Verd-Mont

Remember in one post I wrote about wanting to take a Molly-style (aka spontaneous, unplanned) gettaway–as well as do some biking adventures? Well, it all happened on my last trip of the summer, and only trip now that I think of it, of summer 2012. It was the ultimate time of relaxation that I’ve needed after working way more hours than I should be, as well as to spend some quality time with K after he  jokingly expressed (yet not so jokingly) one night, “Yeah, I think I have a girlfriend, but I haven’t seen her in days ’cause she’s been working a lot.”

We headed to Rutland, Vermont to do what we usually do– bike and hike. Neither of us really had concrete plans as to what we were going to do. The sole thing we did know was where we were staying–the Inn at Long Trail— a hiker , road/mountain biker (and in the winter skier) friendly Inn with a-m-a-z-i-n-g breakfasts. After staying there and overhearing stories of hikers who were there to spend a night off the Appalachian Trail, on my bucket list I also want to, one day, hike the whole Appalachian Trail. Plus, I already have my hiking alias: Bridges. Well, that,or Mama Goose. I guess I have time to decide on which one to use.

I, and my partner in this adventure, were surprised that there is not really too much to do in Rutland, except for a jaw-dropping mountain bike park called Pine Hill Park. It is what mountain bike clubs in the Hudson Valley should aspire to when they do trail work. Perhaps a reason for the half dozen riders we met in the park, all of whom knew or were members of Fats in the Cats. Yes, there was something slightly odd about having post-ride drinks at dysfunction junction with fellow Hudson Valley riders. Small world? Anyway, I would travel to Rutland just to bike at the park, which also has pedestrian paths which bikes are not allowed on (oh…So that was why there were no bikers on those paths?!?)

Entering the park

Pre banged up knees shot

The park is stunning. Flowing single track, suspension bridges, some technical terrain, and breathtaking views.

K riding up some boulders

Bridge

All smiles

View from Overlook

My trail name is Bridges.

Broken Handlebar?!?

When not riding, we did some hiking around the Long Trail Inn, climbing up Pico Peak the morning before returning to the Hudson Valley.

A view of Pico Peak–where we eventually hiked

Gorgeous

Just struttin’ along

Ascent

Break

An hour and a half later, look how far we came!

Brim-hitting-mountain-climbing-PDA

When not hiking, we explored a Woodstock not known for its music festival, and found excuses to eat*.

Mmmm finally satisfying my iced coffee craving

I love covered bridges

Who spelled the name wrong?

Once last one for the folks back at home

And before we knew it, it was time to head home. I cannot wait until another weekend adventure!

*If you find yourself in Rutland, definitely head to Roots Restaurant to eat. It serves all locally grown food, at reasonable prices, in a chic atmosphere.

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You Were F-l-y-i-n-g Down That

Before I begin this, there is something you should know, if you do not already. I’ve put in quite a lot of miles on my road bike (which I’ve had for a year today!). Riding on the eastern side of the Hudson is pretty awesome. Well, so is the riding across the river. Meh, everywhere I’ve ridden on the roads have been nice (except for route 9 from Hudson to Rhinebeck which is a pot hole mess with no shoulder). My mountain bike is a different story. Truth be told, I think I’ve put in less than twenty five on my mountain bike. I think twenty-five is stretching it. Maybe more like eight, and two of those were on a road. Do I let that stop me playing? Pshh, please. You’ve gotta learn how to handle the bike somehow, and what better way to learn how to do that than by 1) riding by yourself in 2) a completely foreign place (okay, okay a different state).

Yes, you may know my special bond with my road bike. But after this weekends occurances, I think my bond with my mountain bike might be even closer.

I returned from my whirlwind vacation of being in New Hampshire, NYC, and Vermont, and have decided to tell you about it. Might I add, this is the first vacation I have had in over a year, and the first time I have driven anywhere by myself as the driver for a longer distance than kingston/New Paltz to Boston, which, once upon a time, could do blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back. Don’t worry, I never actually did that. I try to obey the law as much as possible.

Map of my trip

Day 1: Kingdom Trails and Stowe, Vermont

I headed out early (0600) since I was up at 3 and got to my first destination, Easte Burke, Vermont, known for it’s amazing network of trails for mountain biking known as the Kingdom Trails. Now, I’ve never been to this place, or this area of Vermont before, so it was all new to me (just like in NH, gas prices are way cheaper than in Dutchess County) I would have made it sooner had there not been so much road work going on. Left lane closed—-merge Right—right lane closed—merge left. Seriously? on I-90 going up to East Burke there was construction construction construction. Which was slighly annoying. But, with it being that early in the day, it wasn’t too bad because not too many people were on the roads.

After multiple cups of coffee and iced coffee  to keep me awake, and munching on a Molly trail mix of almonds and dried cherries (which look like cranberries dried, who knew?), I made it to Burke Mountain to find that the lifts were only open on weekends. And, I think Burke Mountain is where downhill bikers go. Anyway, after getting lost, I found my way to the Kingdom Trails Information Center and discussed options for biking.

“Hi!” I said to the information center person

“Welcome! Have you ever been here before?

“No, I know nothing about this place and was hoping you could tell me where to go.”

“That’s my job! Do you do much biking?”

“Yeah a little,”

“Where do you live?”

“Rhinebeck, across from ulster county.”

“Close to the Catskill region?”

“Yeah.”

“Ohhh, then I have some great trails for you which should be a piece of cake.”

Hmm, maybe I should tell him that even though I live close to the Catskills, I’ve only ever been on my mountain bike less than 5 times….The very friendly man behind the desk pulled out a very detailed map will miles and miles of different mountain bike paths, ranging from “easiest” to “most difficult”–most of what he showed me was single track paths.

Trails, trails, lots of trails!

If you are unfamiliar with Kingdom Trails, and like mountain biking, this place is amazing and you could spend days riding all of the paths that they have. There is not only cross country mountain biking, but downhill mountain biking over at Burke Mountain, which I mentioned before. If I did not need to use my limbs for work, then I totally would have tried a downhill mtn bike course they have for people.

The weather was super gorgeous, and since it was the  middle of the week, the place was not too busy. I started up Durling Hill Road and then went down into the forests. The trails are awesome and kept up really well. It was a little muddy in some places, because of all the rain they had gotten, but still fantastic. I started off on one called Coronary Bypass, which at somepoints, thought I would need my own coronary bypass after riding up (I know, I’m still learning the whole going up steep hills part of mountain biking). Then, made my way to Pastore Point Loop and over to more of Coronary. I did keep bumbing into a couple of riders (we tended to meet at areas where there were different routes available, and I ended up riding with them for a little while. I warned them I was not the best mountain biker, but I guess I have no problem going down hills as after going down River Run, one of my new friends exclaimed, “Dude, you were flying down that!”

My response: Yeah, I love going fast!

Some River close to Pastore Pointe Loop

Looking back at Tap n Die---on which I really would have died

*As a side note, yes, I have this weird ability to be able to talk to complete strangers which some people find odd since I’m somewhat shy. These two guys were on vacation from Seattle! It was nice to have some other people to ride with, even though at a point I had to part ways with my newfound friends.

Looking out towards West Burke

I continued my journey biking up through trees, over bridges (which I didn’t fall off of!), speeding down hills,through streams, through puddles of mud, and getting lost. It was a blast, and I wish there was a place like this closer to Rhinebeck with trails like them.

After spending a couple hours of biking, I was famished and covered with mud. I kind of washed enough of the dried mud from my legs and headed into Lyndonville for food before heading to my next destination: Stowe, VT. For some reason, after any bike ride, I crave food that I do not usually eat, like pizza. And at the end of this ride I thought, Mmm, pizza and a beer sounds really good right now. Alas, I got to a pizza place right in town (there isn’t much in Lyndonville, just incase you were wondering) only to find out they had stopped making pizza thirty minutes before I got there, and they would not start serving it again for three more hours. First of all, what type of pizza place doesn’t have pizza all the time? Ohh well, the Molly trail mix and gatorade in my car would have to do. I looked down at a map and decided I had had enough of being here, so onto the next stop before heading to my final destination of Burlington.

Stowe, Vermont, is about an hour and twenty minutes east of Lyndonville. It is home of the highest point/mountain in Vermont. Since I had come prepared with not only my mountain and road bike, but also hiking gear, I figured I would do some hiking/walking if the weather permitted. Once I got to my B&B that I was staying in, which was a very cute , I went and walked the Pinnacle Trail– which was a little more than 2 miles walk outside the village to the trail head, and then a 1.4 mile hike to the summit of Pinnacle. The weather could not be more gorgeous, and this was a perfect afternoon/early evening hike.

I spend the night at the Three Bears at the Fountain Bed and Breakfast  which was a very cute and cozy bed and breakfast. If you are ever in Stowe, I strongly suggest staying there, although there is a plethora of different inns/b&bs/lodges open in the summer and winter (there is lots of skiing available during the winter in Stowe). My room was awesome, and they had great breakfast in the morning. I decided, why not treat myself and stay somewhere nice, I am on vacation! (This really is a great place–they did not even question how insanely dirty I was after arriving post mountain bike ride…Although in the future, I will make sure that I am somewhat clean, don’t have old dried mud smeared across my forehead, and am wearing clean clothes before checking into a bed and breakfast, or checking in anywhere for that matter. They did ask me where I came from when I apologized for looking so messy.)

Stowe's most romantic and historic bed and breakfast.

After a hearty breakfast the next morning (they had great great breakfast) I decided to hike up the Long Trail– a trail that will take you to Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont (4395 ft). I went up Smugglers Knotch and got to the summit in the early afternoon. I was amazed at how many hikers I saw along the way. There were some areas which were a bit tricky, but for the most part, it wasn’t that difficult of a hike. And the views from the top were amazing! And with a clear, cloudless blue sky, you could see for miles. Ofcourse, the one time I forget both my camera and my phone. I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Song of (that) day:

It’s Summer, What Do I do?

It’s officially summer now, atleast I’m pretty sure. Those who go to grad school have a few months to detox from papers and exams. Those with children in school now have their arms full again with speeding gonzaleses running around their houses. Its time for family members to visit, friends to visit, vacations to be taken.

So, what can you do? These are some of the things I have planned on my list. Most cost little to no money, which is good for people who are on money diets like myself ( racing is expensive!).

1) Berry picking! I mentioned this in a post I wrote earlier in the fall, called Welcome Fall which went into details of where you can go to pick apples and pumpkins and what there is to do in the fall. There are loads of farms which will let you pick your own berries. On my ride the other day, I came upon Grieg Farm in Red Hook where you can pick your own strawberries through June, and then blueberries come out in July. Mmmm. I love strawberries and blue berries.

2)Drive in Movies. I’ve never been to a drive in move before, but there are great drive in movies all over the place. Go check out Driveinmovie.com and see what’s playing where. There’s one up in Hyde Park, up in Greene County near Coxsackie called Hi-Way  Drive-in Movie, and you just need to check out that site to see what is playing!

3) Fourth of July

There are numerous festivities that go on for the fourth of july. I remember back when we live in Lake George, we’d bundle up and head out into the boat and watch the fireworks above us. The Dutchess county fair grounds does something special for the fourth of july, with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic which can be found here.

4) Hike. When you hike on Catskill trails, it’s free. But there are places in the Gunks which have amazing trails. On the Mohonk Preserve, which you do need to pay either a daily fee or membership fee for, in June, they have what is called the blueberry patch, where wild blueberries grow. The Hudson Valley Magazine has some great hike ideas.

5) Go watch the Windham World Cup — It’s the UCI’s world cup for mountain biking. I know some people who have worked their asses off, spending hours on the mountain preparing for this event– Mountain Bikers from all over the world will be there. Quite an exciting event, especially so close to where we are!

4) Tubing. Town Tinker Tube located up in Phonecia has a 5mile stretch where you can rent a tube (or kayak) and float or kayak on the Esopus. This may be more of a pricy event, but still fun to do.

5) Waterfalls, lakes, swimming holes– are all over in Greene county. And, some in Ulster county as well. (I haven’t heard of any in Dutchess county–if you know of any, let me know!) In this humidity and heat, there’s nothing better than to cool off in natural water–outside with nature surrounding you, instead of being in a pool outside (haha, this person who used to freak out by being in outdoor water can now no longer stand pools). Swimming holes tell you where there are in your area. If you are a distance swimmer and pass a swimming test, you can swim in Lake Minnewaska! There are also small parks that have little lakes with lifeguards if you have smaller children or prefer to have a lifeguard while you swim, such as Wilcox Park in D.Co, Ulster Landing Park over in Ulster County right on the Hudson (although, I’m not sure who would want to swim in the hudson….), Lake Taghkanic State Park is a state park located in the southern part of Columbia County which has swimming and also waterfalls!, Freedom Park, in the town of LaGrange, also has swimming area. I know some of these because they are the locations of triathlon and duathlons.

6) Race season! If you are into duathlons or triathlons, there are loads of races throughout the summer.Great little events. If you are a more experienced triathlete, they have a lot of half IM’s throughout the state, however those can get pricy. The smaller, local races aren’t too bad.

7) Cheer on the cyclists from the Tour of the Catskills and support the riders as they come up Devil’s Kitchen. ‘

8) County and State fairs. If you enjoy paying to look at animals and proud owners of mini dogs going to catch disks, and inhale the smell of overpriced, greasy food, go for it! (I grew up in the country and had my share of smelling farm animals, so county/state fairs aren’t my ideal events to attend). But, the Dutchess County Fair has really neat old farm equipment.

These are just a few of activities geared towards the more athletic person (sorry, it’s just who I am). But there are a lot of exciting events going on this summer!

I wish you all a wonderful and safe, fun summer! Don’t forget to keep hydrated and sunscreen at hand!

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