Aug 14

A Notch in our belt

by in Week 9

  • Burlington to Stowe, VT
  • 68.5 miles (4005 total
  • Smuggler’s Notch, 22% grade
  • Green Moountains

Last night we met up with my good Camp UKANDU friend Drool (James) Moore and his partner Frankie while we were in Burlington. We had a lovely Thai dinner, then they sprang for Coconut Bliss at the local green grocer. We took it down to Lake Champlain and ate it while the sun went down. It was a great evening getting to know them better. I keep forgetting that Drool is a fellow Saxon from South Salem High. That could explain a lot. We stayed the night at a dorm at the University of Vermont. For breakfast the cafeteria has 3 kinds of soy milk and wonder of wonders they had Oregon Chai.

Today’s ride was slated to be another short one, 42 miles to Stowe. It was gorgeous, rolling through the Green Mountains. We could tell it’ll be more beautiful when the colors change in another month or so. I was thinking the terrain here is the exact opposite of South Dakota. The plains are flat with long straight roads. A turn or a hill is so rare as to be worthy of a photo. These roads are all curvy, hilly, and lush looking. If we find a straight section of flat road, we’ll take a photo of it. Don’t hold your breath.

It was barely noon when we got to Stowe, so we decided to do one of the add-on options, a trip up to Smuggler’s Notch. This is the place where any kind of contraband moved north or south. This included liquor and runaway slaves. The Notch is at 2152′, high above the Stowe ski resorts and 1300′ above the town.

It was about a 5 mile climb to the top once we started the serious climbing. One early section kicked it off with a mile at 10%. Some ups and downs later and we began a steady ascent at 7%, which quickly shifted to over 10. The road, meantime, shrank from a two lane road with shoulder, to a two lane road with a fog line, to a two lane road with only a center line, then no lines, then only one lane wide. Somewhere in there the switchbacks started.

The switchbacks started at 15% and got increasingly steeper. I had to stand to power us through the inside corners. On the last one, I couldn’t even steer us around the corner it was so steep. I had to go straight across the road. We figured it was well above 20%. We didn’t stop until the top, though.

We didn’t know it was the top until it started going down. When we saw the truck on cheese sign, we knew we ought to stop and go back. We saw the Smyth-Osbornes there as well as many other riders on the way up and down. It felt like a big accomplishment. We celebrated at the bottom with a big can of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Aaaah. The pause that refreshes.

Thunderstorms in the forecast tonight and everyone has to camp. It could be a wet tomorrow!


5 Responses to “A Notch in our belt”

  1. From Wendy Townsend:

    My brother has lived in Lincoln, Vermont for 37 years ~ halfway between Burlington and Middlebury. I will be there for Thanksgiving!!! Fun! Fun! Fun!

    Posted on Aug 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm #
  2. From Gracie:

    After 7 weeks of challenging riding, Smuggler’s Notch sounds like a grand finale. Consider the shape you 2 are in. Well done!

    Posted on Aug 14, 2012 at 3:14 pm #
  3. From Phil Beard:

    My what a place for a Saxon reunion! Awesome you got to see James and Frankie. Short day and soy choices…it just keeps getting better. 20% grade with killer switchbacks-well done! Andrew & Shawn get married this Saturday. Chris, Em, Andrew, Aanen, Ryan and Me are going golfing on Friday…always a scary time when I grab the sticks. So glad to hear more memories being served up on your ride! Hard to believe the end is nearing. Thanks again for your faithful reporting and pictures. Love you both!

    Posted on Aug 14, 2012 at 11:58 pm #
  4. From drool:

    we made the blog! woo hoo!
    it was a real treat to see you over this way, and get a healthy dose of Shakes and Sheila! we had a terrific time. thank you for taking the time to hang out. it meant a lot to us. hope the rest of Vermont is treating you well, and that the last legs of your astonishing journey do likewise. it’s quite a feat you two have managed. and i’m uber-impressed that you seem only too happy to spend even more time together. pretty amazing considering the number of miles you’ve racked up in such close proximity. our best to you both.

    Posted on Aug 15, 2012 at 11:22 am #
  5. From Spencer:

    August 2013 – We didn’t mention that the entire time we were riding to the Notch, we were racing the weather. A big thunderstorm was due in during the early afternoon and we didn’t want to be stuck on the mountainside. We dithered quite a bit about whether or not to continue, but we were glad we did!

    We all went into Stowe for dinner and I played horseshoes with one of the guys while waiting for the evening meeting to start.

    Posted on Aug 14, 2013 at 9:12 am #