BEST FALL RACES | BUILD STRONGER WRISTS | THE NEXT OLYMPIC SPORT?
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Somewhere in the Northeast Kingdom, not far from the Canadian border sits a really secret campsite. Photo by Nathanael Asaro
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Jeff Spring telegraphs a 10-yard putt straight to the basket at Fiddlehead brewer Matt Cohen's backyard course in Hinesburg.
Photo by Evan Johnson
THE CAMPING & GLAMPING ISSUE 5 The Start
If you want to compete against the best in the world, just stay put here in Vermont.
Fingers numb after a long ride or
6 Great Outdoors 8 Quiet Campsites
Far from the madding crowds are quiet lakes, empty cabins and pristine campsites.
Weekend in the Woods
Get completely outfitted for a weekend camping without breaking the bank.
Watch Your Wrists
a hard climb? Here's why.
If you've hiked, ridden or skied a trail in Green Mountain National Forest, thank Holly Knox.
Vermont's Disc Golf Revolution
Amateurs, beer lovers and pros converge on Vermont's emerging disc golf courses this month.
The Accidental Glamper
In the forest off the Green Mountain Trails you might find a bed, a luxury tent and a warm pizza waiting.
The Trail Blazer
Race & Event Guide
Century rides, half-marathons, obstacle course races and Oktoberfests! Here's the best of what's on tap for fall.
34 Speak Up
The Next Olympic Sport
Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena has a new challenge: make obstacle racing an Olympic sport.
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WINTER STARTS ON OCTOBER 1 BARGAINS ON 2017 GEAR
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RESORT DEALS LIVE MUSIC DEMOS LONG TRAIL BEER TENT CLINICS SKI FILMS & MORE
Vermont’s first winter sports show is brought to you by The Rotary Club of Burlington and Vermont Ski + Ride magazine and benefits the Flyin’ Ryan Foundation. Sponsored by University of Vermont Medical Center Sports Medicine, Farrell Distributing and Long Trail Brewery. Find out more at www.vtskiandride.com/expo/
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t’s sort of strange to turn on the television and see someone you know in front of the camera. Especially when that person is in Rio and there are millions of people cheering for her. That’s how I felt last month watching Lea Davison compete in the Olympic mountain biking event. She put on an inspiring show, fighting her way around what was an insanely technical course to move up from 11th to ninth to seventh. Coming off her best performance ever–a silver medal at the World Championships this past summer—Davison (who appeared on last month’s cover) is just starting to hit her really big stride. The same might be said for triathlete Sarah True. Going into this summer there were high hopes for both True (who finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympics) and her husband Ben. In the Trials, Ben finished fifth in the 5,000 meter trials and missed qualifying by less than a second. During her Olympic event, Sarah suffered a debilitating leg cramp after the swim and had to retire during the bike portion of the race. But watch for both to be back in the Upper Valley and training again soon. Then there was Laura Graves, the Fayston kid who grew up riding ponies in local 4-H shows. Anchoring the U.S. Team in the Team Dressage event, Graves wowed the judges enough to earn the team enough points to move into a bronze. In the Individual Dressage, the 29-year-old took fourth, well ahead of any American including former Olympic medalist and teammate Steffan Peters. The fact that Vermont has been a home or training ground to three 2016 Olympians probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. In so many sports, from skiing to horseshoes, running and cycling to sailing and snowboarding, Vermont consistently turns out some of the world’s top athletes. This month, we’re going to see more top athletes arriving in our state as the Disc Golf Pro Tour comes to Smuggler’s Notch on Sept. 17-18, a story Evan Johnson follows in “The Disc Golf Revolution.” And around the state disc golf courses are expanding and attracting new talent. That same weekend, the Spartan Race returns to founder Joe De Sena’s home town, Pittsfield and the Green Mountain Trails hosts the GMT Gnarly Adventure mountain bike race. In our “Speak Up” column, De Sena makes
There was no Champagne this time for Sarah True but she'll be back training in the Upper Valley.
Jericho's Lea Davison fought her way through the pack to finish seventh at the Olympic Games.
Fayston's Laura Graves was the anchor who helped the U.S. Dressage team earn a bronze.
a good case for why obstacle racing should be considered for the Olympics . In short, there’s no shortage of opportunities to test yourself against the best in the world without ever leaving Vermont. But there’s another even better reason to stick around this month. It’s the reason people travel from around the world to Vermont each fall. Yep, foliage. It’s also, frankly, one of the few times you might find a traffic jam in the state. That’s why at this time of year, we like to sneak off to the hidden parts of the state, camp out and soak in the last warm days. For this issue, we asked a number of experts what their favorite remote or quieter campsites were. You’ll find our round-up of eight favorites as well as a few expert's picks. Like everything else in our state, we’re proud to say that our campsites are world class. —Lisa Lynn, Editor
SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 5
IT’S FOLIAGE SEASON AND IF YOU WANT TO FIND EMPTY TRAILS, REMOTE CABINS AND LAKES WHERE YOU’LL BE MAKING THE ONLY RIPPLES, ESCAPE TO THESE SECRET SPOTS. BY EVAN JOHNSON
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verybody loves a good campsite. When the evenings start to cool, there’s nothing better than unplugging for a weekend of hiking, biking, paddling or just relaxing with a book in a hammock. Unfortunately, come September, you’re not the only one who wants to escape. This fall, you can avoid the crowds at these quieter campsites, many with cabins or lean-tos. Some are in state parks, some are accessed by the Long Trail or are on remote mountaintops. You’ll find views of peaks and lakes—and some peace and quiet to enjoy them. Some state parks require reservations so check first with www.vermontstateparks.org.
On the shores of Maidstone Lake, one of the most pristine and remote state parks, you'll find a bit of heaven. Photo by Nathanael Asaro
CAMP BY A GLACIAL LAKE
One of the most remote state parks sits on the shores of one of Vermont’s cleanest lakes. Formed by glaciers, clear, deep and milfoil-free Maidstone Lake sits near the New Hampshire border in the Northeast Kingdom. Record-size lake trout and salmon swim in this 726-acre lake that plunges to 120 feet deep. Loons paddle the waters, their calls echoing off the shores at night. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the park still has many of the original campsite fireplaces and a log cabin-style main building. The 34 tent and RV sites can get busy during
holiday weekends but after Labor Day, it’s easy to pitch a tent at one of the quieter sites right by the lake (or in one of the 37 lean-tos) and feel like you have the place to yourself. You can rent canoes and kayaks at Maidstone or bring your own. It’s less than an hour’s drive to the Silvio Conte Wildlife Refuge, Lake Willoughby or the Connecticut River.
CLIMB TO A MOUNTAINTOP CABIN
One of Vermont’s oldest lookout stations is also a great spot for a quiet night in the Northeast Kingdom. At the summit of Bald Mountain (the third-highest peak in the region)
stands a watchtower overlooking the Kingdom and, to the east, New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The Mad Brook Trail and the Long Pond Trail lead to the summit and make for great day hikes. But pack a sleeping bag and at the top you can check into a restored cabin (it sleeps four) for an overnight camp. “The views from the summit are second to none,” says NorthWoods Stewardship Center’s Jayson Benoit. “But you’ll have to see a sunrise to really appreciate it.” Volunteers with the Green Mountain Club and the NorthWoods Stewardship Center finished work on the cabin in 2013 with new flooring and walls. There are no reservations:
it’s on a first-come, first-served basis, so if sleeping on the summit is your goal, get there early and bring a tent as a backup.
PADDLE THE INLAND SEA
Take a boat, canoe or kayak and get yourself to one of the handful of campsites located on islands in northern Lake Champlain. Burton Island State Park is a short ferry boat ride from Killkare State park near St. Albans Bay. But you can get even further away from the crowds with two islands accessed from South Hero. Located three miles from Knight Point State Park, Knight Island is home to six lean-tos and one
AUGUST 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 7
Neighbors? What neighbors? There are just five campsites on Woods Island. Photo by Beth and Brad Herder
Fall on Knight Island means warm water and a great time to see migrating birds of prey. Photo by VT State Parks
One of the state's quietest state parks, Allis's lean-tos are high on the hill . Photo by Nicole Olmstead
At Osmore Pond in Groton State Forest you can have an entire lake to yourself. Photo by Mark Sumner.
tent campsite available for reservation through Vermont State Parks. Since the islands are only accessed by private boat, you’ll have morning swims to yourself and a lakefront view that’s second to none. Meanwhile, nearby Woods Island has just five tent sites. Finish the trip with another short paddle to Burton Island. Though it's larger and has more amenities (such as running water and electricity), you still won’t find any cars.
STAY AT VERMONT’S SECOND STATE PARK
In the Upper Valley, off Route 65, you’ll find one of Vermont’s oldest state parks. In 1928 when resident Wallace Allis willed his 625-acre Bear Mountain Farm to the state, this became Vermont’s second state park. This tiny park is a popular day-area (and it does have RV hookups). But it also has 18 tent sites and eight leantos, a rustic pavillion and firetower with open meadows and sweeping views of central Vermont. The peaks of Killington, Pico, and Mt. Ascutney are visible to the south, Camel’s Hump and Mt. Mansfield to the north, Mt. Abraham, Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Ellen to the west and the White Mountains to the east. Use this secluded park as a base camp for exploring on nearby ponds (North and South Pond are home to bullhead, brook trout and brown trout) or mountain biking on the trails
8 VTSPORTS.COM | SEPTEMBER 2016
around Randolph, just 13 miles down Route 12.
EXPLORE GROTON STATE FOREST
One of Central Vermont’s gems, Groton State Forest spans some 26,164 acres. While the majority of the camping action is on two loops a quarter-mile apart in New Discovery State Park, you can escape the noise by heading to the neighboring Kettle or Osmore Ponds and to one of fifteen remote campsites. “These are remote sites, it’s my idea of camping,” says Don O’Donnell, an administrator with New Discovery State Park. “The lakes are pristine and any neighbors will be at least half a mile away.” He’s not joking; one lean-to has the entire southern shore of Kettle Pond, meaning you’ll hear loons, and not RVs or neighboring campers. The site is the kick-off point for the many miles of trails in the Groton State Forest, where you can hike, run, or mountain bike on multi-use trails, logging roads and abandoned powerline corridors. Popular nearby trails include the VAST Trail, the Cross Vermont Trail, and the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail.
HIDE OUT AT PICO CAMP
Ask around at the Route 4 parking area on the Sherburne’s Pass Trail and you’ll find most people will be hiking north. toward Deer’s Leap. Very few will be heading south on the blue-blazed trail,
and that’s where a rustic cabin awaits. This trail served as the Long Trail/ Appalachian Trail from 1913 until it was rerouted in the 1990s. Today, you can still hike this intermediate grade trail 2.7 miles through alpine forests near the Pico ski area to the Pico Camp cabin, which has stood since 1959. “The busiest portions of the Long Trail are north of Route 4,” says Jocelyn Herbert, editor of the Long Trail News. “The southern portion sites, including cabins like this one, will usually be quieter.” Through the windows of this historic cabin, you’ll have views to the ski slopes of Killington. Just half a mile uphill from the cabin, you’ll be at the summit of Pico Peak for views of the northern Green Mountains, Killington, Pico Pond and the cliffs at Deer Leap. This camp is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early and bring a tent in case it’s full.
HIKE TO GODDARD SHELTER
"Since the southern part of the Long Trail can be quieter than northern sections, this is truly one of the quietest shelters,” says the Green Mountain Club’s Matt Krebs of the Goddard Shelter. “Plus it has one of the longest road-free views in Vermont.” You get to Goddard by way of the Long Trail about ten miles from its intersection with Route 9 in Woodford, or you can access it by way of the West Ridge trail, which advances along a nearby
ridge for 11 miles. As you cook dinner, you can see the beacon at the summit of Mount Greylock to the south in Massachusetts. Before settling in for the night, catch the sunset from the top of the firetower. The shelter is a spacious, three-sided lean-to that can sleep 12 on two levels. It also has some of the coldest, freshest spring-fed water we've found on Vermont's portion of the Appalachian Trail.
PUT IN AT TOWNSHEND
For a quiet spot in southern Vermont, head to Townshend State Park. First set aside as a park in the 1920s, it still has many of the old CCC-style tent platforms and a 1930's-era old stone building that serves as the park office. The place is not recommended for RVs. Instead, you’ll find 27 shady campsites (including nine with raised tenting platforms) and four lean-tos alongside a quiet brook with an ancient stone arch bridge. You can hike the moderate 1.7 miles to the summit of Bald Mountain for north, south and east views from its firetower or explore the nearby towns of Manchester and Brattleboro. On September 24-25, the area becomes a destination for whitewater paddlers with the scheduled release on the West River from the nearby Ball Mountain Dam. Get a campsite and bring your boat to join in the fun (there’s even a shuttle for paddlers), or your camera to shoot the action.
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THE GEAR GURUS
WEEKENDS IN THE WOODS
BY EVAN JOHNSON
Nemo Galaxi Jumpr Slate Power Bank
Hotbed Torch bag
et’s face it, you can spend your retirement fund on camping gear (we know, it’s tempting…) But for a night or two on the Long Trail do you really need a tent that’s built for Mt. Everest? For those of us who wait until September to head into the woods for a weekend, or just want to camp out for a night or two, there are some great midpriced options for gear. Here’s a roundup of what we like to use.
A WEEKEND TENT
If you’re backpacking long distances, you want the lightest tent you can find (or a hammock). The two-person Nemo Galaxi ($250) is a roomy (32 sq. ft. floor area), albeit heavy, tent (at 5.8 lbs). But we love that it packs down smaller than many its size, making it perfect for a weekend or overnight. It uses Nemo’s snap-together one-piece (hurray, you can’t lose anything!) spider-like hubbed pole system, which is easy to use once you figure it out. The poles support what is basically a mesh frame that can be used without the fly for a sleep-underthe stars feeling. The two entrances are a real plus (although with the fly on, only one is really usable) as are the magnetic snaps on the pockets. The rain fly opens and then can be folded to the sides (like a curtain) which makes the
10 VTSPORTS.COM | SEPTEMBER 2016
tent feel roomier and lighter. Inside, one of the coolest features are white pockets in the ceiling where you can store a headlamp for a nice, diffuse light. Best, the footprint is included, making this a great bargain.
When it comes to cooking in the woods, you’ll want something that’ll heat your food fast, while not requiring you to haul excess weight. Jetboil’s latest release, the MiniMo ($134.95) made the top of our list with its featherweight 27-ounce package that’ll have a freezedried camp meal ready in no time and water boiling in about two minutes. It has an integrated shroud to block the wind and functions reliably even when temperatures drop below freezing.
BODY-SHAPED SLEEPING BAG
There’s nothing better than falling into a deep sleep that comes after hiking all day. Mountain Hardwear’s Hotbed Torch bag ($209) will keep you cozy with its synthetic Thermal Q MX insulation good for temperatures down to zero degrees Fahrenheit. Best, its torso shape, face gasket that blocks drafts and comfy foot box can feel custom molded to your body. This bag features welded (not stitched)
construction that enhances loft and eliminates cold spots. It has a roomy, comfortable fit that won’t constrict and the microfleece-lined stuff sack doubles as a pillow. The full-length zippers can even be used to zip another Mountain Hardwear Hotbed bag together. The bag packs down to 22 x 17 x 14 inches and, at 5.1 pounds, is not the lightest, but for the price, it’s hard to beat.
CHARGING ON THE GO
If you want to stay plugged in while unplugging in nature, we found two portable power solutions to keep you charged. The Jumpr Slate Power Bank by EnerPlex ($54.99) packs power in a package roughly the size of an iPhone. Though it weighs just 199 grams, the battery provides 5,100 mAh of output to charge smartphones, tablets, action cameras, GPS devices and more. This size and weight made it easy to tuck into a backpack for a weekend of traveling and the tethered micro USB cable meant I didn’t have to remember to pack a charging cable. A single charge proved powerful enough t0 give two to three charges for a completely dead phone at about half the time of a wall outlet. For harnessing the power of the sun, EnerPlex’s Kickr
IV ($99.99) is a flexible solar charging solution. This 6-watt system includes four square units that can charge your device through a USB port in about two hours with direct sunlight. It folds down to the size of a small notebook to slide into a backpack. Carry loops allow you to position it outside your pack as you hike or hang it from a line or tree at camp. For a lightweight design, it’s surprising ly rugged: the one I tested endured dunks in a lake, spilled beer, rocky campsites and (most impressively) a toothy puppy.
One of my favorite pieces of hiking wisdom goes like this: “Change your socks; change your attitude.” Taking care of your feet can mean the difference between a happy nine-mile hike in the Green Mountains and a long, painful slog. Given that, your socks might be the most important item in your pack. I was pleased by how comfortable my feet stayed during full days of hiking in Farm To Feet socks. The Farm to Feet “Greensboro” ($18) is an adventure sport sock that is at home on trail runs as well as lighter hikes. It has a smooth, comfortable fit that never shifted on my foot. The lack of toe seams eliminates any friction and the ¼- and ¾-length versions kept my feet cool. Plus, the
Glacier Gel bandages
Smartwool Double Corbit 120 vest
Scarpa Zen Pro
Smartwool Double Corbit 120
Mountainsmith Mayhem 45
100-percent merino wool didn’t stink at the end of the day. Bonus: Farm to Feet’s socks are made by Nester Hosiery in North Carolina with 100-percent American-sourced wool.
When I finished an eight-mile run to find blisters the size of my thumb on the soles of my feet, I reached for a new product instead of my usual moleskin. With Glacier Gel bandages, produced by Adventure Medical Kits ($8.99 for a case of 12), there’s no snipping and trimming of moleskin required; simply clean the blister as you would normally and place the bandage directly over it. The gel-filled bandages are comfy, easy to remove and don’t leave a sticky mess on your skin. Just like moleskin, the bandages fit well under a sock and had my feet healed in time for the next weekend.
GRIPPY DAY HIKERS
Designed for getting you and your gear to and from the crag, Scarpa’s Zen Pro ($169) shoes could become your new favorite day hikers, thanks to their rigid sole, durable and water resistant uppers and Sock-Fit system for a comfortable fit. The Zen Pro nails all the
specs I like in a hiking shoe. But it's the shoe’s ability to perform in more technical terrain that made it really shine, as I found on several long hikes. This is thanks to the sticky Vibram Spyder II rubber used in an aggressive hiking lug and a “climbing zone” around the toe and forefoot for edging and smearing when you’re above the tree line. The toebox narrows slightly for accurate toe placement, which hikers with wider feet might find uncomfortable.
A LAYER OF WOOL
While it’s warm during the day, we’ll start to see some cooler evenings in the weeks and months to come. For fast activity in cold climates, the wool experts at SmartWool have rolled out a collection designed for year-round layering. The Double Corbit 120 Jacket ($200) and vest use knitted merino wool on the sleeves and side panels and SmartLoft insulation on the chest and back. The result is a versatile and somewhat packable layer (SmartWool’s patented SmartLoft insulation doesn’t pack like real or synthetic down) that was insulating on breezy paddles around the lake or chilly evenings at the campsite. While
it’s too warm a jacket for summertime use, this one will no doubt find its way into a winter lineup as a layer under a shell, or as outerwear while cross-country skiing, hiking or wearing around the cabin or hut. Plus, for a high-performance piece, its athletic fit and low profile won’t scream “ski slope” at the après scene.
AN OVERNIGHT PACK
Between the commuter/school packs with specialized sleeves for laptops and the ultra-huge expedition-grade packs falls a category that emphasizes versatility and that’s where this pack comes in. The Mountainsmith Mayhem 45 ($159.95) is a pack designed for use on trail or travel with a volume that will accommodate gear-heavy day trips in the bush or hopping planes, trains and automobiles. Nifty features include angled and vertical waterbottle sleeves, ice tool/trekking pole carry loops, and a large panel mesh pocket at the back. At 3 lbs, its lightweight internal frame provides just enough stability when fully loaded. The volume and shape of this pack is one of its strengths. I tested the 45-liter version (it also comes in a 35-liter version) and for an efficient packer, 45 liters (2,745 cubic inches) is enough for an overnight
with a tent and a packable sleeping bag—or, enough gear for a long day with variable weather. The pack is wider at the top than at the bottom, which makes getting things out (or throwing it back in) a breeze. The main compartment is accessed with an asymmetrical zipper that runs around the pack’s exterior so you can unzip just the top-most section to grab a layer or open the whole thing to sort through the contents. The Mayhem is durable as well. On weekend experiments on the Long Trail, this pack stood up to low limbs, rocky outcroppings and a few exposed nails on lean-tos. The Cordura fabric used in the pack’s construction withstood abuse mightily while the pack’s ventilating mesh in the back and straps kept my back and shoulders cool. For shorter travelers like me, the pack felt a bit on the long side (I’m 5’7”). Fortunately, adjustable shoulder straps helped me find a fit that worked. If this should be bothersome for others, its smaller cousin would be an appealing choice. Fully loaded, the pack felt very stable on the trail. For a traveler or hiker on a budget, the Mayhem 45 will make a practical choice, be it for a day wandering city streets or trails.
SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 11
GORE-TEX, GORE, SURROUND and GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY are trademarks of W. L. Gore & Associates. Injected version of outsole with N-INJECTECH®. MERRELL and the M Circle Design are registered trademarks of Wolverine Outdoors, Inc., a subsidiary of Wolverine World Wide, Inc. ©2016 Wolverine Outdoors, Inc. All rights reserved.
UP FOR WARM, WET, OR WHATEVER.
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12 VTSPORTS.COM | SEPTEMBER 2016
WATCH YOUR WRISTS
IF YOUR FINGERS OR HANDS ARE GOING NUMB, PAY ATTENTION. BY DR. DAVID LISLE
irst, you might feel some tingling in the thumb. You might chalk it up to a long bike ride or a day climbing. However, with time, your hands may become weak and drop objects. If that’s the case, it could be that you have one of two conditions that often plague athletes: carpal tunnel or Guyon’s canal syndromes. If the symptoms progress, they can be debilitating. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to prevent permanent damage to the median nerve.
THE CAPRA VENTURE EXC LUS IVELY AT MERRELL .C O M A N D TH ES E PA RTIC IPATIN G RETA ILERS
HOW THE WRIST WORKS
First, a quick anatomy lesson: The wrist consists of eight small bones that are in two separate rows of four. These bones (called the “carpal” bones) allow for a wide array of motions and help us position our hands. Nerves from our neck are responsible for the sensation and motor function in our upper extremities. Three nerves make it all the way to the hand and two of them can be compressed or pinched at the wrist causing pain, numbness and loss of function. The median nerve runs through the carpal tunnel and the ulnar nerve passes through Guyon’s canal. The median nerve allows us to bring our thumb across our hand and gives us sensation in the thumb, index, middle and the inner half of the ring finger. The ulnar nerve allows us to spread our fingers and gives sensation to the little finger and the outer half of the ring finger.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
The carpal tunnel lies on the palmar or volar aspect of the wrist (the side opposite the face of your watch). The carpal bones make up the floor of the carpal tunnel and a thick sheet of tissue forms the roof. This is just beneath the skin at the base of our palm. Several ligaments pass through the carpal tunnel along with the median nerve. These ligaments help us flex our fingers when we grip, shake hands or type. For some, the volume of the carpal tunnel is small to begin with (women tend to have smaller carpal tunnels) and for others, the volume is sufficient. However, with increased activity, especially cycling or climbing where there’s added pressure on your hands, the sheaths around the ligaments that help them move freely begin to swell. This causes compression of the median nerve. Further, fluid retention such as women experience during pregnancy may lead to narrowing of the carpal tunnel. To determine the severity of the nerve
Cyclists who spend hours with their hands on the bars are prone to compressing nerves and getting carpal tunnel or Guyon’s canal syndrome, a.k.a. “handlebar palsy.” Wearing padded gloves can help. compression, a health care provider may order a special test called a nerve conduction study (NCS). Initial treatment is to wear a wrist splint at night. Work space ergonomics or bike fit may also help. Cutting back or eliminating the activities that cause symptoms may also be necessary. Other treatments involve taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or a corticosteroid injection into the carpal tunnel to help relieve inflammation and swelling. If you’ve tried all your options, including a comprehensive course of hand physical therapy, surgery may be necessary. The surgery involves releasing the carpal tunnel. This can be done with either with open surgery (an incision over the palm to cut the sheet of tissue that makes the roof of the carpal tunnel) or endoscopic surgery. Recovery may take weeks to months. However, often patients are able to use their hands quite soon after and the success rates for surgery is high.
GUYON CANAL SYNDROME
On the other side of the palm from the thumb is where the ulnar nerve passes over the wrist and into the little and ring fingers. The ulnar nerve actually travels through a small canal called Guyon’s canal. Guyon’s canal has a bony border on one side, the hamate bone, and the hamate has a small hook on it. The hook of the hamate bone is where several ligaments attach. Though it's rarer than carpal tunnel syndrome, Guyon canal syndrome often plagues cyclists, hence the nick name "handlebar palsy. " Avid cyclists will often put a significant
amount of pressure on the outer part of the wrist and hand for long periods of time. This may lead to compression of the nerve and numbness and tingling to the little finger and the outer (ulnar) aspect of the ring finger. Other causes involve fracture of the hamate bone or simply overusing the wrist with repetitive tasks. It’s not uncommon for baseball players to fracture the hook of the hamate during the batting motion. The butt of the bat can press against the hamate with enough force that the hook may break, causing compression of the ulnar nerve. Many of the initial evaluations and treatments for Guyon canal syndrome are similar to those for carpal tunnel syndrome. If these are not helpful, a surgery similar to carpal tunnel release may be performed to release or cut the small ligament running on the roof of Guyon’s canal. If the symptoms are caused by a fracture of the hook of the hamate, this fractured hook is often simply removed to prevent further issues. Keep in mind: prompt evaluation, diagnosis and treatment can help prevent permanent problems. —Dr. David Lisle
O LD SAY B R O O K , CT NE W HAVE N, CT
TRAILBLAZER UNCASVI LLE , CT
assistant in of the
Family Medicine at the University of Vermont College of Medicine Dr. Lisle serves as the team physician for St. Michael’s College,
Lake Monsters Single A baseball affiliate and
B R AT T LE B O R O, VT K E E NE , NH HAD LE Y, MA
several Burlington-area high schools.
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You don’t have to “know a guy” to land a tee-time at a course as beautiful as Brewster Ridge. Then again, there are no tee times either. A round of play costs $10. Photo courtesy Smugglers’ Notch
With big prize money, championship-grade courses and growing local talent, Vermont has become a hotbed for this growing sport. By Evan Johnson 14 VTSPORTS.COM | SEPTEMBER 2016
he situation was laughable: We were at the first tee box of the evening when we realized we hadn’t brought any beer. I had joined a group of disc golfers for a Wednesday evening game on a 20hole course Matt Cohen had carved across his 80-acre property in Hinesburg. The evening was a private affair with about 20 people kicking in cash to a pot of just over $100 that would go to the winners. It was late summer and the temperatures were in the ‘90s with that New England humidity that opens every pore on your body and smothers with a syrupy heaviness. There had been beer and plenty of it; cases of delicious hoppy IPA brewed by Cohen, head brewer at Shelburne’s Fiddlehead, and his team. Some of the top brewers in the state, folks from Magic Hat and the Alchemist, were in our group, too. But due to an oversight, the remaining beer had been left on the front step of Cohen’s house. That was now about a halfmile down the dirt road from where we had paused, and it wasn’t doing anyone any good there. So there we were, setting out to wander 80 acres of a disc golf course with not even a lukewarm can of Pabst for refreshment. Nobody would stand for it, least of all our host. He took out his phone and made a call. Sporting a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt and a pair of aviator-style sunglasses with reflecting lenses, Cohen—also known as “Matty-O”— looked like a man bound for a tropical vacation. “Could you grab a case when you leave the house?” he asked a group that was just getting started. “Two would be perfect.” “And three would be better,” someone behind me added. The crowd split off into a shotgun-style start and I joined Cohen’s foursome with Jeff Spring, director of disc golf at Smugglers’ Notch Resort and board member for the Green Mountain Disc Golf Club; John Moorer, operations manager at Fiddlehead; and Sean Bleything, a transplant who cut his teeth playing on the open grasslands of the Midwest. As Cohen produced a thin disc from a backpack, our group quieted to the respectful whispers you’d find on the back nine at any country club. The disc took flight from his hand. When basketball star Stephen Curry sinks three-pointer after three-pointer or snowboarder Kelly Clark levitates out of the half-pipe and takes flight, you can’t help but gape. I had a similar reaction as Cohen threaded a nearly 100-yard throw through towering pines. The disc, flying silently as a bird, arced gracefully to the left where it landed on a grassy patch just a few feet from the basket. I was so stunned I dropped my beer.
HIGH STAKES AT PLAY
Imagine a Venn diagram representing craft beer lovers, ultimate Frisbee players,
Three-time world champion Val Jenkins lets it fly at the Green Mountain Championship in 2015. Below, Jeff Spring displays a tool of the trade. Photos by Steve Hartwell, Evan Johnson
"There’s another, more serious incentive to bring their A-game: a $35,000 cash purse going to the top 10. That’s nearly equal to the projected prize money at the Vermont Open golf tournament and twice the prize money offered at the 2015 Vermont City Marathon."
skiers, hikers and golfers and you can pin down the demographic disc golf attracts. While it started there, and keeps a core following in that group, the sport has hit the mainstream with more courses opening to the public, new national tournaments and bigger winnings up for the taking. On September 14-18, Smuggler’s Notch hosts the final stop of the 2016 Disc Golf Pro Tour. The tour’s championship high-stakes rounds will draw the country’s top players including three-time World Champion Nate Doss. The live music, party and limited release by Fiddlehead are sure to attract spectators. But for the more than 280 disc golfers signed up, there’s another, more serious incentive to bring their A-game: a $35,000 cash purse, with another $35,000 worth of prizes. That’s more than the projected prize money was at the 2016 Vermont Open golf tournament and twice the prize money offered at the 2015 Vermont City Marathon Earlier in the week, I’d visited one of the event sites: Smuggler’s Notch’s Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course, settled in the lush green foothills below Madonna and Spruce peaks and Mount Mansfield’s northern flank. Jeff Spring met me at a tidy green shed that overflowed with hundreds of brightly colored discs in cardboard boxes and wall-mounted racks. “There’s talk of a larger clubhouse, one with locker rooms, a taproom and a spacious gear shop,” he
explained. But in the meantime, my host told me, the cozy shed with its lawn chairs and grill out back (and adjacent porta-john) “was doing just fine.” As Operations Director for Smuggler’s Notch, Jeff Spring’s summer job involves managing the three disc golf courses around Smugglers’ Notch, as well as the Smuggs’ bike shop up the road. He also serves on the board of the Green Mountain Disc Golf Club (GMDGC) and is the state coordinator for the national Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA). The GMDGC manages a list of all the public and private courses around Vermont and helps direct the Green Mountain Point Series, an annual series of 12 games, at courses across the state. In July, Spring competed in Stockholm, Sweden on the fourth stop of the European Masters series in the Disc Golf World Tour, placing 131 (Americans made up half of the top 20 spots). To say he’s serious about disc golf is an understatement. But it wasn’t always that way. After graduating from Northeastern in 2009, Spring played a pared-down version of the sport while working as a counselor at a summer camp in Sharon, Vt. He threw for his first baskets at Center Chains, a public 18-hole course in Waterbury with low sugar maples, open fields and tight trees. Eventually, Spring picked up the game and had a chance to play a course that has existed for 25 years on private property in
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This isn’t your usual Frisbee. Players get a feel for game using the lighter discs. Photo
courtesy Smugglers’ Notch
Plus, the sport is friendlier to the environment (and cheaper to manage) than courses that are obsessively maintained with gas-powered mowers and wasteful irrigation. Base Camp Outfitters in Killington, Wrightsville Beach in Middlesex and Center Chains in Waterbury are hailed as “gateway courses” that introduce new players to the sport and until you compete at the highest levels, nobody’s going to give you a hard time for not wearing a polo shirt. At the Trapp Family Lodge, the nine-hole disc golf course appropriately starts and ends at the Alpine deli and bakery building and plans are to extend it to an 18-hole course (with a stop at the new von Trapp Brewery, of course) next spring. “Greens” fees are often less than $10. A season’s pass at Wrightsville? Just $35. "It’s a beautiful walk through the woods,” Spring said. “People are calling it golf of a new generation.”
North Calais, Vt. “As soon as you step foot on that course, you know it’s a cathedral for disc golf,” Spring said, describing the densely wooded course with elevation changes and complex layouts that require long and highly accurate throws. Hosts Paul Oleander and Dan Desch require players to pay their “dues” by contributing to course maintenance. The regulars also participate in Scotch tastings (the favorite is the peaty, smoky Lagavulin).
WATCH OUT, GOLF
While participation in golf has been on the decline, Spring has watched interest in its quirky cousin—disc golf—rise. According to the National Golf Foundation, participation dropped from a high of 30.6 million golfers in 2003 to 24.7 million in 2014 and continues to stay low. Long-term trends show the number of golfers ages 18 to 34 declining by 30 percent over the last 20 years. Yet, Spring points out, in five years, membership in the Professional Disc Golf Association has doubled to 80,000 members (with 20,000 people arriving last year) and two new elite-level tours have come online—a world tour and national pro tour. Spring thinks he understands the reasons behind this growth. “Unlike the complex mechanics of a golf swing, most people can throw a Frisbee. Equipment costs and greens fees are low and while you need permission to step foot on private courses like that one in North Calais or Matt Cohen’s backyard, there are plenty of clubs that are open for the public to use any time,” he says.
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FLOW AND THROW
Winooski’s Sean Bleything hopes for some “tree-love” as he throws through the dense forests of the course Matt Cohen cut on his back 80. Photo by Evan Johnson
That night at Matt Cohen’s course, the brewmaster himself handed me a disc and some words of advice with it: “Golf discs don’t behave in the air like a normal disc,” he said. “For a right-handed thrower, they’ll tend to pull down and to the left. Hard.” Unlike the hefty 175-gram Frisbees used in ultimate Frisbee, the discs used in disc golf are wafer-thin and weigh between 100 and 180 grams. Like the golf drivers, fairway irons and putters hauled by caddies and carts, disc golfers carry quivers of 20 to 30 discs packed into carriers that resemble combinations of fanny packs, beer coolers and filing cabinets. A peek into a case
Three-time world champion Nate Doss demonstrates that winning form at Smugglers’ Notch Brewster Ridge Course. He’s also a beer and is collaborating with Fiddlehead’s Matthew Cohen on this year’s release. Photo by Steve Hartwell
all over the course. The player received a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Cohen’s course, along with many of the courses in Vermont, has holes rated at par three or four, but the foliage of the woods always stands to make that a challenge. To even graze a tree can spell disaster and the disc will go bouncing off at a right angle. It’s called getting “tree-nied” and it’s part of what makes the Vermont disc golf environment unique and even difficult. The fourth member of our group, Sean Bleything from Winooski, started playing in Kansas and has played on flatter and more open courses in Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa. “Out there, the wind is much more of a factor and you have to consider it before every throw,” he said. “When you miss, you can miss by huge margins.” Here in Vermont, Cohen said the sport requires a different approach. “It’s more of a finesse game,” he said. “Think of it like tree skiing in the east versus the west.” And like tree skiing, practice makes perfect.
A SPORT WITH A FUTURE showed me it could also hold ibuprofen, rosin bags, sunscreen, bug spray and beers—all organized and within easy reach. I nodded, stepped into the box and offered my best throw which, as if attracted by a magnet, flew directly into a pine tree not ten yards away. We all winced. “Like I said, down and left,” Cohen said. It takes practice, but Cohen assured me disc golf is easy to pick up. “The great thing about disc golf is the learning curve is very short,” he said. “If you really dedicate a summer to the sport you will be competitive enough to play with just about anyone.” Cohen wasn’t introduced to disc golf until he moved from Ithaca, N.Y. and started working at Magic Hat in Burlington. For Cohen, a golfer, it was love at first sight. After learning the ropes from a co-worker, he started cutting holes on his property the next day. For Cohen, disc golf offers a creativity not found in other sports. “When you can imagine the shot in your mind and make the disc do exactly that, it’s an amazing experience,” he said. “You’ll never be able to do that with a golf ball, unless your goal is to slice.” While my own throw went about as far as a brick, the shots dreamed up by the more experienced players bordered on something artful. John Moorer never took a practice throw, but stepped to the edge of the box, squinted briefly down the fairway, and sent the disc flying with a flick of the wrist in a low, flat trajectory as if guided by laser. Jeff Spring was the image of composure,
"Cohen threaded a nearly 100-yard throw through towering pines. The disc, flying silently as a bird, arced gracefully to the left where it landed on a grassy patch just a few feet from the basket and chains. I was so stunned I dropped my beer."
Matt Cohen, head brewer at Fiddlehead, started cutting a course on his property the day after his first disc golf game. Photo by Evan Johnson
tossing a rosin bag between his palms to reduce the moisture that can cause the disc to slip in the hand. He took exactly three steps during his warmups, repeating them until the movement felt natural. He then recreated the same motion before sending the disc zipping through the trees. As soon as a disc was airborne, a stream of encouragement or profanities ensued from the thrower, depending on the disc’s trajectory. “Stay right!” “DROP!”
“You sonuva…” As a spectator, sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut. There is such thing as “nice-ing the disc,” where spectators or fellow players, eager to offer encouragement, will complement the throw as soon as the disc leaves the thrower’s hand. Not everybody takes kindly to it and for some, it jinxes the shot. They may ask you politely and firmly to “get your mouth of my disc.” Jeff Spring learned the hard way when a disgruntled player hurled his bag after Spring offered comment, scattering discs
Later that night on the back porch of Cohen’s house the grill masters provided a steady stream of burgers, sausages and hotdogs while the players plowed through another case of Mastermind imperial IPA. Scores were tallied and the winnings divvied up. While disc golf is a sport that values its laid-back roots, the rest of the sporting world is starting to pay attention. The number of people that can pay their bills by sinking discs in the baskets is still small— according to Spring, around 50—but that number has increased as prize purses have grown and pros land sponsorships with disc manufacturers. Disc golf’s current top player, Paul McBeth from Huntington Beach, Calif., has won the past four world championships and taken home $268,470 in his career so far, including $72,044 in prize earnings last year—a new record for the sport. Disc golf is also gaining some national visibility and players’ championship performances have been featured in “top 10” recaps on ESPN. “There are a lot of claims that’s it’s the fastest growing sport in the world or in the country. I’m not sure if that’s true but the bottom line is that it’s growing quickly,” Spring said. While the growth of the sport means more courses and more opportunities for competitive play, the basics of discs, baskets and friends seemed to be the most important part of its growth. Waterbury brewer Jim Conroy put it best: “I don’t have a competitive bone in my body,” he said. “But it’s the ultimate competitive, non-competitive sport. I mean look at it: you’re doing your best against yourself (or not) while other people are doing the same thing. What’s not to love?”
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JUST NORTH OF KILLINGTON, THE GREEN MOUNTAIN TRAILS ARE ONE OF VERMONT’S BEST-KEPT SECRETS FOR HIKERS, MOUNTAIN BIKERS AND NOW, CAMPERS AND PIZZA LOVERS. TRAIL KEEPER MATT BAATZ IS ONE REASON WHY. BY LISA LYNN.
Tucked into the forest off the Green Mountain Trails sits what started out as a "Wildnesting" refuge with classes on yoga and foraging. It's now a free-form gathering place for mountain bikers and kindred spirits.
ight miles north of Killington, before you come to the tiny town of Pittsfield, the Tweed River valley widens into open meadows. A covered bridge, serving as a driveway, crosses the small creek. On the other side, a pictureperfect yellow farmhouse sits next to a massive, and equally perfect, red barn. This is Riverside Farm, part-time home to former Wall Street executive and Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena. The former horse farm now serves as headquarters for De Sena’s increasingly
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brutal series of elite survival races—first the Death Race, now the Agoge. It doubles as a wedding venue, a place where New Yorkers don’t hesitate to drop $50K for the ultimate rural Vermont setting. And the trails around the farm serve as De Sena’s private playground, one he generously opens to the public. To the west, the Green Mountain Trails wind for 25 miles up and down the mountains and through the forest, flowing around more than 100 bermed switchbacks, climbing 1,000 feet in elevation to a cleared
meadow at the summit where an old stone cabin called Shrek’s cabin sits. From there, the trails descend into the valley, and spill out at another De Sena property, Amee Farm Inn, and Sweet Georgia Pea farm. One hot summer day I followed one of the trails that leads west up the mountains. I climbed the stone stairs (the fruits of a past Death Race where competitors were challenged to carry and place the massive granite steps). But a third of the way to the summit, a side trail caught my eye. Wandering off I came on a clearing.
In the clearing, a bar was set up with rough-hewn branches framing it and a tin roof. Ball jars holding tea, rice and beans were neatly stacked in shallow crates, along with cookbooks. A small, homemade pizza oven stood in the shelter of the bar. A stonepaved walkway led to a fire pit where a wrought-iron pot hung. Up the hill form the incongruous scene, stood a white safari tent on a wood deck. From it emerged an elfin figure with a big grin. “Welcome to Muddy’s,” said Matt Baatz.
On Facebook, Matt Baatz explains Muddy’s like this: "Think of Muddy’s as your timeline with people, other animals and events scrolling by it all day albeit at a much slower pace. You wake up to the turkey frantically pacing and gobbling a couple of switchbacks lower. As you gather kindling for the morning fire, you scare up the family of deer bedding down near the stone wall on Noodles. Coffee in hand, you see the same mountain biker pedal by at six-something each morning and he always jokingly orders breakfast. The red squirrel gnaws at the plastic lid of your peanut butter, manages to open it, knocks it over and feasts. He climbs to the top of the Spokeasy roof and chatters making sure that you know you’re his bitch now. "A family makes a “wrong” turn into the site and either says “This is so cool,” “What is this?,” or “The landowner let them do THIS?” "Dennis O’Brien comes by around dinner after a group ride and tells you about his chainsaw exploits and you thank him profusely because he’s the main reason the trails are running like clockwork. "You may fire up the pizza oven and someone will ride by and act as if it’s the first time they’ve seen a pizza. The blue jays fly in during the evening and perch on the white pines encircling the site and give a little concert, not the most tuneful, but they mean well. Then the bats swoop over the area for insect control and the Big Dipper appears through the tree clearing. "Some coyotes yip somewhere off in the distance, and that’s pretty much all we got for a curfew alarm here in Pittsfield."
att Baatz is an enigma. His Facebook profile lists him as: "Head Dough-Stretcher at Muddy’s Hut; Trail Manager at Green Mountain Trails; former Burpee Specialist at Puddy’s." His profile page claims he studied cryptozoology (the study of creatures whose existence has not been validated—think Sasquatch) at Penn State. He is 46 but looks 36. His high-tops have no laces. There is a childlike innocence around him that is both honest and charming. In person, Baatz admits that he has a B.A. in English and has spent much of his life WWOOFing (volunteering on organic farms in exchange for room and board, via World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). It’s been ten years since he owned a car. He rides a mountain bike with a small trailer through town. He sleeps (when he is not at Muddy’s) at a house De Sena owns across the street and eats most days at De Sena’s Pittsfield General Store. Baatz hesitates before he speaks, and when he does, it is often to offer up a profoundly articulate musing on life. “So much of what people throw away should be used again. We just don’t think to do so,”
"Almost everything here is recycled," says Baatz of Muddy's. Inside the safari-style tent (top) there's a queen sized bed with a barnboard headboard Matt Baatz fashioned himself and battery-powered lamp lights. Just down the trail, an outhouse is furnished with a Windsor-style chair for a seat. Baatz (middle left) collected and laid most of the stones that now pave the walkway to the Spokeasy walkway (below) and cook site firepit and created candlesticks out of old bicycle hubs. Stools at the Spokeasy bar are made from rims and woven with old bike tires. Photos: this page and opposite by Jesse O'Driscoll.
he says as he gestures to the things around Muddy's. “There’s nothing new here.” He puts it in a way that is less preaching and more matter of fact as walks me through the bar, the “Spokeasy.” "Like that," he says as he points to stools he fashioned from
old bike wheels, their seats woven from old tires. A series of bicycle hubs stand on end, each holding a votive candle. Crates, stacked on ends, serves as shelves. Upslope, the white canvas safari tent is furnished in a manner that anyone who
"Anyone can stay here,” says Baatz. “You might be here mountain biking, or passing through on a hike.” I ask him how reservations work and how much it costs. His brow furrows and he pauses. “I haven’t quite figured that out yet—for now, it’s just free, or you bring some really good beer.” peruses Restoration Hardwear catalogs would drool over. Glass bottles have been fitted with battery-powered lights. Old crates hold books. The queen-sized bed has a barnboard headboard. Threadbare Orientals line the floor. Down the path,
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“I didn't exactly tell Joe about the pizza oven," Baatz says. "It wasn't like I was trying to hide it, but I just didn't know what he would think.”
Going with the flow, a rider negotiates one of the 25 miles of bermed singletrack trails that cut through the fern forests above Pittsfield. Photo by Marion Abrams an outhouse features a high-backed wood armchair with a hole cut out as a seat. “Anyone can stay here,” says Baatz as he waves his hand expansively across the deck where Adirondack chairs peer down on the Spokeasy. “You might be here mountain biking, or passing through on a hike.” I ask him how reservations work and how much it costs. His brow furrows and he pauses. “I haven’t quite figured that out yet—for now, it’s just free, or you bring some really good beer.”
ast spring, when MTBVt.com’s Ryan Thibault and David Lauzon rode through with a group on a mission to ride as much singletrack as possible between Killington and Hyde Park, they camped out at the Green Mountain Trails. “They asked me to ride with them to Rochester and show them the trails for the afternoon,” Baatz said. “When we got to the Rochester border, they invited me to join them for the rest of the trip.” Baatz, with only the clothes he had on for the afternoon ride, kept going for five more days. “Those guys were amazing: they lent me clothes, gave me food and put me up all along the way,” he says of Thibault and crew. Baatz’s life seems centered around whim and karma: He lives by giving and receiving. “I think it’s that freedom…” he pauses and looks up at the treetops as if counting the leaves, and then continues. “… That freedom to pick up and go for a bike ride and to live my life when and how I want, that keeps me here.” “Muddy’s,” Baatz goes on to explain,
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didn’t start out as his. Baatz inherited the site from another De Sena protégé, Sefra Alexander, who put up the tent and platform and dubbed it “Puddy’s Luxury Wildernest: Vermont’s #1 Glamping Retreat.” (Baatz winces at the word “glamping.”) Alexander, who holds a degree in Agricultural Education from Cornell, envisioned holding naturalist hikes, foraging lessons, and forest-to-table meals, coupled with lessons in “rewilding,” wilderness survival skills, mountain biking and yoga. Alexander’s “wilding” ethos seemed to
jibe with De Sena ’s philosophy of primitive survival and pushing the limits of physical and mental endurance. Over the years, Riverside Farm has become a business incubator of sorts for all types of Spartan offshoot projects. “Joe has this way of betting on people and hoping they’ll build a business,” says Baatz with a wry smile. “But most of the projects never really work out.” Baatz lent a hand as Alexander went about building the camp. “It was fun at first,” recalls Baatz, who, along with Alexander, went to the Roots School in
Pan-like, Matt Baatz celebrates with friends after a succesful pizza party at Muddy's. Photo by Liz Patnode
Corinth for a variety of courses in primitive survival. “Eventually, like a lot of projects that get started here, their visions went separate ways,” says Baatz of Alexander and De Sena. Alexander moved on. Baatz inherited the campsite (renamed Muddy’s) and began work on the Spokeasy and the pizza oven he dubbed Pizzylvania. “I didn’t exactly tell Joe about the pizza oven,” Baatz admits. “It’s not that I was trying to hide it but I just wasn’t sure what he would think.” Baatz began work last spring, digging out the stones and carrying the bricks up the mountain. “The pizza oven, that took me like 600 hours,” he says. Once it was finished, he realized he needed a pizza peel and headed to the Pittsfield General Store to borrow one. “Joe was in the store having a meeting so I sort of sidled around him, got the peel and was about to leave when he stopped me,” Baatz recalls. ‘“What are you doing with that?' Joe says, and starts to question me,” Baatz says. “I wasn’t sure if he was happy about it or not but I later heard that all he talked about for the next day or two was ‘that pizza oven Matt’s building,’” Baatz says with pride. Then, true to form, De Sena began to think of the pizza oven as a business. In a short video clip titled “The Best Pizza in Vermont — for Mountain Bikers and Hikers Only,” De Sena, the man who has built the Spartan series into a multi-million dollar international business, is seen grilliing Baatz, trail builder and dough-slinger: De Sena: “So if you don’t know about it [Muddy’s], you can’t get a pizza?"
Baatz nods: “Yeah.” De Sena: “And what if you show up and you’re not here?” Baatz: “That’s part of the mystique.” De Sena laughs and shakes his head in disbelief: “So not only do you not advertise, but you might or might not be here. It’s completely random….?” Baatz: “It’s completely random.” De Sena: “And what do you charge?” At this, Baatz raises his eyes again, puffs out his cheeks, rocks toe-to-heel, toeto-heel and finally answers with a shrug: “Good question.”
aatz now calls Muddy’s “hours” of operation “serendipitous seating.” He elaborates on his Facebook page: “This is how I imagine it could work: Some days there will be people camping here and, in light of our seating policy, impromptu gatherings among former strangers could take place, bread will be broken, beverages popped. That’s just what you signed up for. Whoever camps here understands they also become the hosts. "Other days there will be no one here at all, and you’ll be bewildered and perplexed, but still happy that a place like this can still exist at all. Of course there will be many days when the oven is firing, pizza is baking and you’ll come by with a gift, an IOU, a donation or a favor and leave having made a reservation for a place you didn’t know you wanted to visit until you came.” In watching the video, there is a sense that De Sena, the multimillionaire who Outside Magazine has called “The Most Punishing Man in Fitness,” on some deep level admires Baatz’s go-with-the-flow approach to life. Baatz is so far yin to De Sena ’s extreme yang that the relationship seems to have worked. Baatz has been in Pittsfield since he answered an WWOOFing ad six years ago. An avid mountain biker who had been living in Arizona and Mexico, he knew how to build trails. “When I got here, I was issued a rake and a shovel, I had a place to sleep in the barn and a job making trails,” Baatz says. At first, by Baatz’s account, De Sena pushed him hard. “I think he learned that I’d get things done but I’d do them better if I did them on my own time,” Baatz says. Much of the berms he carved by hand, he cleared and enhanced old trails, using logs and stones from the land. The trails, flowy and often technical, have been the setting for many of De Sena’s Peak Races and this September 18 will host the GMT Gnarly Adventure that promises to “test your ingenuity as well as your riding prowess” as you attempt to ride all 25 miles of the trail system (“you probably won’t even come close,” the website claims.) Or, there’s the classic Six Hour race, which will “cover ten miles of mind, body and technique testing terrain incorporating
It's party time at the Spokeasy where a good six pack of beer may buy you a wood-fired pizza from Baatz's pizza oven, Pizzylvania. Photo by Jesse O'Driscoll classic GMT standbys and recently handbuilt gnar including our latest trail, La Gran Aventura.” Along the way, Baatz has been credited with building much of the tiny trail empire. But it’s a mantle he shrugs off. In response to an article in Killington’s The Mountain Times, he recently wrote: “I did not build the Green Mountain Trails. For the longest time I wanted to go on public record dispelling this absurd rumor… As any trailbuilder knows, it would be a John Henryesque task of futility to dig through 25 miles of rugged terrain
solo, and probably put me in traction for the rest of my life. “Besides, the real story is much more interesting and as quirky as the trail system itself. The summer before I arrived, a swim team who came from Illinois lived on blue cots in stalls made from canvas sails on the top floor of the Amee Barn. They subsisted on sandwiches from The General Store and a dollar a day wage. They rode in and out of the trails on barely functioning mountain bikes sporting bank logos and helped build the trails.
The upcoming Gnarly Adventure challenges riders to ride every inch of the trails. Photo by Marion Abrams
“Before them, there was a retiree who loved manual labor so much, that he would do it unbidden for at least 10 hours a day. If you search diligently enough, you can find a video of him competing in one of the earliest Death Races in dress pants. He would spend so many hours grooming the trails that he earned the nickname, “The Rake.” He wore his tool down to the nubs. “There was a woman I never met named Moe who lived in The Peck House, so called because it was renovated from an old Amee Farm chicken coop. Of course, there was Jason Hayden, who spearheaded the original Pittsfield classics. "Then there was Charlie Bowen, Charlton Heston on an excavator, who probably hasn’t stepped foot into a bike shop in 30 years, but could tie his shoes with the mini-ex bucket. Everything that was machine built, which is a good portion of the trails, was dug by him. There were the incredible locals, the O’Briens (so frequently and to this day), Ed Sandbourne, the Zieglers, Tony Sudol, the Mockuses and everyone else who will have to forgive my absent-mindedness. "And as any trailbuilder knows, a surprising amount of trail is partially built by deer, moose, bygone loggers, riders finding their flow, and erosive forces. Irene rebuilt a significant amount of trail, and not necessarily for the worse. "So what did I do? I worked very hard for seven years trying to preserve the spirit of something unique and wonderful. It’s the best job ever." In some ways, Maat Baatz may be even more successful than his boss.
SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 21
GLAMPING GROWS T
here’s no question that the luxury safari tent has moved out of Africa. It is now popping up in remote sites around the country and glamping (glamorous camping) has become a thing. Many “glampsites” feature safari tents or yurts set up on wooden platforms, outfitted with carpets, luxury bedding and handcrafted furniture. And more and more landowners are opening up their glampsites to the public. Not far from the Long Trail, on the flanks of Camel's Hump, Huntington's Maple Wind Farm has two large yurts (each can sleep 10 in bunks) that it rents out for $145 a night in the fall and winter. Two websites now cater to those in search of the glamping experience. Founded by former managing director of the New York Stock Exchange Michael D'Agostina, Tentrr.com is an AirBnB of sorts for glampers, but with a twist: the company sets up its hosts with a canvas tent, wooden platform, chairs, a queen-sized inflatable mattress on a cot, food storage box and table, a Tentrr loo with disposable bags, a fresh water container and a sun shower.
Tentrr sites are being set up around New England on plots of land that are at least 10 acres and where you can "run around naked," says the founder.
Tentrr asks in return that the "CampKeeper" locate the camp in secluded place, on 10 acres of land—preferably with a “wow” factor such as a view, pond or swimming hole. A portion of the rental fees go back to Tentrr until the price of set-up is met. There are currently about 30 listings in the Catskills, ranging from $75 to $150 per night. The company is expanding around New England and has about 20 sites lined up in Vermont. “We’re looking for the type of places with enough privacy that you can run around naked in,” says D'Agostino.
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Reservation sites, Glampinghub. com and Glamping.com, are a little more liberal their interpretations of the word “glamping” and include homes, treehouses, cabins, AirStream trailers and other kinds of offbeat accommodations around the world. Both post some sites (primarily homes and cabins) in Vermont and around New England. HipCamp.com also lists everything from state park campsites to cabins. It has a good directory of Vermont locations but information we found was not always accurate. For instance, a site near
Stowe's Spruce Peak was referred to as in the "Appalachians." If you want to set up your own long-term campsite check in with your town zoning office first. Anything that is going to remain in one place for more than seven days may require a permit (a $50 fee) and decks and other platforms are usually subject to the same zoning restrictions a home's deck might face. If you are planning on renting your camp for more than 14 days a year, keep in mind you will need to pay Vermont's 9 percent rooms and meals tax.
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HK: I’m enormously proud of that. Last summer we worked with the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City and we won an award for our partnership with them. I have a deaf colleague in Manchester, Joanel Lopez, and I’ve been so impressed with him that I wanted other deaf people to see what he’s done. I like to take on challenges so I started writing grants and I was able to bring up ten kids from the school last summer to expose them to different forestry careers. My dream was that whoever was interested would join a Vermont Youth Conservation Corps crew this summer and three of the deaf students did.
THE TRAIL BLAZER Name: Holly Knox Age: 40 Lives in: Stockbridge Family: Husband, Ryan; daughters, Logan (10) and Maggie (8) Occupation: Recreation Program Manager for the Rochester and Middlebury Ranger Districts in the Green Mountain National Forest Primary sport: Running
olly Knox spends a lot of time in the Green Mountain National Forest. It’s her job to look for recreational opportunities within the forest and help make them a reality. Luckily, she gets to sample some of the trails she has worked on in running shoes, hiking boots, snowshoes, on skis and by bicycle. VS: Just how big is the Green Mountain National Forest? HK: The Green Mountain National Forest is 400,000 acres in central and southern Vermont that are split into three districts: Manchester, Middlebury and Rochester and it includes eight wilderness areas. We’re also responsible for New York's Finger Lakes National Forest, just southwest of Syracuse, in New York. VS: What does it mean to “analyze new recreation opportunities?” HK: We look for emerging opportunities for new sports like backcountry skiing and fat biking and see where we can accommodate them. We rely on partners to help us. For example, we’re currently working on the Robinson Integrated Resource Project, which is primarily in Rochester. We had a public meeting and asked what people wanted to see in that area. We heard that there wasn’t much for horseback riders so that begs the question of whether we should improve current trails or perhaps build new ones and whether we should do things like make the campsites more horse-friendly. VS: What are your favorite things to do in the National Forest? HK: I love mountain biking at Blueberry Lake in Warren. I’m proud of our partnership there with the Mad River Riders. I also love to hike and run and enjoy backcountry skiing but I’m not ready for the Brandon Gap yet. I’ve
Holly Knox has made a career out of creating new recreation opportunities for the next generation.
pretty much done all the sports one can except horseback riding. VS: Can you explain the different considerations for different kinds of trails? HK: We try to combine uses on trails but there are certainly different needs for different sports. Mountain biking used to be on old skid trails but now riders are more interested in single track. Horses need higher clearance and more space so they can move to the side to let others pass. Fat bikes need a compacted, groomed winter trail surface. Each trail has its unique assets but we can have multiple uses. VS: How do you decide where to make trails? HK: We generally move our integrated resource projects from area to area, look for program opportunities and then talk to potential partners. A recent project is the Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area. We talked to the Rochester Area Sports Trails Association (RASTA) and the Catamount Trail Association and others to learn where skiing was already taking place, where there was parking, and where there were potential problem areas where people might end up on the wrong side of the mountain. In this case, we knew there was skiing because we saw unauthorized cutting so the goal is to maintain the ecological integrity and do some restoration work. We’re calling this area a backcountry ski zone. We don’t have trail signs but we have opened the canopy enough that people can pick their lines.
VS: The pros and cons of creating more trail systems for skiers? HK: Whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa depends on who you ask. We know that the demand exists and if you don’t provide the opportunity, people will still find ways to make it happen with illegal cutting. If we can develop a good partnership, we can prevent that from happening. There are concerns that more lines will be cut because we’ve drawn people to the area and there are concerns about the effect on wildlife, particularly moose. We take these concerns very seriously so we’ve partnered with Dartmouth College which will analyze moose scat after fresh storms when the skier traffic is heaviest and look at the moose hormone stress levels. We also monitor the area to ensure that after the cutting it won’t be overcome by ferns which would then make it hard for the softwood to regenerate. VS: Have there been any major policy changes recently? HK: As recreation trends develop, the National Forest Service must adapt to new trends and user groups. While they might not be policy changes, per se, we must consider how we will manage these new uses. For example, discussions have recently taken place about whether to allow electric bikes on mountain bike trails. The Forest Service considers them motorized recreation so they are currently not permitted on non-motorized trails. VS: Tell us about your work with urban youth.
VS: How can people volunteer? HK: Without our community of collaborators, we would not be able to provide so many opportunities. Our greatest base is those who work on the trails and the best way to do that is through our partner organizations like RASTA, VAST, CTA and bicycling groups, but we also have volunteer campground hosts. VS: How did you get into this? HK: I started with the National Forest Service in California on a fire ecology team. I came to Vermont to work on a long-term management plan and then someone suggested this position. This is a perfect fit because I love collaborating with the public and that’s a big part of my job. I want to encourage people to love their national forest. This job was meant to be. —Phyl Newbeck HOLLY KNOX'S PICKS Here are her favorite places in the Green Mountain National Forest. TRAILS Leicester Hollow and Chandler Ridge: this loop project was one of my first undertakings when I started working in recreation and has beautiful views. Blueberry Lake: My favorite place to mountain bike and hike with the family! It is lovely to go for a dip in the lake after. Contest Trail: This trail offers an amazing view and is a perfect distance to keep kids happy! CAMPSITES Chittenden Reservoir paddlein camp sites: the sites are remote and quiet, with the exception of loon calls! Silver Lake Campground for the beautiful views, proximity to water and wonderful hiking. Moosalamoo Campground because it is in the heart of the National Recreation Area
SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 25
SUNDAY, September 18, 2016
One of Vermont's oldest cycling farm tours is returning with new and improved features! NEW! Farm BUS NEW! 30-mile and 14-mile routes NEW! Concierge Farm Van for onfarm purchases NEW! After party with free ice cream, live music, local craft drinks and a taco truck Register online by 9/12 for $20 savings
October 1-2 We're excited to partner to offer women 21+ an overnight that includes wine and cheese, fall colors, and excellent mountain bike instruction - regardless of your level. As with the Little Bella's kids programming, the main goal will be to have fun, laugh and learn from each other! Registration covers your lodging, meals, and instruction. Learn more and register at www.littlebellas.com, and come on up to the Kingdom!
www.acornvt.org Sponsored By: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.craftsbury.com | 802.586.7767
O r t h O pa e d i c s
dr. Mclaughlin made me feel at ease and in good hands! peter shaW, eden Mills
Welcome to the 21st century community hospital. Welcome to Copley. peter shaw injured his finger while rebounding a basketball. his misfortune brought him to hand specialist dr. Joseph Mclaughlin where he “felt instantly comfortable.” dr. Mclaughlin discussed treatment options and peter decided to have the surgical procedure. today, peter is almost at 100% with hand strength and flexibility. “i’m a very active person. i coach girls varsity lacrosse, so reaching my 100% was critical. thanks to doctor Joe, i am back to doing the things i enjoy the most.” Our orthopaedic specialists: Nicholas Antell, MD; Brian Aros, MD; Bryan Huber, MD; John Macy, MD; Joseph McLaughlin, MD; and Saul Trevino, MD
to make an appointment with a Mansfield Orthopaedic specialist at copley hospital, call 802.888.8405 OBstetrics & GYnecOlOGY | eMerGencY serVices General sUrGerY | OrthOpedics | cardiOlOGY | OncOlOGY UrOlOGY | rehaBilitatiOn serVices | diaGnOstic iMaGinG
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SPORTS LISTING YOUR EVENT IN THIS CALENDAR IS FREE AND EASY. VISIT VTSPORTS.COM/SUBMITAN-EVENT OR E-MAIL EDITOR@ VTSPORTS.COM. ALL AREA CODES ARE 802. ALL LOCATIONS AREÅ IN VERMONT, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED. FEATURED EVENTS, IN YELLOW, PAY A NOMINAL FEE.
BIKING/CYCLING September 2 - 5 Green Mountain Stage Race, Mad River Valley & Burlington, Vt. Four days of challenging time trials, circuit races and criteriums, including the Richard Tom Kid’s Crit and a new Stage 2 circuit course. www.gmsr.info 4 Labor Day 130K, Peru, Vt. The roads of southern Vermont showcase over 85 miles with an elevation gain of over 7,500 feet. The ride is unsupported and proceeds support Rare Disease Research. www.rasopathiesnet.org
RACE & EVENT GUIDE 5 Richard Tom Kids’ Crit, Burlington, Vt. The Richard Tom Foundation sponsors a free “Kids’ Crit” at the Green Mountain Stage Race’s Burlington Criterium. There will be fields for 7- to 8-year-olds and 9- and 10-year-olds. The 7- to 8-year-olds will ride one city block (about 500m) and the older field will ride two city blocks. Each race will have a separate start time. The rider limit will be capped at 30 for each field. www. richardtomfoundation.com
17 Stone Valley 50, Poultney, Vt. The Stone Valley 50 is a 50-mile gravel bike race and 25-mile ride through the Rutland County towns of Poultney, Castleton, Middletown Springs, and Wells and benefits the Kellen Sams Memorial Scholarship. www.stonevalley50.com
10 Kelly Brush Century Ride, Middlebury, Vt. A scenic, fully supported ride on 25, 50 or 100 miles long, with options for 65 and 85 mile loops. Funds raised support the Kelly Brush Foundation’s mission to conquer the challenges of paralysis by helping athletes with spinal cord injuries purchase
18 Del’s Ride, Huntington, Vt. Mountain bikers tackle loops on the trails at the Sleepy Hollow Inn and Bike Center in support of six-year-old Delaney Johnson of Essex Junction, Vt. Delaney has a debilitating disorder known as Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC) and epilepsy. www.delsride.org
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11 Cabot Ride the Ridges, Cabot, Vt. A fun and challenging (mostly dirt) road bike ride through the scenic landscapes and rugged terrain of Cabot and Peacham Vermont. Distances include 10K, 30K, 60K and 100K. www.ridetheridges.net
9 Quebec Grand Prix. Quebec City The UCI WorldTour comes to Quebec with 17 world teams, three professional continental teams and one national team going head-tohead in 16 laps on a 12.6K loop around the old city. www.gpcqm.ca
SUMMER CLEARANCE SALE!
specialized sports equipment and to improve ski racing safety. Ride is followed by barbeque. www.kellybrushfoundation. org
18 GMT Gnarly Adventure and SixHour Challenge, Pittsfield, Vt. Green Mountain Trails and Peak Races host races on a 13-mile loop. Riders can opt to do one or two laps or race the course for six continuous hours or attempt to ride all 25 miles of trails. www.bikereg.com 18 Tour De Farms, Bristol, Vt. The 2016 Tour features a new 37-mile route
with 8 farm stops and 18 participating farms and restaurants in the Champlain Valley. The route features 30 miles of paved roads and 14 miles of gravel roads. The terrain is hilly with some short steep rises and a gradual climb back into Bristol. www. acornvt.org 24 Hungry Lion Bike Tour, Whitingham, Vt. Choose from four different routes through the hills of southern Vermont and northern Massachusetts during spectacular fall foliage. Distances include 33, 35, 55 and 75 miles. www.hungrylionbiketour.com 21-25 Tour de Kingdom – Fall Foliage, Newport, Vt. Five days of supported rides on both sides of the border with brilliant foliage and optional routes of varying distances. $50 per day; $200 for all five; $175 for groups of 10 or more. www.tourdekingdom.org
October 1 -2 Triple Crown Enduro, Burke Burke Mountain Bike Park hosts the second of a three-stop series, with riders competing on Burke’s downhill trails for more than $30,000 in cash. www.skiburke.com 2 Allen Clark Bicycle Hill Climb, Waitsfield, Vt. The Allen Clark Memorial Hill Climb rises 1,600 vertical feet in 6.2 miles from the intersection of Routes 100 and 17 to the top of Appalachian Gap. The event is named in honor of long-time Mad River Valley resident Allen Clark. www.achillclimb.org
SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 27
the downtown community through picturesque villages and farmlands and back to the finish. www.runreg.com
checkpoints marked on a map that you carry. Preregistration is required for competitive categories, day-of-event entry is available for recreational categories. www.naoc2016.us
23 Dam Wrightsville CX, Middlesex, Vt. Onion River Sports organizes a cross-country criterium at the Wrightsville Reservoir Beach open to every variety of bike. After-party follows at the Three Penny Taproom. www.bikereg.com
11 Vermont Remembers Run, Colchester, Vt. Camp Johnson is the site for an 11K run and ruck and a 5K run and walk around the fort. Event is open to teams. www.runvermont.org
22 CircumBurke MTB Challenge and Trail Run, East Burke, Vt. Kingdom Trails, Conservation Collaborative and the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce present a mountain bike and cross country running race on a 25-mile loop. www. circumburke.org
11 Old Stone Museum Annual Fall Foliage Run, Walk & Bike, Brownington, Vt. The Old Stone House Museum in Brownington hosts a half marathon, 5K run, 5K walk and 12-mile bike race on rural Northeast Kingdom back roads. www. oldstonehousemuseum.org
14 Sodom Pond 4-mile Race, Adamant, Vt. A rolling 4-mile course around Sodom Pond in Adamant, Vt. Race day registration only, across from the Adamant Co-op. Contact: Tim Noonan, 802 223 6216.
24 - 25 Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival, Schroon Lake, N.Y. Schroon Lake, N.Y. hosts a full weekend of distance racing in the Adirondack Mountains. The race weekend features marathon, half-marathon, relays, 5K and 10K races, as well as fun runs for kids. www.adirondackmarathon.org
17 Common to Common 30K, Essex Junction, Vt. A 30K race from the historic Essex Center to Westford Commons and back. All racers receive medallions. www. gmaa.net
25 Vermont Sun Half Marathon, Salisbury, Vt. Vermont Sun hosts a 5K, 10K and half marathon in Branbury State Park on paved out-and-back courses. www. vermontsuntriathlonseries.com
18 Downtown 10K, Burlington, Vt. The 8th Annual Downtown 10K is a mostly flat, fast course through the streets of Burlington, along the bike path with views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain, and finishing on the Church Street Marketplace. www. racewire.com
25 24th Annual Vermont 50 Mountain Bike or Ultra Run, West Windsor, Vt. The former Ascutney Mountain Resort in West Windsor hosts the 22nd year of the 50-mile bike race and 50-mile run. The race also includes a 50K option, a team relay and a free kids fun-run option. www.vermont50.blogspot.com
18 Stowe Trail Series: 5K & 10K, Stowe, Vt. Beginning and ending at the Trapp Family Lodge Meadow, both races follow a dirt road before merging with double track cross-country trails. The 5K race diverts at Old County Road and follows Russell Knoll back to the finish. The 10K race continues to the Trapp Cabin and returns on the new single-track trails. www.stoweadaptive.org
18 TAM Trek, Middlebury, Vt. Run around Middlebury on the 18-mile Trail Around Middlebury. There will be a 6-mile run and a 2-mile run/ walk. www.maltvt.org
1 Front Porches Half Marathon, Bellows Falls, Vt. A half marathon runs through Bellows Falls and along the Connecticut River. www.vtfrontporcheshalf.com
September 3 Northfield Savings Bank 5K, Northfield, Vt. A certified 5K course as part of the CVR ORS Race Series. Start and finish in front of the Northfield Savings Bank at the green in downtown Northfield, Vt. www.nsbvt.com 4 GMAA Archie Post 5-Miler, Burlington, Vt. Certified point-to-point course on a bike path. A free ¼-mile kids race will be held at the Archie Post fields at the end of the 5-miler. www.gmaa.net 9 Mad Dash, Waitsfield, Vt. Runners enjoy mountain views, fall foliage and covered bridges during this 5K and 10K run on the Mad Path in Waitsfield. www.runvermont.org 9 North Face Race to the Summit, Stratton Stratton Resort hosts a race to the summit of the tallest mountain in southern Vermont, a distance of 2.08 miles with an elevation gain of 2,003 feet. www.stratton.com 10 Charlotte Covered Bridges Half Marathon, Charlotte, Vt. Charlotte hosts a half marathon, 5K and 10K through the Champlain Valley on paved and dirt roads. Race has a cap of 300 runners and a time limit of three hours. www. racevermont.com 10 Maple Leaf Half Marathon & 5K, Manchester, Vt. Manchester hosts a fall half-marathon and 5K race from
23 – 25 North American Orienteering Championships, Dartmouth, N.H. Orienteering is a sport where you locate a series of
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24 The Color Run, Essex Junction, Vt. Runners in this 5K run through the Champlain Valley Exposition are blasted with colored powder every kilometer while running under inflatable arches. The run benefits The Chill Foundation, an organization that provides opportunities for underserved youth to build self-esteem and life skills through snowboarding and other board sports. www.thecolorrun.com
1 Stark Mountain Hill Climb, Fayston, Vt. Run from the base to the summit of Gen. Stark Mountain near Mad River Glen taking any route you wish. All proceeds support the Stark Mountain Foundation’s maintenance and trail work. www.achillclimb.org
1 Copley Hospital’s Run for the Heart, Morrisville, Vt. Copley Hospital organizes a 5K run at Oxbow Park, connecting to the Rail Trail. Runners will follow the
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Rail Trail back to Pleasant Street and then cross over to Portland Street to finish. www.runreg.com 2 Kingdom Marathon, Coventry, Vt. Kingdom Games hosts a marathon on dirt roads through Coventry, Brownington, Barton, Irasburg and Glover. Course features three distances: 26.2 miles, 17 miles, 13 miles and a youth bike option. www.kingdomgames.com 2 Fly To Pie – Kingdom Marathon, Newport, Vt. Runners and bikers race a marathon, half marathon or 17 miles from Lakeview Aviation in Newport to Parker Pie in Glover for a pizza party. www.kingdomgames.co 2 Leaf Peepers Half Marathon and 5K, Waterbury, Vt. CVR’s largest event and fundraiser for the Harwood Union Boosters Club is an out-and-back half marathon on paved and dirt roads. Part of the CVR ORS Race Series, USATF certified and RRCA sanctioned with chip timing. Contact: Roger Cranse, 802 223 6997 or email@example.com 9 Harpoon Octoberfest Race, Windsor, Vt. The Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vt. holds their annual 3.6-mile road race, followed by an Oktoberfest on the brewery grounds. Proceeds benefit the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center. www.harpoonoctoberfestrace.com 9 Ripton Ridge Run, Ripton, Vt. Friends of the Ripton School organize a 5K run and a 10.4K run traversing roads in Ripton and the Green Mt. National Forest. The event also includes a non-competitive 5K Fun Walk and a short, non-competitive event for children. All courses start and finish at the Ripton Elementary School. www.riptonridgerun.addisoncentralsu.org 9 North Face Race to the Summit, Stratton, Vt. Stratton Resort holds a 2-mile race to the summit of Stratton Mountain. Over $2,000 in awards wait at the top. www.stratton.com 15 Trapp Mountain Marathon, Stowe, Vt. The trail network around the Trapp Family Lodge hosts half and full marathon distances at the height of fall foliage. This is a 2016 USATF-sanctioned event. All finishers get a custom glass filled with von Trapp beer. www.trappmountainmarathon.com
15 Leaf Chase 10K, Rutland, Vt. A 10K one-way trail run from Proctor to Rutland. The bus leaves the Giorgetti Parking lot in Rutland by 9:40 a.m. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. www.rutlandrec.com 22 CircumBurke MTB Challenge & Trail Run, East Burke, Vt. On the last weekend in October, Kingdom Trails, Conservation Collaboratives and the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce present a mountain bike and cross country running race on a 25-mile loop. www.circumburke.org 29 Halloween 5K, Rutland, Vt. Runners start across from the train station in downtown Rutland in this fun race. Costumes are encouraged but not required. www.rutlandrec.com 29 The Kingdom Challenge, Lyndonville A challenging point-to-point half marathon between Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury and through four covered bridges. www.thekingdomchallenge.com
OBSTACLE COURSE RACING September 17 - 18 Reebok Spartan Race, Killington, Vt. This obstacle race brings amateur and pro athletes together to battle for a piece of the $250,000 in prizes. Races include the 26-mile Ultra Beast Race, 12-mile Beast Race and 3-mile sprint. Obstacles include spear throwing, pits of fire, rope climbs and more. www.killington.com
October 10/15 Rescue Inc. Adventure Race, Jamaica, Vt. Race through beautiful Jamaica State Park. Challenge yourself through multiple rope course obstacles while racing as a team. Or run the Family Fun Run 5k happening at the same time. adventurerace.rescueinc.org 22 Shale Hill Halloween Fun Run, Benson, Vt. Shale Hill hosts a Halloween-themed 10K and 5K obstacle race with up to 51 obstacles. www.shalehilladventure.com
TRIATHLON & WATERSPORTS
5, 12, 19 Fallen Leaves 5K Series, Montpelier, Vt. Low-key, three-race weekly series on a flat and fast 5K race course that begins and finishes on the Montpelier High School track, and incorporates the Montpelier bike path. Contact: Tim Noonan, 802 223-6216. 20 Middlebury Turkey Trot & Gobble Wobble 5K and 10K, Middlebury, Vt. These races starting in downtown Middlebury feature chip timing, t-shirts for all entrants, raffle prizes and 20-pound turkeys for the winners. www.middleburyfitness.com 24 GMAA Turkey Trot, Burlington, Vt. A certified 5K on the University of Vermont women’s cross country course. Walkers are welcome in this race benefiting the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Race starts at 11 a.m. at the Gutterson Field House. www.gmaa.net 24 Running of the Turkeys, Arlington, Vt. A scenic Thanksgiving 5K starts and ends in Arlington village at the Fisher Elementary School. www.bkvr.net
September 10 In Search of Memphre, Newport, Vt. Kingdom Games hosts a 25-mile international swim from Newport north to Magog, Quebec. www.kingdomswim.org 18 Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon, Great Barrington, Mass. An expected 500 teams will bike 27 miles, paddle by canoe, kayak or SUP 5 miles and run 6 miles. A party at Tanglewood with food, live music and vendors follows the race. www.joshbillings.com 24 - 25 White Water Release at Jamaica State Park, Jamaica, Vt. This weekend the Army Corps of Engineers creates whitewater conditions on the West River by releasing water from Ball Mountain Dam. Concessionaires will be stationed at the day parking area with food and gear. Shuttles run throughout the day. www.vtstateparks.com
2016 Skills Certification Courses Hulbert Outdoor Center, Fairlee, VT
Wilderness First Aid / CPR
Cost: $260 (meals, lodging, course materials) $200 commuter (lunch, course materials)
Optional: American Heart Association CPR (Heartsaver) Cost: $45 November 19-20
Wilderness First Responder
May be used as first half of a WEMT bridge course with SOLO. Cost: $925 (meals, lodging, course, materials) $740 commuter (lunch, course materials) December 11-20
Wilderness First Responder Review (Recertification)
Cost: $290 (meals, lodging, course, materials) $240 commuter (lunch, course materials) $45 CPR Re-certification November 19-20
Wilderness EMT Module
Cost: $615 (meals, lodging, course materials) $500 commuter (lunch, course materials) December 17-21
EMT WILD Day
Cost: $150 (lunch, course materials) December 17
West Hill Grinder 2 adventurous gravel rides
Sunday, September 25th The Bunker Farm in Dummerston, VT
2017 Course Dates will be available soon! Please check our website for more information.
4-Gap Ride 40 miles 4,500 feet of climbing Sweet-n-Steep Ride 19 miles 1,900 feet of climbing
** 10% Military Discount is available for all of our Skills Certification Courses
For more information or to register. Please contact Lynn Daly at 802-333-3405 or check our website http://tinyurl.com/HOC-2015-Skills
For more info: http://westhillshop.com/ridesevents.html
49 Brickyard Lane, Putney Vermont
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TRIATHLON & WATERSPORTS cont. October 30 Vampire Swim, Newport, Vt. Warm blood – cold water. Kingdom games hosts 25-meter to 100-meter cold-water swims. Event also includes a blood drive. www.kingdomswim.co
OTHER EVENTS September 11 Jay Peak hike with the Green Mountain Club The GMC leads a difficult. 9.3-mile hike with 2,600 feet of elevation gain. The hike up Jay Peak starts immediately from the trailhead as this outing follows the LT from Jay Pass to North Jay Pass. Lots of scenic views while maintaining a steady pace. Contact: Jill Aspinall, happy. firstname.lastname@example.org for meeting time and place. 15 – 18 Green Mountain Disc Golf Championship & Pro Tour Championship, Smuggler’s Notch’s Brewster Ridge Disc Golf Course plays host to two of the biggest disc golf events in the Northeast with events open to amateurs and pros (Sept. 17-18). The Green Mountain Championship is part of Smuggs Fall Fest. 23–25 Women’s Yoga & Rock Climbing Retreat, Lake Dunmore, Vt. The Vermont Climbing & Adventure School hosts a weekend of guided climbing and yoga, organic meals, campfires and comfort camping at Branbury State Park on the shores of Lake Dunmore. Each day begins with yoga. Walk to the cliffs for climbing, followed by a swim or hike, closing each day with a meal and campfire. https://sites.google.com/ site/vtclimbing/
15 - 18 Tunbridge World’s Fair, Tunbridge Selected as a Top Ten Time Honored Event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Tunbridge World’s Fair includes four days of agriculture events, live entertainment, arts and crafts, food and more. www.tunbridgeworldsfair.com 15 – 18 FallFest at Smugglers’ Notch, Cambridge, Vt. Smugglers’ Notch hosts a weekend of fall activities including disc golf tournament, live music food, a limited beer release from Fiddlehead and guided climbing in the Notch by Burlington’s Petra Cliffs. www.smuggs.com 16-18 Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival, Mount Snow, Vt. Mount Snow hosts the Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival, with vintners, specialty food producers, chefs, painters, publishers, cheese makers, potters, jewelers, photographers and farmers. www.mountsnow.com 17-18 Grand Point North Festival, Burlington, Vt. Vermont rocker Grace Potter presents a full lineup of live music on the waterfront, including Old Crow Medicine Show, Guster, Blind Pilot, Kat Wright & The Indomitable Soul Band and more. www.grandpointnorth.com 22 – 25 Oktoberfest Vermont, Burlington, Vt. Waterfront Park puts a Vermont spin on the traditional Bavarian festival with 40 brewers, live oompah music, contests and a 5K fun run next to Lake Champlain. www. oktoberfestvermont.com 23 - 24 SIPtemberfest, Mad River Glen, Vt.. Only 800 tickets will be available to this small brewing festival at the base area of Mad River Glen, featuring 24 craft breweries. Chairlift rides are available all weekend. www.siptemberfest.com 9/24 Peru Fair, Peru, Vt. This fiar features a pig roast, music and family entertainment, crafts, cloggers, antiques, artisan demos, clowns, magicians and more. www.perufair.org
FESTIVALS September 4 New World Festival at Chandler, Randolph, Vt. One of Vermont’s premier cultural events celebrates Celtic and French Canadian heritage on five stages with music, storytelling and dance. www.visitvt.com 5 Vermont Heritage Brew Festival, Shelburne, Vt. The Vermont Folklife Center and Shelburne Museum partner to present a unique beer and cider festival rooted in Vermont’s traditions of brewing and distilling. www. vtbeer.org
October 1-2 VT SKI + RIDE EXPO, Burlington The biggest ski show to hit Vermont comes to the Sheraton, South Burlington on Oct. 1-2. See the latest gear, find out about resort deals, watch new ski movie releases, enjoy live music and kick back at the Long Trail brew tent. Details and tickets at www.vtskiandride.com/expo/
1 Killington Brewfest, Killington The 4,241-foot Killington peak is the backdrop for the resort’s annual food and beer festival with 100 regional craft brews. www.killington.com 1 -2 Green And Gold Weekend, Mad River Glen Mad River Glen kicks off their fall and winter season with this traditional weekend with glade maintenance, bike and running races on Stark Mountain, a chicken barbeque, shareholders’ town meeting, and chair lift rides. www. madriverglen.com 1 7th Annual Bean and Brew Festival, Jay Peak Jay Peak’s annual Bean & Brew Festival features locally roasted coffees paired with New England-brewed beers, live music and lawn games. www.jaypeakresort.com 1 - 2 20th Annual Stowe Oktoberfest, Stowe Stowe and the resort host a weekend Oktoberfest with parade, beer tent, German cuisine and live music, including yodeling. www.stoweoktoberfest.com 9 Fifth Annual Burktoberfest, East Burke Burke celebrates the change of the seasons with hayrides, pumpkin painting, and local craft vendors. Meanwhile on Burke’s trails, riders participate in a best-trick contest. www.skiburke.com 8- 10 Columbus Weekend Celebration, Stratton Stratton Resort celebrates fall with the Annual Craft Brew Festival, Chili Festival and the North Face Race to the summit. www.stratton.com 8 North Bennington Oktoberfest, Bennington, Vt. Hosted by the Norshire Lions and Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce host a festival with live music featuring the Rymanowski Brothers Orchestra, Bavarian food, beer, family activities and arts and craft vendors. www.bennington.com 8 Fall Into Winter, Okemo, Vt. Okemo hosts a family-friendly foliage festival with live music, hayrides, pumpkin painting, a pie-eating contest and lots of apple cider. www.okemo.com 8 - 10 Community Weekend, Sugarbush, Vt. Sugarbush hosts a festival with pumpkin carving, lift rides, hikes, fall fare and live music. www.sugarbush.com 8 - 9 Harpoon Oktoberfest, Windsor, Vt. The Harpoon brewery Oktoberfest features lots of beer, live oompah music, chicken dancing, keg bowling, and the Harpoon Oktoberfest race. www.harpoonbrewery.com
Founding Premier Sponsor
150 YEARS OF THE BICYCLE
THE COLLECTION OF GLENN EAMES June 21 - OctOber 16, 2016
30 VTSPORTS.COM | SEPTEMBER 2016
HENRY SHELDON MUSEUM
ONE PARK STREET, MIDDLEBURY 802.388.2117 • HenrySheldonMuseum.org
TUES. - SAT. 10AM - 5PM SUNDAYS IN SUMMER & FALL 1PM - 5PM
FEEL IT ALL.
EXCEPT THE COLD.
October 2, 2016
Fly to Pie
Run — Bike — Hike 26.2, 17 or 13.5 Miles Relay, Family & Youth Options W W W.C O L D P RU F.C O M
Get away from it all. Reserve your campsite now.
Register Now! Join us September 24-25 at the
20th annual Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival — one of the nation’s most scenic road races! Our award-winning event features distances for every type of runner or walker, including: 8 A marathon and two- and four-person marathon relays 8 A half-marathon voted the top 13.1-mile race in the Northeast region by readers of Competitor.com 8 5K, 10K and kids 1K fun run HALF MARATHON 8 Hand-carved bear statues for overall winners 8 A public beach for chilling out post-event 8 The Town of Schroon Lake’s hometown hospitality!
There’s plenty of time to train, so sign up now and get going!
For more information and to register, visit adirondackmarathon.org
www.vtstateparks.com SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 31
3/8/16 9:19 AM
ike Shops around VT sponsored content
15 6 8 7 10 5 Burlington 9
We are the original home to Kingdom Trails. Located in the heart of town, we pride ourselves in expert knowledge while providing friendly customer service. A full service shop awaits you and your repair needs. We have over 75 rentals bikes with an enormous selection of clothing, parts and accessories.
2500 Williston Road S. Burlington, VT 802-864-9197
Earl’s has Vermont’s largest selection of mountain, road, hybrid, and kids’ bikes, clothing and accessories, helmets, shoes, and car racks. Plus an extensive women’s department, a full service department with a wide assortment of parts and tools on hand, ample parking, and a test ride trail!
www.eastburkesports.com Hours: 9am-6pm every day
www.earlsbikes.com Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-7pm Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm
439 Route 114 East Burke, VT 802-626-3215
EARL’S CYCLERY 2
EAST BURKE SPORTS
OUTDOOR GEAR EXCHANGE
37 Church Street Burlington, VT 802-860-0190
www.gearx.com Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am- 8pm Fri-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 10am-6pm OGE is quickly becoming Burlington, VT’s premier bike shop with a knowledgeable, friendly, and honest staff to get you on a new bike or fix the one you already have at a price that works for you. We have commuters and gravel grinders from Marin and KHS, mountain bikes from Pivot, Transition, Rocky Mountain, and Yeti, and a large selection of consignment bikes. Our comprehensive demo fleet allows you to try it before you buy it. Fully equipped service department and full Fox shock service in house. Come on down and see us!
OLD SPOKES HOME
322 N. Winooski Ave Burlington, VT 802-863-4475
www.oldspokeshome.com Hours: 7 days a week Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm
Manchester Center 16
POWER PLAY SPORTS
35 Portland Street Morrisville, VT 802-888-6557
www.powerplaysports.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm Sat 8:30am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm North Central Vermont’s Trek and Giant Dealer. With over 200 new and used bikes PPS has a bike for everyone. Service and rentals too!
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45 Bridge Street Morrisville, VT 877-815-9178
www.chucksbikes802.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5:30pm Sat 9am-3pm, Closed Sunday
VILLAGE SPORTS SHOP
511 Broad Street Lyndonville, VT 802-626-8448
www.villagesportshop.com Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 9:30am-5pm
For 35 years, the Village Sport Shop has been a destination for sports enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to find quality, competitively priced sporting goods. Covering a wide variety of activities and gear the Village Sport Shop has helped customers, locals and visitors alike enjoy the outdoors.
85 Main Street Burlington, VT 802-658-3313
www.skirack.com Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-7pm Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm Locally owned since 1969, Skirack offers gear, clothing, expert fits and accessories for all cyclists, with full service tuning and repairs...plus complete bike suspension service on most forks and rear shocks. Designated one of America’s Best Bike Shops, Skirack is blocks from Lake Champlain. Open 8am Mon-Sat for bike service, car racks and rentals.
NORTH STAR SPORTS
100 Main Street Burlington, VT 802-863-3832
www.northstarsportsvt.com Hours: 7 days a week Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm
Old Spokes Home offers VT’s best selection of professionally refurbished used bikes and new bikes for touring, bike packing, commuting, fat biking, and simply getting around. Named one of the country’s best bike shops by Outside Online for it’s “plain-talk advice and no-nonsense service.” A non-profit as of January 2015, OSH uses 100% of its revenue to run programs creating access to bikes in the community. And don’t miss their famous antique bicycle museum!
24 Bridge Street Richmond, VT 802-434-4876
www.belgencycles.com Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30am-6:30pm Closed Sundays Belgen Cycles offers custom and stock bicycles supported by 38 years of handson experience.
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Focused on the right bike for you covering the spectrum from road to ‘cross and mountain to fat with selections from Salsa, Xprezo, Moots, Parlee, Litespeed, Lynskey and Soma. Full service maintenance and repair as well as fitting solutions. In business as Village Bicycle in Richmond for 18 years.
46 S. Main Street Waterbury, VT 802-882-8595
www.waterburysportsvt.com Hours: 7 days a week Mon-Thur 10am-6pm Fri & Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-4pm WBS sells Trek and Giant bikes of every flavor from high end mountain bikes to kids, hybrids and cross bikes. Our service techs are among the best in northern VT. We also rent and Demo from our downtown location right near the Perry Hill Trails.
ONION RIVER SPORTS
20 Langdon Street Montpelier, VT 802-229-9409
www.onionriver.com Hours: Mon-Thur 9am-6pm Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm Whether you’re a cycling pro, a casual commuter, or a novice rider, we’ve got the perfect bicycle for all of your adventures — and the friendly, knowledgeable staff to help you find it. We are a full-service bike shop staffed by experts committed to helping you keep your bike at top performance. We can diagnose and repair problems on any bicycle, whether you’re looking for a basic tune-up, or complicated and extensive maintenance and repairs. We also pack and ship bikes anywhere in the country.
56 Depot Sq, Northfield, VT 802-485-5424
www.bikeexpressvt.com Hours: Mon-Thur 10-5:30, Fri 10-6, Sat 10-2, closed Sun Bicycle Express is one of Vermont’s finest bike shops in down town Northfield, VT. Open for sales in bicycles, and outdoor gear. We sell Kona, Scott and Cannodale.
FROG HOLLOW BIKES
74 Main Street Middlebury, VT 802-388-6666
www.froghollowbikes.com Hours: Mon -Thur 9:30am-5:30pm year round, Fri 9:30am-7pm yearround, Sat 9:30-5:30 year-round, Sun 1-4pm May - September and for Christmas shopping
Take advantage of the most advanced and courteous service in our region, including a quick turn-around in our service shop downstairs at Frog Hollow Bikes. Upstairs in the sales room, we offer the best in new and used road, mountain, lifestyle, and children’s bikes and new gear. We carry brands that offer superior products that balance innovation and performance with reliability and value. Formerly the Bike Center.
GREEN MOUNTAIN BIKES
105 N. Main Street Rochester, VT 800-767-7882
www.greenmountainbikes.com Hours: 7 days a week, 10am-6pm Located in the heart of the Green Mountains, we are surrounded by terrain that calls to mountain and road bikers alike. Whether you ride twisting trails or back to back gaps, we service, sell, and rent all styles of bicycles, featuring Kona, Jamis, Juliana, Raleigh, Santa Cruz, Transition, and Hinderyckx bikes - hand crafted by our own Rochester boy Zak Hinderyckx. So STOP READING and RIDE YOUR BIKE!
99 Bonet Street Manchester, VT 802-362-2734
www.battenkillbicycles.com Hours: 7 days a week 9:30am-5:30pm Full selection of men and women’s clothing. Rentals available. Great back roads. Road rides Thursdays at 6pm, Beginner Rides Fridays at 6pm.
PARADISE SPORTS SHOP
25 Depot Ave. Windsor, VT 802-674-6742
www.paradisesportshop.com Hours: Tue-Fri 10-6, Sat 9-5
Closed Sun & Mon Paradise Sports Shop has been serving the needs of cyclists and outside enthusiasts in the Upper Valley since 2008. We offer professional retail sales and service of cycling equipment, accessories and soft goods and much more.
BURROW’S SPECIALIZED SPORTS
105 Main St., Brattleboro, VT 802-254-9430
www.burrowssports.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, Sat. 9am-5:30pm, Sun Noon-5pm
very experienced mechanics and a wide selection of bikes from Specialized and Cannondale to customs from Seven, Co-Motion, and Waterford. We also love and sell SUPs and are certified instructors for paddleboarding, road cycling and mountain biking.
18.5 Mascoma Street Lebanon, NH 603-448-5400
www.masonracingcycles.com Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5:30pm Sat 9am-3pm, Closed Sundays
80 years of serving the Brattleboro area with great gear for the year-round outdoor sports enthusiast. Featuring Raleigh, Bianchi, GT, Schwinn, Ibis, and Yuba Cargo Bikes. Best selection of kids bikes in the area. Top notch service Department...we can fix just about anything. Electric assist kits to help you “flatten” the Vermont hills.
The areas 4-season Mountain Bike Headquarters. Locally owned and located 1.1 miles from the entrance to the Boston Lot trail system, the crown jewel of the Upper Valley. We are a shop run by passionate riders and we carry Rocky Mountain, Salsa and Raleigh bikes. We service all bikes and specialize in mountain bike suspension service and setup. Come join us for one of our Tuesday or Thursday night group rides at 6 PM.
WEST HILL BIKE SHOP
OMER & BOB’S
49 Brickyard Lane Putney, VT 802-387-5718
www.westhillshop.com Hours: Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm Closed Sundays
Since 1971, the West Hill Shop has been a low-key, friendly source for bikes ‘n gear, service and rare wisdoms. We are known regionally as the go-to place for problem-solving technicians. Our bike fitters specialize in comfort without sacrificing efficiency. Recently, we’ve focused on stocking gravel road bikes, with awesome dirt road riding right out our door. Our annual (and infamous) cyclocross race has been described as “the Providence race in Carhartts.” Come join us for one of our adventurous rides!
LITTLETON BIKE & FITNESS
28 Cottage Street Littleton, NH 603-444-3437
www.littletonbike.com Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-7pm Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm Since 1981 we’ve been helping north country folks enjoy the outdoors. With a full service repair shop,
20 Hanover Street Lebanon, NH 603-448-3522
www.omerandbobs.com Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-6pm Sat 9am-5pm, Closed Sundays The Upper Valley’s bike shop since 1964. We carry road bikes, mountain bikes and kids bikes from specialty brands including Trek, Specialized and Colnago. Featuring a full service department offering bike fitting, bike rentals and a kids’ tradein, trade-up program.
HIGH PEAKS CYCLERY
2733 Main Street Lake Placid, NY 518-523-3764
www.highpeakscyclery.com Hours: Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm Sun 9am-5pm Lake Placid’s source for bicycling and outdoor gear since 1983! Road bike coaching rides and professional bike fitting, too. We also offer road and gravel cycling tours, and other schools and camps for all ages and abilities. Demos for Salsa adventure by bike, Surly, Giant and Scott bicycles — get off the pavement and on the gravel!
SEPTEMBER 2016 | VTSPORTS.COM 33
THE NEXT OLYMPIC SPORT? ONE PITTSFIELD RESIDENT IS DETERMINED TO GET THIS NEW SPORT INTO FUTURE OLYMPIC GAMES. BY JOE DE SENA
s it goes global, I’m setting a new goal for myself and my team at Spartan Race. It will be the hardest and longest endurance challenge I’ve ever undertaken. It might take me 20 years—it might take us 20 years—but I am committed to making obstacle racing into an Olympic sport. There’s a long list of emerging and established sports fiercely competing for a spot that may become available should another event lose its place. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a detailed process for accepting new sports and eight criteria: universality; financial viability; governance; development of the sport; care and cultivation of athletes; history and tradition; and the value that a new sport brings. Obstacle racing already fulfills many of these criteria and is laying the groundwork to fulfill the rest. First and foremost, it is a sport that is deeply tied to Olympic history.
A HISTORY OF OBSTACLES
Imagine what it must have been like to attend the ancient Olympics. Citizens swarmed to Olympia, where the main stadium alone held over 45,000 spectators, with tens of thousands more in attendance. The athletes stripped bare and competed nude to showcase the beauty of the human body—no sponsor logos, no high-tech equipment and no pretentious apparel. The victors received nothing but a wreath of olive leaves and prestige. It was sport, pure and simple. The roster of events started with only footraces, but eventually grew to include boxing, wrestling, pankration (a combination of wrestling and boxing), chariot racing and pentathlon (running, long jump, javelin, discus, and wrestling). And in 520 B.C., the year of the sixty-fifth Olympiad, a new athletic event was revealed: the hoplitodromos, or “race of soldiers.” The hoplitodromos consisted of a 400-meter run while clad in armor— shield, helmet, and greaves (shin guards). The wooden shield was covered in bronze, measured about three feet across, and weighed fifteen pounds or more. The hoplite run was an immediate success. It was the last new event added to the ancient Olympics—and due to its popularity, it quickly occupied a place of honor: the final contest on the last day of every Olympic Games.
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hoplitodromos in the 65th Olympiad through the ages up to the modern pentathlon. It embodies Coubertin’s desire for a multidisciplinary event that “tested a man’s moral qualities as much as his physical resources and skills, producing thereby the ideal, complete athlete.”
A FAST-GROWING SPORT
Spartan founder Joe De Sena has a new challenge.
The ancient Olympics were celebrated for over a thousand years, from 776 B.C. to roughly A.D. 393. Then, they lay dormant for over a millennium until the visionary French educator and historian Pierre de Coubertin helped reestablish the Olympics in 1896. At that point, the hoplite run was as much a relic as the opening prayers to Zeus. Still, Coubertin was inspired by the ancient military usefulness of the events. So he created a modern version of the pentathlon—horseback riding, fencing, pistol shooting, swimming and running. He was also inspired by the demands of the quintessential modern soldier: deliver a message on horseback, fight a duel, shoot his way to freedom, swim a river and run the rest of the way. Modern pentathlon was added to the Olympics in 1912 and has remained an event ever since. Obstacle racing is a thread that has woven its way from the first
Obstacle racing is already the fastestgrowing participatory sport in the world: there were over four million participants in more than 30 countries in 2014, eclipsing the number of people who ran 10Ks, half-marathons and marathons, combined. And, notably, women now make up around 40 percent of all obstacle race entrants. Yet, for all its recent growth, obstacle racing isn’t a fad. Throughout the past century, obstacle courses have been one of the primary methods of training and testing soldiers in militaries across the globe. Since 1944 the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has administered the Indoor Obstacle Course Test, a series of eleven obstacles designed to be the most comprehensive test of a cadet’s physical fitness. The Military World Games, which hosts soldier athletes from over 100 nations, includes obstacle racing. China’s military, the largest in the world at over two million men, uses obstacle courses in basic training. YouTube videos even show Al-Qaeda recruits swinging on monkey bars, crawling through mud, and climbing over walls. Georges Hébert was a French naval officer who helped introduce obstacle courses into the French military after World War I. His “méthode naturelle” (natural method) would give rise to parkour, whose practitioners view every bench, wall and roof as an obstacle to overcome. Hébert was inspired by observing the strength and grace of
“Obstacle racing is already the fastest-growing participatory sport in the world—over four million participants in more than 30 countries in 2014, eclipsing the number of people who ran 10Ks, half-marathons and marathons, combined.”
indigenous hunter-gatherers, whose “training” consisted of the natural human movements required to survive in the wild: walk, run, jump, crawl, climb, balance, throw, lift, fight and swim. This is also how children play. Most kids have to be taught a sport, but all kids have an instinctive grasp of running, jumping, crawling, and climbing. Every playground is a mini obstacle course. And obstacle courses are inexpensive to build relative to brandnew swimming pools or high-tech stadiums. Furthermore, courses take on the character of the local geography, showcasing the most beautiful natural features of a host country. Obstacle racing would also be an opportunity to improve the infrastructure of national parks near host cities, which are an essential but often overlooked line item in city budgets. When the Games were over, the course itself could be returned to its natural state, as opposed to a concreteand-steel monument that quickly falls into disuse and disrepair. Or it could remain an attraction to entice people into the park system. It could take the rest of my years to get obstacle racing included as an Olympic sport. I have taken on a lot of insane challenges in my life. I have been told “no” more times than I can count. I have been counted out and written off. But I got it done. And I swear an oath to every man, woman, and child who has completed an obstacle race, I will not rest until obstacle racing is recognized as an Olympic sport. I swear it in blood.
Pittsfield resident Joe De Sena is the founder of the Spartan Race, which held its first World Championships in Killington in 2014. This article is adapted from the recent book SPARTAN FIT! 30 Days. Transform Your Mind. Transform Your Body. Commit to Grit by Joe De Sena with John Durant. Copyright © 2016 by Joe De Sena and John Durant. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
THE EQUATION IS SIMPLE, THE EXECUTION IS NOT. The Osprey Mutant and Variant Series help you solve vertical problems and focus on what matters most — the route ahead.
PHOTO / ©PATITUCCI PHOTO
Published on Aug 26, 2016