Ride Report: the Dooryard Dalliance bikepacking weekend

 

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Last month Old Spokes Home collaborated with the Bikepackers Chapter of VMBA to present a weekend bikepacking trip. The idea was to bite off a weekend-sized chunk of the xVT Route which runs the length of Vermont on “as much dirt as possible.” We called it the Dooryard Dalliance in honor of a choice dooryard on the route.

 

Forecasts of rain scared off the weak and the sensible, and eight of us ventured out for a weekend of weather and wonder. Jonathan of New England Bikepacking made the trip from Western Massachusetts, winning the farthest-from-home award.

 

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Friday night we met at the Waterbury Park and Ride lot off I-89 and shuttled up Route 100 to Lowell, Vermont. Jason of Cajun’s Snack Bar was kind enough to approve our cold-call request to camp at his roadside restaurant. Cajun’s is an oddity, serving frog legs and alligator to the Northeast Kingdom, but it’s not underappreciated. Cars packed the large parking lot and families sprawled across the lawn as we pulled up with our trailer full of bikes. We sank our teeth into bayou burgers, oyster po boys, and housemade bean burgers before setting up camp for the night.
 
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In the morning we rode a couple miles to our trailhead in quickening rain. We soon turned up the famous dooryard. Like Lewis’s wardrobe, it lead to unknown challenges and visions. Seth went down hard on a log dam Class IV puddle-ridden descent, opening up his leg. A couple patches later and he was back on his Krampus. A stop at Ingalls Market and Deli in Eden kept us going through the morning. David’s chain broke on rough trail, and Jonathan came through with a quick link. Jody’s Pugsley Ops got a big fat flat, but he turned it around. His saddle rails broke, but some creative clamping kept him cranking until Will could pick up a spare at his house that night.

 

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We covered about 55 miles over the course of the day. Terrain varied. Bumbling, flow-less rock and root gardens balanced against a handful of fast, smooth descents. The xVT Route stitches together a gamut of ways, from everyday rural highways to yesteryear’s forgotten ox path to today’s resort town singletrack.

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We indulged our appetites, thirst, and love of puns at Piecasso in Stowe before riding a couple miles to our riverside resting place. Will surprised us with Heady Topper and Focal Banger at the campsite, and Dan from Old Spokes drop-shipped himself through a dark mountain pass bearing more beer and fresh energy. Some swam. Some turned in early.

 

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In the morning we laid into a significant dirt road climb up from the valley in more rain. The day’s ride was only 10 or 15 miles, but the hill made it special. A park historian at Waterbury Reservoir, his usual tour rained out, wrangled us into a talk on local flood control history.

 

Back in Waterbury we shed our muddy clothes and packed up the bikes. Some of us headed straight back to Cajun’s for more burgers. Others headed home to clean up, rest, and digest:

 

"I am still reflecting on the whole experience,” writes one rider, “we all kept each other going, which is remarkable. It was a truly unique group of folks and I just feel enlightened overall."

 

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We want to thank all the participants, Cajun’s Snack Bar, Salsa Cycles, Vantage Press, VMBA, Frankie, and the guy with the shock pump at the gas station. (Remember to add pressure to your suspension fork and shock when adding heavy gear to your bike.) Will and Jonathan took the photos. Frances Cannon made the historical romance novel poster art.

 

Keep an eye on the Old Spokes Home blog and social media for future bikepacking adventures. We have a couple in the works. And if you’re in the area, stop by the shop to check out frame, handlebar, and seat bags from Revelate Design, Ortlieb, Arkel, Timbuk2, and Jandd. Salsa’s new EXP series bags are coming soon. More on those later.

 

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Happy biketripping,

 

Tom

 

OLD SPOKES HOME

 

322 North Winooski Ave.
Burlington, Vermont 05401
Tel:
(802) 863-4475

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(formerly known as Bike Recycle Vermont)

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Burlington, VT 05401

Tel: (802) 264-9687

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