Over the River and Through the Woods (of Northern VT)


I'll start by noting how fortunate I am to have such gullible friends. These adventures always starts as a thinly veiled invitation to suffer.

Sure guys! I'm insisting you follow me into the wilderness for a pleasant weekend of enlightenment through austerity.

Something like that. For a while, it was ultra-endurance racing, then onto ski mountaineering. Now begins the age off road bicycle touring (or so I've declared).
But this time it'll be different. Cuz there'll be beer. Y'all like beer! Right? It's gonna be great. Trust me.

As most of my usual crew is fairly novice at this, I picked something easy-ish and not too committing. Borrowed from bikpacking.com, the Green Mountain Gravel Growler (link) is a 250 mile loop through some back roads and trails of Vermont, passing by about a dozen iconic New England breweries.

Day 1:

Launching from Burlington, VT. Fresh, clean and full of hope.

The asphalt soon ends,

and the fun begins.

The lunch stop was at Prohibition Pig, about halfway through a long, 70 mile day.

The trails going into and out of Little River State Park were a little on the chunky side, so unfortunately, the camera went back into the bag for a while.


Day 2:

The route is advertised as 70% unpaved. We came for the dirt, of course, but a break from the constant pounding is sometimes nice.

That said, it's tough to complain about roads like these.

Making good on the promise of liquid refreshment at Hill Farmstead Brewery.

To call it a “road” may be a touch misleading.

Let me assure you, that sign is no joke.

Each day of the tour, we encountered what I would call a “Challenge Section”. Something that tested both the legs and the mind. The section above was particularly abusive on a loaded cyclocross bike. Certainly fun, but we were all glad to see some asphalt at the end.

Making camp as the sun sets on another long, 70 mile day.
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Day 3:

While shorter on miles, Day 3 brought us more Class 4 gnar in a downpour,

an absurdly steep climb up to Lincoln Gap,

followed by clearing skies for a wicked descent into Middlebury.


Day 4:

Apparently, giant barn murals are a thing out here. This is just one of many on the route.

Nearing the end of our dirt road odyssey, jut before the weather turned on us again.

Back to Burlington in the rain, tired and soaked, after 240 some miles and over 20,000 feet of climbing.