WinterBike and Kingdom Trails in the Winter

They say the first time you attempt something and don’t succeed, try, try again.

And that’s what I do–whether it be mountain biking, swimming, or xc skiing.

Months ago, a friend and I decided to head up to Kingdom Trails in East Burke, VT for a mid-winter gettaway. I’ve shared my first (solo, mind you) mountain biking trip there this summer here . And, in the summer, it is amazing. Miles and miles of single or double track for mountain biking, technical trails and downhill for  those adrenalen junkies, to leisurely groomed paths.

co. of Winterbike

Ofcourse, I didn’t go up to go mountain biking in March. Well, that is a lie, because technically, the reason for the trip was to go to WinterBike, an event that started this year where mountain bikers from all over are invited to come and ride together on groomed cross country paths. A sweet idea. They had rides for riders of every level– fatbike rides, studded tyre rides, inntermediate, and “leisurly” paced rides. Towards the end, they even served Vermont cheese (yumm!) and a variety of local brews. After the main event, there was a race for those hardcore mountain bikers who really have no fear at all…I’m pretty sure they were stoked about the ability to race in the winter. I’m definitely going again next year.

As with the rest of the Northeast, East Burke did not get a huge amount of snow. As I recall, driving into Lyndonville looking over at my driver saying, “Umm, where is the snow?” thinking that there would be feet and feet of snow everywhere you looked. Nope. Fortunetly, at higher altitutes, there was more snow…Super for WinterBike! I did notice there was snow on Burke Mountain, so entering the town of East Burke observing visitors bundled up in ski gear gave me hope there would be enough snow to ski on. But, with the weather we’ve had, I think we managed to embrace the last of the snow of their winter snow season. **Meaning, next time I go, it’ll be for pure mountain bike pleasure!**

Kingdom Trails is amazing and has so much to offer for every season. In the winter, it has has special Nordic Trails only for cross country ski and snowshoe use. There is Darling Hill, which has about 20 km of trails which can be used for skiing, as well as Dashney Farm, with about 50km of trails–this is where the WinterBike event was held.

Some Winterbike Photos

Most courtesy of K.Young

Fatbikes!

Mountain bikers are simply hardcore. Shorts? Wicked awesome.

Vermont cheese, bread, PB, water, local beer, local vodka...What else do you need?

Cross Country Skiing

Okay, it’s actually a lie that I’ve never been cross-country skiing before. I have. Years ago. Furthermore, once upon a time, we owned a “Nordic Track” which I used religiously before we gave it away. During winters as a child my family would travel to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (in Bavaria) so my siblings and I could downhill ski, or snowboard. But that was years ago. Truth be told, with the winter we had last year in the Hudson Valley, I thought I’d be getting much more use out of my cx skis than I did this year. But, the Molly philosophy on learning how to do something is to go full speed ahead and simply, do it. Thankfully, I had an amazing person with me who actually does ski (and worked at a ski shop) and could teach me the correct way to cross-country ski.

Oh, and if you were wondering, exercising on a Nordic Track™ is nothing compared to actually cross-country skiing. For one, you don’t have hills; two, you don’t have ice, and three, with a Nordic Track you have something to rest your abdomen against. 

We were fortunate to stay at the Wildflower Inn, a Bed and Breakfast on Darling Hill, right from which you could clip in the skis and ski (or ride in the summer). It’s an amazing place, and has activities for the whole family–if you have a family that is. Plus, they have the best pancakes with REAL maple syrup and their breakfasts are phenomenal. Not only that, they are accommodating to vegetarians and those who must eat gluten-free. Their restaurant, Juniper’s, has incredible food too. I highly recommend it. Plus, I must admit, having a weekend with no phone, computer, television (not that I ever actually watch TV) was amazing. I may be old-fashioned, but I do miss the days when society was not so dependant on technology as we are now.

Fun at Wildflower

Courtesy of K.Trails...Darling Hill Nordic trails

Mountain bikes and skis in one car...And missing my bike

The Inn

Sledding at night behind the Carriage House where we stayed

He is an extreme sledder

The Inn has hot cider, tea, crackers, Vermont Cheddar Cheese, and homemade cookies every afternoon

View from Heaven's Bench in the winter

Where we stayed

Besides the point, after a five-hour drive to get to the Inn, it was time to learn how to ski. The person I was with had no problem whatsoever photographing my dread, terror, and fear.

With the lack of snow, most of the trails of Darling Hill were fields and tracks of ice. Not the best conditions for learning how to ski. (I’m pretty sure downhill skiing, from what I remember, is much easier than cross-country skiing). After some side-step instructions, learning how to snow plow, learning how to get in and out of the skis, we were off on the Bemis Trail. It took some time to get used to the movement, especially since I’m not used to the use of the poles and upper body, but I managed with only a few “Craaaaaaaps,”  “I can’t do this,” and, “I’m coming!!!Slowly.” Thank goodness for my skiing partner. He could not have been more patient with me.

Preparing for skiing

Mentally preparing myself

Coming along slowly…

Best teacher ever

The Nordic Center

Courtesy of Kingdom Trails

Before heading back south to NY, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and do some more skiing at Dashney Hill Farm. It had been nicely groomed from the WinterBike event the day before, but with the 40° weather, the snow was melting fast, and making trails turn into trails of ice. Going up was fine. Going down, however, was a different story. But, we were able to spend a couple of wonderful hours skiing, only passing a few snowshoe-ers along the way.

 We tend to wear matching colored hats and same-brand sunglasses.

All in all, it was a fantastic, fun, sometimes terrifying weekend BUT with no broken bones or hospital visits. If you are into mountain biking on the east coast, Kingdom Trails is the place to go. And now we know you can cross-country ski there, as well as downhill!

Thank you, to the volunteers at the Kingdom, the organizers of WinterBike (my t-shirt is the bomb), and the friendly, welcoming staff at the Wildflower Inn.

Ohh, and one last thing. If you decide to travel to East Burke, it is vital to stop at the Country Store, located right across from the Burke Sports store and gas station. They have the most appetizing homemade maple-oat or maple-wheat bread, and delicious sandwiches. 🙂

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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:

Vacation, here I come!

I cannot remember the last time I went on a vacation. I think it was Christmas of 2009 when I went home to Luxembourg for the holidays. Unfortunetly, the house I lived in will be sold this summer, and I will not have the cance to get back and see it before it is sold. I suppose that is a part of growing up.

Anyway, after looking at my schedule for next week, I realized I have a full ten days off from work. TEN. Ten. Not working. And, I could not be more thrilled about this trip, that I still have not planned out, than you can imagine. No, I’m not going to an exotic beach (I think I have ADHD when it comes to beaches and sitting on beaches and sitting next to pools. Lakes are a different story) or an exotic resort. Actually, I’m not quite sure where I’m going. My Timberman sprint is right in the smack of the ten day stretch which kind of stinks, because it breaks up the vacation. But, do I let that bother me? Pshh, please. My vacations that I’ve taken alone, and I’ve done my fair share of traveling alone, or backpacking, through different areas, have all been slightly on the spontaneous side. I do like to have a plan, but my plans tend to go back and forth so much it almost seems useless to even plan anything.

But, this vacation is different. It’s going to be some “me” time (yes, maybe company would be nice). I am going to check out Burlington VT–I have never been there, but hear fabulous things about it. (Did you know the Magic Hat Brewery is close to Burlington?!?) Then at somepoint, head over to Kingdom Trails to give my mountain bike some love and attention.

And then, ofcourse, I need to be at Lake Winnepasakee for the Timberman Sprint which I’m excited about, because I think I will be able to actually finish this one! And then, well, maybe head north and do some hiking in the Mount Washington area.

These are just tentative ideas. Where I’ll be staying, I have no idea. When I’ll be in each place will be decided on, hopefully, pretty soon. All I know is that my tri gear is all set and ready to go, my bike with aerobars is intact, my mountain bike yearns for my attention, and my sleeping bag/tent that have accumulated dust in my room long to be taken out and absorb the sunshine (or rain, if it decides to rain.).

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

~Andre Gide

When was the last crazy post written?

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