NC->MABDR->VT->NC: Two Weeks Isn't Enough

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by highcountrymoto, Oct 22, 2018.

  1. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 7 (continued)
    We rested at the border gas station for a while and searched for a spot to camp. Travis would be heading back to NC the next day and I would continue on to Vermont, so we settled on Watkins Glen, NY as a happy medium. We found out Watkins Glen was home of the Jam at Watkins Glen festival in 1973 with a lineup of the Grateful Dead, The Band, and the Allman Brothers Band, and was attended by around 600,000 people! We were only 45 years too late... They have a seriously impressive state park there, and the head ranger was out greeting people and directing traffic. While we were loading our bikes up with firewood, he told us that we couldn't miss the hike down into the gorge, and he was right! What a cool surprise to find in what we thought was just going to be "another camp site".

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    After the gorge hike, we rode into town to grab some dinner and a beer at Rooster Fish Brew Pub (great food and beer, FYI if you're passing through). Another six pack to go from the local bottle shop and we headed back to the camp site. In a fitting end to the first week (and to commemorate the last night before Travis and I parted ways) the fire started right up and we had a nice relaxing night listening to music, drinking beer and whiskey, and sitting around the fire talking about the ride.
    #21
  2. bobw

    bobw Harden the phuck up

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  3. bbanker

    bbanker Been here awhile Supporter

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    Nice job boys. I did it at the end of October and our schedule matched your's pretty closely. Caldonia park and White rocks were great places. Penn Roosevelt was nearly empty and the water was shut off. We planned to camp the last night at the pine creek campground in PA at the gorge, but it was closed and we sucked up the end of 9 and stayed at a hotel that night. Awesome trip. I think you'll be happy with the AT. I love my '17 and don't think I could easily go back to my gen1 KLR...
    #23
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  4. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    I think that track was where the Jam fest was held! I really liked Watkins Glen and was happy we ended up there on a whim. I hope you have a great time on the MABDR next year, we definitely did!
    #24
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  5. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    I think the fall was the perfect time of year for this route. Glad you guys had a great ride too! Your impressions of the AT are pretty much what I hear from everyone I've talked to about it. Seems like a great all around bike, thanks for confirming!
    #25
  6. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 8: And then there was one... on to Vermont!
    Up early at the Watkins Glen campground. Travis needed to put down some quick miles to get back to work in NC. We had some coffee together and then he took off while I took my time packing up. I rode back into town to see about buying another long sleeve shirt, some waterproof gloves, and another warm pair of socks before Vermont. It was already drizzling and I found an outdoor supply store that had some cheapo $7 waterproof insulated gloves. Good enough. I ended up running into Travis again on the main drag in town, but he quickly headed off to eat up the highway back home.

    It was now raining fairly consistently and I put the new cheap gloves to the test. They were uncomfortable and squishy and offered no crash protection, but my hands were dry. Highway miles to make time to the NY/VT border. Highway 86 to 88 to Albany. I stopped at a gas station in Troy NY to fill up and get some water and asked to bum a cigarette from a guy who had just dropped off a couple wearing loaded down backpacks in the parking lot. I got to talking with them, and it turned out that the couple was from Durham, NC where I'm from! They had hitchhiked all the way up from NC to try their luck working farms in Vermont. What are the chances...

    A quick ride from Troy and I was there!

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    In Bennington, VT, I stopped at The Taphouse at Catamount Glass for some lunch and a beer while I looked for a hotel room for the night. After seven nights camping on the MABDR it had always been my plan to get a room the first night in Vermont to dry out all my gear, take a shower, and get a good night's sleep. What I didn't count on was the fact that I had inadvertently come during peak leaf season and finding a room was a lot harder than anticipated.

    After calling or showing up in person to probably five motels around town, I finally got a lead on a motel just south of downtown Bennington who kept one room open for travelers. I called, he said yes he had one room left but to hurry there. Quick ride, room availability confirmed, but the manager said "before you sign for it, I want to show you the room because some people haven't been satisfied with it in the past". Never a good sign, but it was available so I walked with him to take a look. The only issues as it turned out were that A) the room's decor could have been taken straight out of an old country grandma's house from the mid-70's, and B) the bathtub was only about 4 feet long. I told the guy A) I don't care, and B) I don't care, it looks good.

    All of my camping and riding gear was strung up inside the room to dry out and then I headed back into town for dinner at Madison Brewing Company and some more beer for back at the motel room.

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    #26
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  7. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 9: Further into Vermont!
    The next morning I slept in a little at the motel in Bennington. No one but myself setting the schedule now. While packing the bike, my motel neighbor came up and was curious about my trip and the bike itself. He was an older, gray bushy-bearded guy who lived at the motel long term and spent his days trout fishing and hanging out around town. Said he had come to Vermont in the 70's with his parents and never left. I told him my tentative route (east, toward Brattleboro), and he tipped me off to check out the Somerset Reservoir on the way. Quick stop at Madison Brewing Co again for lunch, then I headed east out of town on Route 9. It was foggy and had started raining, so I stopped to put on my rain gear and the uncomfortable $7 waterproof gloves. Eventually I found the gravel road up to Somerset Reservoir. The rain was clearing up, just a slight drizzle now, and the fall colors were starting to get good.

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    #27
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  8. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 9, continued
    I spent a while sitting by the reservoir before turning back to meet up with Route 9 again.

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    Before long I was in Brattleboro, and had been told to check out Hermit Thrush Brewery while in town. It was a perfect setup as they only served 2 oz pours, so I got to try several of their great sour beers without worry of having too much to keep riding.

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    With the on-and-off rain, and just because I wanted to have another low-effort place to relax for the night, I lined up an Air Bnb for the night in a historic farmhouse just outside of Newfane, VT. Lodging for the night secured, I rode across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire for a quick "one more state" photo op.

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    Back into Brattleboro for dinner at Whetstone Station Restaurant & Brewery. The parking lot and restaurant were crowded, but the bike slipped nicely between a telephone pole and a railroad crossing sign, and I slipped in nicely at the last single seat at the bar without a wait. Had a good chat with my bar neighbors (also solo travelers) over dinner, then headed up to check out the farmhouse lodgings in Newfane.
    #28
  9. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 9: The Farmhouse
    Man this place was cool! It was a 1790's farmhouse, and the owner, Erica, had just purchased it a year or so ago and was in the process of fixing it up. The portion of the house my room was in was the original, smaller house, and the previous owners had built the larger house at a later time. The room was cozy and relaxing, and there was no internet service. Perfect chance to do some reading. Unfortunately the wood stove wasn't currently working, but oh well. Erica gave me some fresh-pressed apple cider, which went nicely with some bourbon I had left in my flask. I started passing out in the chair while reading, time for an early night.

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    #29
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  10. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 10: North, to Stowe!
    The next morning I awoke to a bustling scene: Erica had some friends over who were helping to install some new insulation before the winter hit. One guy was interested in the bike and I got to chatting with him for a while over some coffee. He and his business partner had bought several properties around Massachusetts and Vermont and were restoring them, and they were more recently talking about investing in Iceland property. He told me that if I ever made it to Iceland I needed to get in touch and he would set me up with a place to stay... man I need to find that business card in all my camping gear!

    I finally got the bike packed up and set off from the cozy farmhouse. Before the trip, I had done a little research and stumbled across the "Puppy Dog Route", which is a North/South mostly off-pavement transect of Vermont. I had the 2018 PDR track files loaded onto my Garmin, and it was a short ride from Newfane to link up with the route. The plan was to head north toward Waterbury/Montpelier/Stowe and see where I could find a place to sleep for the night.

    It was still raining and kind of cold, but my spirits were up after a nice relaxing night in the Newfane farmhouse. I ran into one other guy on a BMW 650GS running the PDR in the opposite direction who said he had encountered some pretty muddy sections on the far northern sections of the route. I didn't end up riding that far, but still had some great times through the Vermont backcountry, riding around 80 miles of the PDR up to Woodstock VT.

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    #30
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  11. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 10 continued
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    I made it to Woodstock VT and immediately hit an insane volume of traffic. It took about 45 minutes to move a few miles. Everyone was out to look at the changing foliage.

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    Not wanting to deal with the crowds in Woodstock, I pushed on to Montpelier, using highway 89 to make up some time after the slow but scenic meander up the PDR in the morning/early afternoon. In Montpelier I grabbed a late lunch and a beer at Bear Naked Growler on the Winooski River just outside of town. Here I searched for a place to camp for the night, and found Smugglers Notch State Park a little NW of Stowe. When I arrived, I was told that they had regular campsites for $20 or nice lean-to shelters for just $9 more. It was still drizzling, so lean-to it was.

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    I got all my gear hung up to dry, collected some kindling, and then bought some nice, dry firewood from the ranger. I still had a few squares of firestarter from the couple at Little Pine State Park back in PA which helped greatly with getting the fire rolling. The rest of the evening was spent drinking boxed wine, listening to music, and tending the fire.

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    #31
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  12. ShimrMoon

    ShimrMoon Been here awhile

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    Following and enjoying your report. My hat's off to any rider that hops on an aging KLR and rides it from NC to Vermont...in late fall, early winter. And apparently you're a fellow beer fiend. Safe travels Sir.
    #32
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  13. Milosh

    Milosh Been here awhile

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    Nice ride report. I rode up from Durham to Manchester, New Hampshire (and back) a few years back on my Triumph Bonneville. We definitely took different routes. I recommend the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier.
    #33
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  14. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Well the age is about to show in the next few posts, so stay tuned! The trip was very late September through mid-October, which I think was the perfect time to do it.
    #34
  15. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Maybe different routes, but I'm sure that was a great trip just the same! I'll add Three Penny to my list for when (not if) I make it back to Vermont. I fell in love with that state during this trip.
    #35
  16. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 11: Sun! Finally!
    The next morning I woke up in Smuggler's Notch State Park and made some freeze-dried backpacking meal breakfast and had some coffee, continuing to let my gear dry out just a little more. The sun was finally peeking out and I was feeling great after a relaxing night sitting by the fire. My good friend back home in NC is a serious beer aficionado, and before I set off on this trip, after he found out my general route plans, asked me if there was any way I could bring some Heady Topper IPA from the Alchemist back home. They don't distribute in our area, and it was sort of a "holy grail" for him. Years ago on a road trip out west with an ex, I had shipped some bottles of Pliny the Elder from Russian River back home from San Francisco which we drank together. I was skeptical whether or not I would have room in my panniers for the beer, even just to transport it from the brewery to the nearest UPS/FedEx location, but I said I would do my best.

    I made it to the Alchemist about 15 minutes before they opened at 11 am and there was already a line forming. They do free tasters of three of their beers at a time, so I got to try Heady Topper, Focal Banger, and Crusher.

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    After milling around the brewery for a while, I said fuck it and bought two four packs of Heady Topper, determined to find a way to get them to the nearest shipping center. Some careful tetris with my gear in the panniers and I got them both snugged down in for the ride to the Stowe UPS store. The UPS employee was great and offered to carefully pack up the cans to ship back to NC. A few days later I got confirmation from my friend that they had arrived safe and sound! We would meet up after I got back to share them.
    #36
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  17. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    Day 11 continued: Burlington and a Breakdown
    After getting the beer shipment dropped off I made my way west, toward Burlington. During the planning stages of this trip, a friend had tipped me off to a bike-packing gravel/off road track called the Green Mountain Growler trail. This ~250 mile track hits nearly 20 Vermont breweries. There were some sections that were bicycle-only, but a large portion was on public roads, so I had the .gpx track files loaded into the Garmin. By this point I needed some lunch, so I stopped in at von Trapp Brewery which was a quick ride up from the main drag in Stowe. If you ever stop here, get the sauerkraut mashed potatoes... incredible. Refueled, I was back on the bike heading west, but not before immediately turning down a bicycle-only singletrack right at the von Trapp parking lot and having to immediately backtrack. The sun was out and the riding was great.

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    Arriving in Burlington, I stopped at Foam Brewers right on Lake Champlain to scout out some campsites for the night. It was between heading north to Grand Isle, or starting to meander back south to get in position for the long ride back to NC. Practicality won out in the end, and I headed south with the goal of camping at Moosalamoo Campground that night. Quick stop at Zero Gravity Brewery on the way out of town for a small taster (I heard it was another can't-miss), and I was southward bound again.

    Somewhere near Hinesburg things started to go wrong. I had no acceleration, the bike could barely do 30 mph. Pulling into a gas station I tried some "quick and dirty" fixes, tapping on the carb bowl in case the float was stuck, checking the clutch lever play in case the clutch wasn't fully engaging, checking for vaccum lock in the gas tank which had plagued this bike a few years back. Back on the road and the problem was still there. No power. I pulled over on the aptly named "Cemetery Road" and tore the bike apart, dismantling the carb, checking the float/needle/jets, and reassembling two times with no improvements.

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    I was running out of daylight, had no cell service, and was fully preparing to pitch my tent in some brush on the side of the road when salvation came... a story for the next post! Stay tuned to see why people, especially fellow riders, are the best!
    #37
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  18. flexiflyer

    flexiflyer Been here awhile

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    " 'yer killin me Smalls " :lol3

    enjoying this......thanks!!
    #38
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  19. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

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    :photogThe next 24 hours of this trip were insane and I want to give that post the time and attention it deserves!
    #39
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  20. BMgreenmt

    BMgreenmt Long timer

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    Never, never drive through Woodstock, VT during leaf season lol!
    #40
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