Sunday, February 22, 2015

Audax Vermont is moving!!

Audax Vermont will be moving (mostly) to VermontBikepacking....   now that Vermont Bikepackers have started an official VMBA Chapter* and will be pushing to make the XVtBkPkRte official!

I'll have a little help so hopefully it won't be a place where words go to die like this blog has been!

I'll continue to post personal bike stuff and rando stuff as needed here.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Pt 3 Trans Canada Trail: VT to PEI

Part of my two year effort to ride from Vermont to Prince Edward Island - mostly off road.

This part is the second year in 2012:

5/0  Woodstock, NB to Fredericton, NB

Begin at the halfway point.   My last day of my first ride in 2009 ended in Woodstock, New Brunswick where I took the bus to Charlottetown, PEI...  with my bike in its potato chip box.
 Now the family is dropping me off downtown, we have an impromptu picnic lunch curbside with the kids and the boat and every colorful local while I load up the bike.  The trail doglegs in Woodstock – so it is a trip back up the St John and across the new 585 bridge, a bit on the 105 and the rail trail back to Newburg Junction.  Here the rail trail parallels itself, slowly climbing to the town of McKenna.  It is ATV two track of every flavor; smooth and fast, soft and sandy, rocky and wet… all of it a slight grade up or slight grade down and all of it with the most aggressive deerflies I have ever encountered.  At times I can see the shadow of the cloud above my head chasing me.  At any speed below 9.4 mph there is a danger of deer flies making it out of the cloud and landing on me – great coaches these deerflies. 

  I do not let off the gas for the next 40 miles – and there is nothing to stop for as the names of the towns on the maps prove to be only words in the woods where rail siding towns once stood:  Shewan, Carr , County Line, Woodman and Woodstock Road.  In Millville there is a depanier and there is even a fully loaded touring bike outside.  Inside I find a cross-Canada cyclist taking a break and chatting with some of the locals.  It is funny to meet at these crossroads – he is a pavement only tourer on the road since April!  This is at the day’s  halfway point to Fredericton – which is good because I will pass no other stores until then.  I do encounter some ATV’s and it is not pretty.  I hear them first of course, and then see them coming at me full blast – three kids wearing just their bathing suits – do not let off the throttle at all and squeeze by at full speed – as unnerving as the auto traffic.  I see another ATV and it appears to be a father heading into town with his daughter – a much more civil encounter.    I begin to see other recreational trail users and trail amenities like picnic tables as I near Fredericton… I even find a water fountain to fill my bottles.  In the city the trail is paved and there are loads of people out on this beautiful summer night.  I grab a sandwich at a Subway and head out of town as the sun sets over the St John.

  At the juncture where the rail trail heads north and the Google Earth/ snow machine trail heads east, I enter a hole in the woods barely big enough for my bike.  Here it is rough ATV trail and obviously a major throughway between the city and the suburbs.  It is not the nice part of town I am guessing by the abandoned industrial detritus and self-permitted encampments of trailers.  Trail conditions go from worse to worser – I know have my light on and I can see ATVs coming towards me and these too don’t let off the throttle despite having no idea I am a bicycle – so I don’t take it personally.

Frederickton to Monkton

After the great Google Earth folly of the 2010 NE Fleche – you’d think I’d have learned riding next to Charles as he descended into a tunnel in the wee dark hours.  Turned out it wasn’t a mine shaft but a stick in the spokes that sent his shoulder crashing in a gentle slope to the ground.   This time the dark green route extended the Trans Canada Trail along the St John River past the industrial waste grounds and rougher neighborhoods.   And why was someone shooting in the woods in the dark?  Was that a machine gun..  Perhaps I was in the Oromoncto live-fire training grounds.. and at 11pm – those Canadians don’t mess around.  Rapid fire night vision gun shots super close – no lights no flash no warning signs.  Atv trail grew smaller while the puddles grew bigger.   Finally the trail is all wet and then a solid stream and then my light shines down a perfectly flat trail of water.   How long could it be?  As big as the entire Grand Lake Meadow?  Ankle deep to knee deep to deeper, now a snow machine cut canal through the thick bush as far as I my light shines  ahead and as far as I shine it behind.  The night is getting cool and the water cooler.  I am standing in cold dark water, in a cold dark night, miles from anywhere,  not a speck of high dry ground to pause on.  Tired with no place to sleep I turn around -15 miles back to Frederickton...back through the gauntlet of gunfire, drunken atv traffic, and burning garbage smoke.   Another 10 bonus miles looking for a place to sleep.  New Brunswick is often tough to stealth camp.  Thick scrubby brush filled with damp lumpy ground and mosquitos – while any flat spot has the treads of ATVs – don’t want a Paris Dakar midnight surprise.

 South below Grand Lake is the cycling route but I am already North and I am surprised to find I am entirely missing that section of NB atlas!

Route 10 is scary little to no shoulder all the way Minto.  At 4:30 am there is no traffic except a handful of commuters going the other way into Fred.  I get the heck out of Dodge, doing a high speed pack – stripping naked in downtown and  not stopping for breakfast until I hit the town of Ripples.   Site of the former NB WWII Internment Camp site.   Nothing to see here except the power of the New Brunswick forest;  there is no trace of the six machine gun towers overlooking the 15 acre prison guarded by 350 soldiers.   No sign of the 52 buildings– apparently many were moved to the Grand Lake to be used as summer cottages.  The trees have grown in seamlessly thick like the rest of NB forest.  If there was an environmental impact from 1200 prisoners and 350 guards cutting 2500 cords of wood to feed 100 stoves – it is no longer perceptible.   I stop in New Zion and get hot coffee and a muffin at a gas station.  The employee is none too happy to be working a holiday weekend and a dirty cyclist only seems to remind her this is precisely  why she doesn’t want to work today.   I don’t breach discussing the town name New Zion – was it settled by the 1940 prisoners who turned out to not be spies but Jewish refugees from  Germany and Austria? 

 In Minto I hop on the Old Post Road and immediately regret not taking the Cedar Rd/ Iron Bound Cove option as there is now church going traffic with no shoulder – but still a back road.  At IBC I take the Mine Road to Pleasant St. it shows as a dark solid black line on map but on the ground it is a mud road packed with rocks by mine trucks then cured in the sun on a hot dusty day.  Makes European pave smooth by comparison and I gather I will not be able to trust the map for road surface conditions.

The Chipman Bridge is uneventful and I make a quick stop at the tiny Irving gas station next to the largest Irving lumber Mill in Canada to refuel/water.  Next to the mill and the 3-story-mile-long  lumber pile is a small park with a few benches and even less shade from the miniature Lindens.   I ask the only person who walks by if they know if there is a bridge at the end of Dufferin Rd.  Since my Frederickton disaster I have been debating not taking the 22.7 mile short cut across the Canaan Bog from Dufferin Rd to Forks Stream.  … as I need two bridges in place to make the route work but I have no idea if either bridge exists.  Otherwise it is 70 miles of scary shoulderless  roads: rt 10 down to Youngs Cove and  112 up to Salisbury.  Fortunately this first person happens to be Paul Campbell, one of two employees working this weekend at this gianormous mill (not counting the security guard)  He hasn’t been out that way in a while but knows  there has been no bridge since the coal mine closed.  He says it is probably shallow enough to cross with it being so dry.  And adds in that Canada now buys its coal from China.  He loves the idea of my adventure and is confident I can ride all the way to Monkton on snowmachine trails… just ask someone on an ATV if I get lost!  He also offers the services of his twin brother who is RCMP – oh he’ll fly the Chinook out into the bog to find you!   We have a great time on the bench together; Paul’s wife stops by and is excited to introduce me to her young blond single friend who’ll be driving  her A4 convertible and the mayor in the NB day parade tomorrow .

Wishing I had the Pugsley for this trip.  From Cross bike in 2009 to wishing I had the Pugsley in 2012.   Ever aware of minor decisions made during low probability events that have potentially big negative consequences fatal situation  with mortal consequences     (“Black Swan”)

Monkton – Sackville.

Going into Monkton City shoulderless road with polite traffic (2xRC MountyP sighting) turns into nice bike lane in road dumps you in nasty free for all traffic circle then tight Main St through city.  Civilization!
2013 note:  There is a velodrome in Moncton!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 With many opportunities for real food… I choose the original Crusty Crab – certainly the inspiration for Sponge Bob Square Pants.    Alternative along river – red stone dust multi use path all the way south of city ends on rt 106 with, again nice bike lane in shared road.  At city limits dumps you with no shoulder to Miramacook.  Possible to take light green (ATV?) trail. I stayed on shoulderless 106 until Folley Lake and then saw ATV trail/road which I took To Little Dover.  Possible in Fox Creek to take road south of Leblanc Backroad direct to the Folley Lake ATV trail or continue to Meramcook West with the goal of reaching the Woodhurst /Baseline Rd  a blueberry/coppermine/ cell tower road.  With Baseline being the steepest climb in all of New Brunswick.

My bivy on the last night:

Sackville to Confederation Bridge to Charlottetown.

Stopped at info center.  Info lacking about trail to bridge.  Recommended route is to go back around the Tim Hortons under highway past Irving onto path… but shorter and possibly less dangerous* to cross four lane highway on rail trail.

  Took about 20secs for me to find a break with zero cars as far as eye can see.  * The Foursquare App has 8 comments about this particular Tim Hortons – all of them commenting on how dangerous the entrance is with bush and fourway stop light.   I’ll also add that it is a typical info center on a bike trail that knows nothing about the trail… they have no idea it does not go all the way to Cape Jourimain as pictured on the map!

Trail starts out beautiful and fast with 30mph tail wind – avg 21 mph .  lots of farms, good stone dust two track.  First glimpses of ocean.  At Allyns store 5? Miles from end? Trail becomes very loose 3” gravel chunks – very difficult to ride even with 29 x 2.1 tire. Deteriorates from there… no more ATV packing trail down grass growing.  I bail to road which has wide shoulder and same tailwind but 100km/h speed limit.  Jerk blocks shoulder to make cell phone call.  Last section before  nature center does not exist at all – given up to beavers.  Looks like you are trapped into going over bridge but suddenly exit 51 appears with small sign directing cyclists and god-forbid, pedestrians off the highway to the Cape Jourdain Nature Center/gift shop/ rest stop.  There is a manned booth at the entrance with an adorable island accented high school gal.. but  cars don’t seem to bother…

Bridge shuttle phone inside to left of info center.  Take bakery number slip and lift hotline phone. 

My new bridge x-ing friends:

 I am first to call although two other bikes await outside.  When shuttle arrives there are three bikes and five pedestrians… I am only one who took number – someone will have to wait.  From phone call to removing bags to ten minute drive and bags back on is close to two hours!   Bags must be removed and I still don’t have my carousel bar bag inquick detach mode.   Shuttle drops you off at bridge management company… I thought it would be info center on other side – instead looks like an immigration detention center.  Clean bathroom and water cooler not bad.  But I skip the ticky tacky tourist trap and scoot directly onto PEI Path with one intersection barely a few hundred meters on the road.

  From there I knew it would be easy sailing right into Charlotte town.  Rolling rail grade I average 13mph up and 22 mph down so make good time on perfectly consistent stone dust trail – mostly two track with grass and gorgeous farmland into Charlettown.  I see two child size ATVs driven by grown men with their knees in their ears, two touring couples heading the opposite way and one yellow jersey-ed bike patroller! Who seems to want to stop and chat but I blow by with my white iPod buds in the aerobars with a determined goal on my face. Cars politely give right of way to me on path except for one x-ing with is a 3 –laner and car to left stops and car to right but car to right in furthest lane cannot see me and thus refuses to stop until last moment.  Lots of pedestrian traffic – seem aware of rules and cyclist on multi.   I stay on track in Hunter River hoping I can beat my ride home to C’town.  Don’t want to get off here at the site of AES final ride.  One nasty two light pedestrian style crossing of the rt 2 and then it is through the center of UPEI and shopping zones to the Tim Horton’s at the bottom of the Hillsborough River bridge.   


Hillsboro bridge is a hairy proposition in road -way on windy bridge.  Shoulder widened since my 2009 ride by moving painted white line closer to center at the cost of a bucket of paint but not without taxpayer complaints.  Iona to Murray Harbour very loose and slow for road bikes need >700c x 32 tires.  Needs packing by patrol vehicle or atv.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Great Vermont Bikepacking Route

The Vermont Bikepacking Route.

Riding it September 2012... not writing about it... yet.

Dream Job

Dream Job

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Big train a coming....

This great news from Vt Bike and Ped coalition:

Yesterday, some great rail news came to the bike/ped community.  It was announced that passengers will be permitted to roll bikes onto Amtrak trains in Vermont.  This change is scheduled to take place in spring or early summer.  Amtrak cars, equipped with racks, will allow bikes to hang and be locked.  Still to come are the exact starting date of this service and whether or not a fee will be charged.  Imagine being able to take your bike in this manner to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC or other Amtrak destinations on this route.

Additional great rail news:  Note that anyone who travels within Vermont on Amtrak can take advantage of a same-day 50% discount.  All that is required is that you reserve 24 hours in advance and that you refer to promotion code V383.  When making a reservation, skip the automated attendant and speak with an agent.  Don't be discouraged if the agent is unaware of this particular promotion.  Be persistent and patient.  Remember, though, that the discount applies for same-day travel within the state of Vermont in 2012.  This discount may carry over into 2013 but it will likely have a different promo code.

With the options to purchase a ticket at a 50% discount and roll your bike onto the train, many travel possibilities open up.  Thanks to Bob Atchinson of VTrans' Rail Division for this news and to all who sent letters lobbying for this change, including Governor Shumlin, Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing, Megan Smith, and Vermont Rail Action Network executive director, Christopher Parker. 

We will now be able to participate in the Western Mass Fleche rides by riding our bikes to Westfield Mass and then taking the train home...  Perhaps even a NYC Fleche!   This has been a long time coming... and always painful to see those empty Amtrack trains rolling through Vermont with no bicycles allowed. ( not even folders!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Washington 55 with Dave B

 Ok... it has been a while.  Obviously the Tour Divide followup will be a long time coming.   Meanwhile - I gotta kick some life back into this web log.  It has been a miserable winter for a snowboarder and even worse for an ultra endurance Nordic skier.  I quickly put aside my dreams of skiing Canadian Ski Marathon as a silver level skier.  Instead I've been going through old ride notes and planning the 2012 cycling season. 

I came across this little email exchange with Dave Blumenthal.  He and I both worked on this training route for the Tour divide.  We never got a chance to ride it together... in fact when we did ride it, his opinion was to ride it counter clockwise - while I went the other way around.  I have since done some variations of this ride with  local trail guru Carl D as well my dear ol' 650b pal Randy.  It hurts not to be able to ever do this ride with Dave B, but I am eventually beginning to understand that reality.  I also know that he isn't going to be an easy friend to replace ... it has been 2 1/2 years now :(     

The smooth section of Taylor Valley Rd.

David E. Tremblay wrote: I did it... I did the Washington 47 today - Clockwise. It was great. I started a Woodchuck Hollow - saw that the first geocache wasn't even on the fun part of the road and decided not to bother and tried to get down to business. Dead camera battery helped. I shot straight across Woodchuck Hollow - if riding in a group it would be nice to have the first person stop and give the all clear sign as this is quite the gravity dip. Threshold Rd -is perfect. I took a picture of two pumpkins sitting in the river by the old mill on Gristmill rd. Magoon Rd was nice - got chased by a dog up the hill - but not too bad as it was a dachshund (named Coco) the last bit looks like someone's driveway but isn't, trail goes to right of their house. Rowell made the trip down to Vershire worth it. Got a flat going too fast down Taylor Valley - ripped a hole in the tire tread and lost pressure so fast bead came off rim. I could not get the valve stem nut loose. Cut it from inside then filed it with swiss army knife. 30 min operation - my pump got about 25 psi in the tire. realized I did not have patch kit or another tube. decided to ride very gingerly the rest of the way. Skipped Holt hill and took a right onto County to Jenkins. Cows in the road at Braman Farm on Doyle Rd - beautiful. Too dark to see left off Doyle onto Sky Acres. My gps indicator arrow was moving sideways to my motion, and it was dark and the map showed more roads than there were. Seemed like I was suppose to turn near abandoned camper and I was trying to figure it out when this lurking man stepped out of the shadow of the dark camper with another lurking figure behind him. He gave me bad directions so I went up the driveway instead of the road. Asked directions at the house at the top of the hill and they let me cut through their hay field to Sky acres. Almost popped down rt 110 but took Richardson to see what the fuss was about. Had to walk to the top of the hill. Poor Farm to the right is nothing special. Not sure if that section is worth it or if we could change this a bit. So: 47 miles in 4:24 of riding, plus 1:26 stopped with 8mph avg speed total. Elevation 3291up 2550 down ? Something is wrong with the elevation... nowhere near your 9,000. lessons: patchkit - always turn valve nut into real nut - bring tool to remove, use a real tubeless rim could use more light

Local politics.

 From DaveB:
Cool!I merged our data to create the attached: 50.5 miles. 7300-7900' gain, depending on what you look at. Also edited the waypoints to make them good for either direction.I understand why you had trouble at Doyle by the camper. Clockwise, you go around the turn by the camper, go maybe 50', then left uphill on a left track. 50' more uphill, then bear left again to stay on leafy track. The attached file has the "correct" way, I also added some clarifying waypoints there. With adequate light you wouldn't have a problem. Certainly going the other direction its more clear Braman Farm is very cool, reminded me a lot of the farms we hiked through in Austria: only part of the route I'm not that thrilled about is the long road bit through Chelsea. However, after looking at the maps and quads, I don't really see that there is an alternative. I'd call it good.How did you patch the tire? I have some Park Took tire boots, some kind of self adhesive thing, never used one. I understand the nut issue. What if instead of some kind of hex nut you filed a z-axis groove or two in the nut so that you could spin it with a straight blade screwdriver? Already have that tool in the kit probably.One of us should put a cache on the County-Quarry link....Dave
Beautiful world

Braman Bros. Farm

Upper Village Pastures

But now I am getting some bigger ideas.....

The route (in purple) on an old VMBA map.  Starts in Washington proper, at the upper left.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Type Two Fun - day 2

Day 2A

Got up @ 4:30        ~39’F/4’C   very foggy.  Rained early in PM.  Tarp very wet.  Cold packing up.  Depart 5:00 am.  Ate apple en-route.  13 miles to Sparwood.  Got to A&W right at 6:00am opening: French toast, 2x O.J., bagel w /cc.  Saw other riders.  Eight had crammed into one hotel room – only room left during  “Coal Miner Days”  parade today.   Left @ 6:30 am.  Cool en-route to Corbin.  ( Saw female moose Didn’t find Corbin “Y” Cache.   N 49° 31.013 W 114° 40.552  O

In British Columbia, Canada
Rode Flathead Pass w/ Dave Preston.  Frost on South side, many stream crossings – wet feet – cold!  Scenery very cool. With Dave Goldberg + Mat Arnold for a while. Caught Heather and John Foster.  Left all at bottom of Cabin Pass when they lunched.  Started to get hot.  Aqua Mira H2O near top/ ate pizza/ dried tarp etc.  Eric stopped for pizza.  Alone rest of day.

Cabin Pass super nice.  Steady descent.   Galton Pass hard,  long and steep.  Moose half way. Single track cool but only a little rideable. Steep part insanely ridiculous.  Hands above head last mile of climb, took forever….granny gear for ages. 1 ½ miles of snow on top.  Grueling at end.  Snow melt near top Brain freeze. Descent crazy must have averaged 35 mph for ten miles (minutes?) valley very hot.  Got to Port of Roosville 7pm   ate (?) and fish and drank Kokanee Beer with Robin and (?)  Butt sore, changed and washed.  Rode to Eureka.  Mexican with John Foster.  Bought food from excellent store. Rode on to Grave Creek Campground … most undeveloped.  Tired!  Concerned about theft.  151 mi today  average speed 11.3 moving time 13:20.