At last check, we were four phenomenal days into the #tourXnewengland. We had crossed many bridges — some antiquated and covered, others less majestic and more proverbial — and we were just rolling into the simply titled Northeast Kingdom. NEK, for short, this is a magical part of the country that’s about as untouched as it gets. Especially in the month of June where it’s the most vibrant green color in an almost unworldly, Wizard of Oz-like location.
Now being that we’er now on day four, we ventured out on the week’s only double day. We had just summited Burke Mountain which stands tall over all other nearby mountains, and offers a convenient sense of direction throughout the NEK. It looks like so:
The afternoon sesh, or stage 4b, offered a Kingdom Trail shred with the fine folks at Kingdom Experiences. The Kingdom Trails are a blast to go out and simply get lost on, which is something I’ve done about three times solo, but they’re far more enjoyable when they’re shredded with the responsible guidance of someone who can flow the flowiest of all flow’dom together like a symphony. Collin and his crew are up to the task. Being that stage 4b comes on the tail end of the monstrous Queen Stage, and already the second ride of the day, we kept it tame and just ripped a mere ninety minutes.
Which to many would mark the end of the day clocking in around 6pm, but to this virtuous group, we wanted more. Like more recovery beverages, which is the beauty of the NEK: you get to ride your bike right up to the bike-shop-slash-bar, which has a view like this. Windowless, mind you, because for some magical reason there are no mosquitos here in this slice of heaven.
Proper hydration to fuel a proper day. This is about as successful as a successful day gets.
Stage five switched on with a full day off road. And with a shameless product plug, the best way to start the day is with waffles. It was July 4th, gosh darn it, and there’s nothing more American than shredding mountain bikes with delicately sweetened maple syrup waffles topped with raspberries, right? (…right?)
Whereupon, we went upward and onward and into the wild green yonder.
NEK is doing something right. Well, they’re doing a ton of stuff right, but not least of which is this. Here’s the mid-day lunch parking lot rush. Backtrack a bit; you drive and drive and drive and drive (or in our case, ride and ride and ride and ride) to get to this sliver of tiny Vermont dubbed the NEK, and all of a sudden you’re in seemingly Mecca for mountain bikes. It’s baffling.
Here are the steeds belonging to Laura and me for the weekend o’ shralping. Huge thanks again to the northeast demo team at Cannondale plus Collin and Kevin for getting these baddogs for us.
One of the coolest parts of the weekend was riding with Farid Noori. I could summarize it again, but this does it well. Good work, me, for writing it. Farid is a super smart, hard charging, ambitious Afghani student at Middlebury. I went to Middlebury where I found the sport of cycling. Farid is a student at Middlebury where he found cycling. We both study(-ied) economics. Then he found out about me as Middlebury’s only economics student turned Euro pro cyclist, he reached out, and we’ve been chatting quite a bit over the past year or so. He has professional cycling aspirations, and bigger than that, he wants to bring mountain biking to Afghanistan. You should follow his travels, this absurdly epic adventure, and his stories on here because he’s onto something big.
No, we didn’t get arrested, but I thought this photo was worth inserting into the pic since Super Troopers was one of the influential pieces of cinematography from my time at school in Vermont.
Day 6. The final chapter in the 2017 #tourX. As I mentioned, the Northeast Kingdom is already a totally obscure place to get to in the first place. There aren’t a lot of nearby highways and quite frankly it’s on the way to nowhere so there’s not a lot (ahem, none whatsoever) through-traffic. And hidden within the NEK are two absolute gems: the Kingdom Trails and Hill Farmstead. Hill Farmstead won the title of best brewery in the world at least once in the not so distant past. Sure, that’s an odd title and one could argue that perhaps it’s a tad ambiguous. That is, until you go there. So picture this: go get lost in the middle of the NEK, then find yourself on one of a thousand dirt roads, climb that for 5km, and boom you find a small circus of cars, a ton of beer loving aficionados, and the one and only Hill Farmstead.
As you can see from the map, it’s a terribly circuitous route that we took. Heck, as the crow flies is probably one-fifth the distance we actually rode. But that’s part of the magic of that place. Roads like these, people like these, for places like these, you just can’t beat it.
And then we went to Maine. Stay tuned…