Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Maple State

Okay, Vermont, enough already about your maple everything.

I get that you have a lot invested in this, that your whole maple-identity is a lucrative business. I know that you are the United States’ leading producer of maple syrup, generating over 2 million gallons of the stuff in 2016, accounting for 47% of the entire nation’s output. I get that it’s a big deal.

But the proliferation of maple “products” I saw in Vermont was just silly.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Vermont Bike Ferry

The Island Line Trail, a popular 14-mile cycling path which runs from Burlington, Vermont, to South Hero Island, Vermont, is missing something—200 feet, to be exact.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Old Brick Store

Quarter past a boot. Tractor o’clock. Ten to the hammer.

I can’t help it. The huge clock on the exterior wall of the Old Brick Store in Charlotte, VT, invites such cornball jokes. And the grand old building invites visitors to step inside, and into a charming mixture of past and present.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Green July

About a month ago, when Val and Tando said, “Hey, let’s go ride our bikes around Vermont for 10 days,” I immediately thought of Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby in the 1954 classic film White Christmas, part of which takes place in the fictional resort of Pine Tree, Vermont. Kaye’s character says, in response to Vera-Ellen’s invitation to join her and her sister for a winter adventure, and again later trying to convince Bing’s character to go along, “Vermont should be beautiful this time of the year, with all that snow.” The only difference, in my case, was the last part of my response. “Vermont should be beautiful this time of the year,” I told the fellas. “All that . . . green.” 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Solar Shields

At first, I told myself I’d only wear them while cycling. They were, after all, ridiculous—cheap, oversized, drugstore sunglasses, the kind with side-wraps. The kind you see being worn only by old, cane-wielding  men in the park. The kind that fit over your actual glasses. They cost $25, my Solar Shields.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dusty 100 2017 Report

A big, dusty shout out to the 15 riders who rolled up to the start line on Sunday for the third annual Dusty 100 Gravel Challenge. We had a little bit of everything: racing bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes, a single speed, aero bars, a skin suit, a floor pump lashed to a top tube, and a thumping bass line from the campground down the road. And, of course, a solitary bugle.

The gravel gods must have liked the bugle call, because they definitely smiled on us: perfect weather and better gravel-road conditions than anticipated made for a stellar day on the quiet, scenic roads of Smoky Lake County.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A Few More Dusty 100 Notes

This rain today may actually be a good thing for Sunday's ride; a little precipitation (the key word being little) may well firm up some of those soft gravel sections on the Dusty 100 route. 

A couple of route notes. We had a question about why we're not using the Iron Horse Trail that runs parallel to our route between Smoky Lake and Waskatenau. That's a fair question. Fact is, the first year of the Dusty 100 we tried the Iron Horse Trail, but it was so horrendous--we're talking 6-inch-deep river rock and baby heads--that most of us bailed and went over to the road. (Val stuck it out on his fatty, but he paid for it. He was vibrating for days.) 

But we're going to allow the Iron Horse as an option; it's a little bit longer than taking the road, but certainly more scenic than the infamous Warspite Mind Warp Zone. I've included the turn off for the Iron Horse on the cue sheet.

Also, Aaron kindly sent a link for a turn-by-turn GPS file:https://ridewithgps.com/routes/21742703

We ride regardless of weather. 9 am start. The bugle waits for no one.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dusty 100 Route Details

The route for Sunday is confirmed, after a recon drive out to Dusty country last night. Same as last year. Here's the map.

We'll have cue sheets to hand out. The GPX file is here. It's from a few years ago when the start was at Victoria Settlement, but the route is the same.

The meeting/starting point is the small parking lot beside the monument with three flags, about one km east of the Metis Crossing campground. 

This year's Dusty 100 looks to be especially challenging. The gravel is fresh, soft, and deep in places, especially on the first half of the route. It's going to be a grind.  I would not attempt this ride on tires less than 32 mm wide, and even that could be pushing it. (In fact, you could quite literally end up pushing your bike for stretches.)

Have a look at the route and scope out a back up plan for if you have to bail. There are a few obvious places where you can cut the ride short. 

Oh, and the Dustometer is off the charts. I'll be packing the dust cover for my bugle. 

Friday, May 26, 2017


Tim Moore is a funny guy, a talented writer, and the author of three popular cycle-travel books. His first, French Revolutions (2001), recounts Moore’s hilarious attempt to ride—with virtually no training—the route of the 2000 Tour de France. I loved that book’s very British brand of eloquent profanity, self-deprecating humor, and (also very British) anti-French satire, as well as its entertaining tidbits of Tour de France history and mythology. That formula worked so well that Moore went on to apply it to the second-most-famous grand tour, the Giro d’Italia, and the result is his thoroughly entertaining Gironimo! Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy (2014). (No, Moore’s third cycling book is not about the Vuelta. It’s called The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain, and I have to admit I haven’t read it.)