.9 miles out of town, arriving at 2:45 p.m. I expected to be able to check in at 3:00 but was told no can do, not until 4:00. Not a problem. I used the time productively, including a nice chat with daughter Addie. Ronia called a bit later, so it was an excellent Father’s Day.

After checking in at 4:00, I unpacked everything and prepared to do a load of laundry in the washing machine here in the hotel. However it was backed up with other people, and, as it turns out, was defective. Long, long story short, after waiting a long time to even get my stuff in the washing machine, it did not run, swallowing two sets of eight quarters each, and just getting the clothes a little bit wet, not even dissolving the detergent pod. This was not good.

The hotel manager really came through for me. When she couldn’t get the machine to work, we took all my stuff out of the washing machine, dripping wet, and took it to the commercial machines they use for the hotel. There she washed it for me, extracted the stuff which was not supposed to go through the dryer, and dried the rest. She even returned my lost quarters! I’m in the process now of drying my shorts as I normally do, wrapped up in a towel. So that all ended very well, with a load of clean dry clothes!

Dinner was pink lemonade, pasta & meatballs at Ramunto’s, a 15 minute walk from the hotel. It was classic, good, and voluminous. I finished the salad and pasta, but could only eat two of the three meatballs.

The plan tomorrow is to again get an early start and ride 31 miles mostly uphill to Jamaica State Park in Jamaica, VT. By coincidence, or not, I camped there this past winter while skiing at Stratton Mountain. At the time, I was the only occupant. I’m guessing tomorrow night it will be filled.

P. S. The blog is done tonight, and now I’m going to bed. Good night.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 4: Greenfield, MA. Days Inn.

Saturday, June 18, 2022
Miles: 18.2 @ 9.1 mph
Vertical: 1,350 ft (per Strava)
Start time: 10:45 am
Arrival time: 2:53 pm
Elapsed time: 4:08

Day’s end at Days Inn

This was a short day in search of stove fuel. I did not find the gas, but I was able to buy another battery, which should allow me to camp & keep my devices charged 3 days in a row.

Let’s go back to this morning. I slept lousy. Not only were the bugs and birds incredibly noisy, but the ground underneath me was not quite flat. It just did not allow me to get comfortable. So in addition to being up much of the night, I was up for good at 5:30 am. Hopefully I will sleep better tonight in the hotel bed.

I realized that Sterno was not a viable option for boiling water. This meant no instant oatmeal for breakfast. So I had my third bagel with cream cheese, along with a Diet Coke I had bought yesterday. It would have to do.

This meant I was in serious need of fuel for my stove, if I intended to keep camping. So I had to find the proper type of canister. The best bet seemed to ride to the town of Greenfield, about 20 miles away. It had a Home Depot and several hardware stores, so I made a call and got a hotel reservation at a Days Inn, then set off after breakfast.

It was a beautiful day, although breezy and cool. I actually wore leg warmers all day, along with a WinBib, a long sleeve jersey, and, much of the time, a windbreaker. The temperature never got much above the low 60s. The scenery was fantastic – north central Massachusetts at its summer finest.

About 20 minutes into the ride, as I approach the top of a steep hill, I heard kids voices off to the right in the woods. Almost immediately I came to a trailhead marked “Fire Tower”. So I stopped and walked up the trail, maybe 50 yards, which came out to a fire tower, where a bunch of families with kids were all playing. I climbed up the stairs to the top and was rewarded with a wonderful view. I didn’t stay long however, because the tower swaying in the wind made me nervous.

The view from the top.

My primary navigation tool is an app called Ride With GPS, with a bit of Google Maps thrown in. Although both apps have taken me through some rough patches, I have a bit more faith in Ride With GPS. Still, sometimes you just got to have faith that it’s going to be a good route. Today was all good.

My lunch spot

I stopped for lunch about 12:30, at the top of a really big hill. Lunch was peanut butter and Ritz crackers, a Clif bar, and some Diet Coke. From there it was mostly downhill the rest of the way, although there were still some significant steep little climbs I had to walk.

I stopped at a few places on the way in to town, looking for the gas canister. No luck, nor at the Home Depot adjacent to the Days Inn. Nor at the hardware store in town, which I called instead of riding over.

Also next to the hotel is a Staples, where I was able to buy the above-mentioned battery.

Dinner was at the Ninety Nines restaurant next door, and dessert was at the Friendly’s across the street.

I called a camping store in Brattleboro, VT. They do have the proper gas canister, so tomorrow I will be riding to Brattleboro, about 20 miles away. Then depending on the time & how I feel, I will either stay in Brattleboro or ride on to Townshend State Park. Stay tuned!

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 3: Goshen, MA. DAR State Park campground

June 17, 2022
Miles: 22.4 @ 8.0 mph
Vertical: 1,644 ft (per Strava)
Start time: 11:43 am
Arrival time: 5:41 pm
Elapsed time: 5:58

RideWithGPS screenshot

Today was a relatively short day, but all uphill once I left Northampton. Fortunately, not too much walking, and the weather was nice: mostly mid to upper 70s.

I did get caught in a downpour just before lunch. One of those summer things that goes from no rain to full-on in about 1 minute. My new Showers Pass rain jacket passed the test!

Stopped for lunch during a downpour
Dinner prep, before the water got hot

As I mentioned in yesterday’s walk, my gas canister for my stove ran out. I truly thought I would have no problem replacing it. Such was not the case. I stopped at several stores today in Northampton & along the way, including two or three hardware stores, a general store, and a Walmart. (You can see my meanderings in Northampton in the screenshot above.) Nobody had what I needed, although Walmart sold the stove that takes my kind of canister. I ended up buying 2 cans of Sterno.

Sterno is the stuff you usually see in chafing dishes at bar mitzvas or weddings. It can cook, but very slowly. Fortunately, my campsite here at the DAR State Park has a fire ring, with the grate that swings over top the fire. I had purchased a package of firewood, so, prior to building a fire, I used that to build a platform to hold the sterno can beneath the grate. Then I put my pot of water on the grate to boil. 45 minutes later (that is not a typo), the water was almost, but not quite, boiling. Close enough. The chicken teriyaki was delicious.

At lunch today, at the Miss Florence Diner in Northampton, in addition to a turkey club sandwich, I had the foresight to order three bagels to go. They came with cream cheese in little side containers. While waiting for my water to boil this evening, I ate two of the bagels with cream cheese. Smart move. As it was, I had a bit of problem finishing the chicken teriyaki, but I managed.

Lunch at Miss Florence Diner in Northampton

Day 2 was such a tough day, followed by a comfortable good night sleep at the Hampton Inn. This morning I woke at 7:30 a.m., without having gotten up once in the middle of the night to pee. This almost never happens, either sleeping that late or sleeping through. It is one of the known beneficial side effects of carrying a heavy load for a long distance on a bike. We’ll see how well I sleep tonight in my tent with a cacophony of critter noise.

Fortunately, this campsite has a bear box, a large steel box in which you put all of your food so that the bears can’t get to it. That means I can sleep easily, knowing that a bear, or other varmint, is not likely to pay me a visit during the night.

The bear box

That’s it for now. As I write, it is now the next morning. I am standing inside the men’s room here with my phone plugged into the wall, finally out of airplane mode. My plans are all messed up without fuel for my stove. Sterno does not cut it. So today I go in search of a gas canister in Greenfield. I just made a reservation at a Days Inn. Oh, I slept crappy in my tent last night. As much as I love camping, I have to admit I do sleep better in a bed.

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Tour NE 2022 – Day 2: Hadley, MA. Hampton Inn

June 16, 2022
Miles: 53.3 @ 10.0 mph
Vertical: 3,195 ft (per Strava)
Start time: 9:16 am
Arrival time: 5:44 pm
Elapsed time: 8:28

EOD at the Hampton Inn

Day 2 was a long day. A good day, but a long one. I was expecting something on the order of 40 miles, and for some idiotic reason, mostly downhill. It was neither. I did a lot of walking.

Ride with GPS screenshot

As I sit here writing in my hotel room on the morning of the day after, before commencing my Day 3 ride, I feel pretty good. Yesterday, the last 10 miles were, in fact, mostly downhill. Nonetheless my left knee was barking a bit, and I was getting pretty tired.  This morning, the knee feels fine, my lower back is manageable, and the poison ivy is finally subsided. (Did I mention the poison ivy? I got that the week before I started the ride, working in my back yard. Fortunately it was never terribly severe.)

Part of the reason the day was so long was due to missed turns. Even with navigational apps, including both Ride With GPS and Google Maps, I still miss turns. (Due to a cascade of reasons, I cannot mount my phone where I can easily see it and listen to music on my wired earphones at the same time. The phone holder blocks the hole for the earphone wire. I can’t use my Bluetooth headphones because of battery drain. Also, if I do have the nav turned on & visible while I ride, it drains the battery really fast. Still, for the second half of the day’s ride, I opted for no music and visible nav.) One of the worst missed turns involved a climb up a big hill and down the other side, when I checked my location and realized I was off course. Turn around. Total distance lost: 2 miles. It occurred at about Mile 18. You can see it in the screenshot above near Hardwick. Oh well.

The day got off to a rocky start at breakfast. After a comfy writing session in my tent, described in the previous blog, I commenced to making breakfast: instant oatmeal with brown sugar and margarine. However, before the water was even boiling, the stove ran out of gas. Darn! Wasn’t expecting that. So breakfast became a packet of tuna, along with some crackers and peanut butter. Not bad. It is lucky I no longer need coffee or hot tea in the morning. My Diet Coke, purchased from the camp store the previous day, was sufficient.

As I started riding, my bike computer failed to start. This happens sometimes, and it meant that once it finally woke up, it was off by 2.3 miles. In any event, it was a beautiful day for riding: upper 60s & overcast. I rode a very hilly & very scenic 8.6 miles to a great diner called Captain T’s in the tiny town of Barre, at the top of a long hill. There I had my second breakfast of the day, a delicious bacon egg and cheese on an English muffin with home fries, and half decaf half caf coffee.

Second breakfast of the day

This turned out to be my last meal of the day until dinner, at around 6:30. By then, I was not only tired but very hungry. I had stopped for snacks twice during the day, but my second breakfast actually turned out to be a very early lunch. I will try to do better distributing my eating going forward.

After finally finding & checking into the Hampton Inn (another missed turn), I unpacked the bare minimum, plugged in stuff to charge, put on dry clothes, and walked to a Mexican restaurant a block away. Dinner was bliss. (I was too hungry to remember to take a photo. Sorry.)

Then back to the hotel, where I took my first shower in 2 days. Felt really, really good! I also washed all my dirty clothes in the shower as well, then rolled them into towels to dry. This morning, they were still damp, so I hung them on some equipment outside for the final drying.

That’s about it. Today will be a short day, headed for the DAR State Park campground near Goshen, MA. It looks to be about 20 miles. Probably hilly. I will have lunch in Northampton, and look for a store to replace my empty gas canister.

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