We just got back from our ride around Lake Champlain. This was Janís (BentbaggerJan) first real multi day self supported bike tour.
The weather was good for the most part, we did have head winds more days then not and a little rain. Jan did learn to hate a headwind, but also got to enjoy one day with a good tailwind. With a headwind it was hard to keep an average of eleven miles an hour. The one day we had a strong tailwind we had a twenty one miles an hour average. Out of the seven days on the road we had headwinds for five of them, one day with a tail wind and one calm day. Our top speed downhill was just over forty miles an hour. It would have been faster but I had the drag brake set.
Day one: We left Castleton, Vermont and covered a little over fifty five miles. Our first view of the lake was twenty two miles into the ride. That night we camped at the D.A.R. State Park in West Addison. Nice campground with great showers. As usual the RV owners could not believe everything that we had in the bags. Canít say as I blame them, sometimes I donít know how we get it all in in the first place. We meet a couple at the camp ground that has done some S.A.G.ed touring. So we talked bikes and touring for bit.
We were climbing a hill into a headwind when this twit on a Lightspeed pulls up next to us and says "Thats crazy, get a real bike!" What the hell is wrong with this fool? My bags weigh as much as his bike when there empty. I think his shorts must be too tight cutting off blood to his brain.
Day two: D.A.R. State Park in West Addison to Burlington, via Vergennes. Another fifty mile day. We meet a south bound group ride lead by P.O.M.G Bike tours (http://www.pomgbike.com/
) The tour was made up of incoming freshmen from U.VM. P.O.M.G stands for Peace Of Mind Guaranteed, this was a slogan used by Savitt Jewelers in Hartford Ct. for many years, turns out the owner of the bike touring company is Bill Savittís grandson . Small world.
Stopped at a ATM in Vergennes and the machine ate my ATM card! And it being Sunday there was no one to talk to at the bank Or at my bank.
Getting into Burlington is ruff, route seven is not a happy place to be on a bike. But I wanted to get a room for the night, and all off the services are on route seven soÖ. We got a room at one of the motels for the night. I have found some motels that donít allow bikes in the rooms. So now I use a donít ask donít tell system. I donít ask, I just bring the bike in. If they donít like it they can refund my money and Iíll find another place to stay. I donít try to be sneaky, there is no way to sneak a fully loaded recumbent tandem into a hotel. Just wheel it in like I own the place.
Day three: (Monday) Burlington to South Hero. About forty five miles today, our shortest day and the only day with a tailwind! We hung around downtown until after two oíclock. So we got a late start. I was on the phone trying to work something out with the bank, It seems that my banks computers were hacked Thursday and they had to cancel a lot of ATM cards, and mine was one of them. Before we left on Friday I checked my account and there was nothing on there web page about it, noting in the news. The bank did not want to
Let there customers know that there computers were not as secure as they would like. So now Iím stuck in Vermont with no access to my bank accountsÖ. The bank said they could wire money to me from my account but it would cost me twenty five dollars per hundred! No way Iím paying for there computer problems! Time to find a new bank eh? Oh yea, the name of the bank Webster Bank. So Jan and I took a look at the cash we had on hand, and what we could get from credit cards and such. We were OK, so we went on with our trip.
We stopped in at Local Motion (http://www.localmotionvt.org/
) and found that we had missed the bike ferry that would have taken us direct to South Hero! Check out there web page. But Chapin Spencer, the executive director of Local Motion called around and found us a copy of the Lake Champlain Region Road Map and Recreation Guide. The map is now out of print you may be able to get a copy at http://www.emapcenter.com/
(Iím going to send them a donation to Local Motion as soon as I get the bank thing worked out.) This is a great map! The bike route is marked out and it shows both sides of the lake! The route that is laid out around the lake is ok, but it uses all back roads. So services are few and far between.
Day four: South Hero to Ingraham, New York with a side trip to Canada. Sixty four miles and a little rain and more headwindsÖ. I notice far fewer wildflowers along the roadways in New York, I think Vermont must ďseedĒ there roadways. We also noticed the hills on the Vermont side are shorter and not as steep.
Day five: Ingraham to Poke-O-Moonshine Campground. Another sixty mile day. As you head away from the lake the hills get bigger, you start climbing into the Adirondacks Mountains. Pokeamoonshine Mountain is only 2000 feet but we climbed most of the day to get there. Nice little campground, but the Northway (route 87) is right next to it. This cliffs on Pokeamoonshine Mountain rise 1000 feet just behind the campground. Rock climbers flock to Pokeamoonshine. Some of the stones that has fallen from the cliffs are as big as my house! Itís worth the ride up to see it, that its just fun to say Pokeamoonshine. Meet another tourist at the campground, Bruce. He was headed to Keen , New York. We invited him to stay for diner but he had to make up some miles so he headed off. One note about the map Poke-O-Moonshine Campground is shown on Butternut Pond, but its really five miles down the road at the base of Pokeamoonshine Mountain. Itís still fun to say ÖPokeamoonshine!
Day six: Poke-A-Moonshine Campground to Ticonderoga. Another sixty plus mile day. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Eight mile downhill to Willsboro. I need to get new brake shoes for the bike. So happy I have a drum brake fitted to the tandem. We pass though Westport and head to Port Henry. Nice down hill leading into Port Henry. Then you round the corner to find this monster of a hill. I think to myself itís a nice day for a walk, Iím not even going to try. We reached Ticonderoga and got a room at the Super 8 for the night. I miss read the scale of the map and thought it was only 25 miles as the crow flies from the campground to Ticonderoga, opps!
Day seven: Ticonderoga to Castleton, Vermont. Forty three miles. We stopped to look around at Fort Ticonderoga. Really something to think it was built with out heavy equipment. We wanted to cross the lake on a ferry so we used the Ticonderoga Ferry to Larabees Point, Vermont. This was the worst day for headwinds, a strong storm front was moving in from the west and we faced twenty five to thirty five mile an hour headwinds all the way back to Castleton. It was a cool wind and we flirted with rain all day. As we climbed a long hill into a headwind on Route 22A I asked Jan if she had fun. She said she did and the only thing she would change would be the headwinds, and she would do it again!