2015 Vermont Bike Camping Trip

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"Pack it Up, Pack it In" (Dan, Vermont)

Before I even start to write this, I must give thanks to our friends at the Old Spokes Home in Burlington, Vermont. This trip was a year in the making, and relied heavily on the expertise of Justin and Harris. Justin proved to be the ultimate tour leader...compassionate, flexible and organized. There is no way this trip gets pulled off without their guidance.

Goals of the Trip: At 718 Cyclery, our goal is to promote the bike camping lifestyle through accessible and fun events and trips. Sure, we'd like to sell everyone bikes and tents, but the long term vision is to create a vibrant community of bike campers in NYC (who will buy all of their bikes and tents from us!)

Planning: Clay had visited Burlington many months ago., and struck up a conversation with the crew at the Old Spokes Home during his stay there. The momentum for doing shop bike camping trips grew, and last Spring we hiosted a series of 3 classes and a trip to Floyd Bennet Field in June. This was followed up by a 2 night trip to Fahnestock State Party in upstate NY in July.

We had a planning meeting in mid-September where we went over the logistics of the trip, and what to expect.

September planning meeting
Travel: It was critical to be very concise about the number of people we could transport, as it related to vehicles. The plan was a 15 passenger van, and an additional cargo van for bikes. With 2 employees in the cargo van, and yours truly driving, we had to make sure we were at 14 people or less (or else we'd have to rent a 3rd van).N

We rented 2 vans from a local spot, and got upgraded to Mercedes 15 passenger Sprinter Van at the last minute. Although it was a great 6 hour ride, rolling into a trailhead parking lot in Vermont in a Mercedes seemed very "typical NY".

Mercedes 15 passenger Sprinter Van
Loading bikes in the cargo van
Bikes were loaded into the cargo van and a few in the back of the Sprinter, and off we went. NYC was having some real weather issues when we left, and we escaped the rain to the north after about 2 hours.

Food: Cooking and food prep is where campers like to strut their stuff. On this trip, each person was responsible for their own food and cooking (however there was a ton of sharing). From Clay's shallot burgers to Aaron's bag of oats, there was something for everyone. Special mention must be made for the the burritos that Mitch brought. 

A Clay-tastic omelette
In terms of heat sources, it ranged from kettles on an open fire, to stoves using fuel cubes, alcohol and white gas.



Water: The campsite was righ on Silver Lake. The lake was fed by a running stream to the north as well as a spring about 1/4 mile away from the campsite. Signs, and our guides, recommended filtering. Many folks chose to filter from the moving sources (stream, spring), but lake drinkers reported no issues.

UV water filtering device
There were a few filtering methods on hand, and it was handled communally for the most part.

The campsite was right on Silver Lake. The lake was fed by a running stream to the north as well as a spring about 1/4 mile away from the campsite. Signs, and our guides, recommended filtering. Many folks chose to filter from the moving sources (stream, spring), but lake drinkers reported no issues.

Silver Lake
There were a few filtering methods on hand, and it was handled communally for the most part.

Shelter: Being a primitive campsite, each person was responsible for their own shelter. Most people brought 1 and 2 person tents, and set-up for everyone was pretty quick considering it was all dine in the dark by the time we had arrived at campsite.

Justin's campsite
Bathroom: Although the campsite is listed as "primitive", everyone in the trip agreed that the pit toilet facilities were pretty stellar. It was housed in a clean and enclosed structure about 1/2 mile from the campsite. Stocked with toilet paper, most campers commented that this facility was better than at less "primitive" sites.

Bathroom structure
Day 01: We arrived in the parking lot at around 4:30pm. Because of delays, the van with the bike didn't arrive until 30 minutes later. After unpacking all bikes and getting everyone situated, we were ready to roll at around 5:30pm. The sun was definitely going down, and it was getting cold, and we had a 10 mile ride into camp.



The group split up into 2; those on mountain bikes and those not on mountain bikes.

Day 01 Road Map
Day 01 Mountain Map

The road group bombed down paved Route 125 before diving into Goshen Road. Goshen Road was about 6 miles of rolling hills on pretty tight gravel. The group then made a turn onto Silver Lake Road which was slightly rougher and a bit more hilly. This road took us to a gated trail about 1 mile from campsite.  It was pretty dark by that point, but we had no choice but to hit it head on with headlamps ablaze. We arrived at camp after a few spills (including one of my own). Camp set up and dinner happened in the dark.

Goshen Road
The mountain bike group headed down a trail that crossed over Goshen Road and was meant for mountain bikes and fat bikes.

Fixing 4 broken spokes by headlamp
Day 01 Road Map
Day 01 Mountain Map

Day 02: Saturday morning dawned brisk but cleared up quickly.  As planned, there were 3 rides planned for the day.  The road ride headed back out Goshen Road with a lunchtime rendezvous at the Ripton General Store.

Ripton General Store
The roadies then looped up towards Lincoln for some spectacular views and road apples

The 2nd ride was billed as a slight more casual off-road ride. Our guide Justin described the first 3 miles as an "unrelenting climb", and he wasn't lying


Ride 3 was a pretty serious mountain bike suffer-fest.



Day 02 Road Ride
Day 02 Mountain Ride

Day03: Sunday morning we woke and broke camp. The plan was to all do the same ride, but some of us left earlier in order to make sure we finished at the same time. Our Goshen Road, and up to the Resevoir.  We then climbed



We then climbed up horse trails, and were rewarded by a great final descent into the lot where our vans were parked


The group all made it back to the lot around noon.  The 718 crew got thge bikes packed up and we hopped in the vans fore the 6 hour drive south


In the end, the trip was a great success in terms of connections made and the experience of camping and riding in such a beautiful environment. Our guides from the Old Spokes Home were the best, and we couldn't have done this without them