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PRO CYCLIST CLIMBS BACK
3 EPIC HIKES THE VERMONTER AND THE GEAR THAT SURVIVED 9,000 MILES IN 22 STATES OVER
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NEW ENGLAND’S OUTDOOR MAGAZINE ON THE COVER: Nika Meyers on the Appalachian Trail, the third in her Triple Crown. Photo courtesy Nika Meyers.
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The pro from Peacham, Ian Boswell in his SKY team kit at the UCI Grand Prix de Cyclistes in Montreal in 2017. Boswell hopes to be back with his new team, Katusha-Alpecin racing around the streets of Quebec and Montreal again for this year's Grand Prix, September 13 and 15. Photo by Ray Rogers/Flickr
5 The Start
What's Next for Our Ski Areas?
What does the Vail Resorts purchase of Peak Resorts mean?
Tales from the Triple Crown
SUBSCRIPTIONS, PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION
Nika Meyers has hiked more than 9,000 miles across the U.S. Here's what she learned (and what she painted).
EDITORIAL AND PRODUCTION OFFICE
A look inside the ski area's sale to Vail Resorts, by the numbers.
9 Speak Up
We asked Vermont's outdoor leaders for their choices for the best places and gear for camping.
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Mount Snow Goes Epic
Consider Culture, Not Just Cash A skier's open letter to Jay Peak receiver Michael Goldberg
12 Reader Athlete The Diva of Dirt
How this woman went from the Department of Defense to pro mountain bike racing.
Ian Boswell Climbs Back
7 Secrets to Training for the Trail Vermont pros share their tips for better mountain and trail running.
Calendar Race & Event Guide
The Free Solo Backpacker
The author was never a free solo climber. Until the backpack with everything he needed fell over a cliff.
The pro cyclist from Peacham talks head injuries, doping, the world tour and who's coming to his Peacham Fall Fondo.
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WHAT'S NEXT FOR VERMONT'S SKI RESORTS?
Mount Snow’s annual Memorial Day Peace Pipe competition keeps the Carinthia Park park rocking until May. Photo courtesy Mount Snow Resort
hen assistant editor Abagael Giles posted on Monday, July 22, that Vail Resorts had offered a cool $264 million to acquire Mount Snow in Wilmington, Vt., as well as Peak Resorts’ 16 other areas, we saw mixed reactions. For some, it was the first time they learned that the Sackler family (the family behind Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin) bought enough stock between 2015 and November 2018 to become the majority shareholder in publicly-traded Peak Resorts. The day the sale was announced, the stock price more than doubled. Others were reminded of the 1996 antitrust suit the state of Maine and Department of Justice brought against Les Otten’s American Skiing Company (then owner of Maine’s Sunday River and Sugarloaf), forcing it to divest two New Hampshire areas when it sought to buy S-K-I, owner of Killington and Mount Snow and four other New England resorts. As news of the Peak Resorts proposed sale traveled, social media pages lit up with speculation that this latest acquisition by Vail Resorts would mean higher day ticket prices, longer lines and, eventually, price creep on season pass sales. Others were positive. “Skiing just got cheaper,” wrote one skier on our sister publication, VT Ski + Ride’s Facebook page. An Attitash skier wrote a long post welcoming Vail Resorts and hoping it would invest. Even the nearby competition welcomed the news. “This will just mean more skiers coming to Vermont and more of a reason for resorts like ours
to differentiate ourselves,” said Michael Van Eyck, the chief revenue officer for The Fairbank Group, which operates Bromley Mountain Resort and owns Jiminy Peak in northwest Massachusetts and Cranmore, in New Hampshire. Since 2017, when Vail Resorts made its first Eastern acquisition (Stowe Mountain Resort), and Alterra bought Stratton, skiing in Vermont has gotten cheaper—for those with season passes. Early season multi-resort pass prices dropped below $1,000, in many cases. And Vermont’s skier days rose to 4.1 million in 2018/19, a near high. Other good things have happened, thanks to Vail Resorts' presence. CEO Rob Katz and his wife Alana Amsterdam's charitable trust has donated more than $100 million to the communities Vail Resorts serves. In December 2018, this included $125,423 to support emotional wellness, distributed via grants by the Vermont Community Foundation. The three Vermont resorts Vail Resorts now owns have all seen significant upgrades in recent years under prior owners, including the 2018 opening of the new $22 million Carinthia base lodge at Mount Snow. The question now is how much more the corporate giant will invest in its Vermont ski resorts, our ski towns and local economy. At a July 23 media day organized by Ski Vermont, Vail Resorts’ representatives talked about a 2019 revamp of the food service—both the restaurants and menus—at Okemo Mountain Resort and a new waffle house at the top of Stowe’s gondola.
AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 5
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At that same event, representatives from other resorts reported on what was going on at their ski areas. Alterra has invested more than $10 million in Stratton, put in a new lift and built a lift-served mountain bike park that opens this month. Suicide Six’s new mountain bike park, owned by the Woodstock Inn and Resort, is celebrating its first season of downhill lift-served trails. Magic Mountain, independently owned, is installing a new quad chair for this season. Bromley just opened its first 18-hole disc golf course. This month, Killington Resort, owned by POWDR breaks ground on a 58,000-squarefoot base lodge. And at a select board meeting in July, Sugarbush representatives spoke of a longer-term plan to build a new hotel. This comes after a year when Sugarbush and many other resorts saw their most skier/rider visits ever. Weeks before the Vail Resorts news broke, we received a thoughtful opinion piece from Caleb Magoon, owner of two bike shops in the Waterbury-Morrisville corridor about the potential sale of his home mountain, Jay Peak. It was spurred by the news that 26 interested parties— potential buyers—had signed nondisclosure agreements and were reviewing Jay Peak Resort’s financials. In his open letter to Jay Peak receiver Michael Goldberg, on page 9, Magoon writes: “Jay’s success was in part because people believed management had the local interest and identity of the mountain at heart.” If Vail Resorts wants to truly help the communities where it operates, it could look at what else it can do for the Deerfield Valley, which has been rocked by the bankruptcy of its other mountain resort, the Hermitage Club. It could consider working with the Sacklers to offset their financial gains from the Peak Resorts’ sale to help fight the opioid crisis in the communities Peak Resorts has served. And Vail Resorts could do more to support local vendors and brands, such as bringing back Vermont Coffee Company (which it replaced with Starbucks) at its Stowe food service outlets and partnering with other locally-owned Vermont businesses and brands. What makes skiing or riding or mountain biking the Green Mountain’s resorts so attractive to so many is not necessarily the snow conditions, the ski school or the amenities. It’s the fact that each one of our 20 ski areas is uniquely Vermont. As Magoon writes in his letter: “Please consider culture and not just cash." —The Editors
Starting this winter, skiers at Mount Snow will have unrestricted access to 37 resorts.
MOUNT SNOW GOES EPIC
Photo courtesty Mount Snow
A BY-THE-NUMBERS LOOK AT VAIL RESORTS' PROPOSED BUYOUT OF MOUNT SNOW AND 16 OTHER RESORTS. . BY ABAGAEL GILES
ail Resorts announced early on July 22 that it plans to acquire Peak Resorts, Inc., the parent company of Mount Snow, Hunter Mountain in New York, three New Hampshire ski areas and 11 other ski areas, mostly in the MidAtlantic and Midwest. Vail Resorts and Peak Resorts have been the only two publicly traded companies in the ski resort industry and the deal is subject to regulatory oversight, but is expected to close this fall.
$264 million: Amount Vail Resorts is offering for Peak Resorts. 17: The number of ski areas Peak Resorts, Inc. owns or operates. 3:
Number of Vermont ski areas that will now be owned by Vail Resorts (Okemo, Mount Snow and Stowe).
Number of New Hampshire resorts that will be owned by Vail Resorts (Attitash, Crotched Mountain, Mt. Sunapee and Wildcat).
37: Total number of Vail Resorts-operated ski resorts that Epic Pass holders will have unrestricted access to for 2019/20. $699-$939: The price in dollars of an adult full season Epic Pass for 2019-2020. 21: The percentage by which Vail Resorts Epic Pass sales increased in 2018-2019 over the year prior. 12.3 million: Total skier visits at all Vail Resorts in 2018/19. 39: Number of ski resorts on Alterrra Mountain Company’s 2019/20 Ikon Pass: 14, including Stratton are unrestricted; 24 resorts including Killington and Sugarbush offer up to 7 days of skiing.
$749-$1049: Price in dollars of an adult full season 2019/20 Ikon Pass (depending on restrictions). 113: The percent increase in value of Peak Resorts’ stock shares between close of trading on Friday, July 19 ($5.10 per share) and Monday, July 22, ($10.85 per share) after the sale was announced.
54: Percent of Peak Resorts shares owned by the Sackler family, the investors behind Purdue Pharma, the maker of the drug OxyContin as of November 2018, giving them a majority of shareholder voting power.
$89,551,678.50: How much the Sackler family’s holdings in Peak Resorts increased in value between Friday, July 19, 2019 and the end of day Monday, July 22, 2019.
$22 million: The cost to build Mount Snow's 42,000-sq.-ft. Carinthia Base Lodge, which opened in 2018. $30 million: How much Peak Resorts invested in doubling snowmaking capacity at Mount Snow in advance of the 2017/2018 ski season.
$175 million: Estimated value of capital improvements made across all Vail Resorts properties in 2019. $15 million: The amount of capital improvements Vail Resorts plans to make across the 17 newly acquired Peak Resorts over the next two years.
2030: The year by which Vail Resorts has committed to achieving net zero emissions, zero waste to landfills and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat as part of its Epic Promise campaign.
11: The number of the 20 Ski Vermont-affiliated alpine ski areas not owned by an out-of-state ski resort company.
AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 7
# Â© Somira Sao
# Paris Gore
s most folks in Vermont are aware, receiver Michael Goldberg, the man whom the U.S. courts appointed to run Jay Peak Resort for the last couple of years (following the fraudulent use of EB-5 funds by former owners Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger), has placed all resort assets up for sale. Recent reports from Goldberg have revealed that of 125 interested parties, 26 signed non-disclosure agreements to gander at the company financials. While this is good news for all parties looking to move on, the local and loyal Jay crowd is waiting with great trepidation to learn who the new owner will be and the ultimate fate of the resort. As we have seen throughout Vermont in recent decades, new resort owners can significantly change the complexion of the establishments they buy. For those of us who like the resort we have, we’re all hoping Goldberg will consider culture and not just cash in selecting the entity that will hold a big part of this resort’s future in their hands. A resort like Jay is not just about money. Yes, the goal is always to have a viable, profitable business that can be an economic engine in a part of Vermont that needs it most. It’s also important we recognize that Goldberg has a responsibility to the investors who were victims of the fraud. He is tasked with returning as much of that investment money as is possible. But returning those monies can’t be at the expense of the customers, employees and communities tied to Jay Peak. Let’s be clear—those investments were unsecured and solely the responsibility of the investors. While no one doubts a fraud was perpetrated, most of the investors had a temporary interest in Jay. Our community investment on the other hand, is a permanent one. Everyone has an opinion regarding the expansion of Jay and the fraud that allowed it. Many locals, while understanding and lamenting the crimes committed, also recognize the good that was done to the resort; bringing Jay into the modern era and putting it on a path to sustainability. Resort managers also did something unique: While embarking on a significant scaling up of the resort, they maintained the culture and character that made this far-flung
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE JAY PEAK RECEIVER MICHAEL GOLDBERG
PLEASE CONSIDER CULTURE, NOT JUST CASH, IN THE SALE OF JAY PEAK RESORT. BY CALEB MAGOON
Jay Peak has continued to grow since the EB-5 scandal, with new fields for soccer and lacrosse. Photo courtesy Jay Peak
gem a truly unique place. Bill Stenger,
ownership, we find the industry splitting
the arguably complicit captain at the
into small, independent ownership or
helm can be credited for this feat. It
big corporate ownership and the latter
was by no means him alone, but his
quickly outpacing the former. There are
management team led by Steve Wright
advantages and disadvantages to each
(the former marketing director and now
model. Price, uniformity, rules of the
general manager) that made it happen.
mountain and employment practices
Talk to the locals and they will tell you
all differ widely for each. As do how
this team built Jay into a powerhouse
and what resort expansions happen.
while keeping it true to its roots.
people believed management had the
identity of Jay is a unique one. Jay
local interest and the identity of the
mountain at heart. While plenty of old
timers were skeptical and nervous about
Jay’s success was possible because
the big changes they saw over the last 10-
increasingly the norm in the industry.
plus years, as time went by they found
Staff, hardcore enthusiasts and even
it still mostly felt like same old Jay—
tourists drive just a bit farther to find a
especially on a mid-week powder day.
Valhalla of steep woods, deep powder,
and an attitude that feels more like
control and/or the right ownership.
what Vermont resorts felt like 20 years
Rarely will bosses a thousand miles
ago than what they feel like now. It may
away see things exactly as we do. But
be much bigger than the old version,
even far-flung owners can do right.
but it feels much the same. “Raised
Jay” isn’t just a clever marketing
POWDR Corp., the current owner
slogan, it’s a badge of honor for many.
of Killington Resort. Under the local
Obviously most Vermonters like
myself are happy to wax poetic about
and general manager Mike Solimano,
our home mountain. Most of us have
Killington has kept its unique identity
seen owners come and go at many of
and built upon that identity, rather
the resorts dotting the state. As the
than becoming a cookie cutter version
ski industry has evolved and so has
of other POWDR resorts. Yes, they
This is possible with a level of local
remain responsible for turning profits for their parent company. But they’re also not held hostage to fluctuations in their stock price. A closely-held group can have broader motives than just profits. Killington remains ever “The Beast of the East.” Culture, not just cash is what matters. Hope for Jay Peak remains because we can have it both ways. Jay is well-positioned to make the requisite profits for their new owners. While receiver Goldberg has a responsibility to make recompense for the victims of the Ponzi scheme, he also has a responsibility to choose an owner that does right by the locals. I hope he solicits the advice of his workers, managers and the community at Jay. I ask that receiver Goldberg consider the character of the buyer and their plans for Jay Peak and not just the quantity of money they offer. While owners, investors and receivers come and go, like the trees at Jay, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Caleb Magoon, owner of PowerPlay Sports in Morrisville and Waterbury Sports in Waterbury, is an avid Jay Peak skier. If you have an opinion piece you would like to share, we welcome your submission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 9
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disciplined—trained properly, stayed strong, ate right, kept my bike dialed, but mainly could keep the rubber side down, I could hit the top step of a podium holding a check.
THE DIVA OF DIRT
What sports did you do growing up? I grew up in Cleveland, where there are no mountains and team sports reigned supreme. I learned how to ride a bike, like most, in a cul de sac but mainly played all those team sports like basketball, softball, etc. I also grew up riding and showing horses. I was invited as a youth rider to train quarter and paint horses at a ranch in Texas when I was sixteen and that ended up having a profound influence on me. I knew then that Cleveland was not where I was going to stay. The cool thing though is I returned to Ohio, bought and trained a horse, and sold it to buy my first car.
Name: Amy Alton Age: 44 Lives in: Pittsfield, Vt. Occupation: Founder, M.E.T. Consulting, a talent acquisition service for businesses in Vermont and nationwide. Family: Covenant partner/husband Vaughn Micciche Primary sports: Downhill and cross-country mountain biking
iding with Amy Alton on the downhill trails at Killington Resort’s bike park is like going on a roller coaster ride with stand-up comedian/therapist: it’s equal parts fun, thrills and laughter. The two-hour, Friday Divas of Dirt rides boost both your riding and your approach to life. “Your knees need to be wide, like a cowgirl,” Alton says we dismount and get ready for another ride up Snowshed lift. She then drops her butt, spreads her legs and bounces up and down swinging one arm above her in a yee-haw rodeo stance. “And I mean sluuuuuttttty cowgirl!” Alton calls out, addressing a group of women riders who range from a retired schoolteacher who recently moved to Killington to a pro rider who came up from Pennsylvania for Alton’s July weekend downhill camp. Alton is constantly moving, gesticulating, wisecracking and dishing out profound bits of bike wisdom that double as life lessons: “You need to just let your fear go,” “Don’t look at the obstacles, look where you want to go.” And she often finishes each piece of advice with a deep breath and a “Namaste.” Alton, who worked for the Department of Defense for many years, is a force to contend with. Divas of Dirt rides are Friday afternoons, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., on August 9 and 23, and 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on September 6 and 20 and October 4. The rides are free with a valid park pass and discounted park passes and $29 downhill bike rentals are available.
What brought you to Killington? As part of our “Operation Happiness,” my dude and I made a deliberate choice to make Vermont home, moving from the D.C.-Baltimore area at the end of 2015… you know, just in time for that ‘no snow’ winter. After a quick lay-over with a good buddy in Ludlow, I became affiliated
Alton shows how its done in one of her Divas of Dirt women-only rides.
Photo courtesy Amy Alton
with Killington Bike Park in 2016 and we started looking for a place to store our fleet of bikes, off-roading and outdoor gear, numerous tools, race car parts and tires, and then maybe a 20’x20’ place to lay our heads. Thanks to Craigslist we found the only place in the area that had a garage large enough to store all we had. Little did I know that this glacial valley in the Green Mountains would be my Mecca. It’s a fantastic place called Pittsfield, it warms my soul and has high speed fiber optic internet. Hell yes! How did you start racing mountain bikes? I was lured into the pain cave by my dude, Vaughn, who signed me up for a mountain bike race in 2012. It just happened to be at the UCI World Cup in Windham, N.Y. Seriously! I had just gotten my first full-suspension mountain bike in 2011 and found myself signed up for a cross country race on a World Cup course. While pre-riding the course, on the third steep pitch—which I had no business climbing—I thought my heart was going to jump out of my skin and hit me in the face. But at that moment I had an epiphany—it may have just been a severe lack of oxygen to my brain but I thought: if I spent eight hours on my bike training instead of sitting behind a computer screen or at meetings, I could become a pro mountain biker. At my second race ever, I qualified for nationals.
Now a pro rider, Alton didn't start racing until seven years ago. Photo courtesy Amy Alton
What was your best finish? It’s hard to say what’s ‘best’. Each race and result have meaning to me. I’ve won Nationals twice and also won pro races across multiple disciplines. I guess I’d have to say my first legit Pro win which was an Eastern States Cup Enduro (a 5-stage race) in 2015 in Pennsylvania. That was by far the most impactful because it was maybe my tenth race ever. I proved to myself with that win that I was at the elite racing level; that if I focused and remained
How did you start working for the Department of Defense? I was working for an international development non-profit in D.C., following grad school at Duke. While managing some international project work for a USAID/Coca-Cola Initiative as well as facilitating a regional Chesapeake Bay partnership, I was recruited for a state legislative and regulatory affairs program management lead position for the Army, and based at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. What did you do at DoD? Within DoD, I was a Department of Army Civilian, serving as one of the ten Regional Environmental and Government Affairs Coordinators across the U.S. It was a pretty impressive gig on paper and, truthfully, in reality—when the bureaucracy didn’t get in the way. I had responsibility for environmental and energy policy at Army assets across the mid-Atlantic region (Pa. to Va.) which was about 20 installations and over 300,000 acres. It took a great deal of courage but after several years I left that job to go on Operation Happiness and mountain biking played a major role transitioning me to a new home and professional life. What made you fall in love with mountain biking? I fell head over heels in love with the flow of being in nature focused on nothing but the terrain … no ‘to do’ lists going off in my head or other unnecessary obsessive thoughts. I love too that mountain biking is a holistic sport: you need fitness, strength, focus and mental strength, technical prowess, and so on to really excel and I dig that. Plus, it unlocked a freedom of spirit that I’d never known before. It allowed
AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 11
me to waltz with my monkey mind and process things I couldn’t do verbally or sitting quietly without movement. I needed flow, and mountain biking gave that to me.
want more than just one lift—Killington has three lifts that can take you all over the mountain on varying terrain and conditions including up to the peak at K-1. So much delicious dirt to explore!
What does mountain biking do for you that other sports don’t? I played team sports growing up including college basketball and never felt like I could excel the way I was able to in an individual sport like biking. Plus, biking is a sport that I can do for the rest of my life. I mean heck, if I had an enduro e-bike? I could rock that uphill and rip down some chill flow trail even at the age of 80. Amazing!
What inspired you to start the Divas of Dirt program? Bike parks and downhill mountain biking can be really intimidating ,especially if you go with someone better than you and they convince you to go down a trail that you do not have the skillset for or even interest in doing. That scenario is rubbish and happens all too often! So, I appreciated teaming up with Killington to offer an experience that would be welcoming and let women enjoy progressive terrain at their skill level. Biking had done so much for me personally and I’m jazzed for the opportunity to encourage and inspire rockstar women of all backgrounds. Truthfully, I was hungry to ride with other like-minded women who were passionate about the sport, speed and dressing like 17-year-old boys with full face helmets … and then hitting happy hour!
How do the trails at Killington compare with some of the top places you’ve ridden in other states? I find Killington offers such a variety of trails, conditions, and elevation that Killington Bike Park rivals, if not beats, most other bike parks on the East Coast. The investment that Killington/ POWDR has made in building out a fantastic progressive trail system is unparalleled. You like flowy jump trails— Killington’s got ’em. You like old school technical rocky gnarly trails— Killington’s got ’em. You want great beginner learning trails—done. You
12 VTSPORTS.COM | AUGUST 2019
What are you most proud of about that program? I’m stoked that the Killington Divas of Dirt rides are four years in and going
strong. The bi-weekly Friday group rides are wicked fun and still gaining momentum with 20-plus riders. Right now, I’m still riding high from the firstever Divas Gravity (Downhill) Camp in July, which was a monster success. I pulled in a dream team of Pro riders to coach (huge thanks to Ali Zimmer, Ella Skalwold, Clarissa Finks) and we had an amazing group of women (ages 19-62) from across the East Coast come to Killington to enjoy a weekend filled with fun, thrills, and honing skills. What are the 3 best tips you find help people the most when learning to ride downhill? Three short phrases I use and share to help in the learning process at the Divas of Dirt group rides include: 1) “Heavy feet, light hands.” Downhill or allmountain/enduro bikes are designed for weight to be disproportionately in the pedals coupled with a softer grip. By the way, no sitting in downhill. 2) “Get low and flow”—that is, lowering one’s center of gravity and getting off the brakes—even just momentarily—helps a lot. 3) “Look up and farther ahead!” Eyes on the prize baby, look at where you want to go … and for goodness sakes, not at the tree! What is your business now, outside of mountain biking?
I started and run a multidisciplinary consulting business called M.E.T. Consulting, LLC. (chooseMET. com) Currently, we’re specializing in subscription-based talent acquisition. We strive to be effective professional match-makers in that we help connect the best-suited candidates and clients. M.E.T. Consulting has clientele across the U.S. but I’ve enjoyed building a book of business in Vermont, partnering with top notch clients across diverse sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, outdoor retail, etc. I truly love what I do professionally! How do you get people to come to Vermont for a job? What’s the best selling point? In my opinion, Vermont is an easy sell as long as there’s a compelling job opportunity here for a candidate. Quality of life tops the list. To me, there are so many key selling points that folks are looking for these days like vibrant and safe communities, fresh air, almost non-existent traffic and limited commute times, abundant outdoor adventure possibilities, access to fresh local food and neighbors (regardless of political persuasion) who will help push you out of a snow bank. I could go on and on, Vermont is a fantastic place to live and work! —Lisa Lynn
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Nika Meyers at the northern terminus of The Long Trail in 2012 Photo courtesy Nika Meyers
TRIPLE CROWN VERMONT ARTIST NIKA MEYERS HAS HIKED MORE THAN 9,000 MILES ON THE NATION'S MOST DAUNTING TRAILS. HERE’S WHAT SHE'S LEARNED. BY ABAGAEL GILES
won’t think about my feet,” Nika Meyers repeated to herself as she climbed the saddle toward the top of 12,000-foot Muir Pass in one of the most remote and rugged stretches of California’s Sierra Nevada. Snow was everywhere underfoot and now it was starting to fall from the sky in big, apocalyptic flakes. She was wearing trail runners. The patch of frostbite on Meyers' big toe gnawed at her as she and her twin
sister Phebe and their friend tried to find the trail in the accumulating snow. They’d been up since 4:30 a.m. trying to beat the storm that was rolling in. After days of frigid stream crossings and trudging over firm snow to follow the Pacific Crest Trail, they’d finally found the one thing they knew they couldn’t push through: a mid-summer gale on one of the wildest stretches of trail between Mexico and Canada. Their food was limited and, despite the cold and wet
and altitude there was only one thing to do: move forward slowly, together. Their goal? To push from Kearsarge Pass to Mammoth Pass, through the Evolution Valley and up and over the notorious granite crests that draw climbers and skiers to California’s Inyo National Forest. When the three decided to wait out the storm in their tent, a sense of calm descended. “We had no idea how much it would snow. We were
under-prepared. But then I realized, it’s just snow. I’ve grown up in snow. I know snow,” said Meyers, who woke every half hour to knock it off of the tent until morning. “Through that night, cozy in our tent, all I could think of was home and Vermont.” When the storm lifted and they descended the next day into the Evolution Valley, they met a rare undercast, a layer of low clouds that blanketed the valley.
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Nika Meyers used early mornings to find solitude on the Appalachian Trail. Here, she walks on a road in the misty mountains of Virginia. Photo courtesy Nika Meyers.
THE TRIPLE CROWN
Nika Meyers grew up on a small homestead in Bridgewater Corners, where summers were defined by growing vegetables, springs by sugaring and winters by long days by the woodstove. At 30, she’s hiked more than 9,000 miles. In the summer of 2018, after completing the Appalachian Trail, she became one of just 396 people to have completed the Triple Crown of American long-distance hiking trails. The American Long Distance Hiking Association administers awards each year to those hikers who complete the three longest National Scenic Trails in America: the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail, the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail and the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Together, they traverse the country’s starkest deserts, the highest peak in the Lower 48, desolate highways of the American West and some of the steepest miles of trail in North America, right here in the Northeast. In total, the trails traverse 22 states, gain 1 million vertical feet and range in elevation from 124 to 14,505 feet above sea level. During her travels, Meyers experienced blizzards and single digit temperatures and sweltering heat that soared into the triple digits. “Thru hiking changed me,” she says of her travels. “It changed my values and how I relate to people and my surroundings. It reminds me that I am so very small, can control so little and yet can dream so big.” Along the way, Meyers painted and sketched the landscapes she observed. Today, she’s a finalist in Backpacker Magazine’s “Meet the Artist” competition for her watercolors,
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which alternately capture a scene with laser accuracy and imbue it with a sense of magical realism. Geometric shapes emerge from the lines that delineate mountain ranges, canyons and desert mesas. Chaos reigns in other more abstract creations, where light and color and lines seem to celebrate the mess that comes with life on the trail. “I feel like I am my truest self on the trail, but Vermont will always be my home,” she says. “That landscape and the people and sense of small community that I was raised with are things that still ground me in who I am, no matter where I go.”
GROWING UP IN NATURE
Nika Myers, her twin sister Phebe and their brother Lani, are products of the back-to-the-land movement. Her parents—a master carpenter and a chef—built their own home and decided to homeschool their three children. As Meyers describes it, their house is one that’s been added to, with angles and nooks and crannies and a big living room and kitchen framed by exposed hemlock beams. “It has this feeling of being nestled into the hillside, and it’s cozy. There are always herbs and peppers drying from the rafters.” “My mom grows ingredients for the family restaurant, Three Tomatoes in Lebanon, N.H., and the farmers’ market,” says Meyers, who grew up just three miles from the Appalachian Trail. “I didn’t grow up camping, but playing in hills of squash, cabbage, greens and tomatoes and in bean trellis forts.” At eight, Nika and Phebe cofounded Change the World Kids, now a 501c3 nonprofit that operates
in the Woodstock area. Today, the organization organizes local students to do good in the community and improve sustainability in Vermont and abroad. As a kid, Nika's parents let her creative instincts run wild. “My parents realized I was drawing on the walls when I was in elementary school and in middle school they said, you can draw on the walls if you make a mural,” she recalls. “I think that sense of creativity is what propelled me to study art and keep it up.” In 2011, after graduating from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Art and Environmental Studies, Myers took an Americorps position with the Green Mountain Club. “I was working as the Outreach Specialist, giving trail advice and telling other Vermonters to get out there and explore and I realized that, except for the trails right near my back yard in Bridgewater Corners, I didn’t know much about a lot of it,” says Meyers. “That’s the thing about Vermont: you can grow up being outside here and still find places to explore in this tiny little state.” In October 2012, she decided to hike the Long Trail—her first ever backpacking trip. “It was wet and cold and the only things I brought with me that I didn’t borrow were my sleeping bag and shoes and underwear.” After covering the 272-mile trail in just 13 days with a 60-plus-pound pack, she was hooked. “Getting to northern Vermont after the hilly farmland and forest of the south was wild. I didn’t know that you could climb ladders and ropes on Mt. Mansfield, or that something so wild existed so close to my home, hidden away. I thought you had to go to New Hampshire for that.” Meyers was inspired to learn and explore more. “Now, when I go home, I like to just think about that: to know
that there is a community moving through the woods of our home state, hidden but still there and part of this vision for the first National Scenic Trail—a trail that was pioneered by so many people who cared for these places before I ever got there. It’s humbling.” Over the following year, exploring the Green Mountains through building trails and working with Green Mountain Club volunteers and staff was enough. Until she heard about the Pacific Crest Trail.
“IT RUINED MY LIFE”
In 2011, as Meyers was starting work at the Green Mountain Club, Jennifer Pharr-Davis completed the 2,185mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes. By doing so, she claimed the overall male or female fastest known time on the A.T. Averaging 47 miles per day, she became the first woman to set the mark and has now hiked nearly 14,000 miles of long-distance trails on six continents. In 2013, Meyers decided to ask Pharr-Davis to speak as part of a series hosted by the GMC. “She and her family actually ended up staying with me,” recalls Meyers, who confided in PharrDavis that a friend had asked her to join her for a thru-hike of something called the Pacific Crest Trail, a fourmonth trip that would necessitate leaving her job at the Green Mountain Club. Meyers was considering joining for a two-week trip instead. “She told me, ‘I’m going to tell you something I wish someone had told me when I was younger. No one has the time for these things. Hearing the way you’ve talked about your GMC experience and the Long Trail, I think that if this is a big priority for you, you have to make it the priority.’” Meyers was floored. No other adult had ever suggested she quit her career-
When she hikes, Nika Meyers likes to bring pre-cut paper for small watercolor landscapes like this one, of Vermont's Worcester Range. Photo by Nika Meyers.
When Meyers hiked the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail in 2016, just 220 people had hiked the full length of the trail. Here she stands under stormy skies in Wyoming.
Meyers takes in the view she's just painted on a winter hike with her easel in Aspen, Co. Photo by Nika Meyers.
Photo courtesy Nika Meyers
track job. “When my commitment was up in November at the GMC, I left to start waiting tables and saving up for the spring. My coworkers and GMC community were actually like, ‘How can we help you? Let’s talk logistics!’ It made me feel like I could do this.” But her parents weren’t initially supportive. “They’ve always been my biggest cheerleaders and it felt weird to start an adventure that was so big and know that they were not 100 percent on-board,” she says. On April 9, 2014, she found herself out west for the first time, at the Mexico border with a massive pack stashed full of water for her first day on the PCT. She’d been offered a ride from the airport in San Diego to the trailhead by two elderly trail angels with the trail names Salt and Froto. When a fellow hiker wearing a Stowe 8-Miler t-shirt offered her a wedge of Cabot Cheese at the trail’s start, she felt like she was in the right place. The deserts of Southern California are raw and hot and barren. Cacti are few and the plants that exist are scraggly and sharp—manzanita, creosote and rabbit brush. The rocks are red and brown and yellow and the hills are relentless and dry. “The first night, I had to hike past my planned campsite because the spring was dry,” said Meyers, who was fresh from mud season in Vermont at the time. “I was so afraid of running out of water that when I found it I carried too much. The second day, I ended up pouring a liter and a half out because I couldn’t bear to carry it on my back in the scorching heat.” That night, there was a frost. “Nothing looked like what I had envisioned. The plants were different, my feet swelled and I got the most horrifying blisters of my life in shoes I had just bought with hardearned money, so I kept wearing them.” The terrain challenged her too. “It was this dynamic, watersculpted landscape that was full of mountains that looked nothing like
Just inside of New Jersey at the end of a long day on the Appalachian Trail. Photo by Nika Meyers
what I knew, almost like folds of skin.” Slowly, she learned. She napped from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and hiked early in the morning and late into the night. She stopped to clean her feet of dust and rocks at every break. The blisters healed and she ordered a bigger pair of shoes. When she rolled into Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the Sierra Nevada and a vital resupply outpost at the end of a 20-plus-mile dirt road in the middle of the longest continuous stretch of wilderness in the lower 48, she didn’t even know what day it was. “I remember thinking when I saw those big mountains at the same time, that this was the best decision I’d ever made, and that it [had] ruined my life.”
THE MOTHER’S DAY SURPRISE
“When I left Vermont, I asked my mom to do one thing for me on this trip,” says Meyers. That thing was to mail her bear cannister to the Kennedy Meadows pack station. “I slapped a label on it, was like, ‘Mom, this is in the middle of nowhere and they want your mail weeks before
Left to right, Meyers' grandmother Barbara (then 92), mom Phyllis and nephew Luscian (then four) met her on the A.T. in 2018. Photo courtesy Nika Meyers.
your ETA. I’ll tell you when to send it.” During strained phone conversations from desert towns, Meyers asked her mother if she had mailed the cannister. Each time her mother’s reply was, “I’ll get to it.” When Nika arrived at the station,
there was no bear can. Her sister was supposed to meet her in just a few days for a particularly remote stretch of trail for which they had just enough food to get them to the next resupply. To make matters worse, there was far more snow than anticipated. “My mom is normally pretty on top of stuff, so I thought, is she not wanting to support me?” Nika waited with no cell service or internet. When her sister arrived on Sunday morning, she explained that they couldn’t start the trip without the bear can. “I borrowed this guy’s satellite phone to send an email to my mom along the lines of ‘Hey, where the hell is my bear can?’ Then I was like ‘Oh shit, it’s Mother’s Day!’” She retyped, “Hey mom, happy Mother’s Day you’re the best where the hell is my bear can?” and hit send. Seconds later, a minivan rolled into the parking lot and Phebe tried to stifle a grin. “It’s like a 25 percent grade on a dirt mountain pass to get up there, so there weren’t a whole lot of rental minivans around,” said Meyers. Her mom rolled down the window and said, “Hey Nika!” When she saw her brother and dad step out of the car, she ran over chairs and through a sea of lounging, ripe thru-hikers to give her mom a hug. They promptly fed just about every hiker around and ate a massive meal of homemade food before seeing Nika and Phebe off. “It was like a weight had been lifted that was preventing me from enjoying the experience. This trail brought my family together in a really cool way I could never have anticipated.” She went on to hike the most strenuous sections of the trail knowing she had her family's support, stacking up big mile days and pushing through hundreds of miles of snow travel in the jagged and hostile high Sierra. By the time she finished on August 9, 122 days after she started, Meyers was hardened and fit, a seasoned hiker who had earned a reputation for jumping fiercely into each day on the trail
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and painting plants, animals, tracks and landscapes along the way. She discovered, with joy, that she could hike for 50 miles at a time and still find room to dance and sing and sketch as she went. “It was in those early mornings, on big days, where I found what I think of as the truest version of myself and became who I am now: Early Bird.” That became her trail name.
When she finished the Appalachian Trail and her Triple Crown on the summit of Katahdin (5,269 feet) in Maine in July 2018, Meyers was met by her dad, toting a crown made for her by her nephew. Photo by Robert Meyers
LIFE ON THE TRAIL
When she returned home to Vermont in the summer of 2014, Meyers struggled to adjust to living life in one place. She spent a summer working on the Green Mountain Club’s trail crew. “I fell in love with the work and the place again, but I felt like I’d tapped into this animal on the trail that I’d never before experienced. Being in Vermont was really hard and weird for the first time ever,” says Meyers. Another job took her to the Cascades in Washington, but she kept yo-yoing back to Vermont. Then in May 2016, she set out to hike the Continental Divide Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada through New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Rugged and diverse, with a mix of Rocky Mountain plateaus, harsh deserts and the remote roads of the Great Plains, it was an exercise in navigating. The 3,000-mile trail was formally established in 2012 and as of 2018, only about 150 people had hiked the length of the trail, which is still “incomplete.” “This was a mental challenge, a massive exercise in ‘choose your own adventure,’” says Meyers, who struggled not to compare the trail with her euphoric experience on the PCT. The extensive navigation required to connect sections of the trail made it hard to find a sense of rhythm. “The weather was crazy through the Rockies. I fell in love with small town libraries and laundromats, places I was forced to take shelter during violent thunder storms.” There was also a lot of road walking. “Starting in New Mexico, I felt like I couldn’t believe that some of the communities were even part of the United States. I understood how they could feel forgotten [by national politics].” In Wyoming, she encountered an Obama effigy hanging above the bar in a saloon. She couldn’t help but feel far from Bridgewater Corners. It was also the 2016 election season, and she was hiking with a companion who was gay. Hitch-hiking, she often felt uncomfortable when drivers went out of their way to express deeply socially and politically conservative beliefs, especially when they included homophobic views. Meyers and her hiking partner talked little during one experience that turned especially toxic,
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even pretending to be a heterosexual couple when a driver went on a homophobic rant. On another occasion, Meyers was open about her more liberal political views with a woman who had offered them a 13-mile ride back to the trail and espoused her own conservative political leanings. "I decided to have a candid conversation," said Meyers. They bantered and listened to each other and parted amicably. Meyers finished the trail in Glacier National Park on Sept. 11, with the feeling that she’d just met her country for the first time. “I’ve always felt very safe on trails as a cis female,” she says. “They’re the places where I get to feel most comfortable in my body. Now I have a clearer view of how that could be different for someone else. Everyone deserves to be able to be safe in expressing who they truly are on the trail. As members of outdoor communities, we need to work on that.”
I’M HERE BECAUSE OF YOU
When Meyers returned to Vermont, it was to the sad news that her first boss and mentor at the Green Mountain Club, Dave Hardy, had been diagnosed with cancer. She dove back into the Green Mountain Club Community as a volunteer, while working at her parents’ restaurant. “It was a fun year. I reacquainted myself with my communities— the people who raised me with my parents in Bridgewater Corners, at the restaurant. I walked every dirt road in my town,” she recalls. Then, in April 2018, she hit the trail again. This time, she tackled the Appalachian Trail. From Georgia to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, she rose early to find solitude, passing most other hikers while they were still in their tents. At Trail Days, the epic annual reunion and trail festival at the halfway mark in Damascus, Va. in late May, she saw Jennifer Pharr-Davis and
told her she was going for her Triple Crown. “I’m here because of you,” said Meyers. Pharr-Davis gave her a big hug. Along the A.T., she met a hiker who went by the trail name "Koolaid." Koolaid matched her quick pace and 40-mile days and they fell in love in the rain and mud of the Shenandoah’s. He left the trail briefly and she carried on, solo. Later, she met a crew of trail volunteers in the Blue Ridge Mountains who knew Dave Hardy and invited her to an on-trail feast on a rainy night at a cabin reserved for club members. In Connecticut, her 92-year-old grandmother, who had hiked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in her youth, met her for a short section of trail outside of Kent. She told Nika she’d trained for weeks at the local gym to make the trip. “The Appalachian Trail was a green tunnel of tight little communities. I kept meeting people who knew people from all parts of my life,” said Meyers. When she finished the trail on July 16,
2018 on the summit of Katahdin, it was with Koolaid and her dad on a misty day. “Having the Triple Crown and sharing that experience with my dad, after all that time since I’d first quit my job to pursue this dream was pretty special.”
7 THAT ENDURED THE TRIPLE CROWN PIECES OF GEAR
HERE’S WHAT GEAR NIKA MEYERS USED TO THRU-HIKE THE THREE LONGEST TRAILS IN THE U.S. BY ABAGAEL GILES
ALWAYS ANOTHER TRAIL
Meyers has since hiked the 567-mile Colorado Trail and the 800-mile Arizona Trail. She and Koolaid have stayed together, pushing each other to take on bigger days and new skills. “I’ve refocused on my art,” says Meyers. “When I was in college, I was preoccupied with changing landscapes and the environment. I’d hodgepodge these detailed nature drawings together. Traditional landscape painting didn’t feel true to the layered and fractured landscapes I saw.” While working trail crew in Vermont, she started making linoleum prints. “We were creating miles of brand-new trail for a reroute up Bolton Mountain from Winooski. We were cutting trees down, ripping roots out and scraping away dirt,” recalls Meyers. “Benching a trail, it’s almost as if you have a piece of linoleum and are carving into a block. Printmaking involves repetitive motion, peeling back and applying various layers to a piece. It was a relaxing way to translate the experience I was having on-trail.” On the CDT, she toted precut watercolor paper squares—meticulously folded accordion-style—and painted nearly every day through New Mexico. “It’s a strange timeline of my journey, with the end disjointed. But then, so are memories of a trail. They fold together in a similar fashion in your mind.” These days, she loves geometric shapes and lines. “I’ve worn one pair of shoes—Brooks Cascadias— for each of my thru hikes, so I know what the treads look like in different substrates. I like to weave them into watercolors of landscapes that feature lots of elevation profiles like a map. The paintings let me remember the features of the places and the lines remind me of where I was going at the time.” Today, her sights are set on the 812-mile Hayduke Trail and on international travel. “I’d love to experiment with piecing together routes that are incomplete,” she says. Meyers coaches Nordic skiing in the winter, leads hikes as a science teacher in Aspen, Colo. in the summer, paints and continually circles back to Vermont. She thinks she’ll someday wind up like her parents: an artist living and creating quietly in the cozy shadow of the Green Mountains. “I suspect that someday, home will call me back. But for now, there is always another trail.”
Enlightened Equipment 30-Degree Quilt Montbell Down Parka
Zpaks Plexamid Tent Dirty Girl Gaitors
Ula Ohm 2.0 Pack
Black Diamond Carbon Poles Altra Superior
hen Nika Meyers was thinking about what gear she would carry as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail, she knew every pound would count and had plenty of experience in what works and what doesn’t. “My base weight is 7.5 pounds before food,” says Meyers. These days, she travels without a stove on most of her thru-hikes. She recommends doing research prior to a big thru-hike or paddle and making sure you have a collective gear system—from your shoes and socks to your sleeping pad, bag and tent—that works for you and your body. Her main piece of advice? “Things are going to change for you once you’re out on the trail. Don’t be afraid to switch up your setup and don’t be afraid of used gear if you’re on a budget.” ALTRA SUPERIOR 4, 7.9 OZ, $110 With a removable 6mm StoneGuard footbed that protects the ball and heel of your foot against sharp rocks, these lightweight shoes have a super grippy tread, 21mm stack height and durable upper. Along with the Altra Lone Peak and Brooks Cascadia (Meyers' other personal favorite), they are the favored shoe among thru-hikers from the Appalachian Trail to the PCT. BLACK DIAMOND DISTANCE CARBON FLZ POLES, 11.7-13.6 OZ, $190 These folding poles are built to be stiff and durable and are designed especially for thru-hiking. DIRTY GIRL GAITORS, $23 Dirty Girl's breathable gaiters don’t repel water but they do keep pumice, gravel, sand, sticks and all kinds of other things out of your trail runners while you’re putting in big miles. “They work great with most trail runners and come in a lot of awesome colors. I don’t hike without them,” says Meyers. ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT 30-DEGREE QUILT, 17.7 OZ, $280 Save weight with a quilt that is sturdy and ultra-packable. “The down only keeps you warm when lofted, so if it’s crushed underneath you, it’s not working for you,” says Meyers.
MONTBELL SUPERIOR DOWN PARKA MENS’, 8.7 OZ, $209 “I opt for a men’s down jacket because they often have a better fill powerto-weight ratio at the same price point,” says Meyers who runs cold. She has used one of these jackets for her PCT, CDT and AT thru-hikes, with a few seasons of trailwork scattered in between. ULA OHM 2.0 PACK, 34.5 OZ, $225 This pack made, from bomb-proof Dyneema Composite Fabric (aka Cuben Fiber) can hold 63L of gear, but packs down without being awkward. “I used this for the PCT and CDT and it was great. It’s still my go-to; highly durable and very light, but comfortable." Meyers loves the easy-to-access stretchy outer pockets and water bottle holders and zippered pockets for a phone and snacks on the hipbelt. ZPAKS PLEXAMID TENT, 14.8 OZ, $549 This is one of the lightest single-person backpacking tents on the market. Meyers has one that has lasted her through the PCT, the CDT and the AT. It can be pitched using a single trekking pole for support and offers 360-degree rain protection with a vestibule, that doubles as a bag. It’s also made of Dyneema, so the fly won’t snag and rip. “It won’t sag and is bombproof in wet weather.”
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Mammut Lithium backpack $129.95
WE ASKED THE LEADERS OF OUTDOOR ORGANIZATIONS AROUND THE STATE FOR THEIR PICKS FOR THE BEST OUTDOOR HIKING AND CAMPING GEAR AND THE BEST PLACES TO USE IT. HERE’S WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY:
MSR Trailshot water filter $49.95
MIKE DEBONIS Just summited Denali in Alaska and is the executive director of the Green Mountain Club.
HEATHER FURMAN Ultrarunner and head of The Nature Conservancy in Vermont.
HOW MANY NIGHTS DO YOU SLEEP OUT ON AVERAGE IN A YEAR?
Two weeks. And I just used them up climbing Denali in Alaska.
I try to get out as much as I can, especially in the late summer. Sometimes even sleeping in the backyard can feel worlds away from daily life.
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF CAMPING GEAR YOU'VE EVER OWNED AND WHY?
Thermarest Neoair Xlite sleeping pad. The pad is so light weight and makes sleeping on the ground comfortable
I own a Mammut Lithium daypack that I use for pretty much everything. It’s incredibly versatile and tough and can carry enough for an overnight or a long day hike. My camping French press is also essential!
WHAT'S THE BEST NEW PIECE OF CAMPING/HIKING GEAR YOU RECENTLY PURCHASED?
I love my new MSR Trailshot water filter. The filter is small and enables you to drink directly from streams. With this filter, I can drink as I go and can carry fewer bottles of water—saving weight.
With this rainy spring and summer, I needed a rain jacket, so I bought a sweet Mammut Meron Light jacket. I love the fit and I can use it for just about every type of outing, from mountain climbing to easy nature walks.
IF COST WAS NO OBJECT, WHAT PIECE OF NEW CAMPING GEAR WOULD YOU BUY?
I would buy a new backpack. Backpack technology has improved greatly in the past few years and some of the new packs offer a nice blend of comfort, utility and lightweight materials.
Sometimes I like my creature comforts, so for any kind of car camping, I’d go for the Airstream Basecamp.
FAVORITE CAMPSITE IN SOUTHERN VERMONT?
Little Rock Pond is right on the Long Trail, beautiful and the pond has some of the best swimming around.
Vermont State Parks are the best! Wilgus State Park has cabins and lean-tos right on the Connecticut River, and the rangers there are so helpful and knowledgeable.
FAVORITE CAMPSITE IN NORTHERN OR CENTRAL VERMONT
In Central Vermont I am partial to Skyline Lodge in the Breadloaf Wilderness. In northern Vermont, Shooting Star Shelter is a favorite. It is close to the Canadian border and is in a beautiful setting.
I was the ranger at Maidstone Lake many years ago, so that beautiful place will always have a special place in my heart.
FAVORITE TRAIL OR SECTION OF TRAIL TO HIKE?
Growing up in Middlebury, I am partial to the section of trail between Mt. Abraham and Appalachian Gap. This section of trail is known as the Monroe Skyline and packs some of the best views in the whole state.
Because it is so unique and challenging, the Sunset Ridge Trail on Mt. Mansfield remains a favorite. It's one of the few places where you can have views for a long time, and the landscape changes a lot along the way.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CAMPSITE WITHIN A 5-HOUR DRIVE?
As a kid, I loved camping in the Lake Colden area of the Adirondacks. In both winter and summer, this area is beautiful and full of hiking opportunities.
Mount Desert Campground at Acadia National Park. Their waterfront sites are spectacular!
WHAT'S THE BEST-KEPT SECRET ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION YOU LEAD?
Green Mountain Club volunteers maintain over 500 miles of hiking trails in Vermont and all of them are free and open to the public.
The Nature Conservancy's Raven Ridge Natural Area in Monkton has an amazing universally-accessible boardwalk through a wetland and out to a beaver pond. You can also do the short hike to the top for a spectacular view of Lake Champlain. It’s a great place for families and easy walking for my older parents.
IF YOU COULD CAMP IN VERMONT WITH ANY FAMOUS PERSON, LIVING OR DEAD, WHOM WOULD IT BE WITH AND WHERE?
James Taylor founded the Green Mountain Club back in 1910. I would love to camp with James at the exact spot near Stratton Mountain where he came up with the idea for the Long Trail. It would be neat to get his thoughts on the Long Trail, the GMC, and Vermont recreation today.
Oh, this is easy. I would camp at Green River Reservoir with the Dalai Lama. I think between time spent with him and experiencing the beauty of that place (originally protected by The Nature Conservancy), all of the secrets of the universe would be revealed.
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Spot Tracker two-way satellite messenger $249
Petzl NAO rechargeable headlamp $199.95
Kammock Mantis All-in-One Hammock $229
HOLLY KNOX Recreation Program Manager at the Green Mountain National Forest
RJ THOMPSON Ultrarunner and head of Vermont Huts Association.
CRAIG WHIPPLE Director of Vermont State Parks.
Now, 10 nights or so. After 5 years of camping 175+ nights per year for work, I appreciate a good bed!
Life before baby allowed me to sleep outside about 20 times a summer. Now, I get out about two to four times per winter, but those nights are generally spent in a hut.
Four or five nights.
I love having a great headlamp to make late night paddles or hikes possible. (Knox can't make specifc brand recommendations but we love the Petzl NAO 700-lumens rechargeable one pictured above).
My Kelty Gunnison 2-person tent. I purchased it in 2005, and it is in the same condition today as it was 14 years ago. I've traveled with it all over the country and abroad, and it's still in perfect condition. I use a small tarp as the footprint to protect it.
Definitely my old Thermarest self-inflating sleeping pad. A good night’s sleep really makes a huge difference in the experience. I always take my favorite pillow, too, for the same reason.
The hammock tent/pod looks like a fun splurge with potential for humorous midnight mishaps!
I'm about to purchase the Marmot Limestone 4-person tent for some family car camping and slack country camping. I'll let ya know how it treats us, but the reviews sound great for our intended use!
My kids gave me a nice, lightweight hammock as a holiday gift a little while back. Other than that I can’t remember the last camping gear I actually purchased! The stuff is lasting forever!
I love a comfortable, new backpack…you can never have enough.
I'd buy the Spot Tracker so friends/family could follow along on some of my longer training runs. I plan to rent one for future FKTs, but owning one would be nice.
A real lightweight high end camper for the back of my pickup truck.
Bourn Pond, near Arlington is a 5.2-mile round trip hike in.
I remember camping in one of the group campground lean-tos overlooking the Connecticut River at Wilgus State Park a few years back.
We have an annual camping extravaganza with lots of friends at Brighton State Park…too many memories to not pick it as a favorite!
One of the “remote” campsites at Osmore Pond in the Groton Forest.
Any trail around Lake Willoughby…looking down on that lake makes you feel like you’ve traveled to Scandanavia!
The Long Trail, of course. In particular, anything south of Route 4.
My favorite running trail of all time is the Rastaman Loop at Perry Hill in Waterbury
I love Grand Isle State Park and the paddling options. If it must be out of Vermont, I love the Stonington, Maine area for dispersed island camping.
Marcy Dam in the Adirondacks.
We have camped at several remote sites on the shore of Flagstaff Lake in Maine. Awesome!
The paddle-accessible camping around Chittenden Reservoir is amazing. We often go there with my kids.
When people think about huts in Vermont, their minds generally go to winter activities. But we're building a four-season hut network, and many of our huts are open for summer reservations. We're doing our best to ensure we can tie into all seasons of recreation.
With 38 campgrounds to choose from, you can go car camping with your family at Grand Isle, Elmore or Little River, go to secluded places like Allis or Townshend or paddle to sites at Osmore Pond or Green River Reservoir. Each park is different because of its location, its “personality” and the things to do.
Morrie Schwartz (of the book "Tuesdays with Morrie") on Burton Island…I tend to have one speed and I’d love to stop and learn to smell the roses from him.
Eddie Vedder at the Chittenden Brook Hut during a blizzard.
I would go camping with Teddy Roosevelt at Green River Reservoir. He was such a pioneer for the cause and I would love to have his take on how much people loved and appreciated his efforts.
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CLIMBS BACK BY BENJAMIN GLASS
PRO CLIMBER IAN BOSWELL HAS RIDDEN SOME OF THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST ROADS, BATTLED
INJURY AND FACED THE WORLD TOUR PELOTON IN ALL ITS PAIN AND GLORY. WE SAT DOWN WITH HIM TO TALK ABOUT HIS BAD CRASH EARLY THIS SEASON, RECOVERY IN VERMONT AND WHO IS COMING TO HIS VERY OWN PEACHAM FALL FONDO.
n the last Saturday in June, Ian Boswell of Peacham, Vt. tackled Lincoln Gap the way any other cyclist would: out of the saddle, head forward, heaving his upper body side-to-side like some sort of amphibian wading upstream. I lingered at the Mt. Abraham trailhead parking area, watching packs of cyclists ascend Lincoln Gap, one of four gaps some would ride in the 108-mile Vermont Gran Fondo, rightfully advertised with the slogan "ride it if you can." It was no surprise that Boswell was the first to come into sight, initially just as a slender, palpably-fatigued rider; he looked no different than any other fondo-ist struggling up the steepest paved mile in America. Except that he was wearing the logo-emblazoned kit of a world-class pro bike racer. A year ago, on July 7th, 2018, clad in the same crimson and robin’s egg blue kit of Team Katusha-Alpecin, Boswell was pedaling the streets of Noirmoutier-en-l'Île, the small island commune off the west coast of France with a pack of the world’s best cyclists at the start of the 105th Tour de France. After five years racing with the best-known, best-funded team in bike racing, Britain’s Team Sky, Boswell had joined the Russian-
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Swiss backed Katusha-Alpecin team, hoping for a chance to ride the Tour de France. The 23-day, 2,200-mile race circumnavigates France and features legendary climbs such as the 12-mile, 8-percent grade Alpe d’Huez and the similarly intense Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees. It’s a race where 10 or 20 percent of the pack often doesn’t finish. In 2018, Boswell was only one of four Katusha-Alpecin riders to finish the entire race, which ends, historically, on the Champs Élysées in Paris. Of 176 starters, the climber from Vermont crossed the final line in 79th place in the general-classification, finishing the stage race about three hours behind the winner, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas. Two years ago I found myself dripping with not only sweat, but tears of pain as I made my first attempt up the east side of Lincoln Gap. Today, I waited patiently to see Boswell summit. At some point I recognized him; maybe it was his pale complexion, or his powerful upright stance, or the crimson helmet that popped among the lush forest greens set behind him. That’s Boswell, I thought. That’s him for sure. The pro rider tangoed with the 15-percent grade, somehow without a loud whistle from his lungs, nor a mechanical creek from his chain. The
only sound was just the whooshing sound of his wheels spinning on the wet asphalt, subtle enough to blend in with the pitter-patter of the morning rain. His squeaky-white shoes spun with grace, his quads and calves pushed with grit, and in all but ten seconds, Boswell was out of sight, and the boreal peace returned to the mountain road, with nothing but the sound of blue warblers to reverberate on the blacktop below.
If all had gone as planned, Ian Boswell would not have been leading a group of recreational riders up Lincoln Gap last month. He would have been in Brussels, Belgium getting ready for the start of his second Tour de France. Boswell’s 2018 UCI results would have certainly secured him a spot in Katusha-Alpecin’s Tour roster for the July, 2019 race. Boswell’s early season looked promising, as he competed in Mallorca’s Trofeo Palma in early February, the six-stage Tour of Oman later that month, and Tuscany’s famous Strade Bianchi on March 9th. However, on March 16th, Boswell crashed out in stage 4 of the Tirreno-Adriatico for a reason that is still unknown to him. “We were on a downhill, and
whether someone overlapped my wheel or I hit something in the road, I went over the bars and landed on the back of my head. I was unconscious for about a minute,” he said. “When our team director came to me and said I needed to get into the ambulance, I was like 'oh no, I’ll get on my bike and ride down the hill to the finish,' which I thought was two miles away. We still had 60 miles to race. I was so unaware of what happened.” This was Boswell’s sixth concussion, however one of the first that he has ever been seriously treated for. After one crash, his head was so swollen he had to cut foam out of his helmet to fit it on. Still, his team coach back then put him back in the race. “That’s how it used to be, you just kept on riding,” says Boswell. This time, he was sent to a hospital in Urbino, Italy, then to a specialist in Nice, France, and finally back to Vermont, where DartmouthHitchcock doctors almost immediately put him on active-recovery. Dr. Kristine Karlson, the physician at DartmouthHitchcock who treated Boswell, and an Olympic rower herself, says concussion treatment has drastically changed.
In 2018, Boswell was one of four riders on team Katusha-Alpecin to complete all 21 stages of the grueling Tour de France. Photo courtesy Katusha-Alpecin
“Lincoln Gap is like a bee sting, whereas most “horscategorie” climbs are like mosquito bites—they don’t hurt as much at first but the pain just keeps bothering you.”
“Five or ten years ago we were saying, ‘Lay low until you are better,” she said. “Research has really changed that. The current guidelines are that you need to get out of your ‘cocoon’ as soon as you are able to tolerate it, and that exercise actually helps people get better.” Dr. Karlson says the standard of care is 48 hours of rest, followed immediately with active recovery. “There is great evidence that if you lay low, it takes longer to get better.” The Vermont Gran Fondo was one of the first semi-competitive rides Boswell had done since his crash three months before. “My vision is still not right,” he says. “I see weird things pop into my peripheral view.” On the day of the Fondo, Boswell was monitoring his symptoms, gauging his fitness after three months of a relatively lighter training regimen. His wife Gretchen Kaija (they were married May 25 of this year) was waiting at the finish line for his arrival. "He's set back and he knows he is set back, she said. "Ian is just trying to find his confidence again." It was mid-afternoon when Boswell pulled into the parking lot. Clicking out of his pedals, he exhaled "Holy crap..." “How are you feeling?” Gretchen asked, with a concerned look. Then, like any other cyclist who has ridden a century, Boswell said: “I need food.” After he had changed, I met up with Boswell and his wife Gretchen in the Fondo tent set up near the food trucks. Boswell was wearing a long-sleeve flannel, nursing Stowe Cider from the can. The food trucks had begun taking orders; the live band was tuning up, about to play. It was sunny and warm and the postrace party tent was filling with many other riders, similarly empty-tanked, similarly drinking ciders and beers. For a pro like Boswell, post-race idling can lead to swarms of fans asking for autographs and photos. “In Japan, he even had a teenage girl knock on his hotel room door and ask for his sweaty jersey,” Gretchen said with a wry smile. Here, no one seemed to recognize Boswell, or care. One of my first questions for him was how he had enjoyed his ride up Lincoln Gap. “Lincoln Gap is such an intense pain,” he said. “There are very few climbs that I’ve ever raced that are that steep for that long.” Boswell was riding a Canyon bike using a SRAM 12-speed, with the smallest gearing at 37-tooth in the front and a 28-tooth cog in the back: about a 1.3/1 ratio. “I was in that [gearing] pretty much the whole climb, but I could have used a smaller gear. That’s part of the reason I went hard; I just had to keep
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Cutline here. Photo by
At 6'3 and 148 lbs, Boswell is known as a climber. Here, he sweats his way up the legendary climbs in the 2018 Tour de France. Photo by Jojo Harper
the bike turning. Lincoln Gap is just like a bee sting, whereas most horscategorie climbs are like a mosquito bite—they don’t hurt as much at first but the pain keeps bothering you.” To make matters worse, Boswell, in the lead, had taken a wrong turn and ended up riding Lincoln Gap twice, first west to east, then after realizing his mistake, turned around and rode it east to west. Still, he rode up the timed east side section in 10:48, the fastest time of the day, earning him the Fondo KOM. Boswell is no stranger to quick, intense efforts. On Stage 12 of the Tour de France, Boswell put out 400 watts for six minutes at the base of the Col de la Madeline and averaged around four watts per kilogram on Alpe d’Huez on the same stage. While it was clear Boswell had felt the pain during the Fondo, he was also excited to be riding with other cyclists again. “The best part? Four or five of us were coming down Route 100,” he said. “We were just rotating in a paceline, drafting—it’s the first time I’ve done that since my crash in March. It was fun to feel that thrill of riding in a group again. I always love riding in these types of events, where you meet different people. When you are racing,
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Far from the madding peloton, Boswell (far right) and friends at his 2018 Peacham Fall Fondo. Photo courtesy Ian Boswell
you’re surrounded by the same group of riders your entire career. Often, we are in this professional bubble.”
THE RISING STAR
Ian Boswell grew up in Bend, Oregon and moved to Peacham with Gretchen, a school teacher from Reading, Vt. whom he’d met through mutual friends in 2015. “I’ve always wanted to live in a rural setting where I could have some land to garden and play [with],” said Boswell. “We found that here in Vermont, a place where humans live with nature and there is a real connection to the land and community.”
At 28, he is currently one the most promising American riders on the World Tour circuit. On top of completing all three Grand Tour stage races (the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and Vuelta a España), he’s raced the Tour of California five times and the Paris-Nice three times. Boswell has achieved seven top-ten general classification results in tours across the world, including 7th and 5th overall in the 2015 and 2017 Amgen Tour of California, and took the overall bronze medal at the Tour of Utah in 2010 as a U23. In 2010, Boswell started his career as a member of Bissel, a UCI
continental team that competed in USA Cycling races. He bounced around from team to team, including ArgosShimano, until landing on Team Sky in 2013, a team known worldwide for its dominance in the pro peloton. “Sky is the pinnacle of pro cycling,” he said. “I learned a lot racing there. They are always pushing forward. It’s the way modern sport needs to be; you can never be content with where you are at." Boswell spoke about how funding directly impacts training opportunities, especially for Team Sky. “With Team Sky, it was like, ‘We are going to altitude as a team, with massage therapists, mechanics, follow cars, and [other] support. If you add it up, it becomes a $50,000 trip,” Boswell said. Katusha-Alpecin is not as well funded. “Last year before the Tour de France, Gretchen and I went up to altitude in Livingo, Italy. It was my choice to go there for my own preparations, so it meant doing everything ourselves: renting the car, getting hotels, food and gas,” he recalls. For the five years Boswell was with Team Sky, he never made the Tour de France roster. In 2018, Boswell agreed to step away from Sky and join Katusha-Alpecin, knowing he might have a better chance of earning a spot in the world’s greatest cycling race.
Of course, the roles on team Sky and Katusha-Alpecin are much more strategic than every man playing for themselves. The majority of Boswell’s grand tour performances have been as a domestique for team leaders. At Sky, he rode for England’s Chris Froome, four-time winner of the Tour de France, and the Welshman, Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France winner. Boswell’s time at Katusha has been no different, riding to support Russian team leader Ilnur Zakarin in every facet, from fetching him water bottles to “pulling” him up through the French Pyrenees (there’s a picture on Boswell’s Instagram of him grimacing in pain while Zakarin drafts behind him on the Col du Tourmalet). Boswell rides in a peloton that consistently averages 26 miles per hour on grand tour stages. Boswell can personally maintain over 400 watts for an hour and piles up hundreds of miles of riding per week during the race season (an average of 15,000 miles per year according to his Strava profile). The top speed he’s ever gone is over 70 miles per hour (in the Tour of Utah), and he burns 3,500-4,000 calories on a single ride. In February 2016, Boswell had the opportunity to train with Sky teammate and friend Chris Froome on a three-week, one-on-one training camp that Sky hosts every winter for a fellow rider of Froome’s choice. It was Boswell’s turn that year. “Froome asked me to come to South Africa and I couldn’t really say no,” said Boswell. Along with the two of them, Sky sent the essential personnel: a private chef, massage therapist and bike mechanic. The duo did around 65 hours of cycling over their three weeks, “the most I had ever done,” said Boswell. He was also able to witness up-close how Froome, a man with 17 grand tour wins to his name, operates on a day-to-day basis. “I saw the work that [Froome] did, and I was like ‘this guy is crazy,’” said Boswell. He has so much dedication and desire [to win]. He’s won every race he can win, multiple times. There’s not a huge need for him to continue other than the fact that he’s driven to do that.” Through these one-on-one trips with other pros, training camps, and full seasons of UCI racing, Boswell has ridden and trained with some of, if not all of, the biggest names in today’s world of professional cycling. When you ride at that level, it is hard to avoid the topic of doping, an aspect of cycling that not only has weakened the sport’s reputation, but also has caused, what Boswell calls, “doping speculation” in the world of the pro peloton. “I think the problem with doping is that there are a lot of rumors. For example, if I train a lot for the next
Looking fresher than he felt, Boswell at the finish of the June, 2019 Vermont Gran Fondo in Bristol. Photo by Lisa Lynn
two months, don’t race, then come back and win a race, what is everyone going to say? People love to speculate about what everyone else is doing.” In 2009, Boswell’s teammate-tobe Ilnur Zakarin was caught doping with an anabolic steroid and was banned from the 2016 Olympics. Boswell, who has roomed with Zakarin, once asked him about his choice to use performance enhancing drugs. “[Ilnur said] he surrounded himself with the wrong people, trusted the wrong people and made a bad decision.” Boswell also mentioned that when he was training with his former teammate Chris Froome, doping was never brought up. “There was no doping, nor was there talk of doping,” said Boswell. “I was lucky to be coming into racing in this post-Armstrong era when cycling has been cleaned up a lot. I’ve never been asked to dope or had to face that question.”
TRAINING IN VERMONT
Life changes when Boswell goes home to Peacham, Vt., a town of 700 in the Northeast Kingdom. Here, he rides in and around the St. Johnsbury area, anywhere from 60 to 100 miles on a given day. He most often rides alone, but his current favorite training partner
Racing for Team Sky, in 2017 Boswell competed at the UCI World Tour Grand Prix Montreal and plans to do the race again on Sept. 15. Photo by Ray Rogers/Flickr
is 58-year-old, Fritz Fay. Raised in Jericho as one of 11 kids, Fay worked as a fifth-generation dairy farmer for most of his life. He now lives in St. Johnsbury where he works as an energy consultant. “I was out on a road bike ride two
years ago, on Father’s Day, and a rider came up behind me,” said Fay. “The rider was fully decked out in a Sky kit. Now, there are riders that are such fans of a cycling team that they will buy the kit, so I figured he was just one of those. He only told me his first name, and he asked me what I did for a living. Eventually I asked what he did for a living, and he said he worked for Team Sky. I asked, 'Are you a pro cyclist?' and he said yes. I told him that I knew him; I was just floored I was riding with Ian Boswell.” Fay said they began riding together, messaging over Facebook to schedule rides. “I figured we would ride once or twice, and then never again. I thought he would seek out riders that are more at his level. Somehow, we ended up riding a lot, and when he’s around, we ride a couple times a week.” Fay also said that Boswell’s fitness is so far beyond any part-time cyclist like himself. “There is just no comparison,” he said. “Fritz is my number one training partner,” said Boswell. Although the two mainly just ride casually together, Boswell says their friendship has spilled over into other more utilitarian areas of life. “He is such a wealth of knowledge,” said Boswell. “I’ve given him some bike parts, and he’s bucked up some logs for me.” Boswell has received advice and help from Fay on everything from how to properly maneuver a tractor to cutting down fallen trees. Boswell’s unlikely relationship with Fay is a part of the much larger anomaly that Boswell seems to brush off; he lives out his offseason in the hills of rural Vermont on a 10-acre property in a town with a population of around 700. While most pros spend the fall and winter in the French Riviera or Catalonia, Boswell and Kaija settled in Peacham in 2017. Boswell still has an apartment in Nice, France where he is based for the racing season, but for the most part, he prefers the life of a Vermonter. On Halloween, Boswell dressed up as Cabot Cheese, wearing red flannel garb from head to toe—“I owned all the stuff already,” he says with a laugh. “He was Cabot Seriously Sharp last year,” Gretchen elaborates. Boswell and Kaija maintain a vegetable garden, with the hope of livestock…"in time," mull their own cider, and bake their own bread. Boswell takes an all-natural approach to fueling on the bike as well. “I always prefer to eat real whole foods on the bike; cookies, date bars, bananas… I think during the whole Tour de France last year I only had two gels.” Boswell’s life in Peacham does not mean he takes a lot of time off the bike. During his off season, which usually runs from the end of October until team camp in December, Boswell spends
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A lone cyclist works his way up Lincoln Gap during the Vermont Gran Fondo, a 108-mile, four gap ride where Boswell captured the King of the Mountain prize for Lincoln Gap. Photo courtesy Vermont Gran Fondo
around 20 to 30 hours a week doing onthe-bike training, in the winter months mainly on a trainer, on top of hours of weekly stretching and gym workouts. “I did a bunch of riding last winter on my home trainer, and it is mind numbing,” said Boswell. “But it has to be done.” However, he gets out to ride in the Northeast Kingdom whenever he can, a place he says reminds him of his hometown of Bend, Oregon. “In the Kingdom, you are never confined in a valley, and when you are on these big rolling hills, you can see forever.” It was at some point in his first months in Peacham that Boswell decided it was worth showing the Kingdom to other cyclists.
THE PEACHAM FALL FONDO
Enter Boswell’s own creation: the noncompetitive Peacham Fall Fondo, a ride featuring roads in and around his home town. Last October for the Fondo’s maiden event, 185 riders registered. This year’s second annual fondo, scheduled for September 21, will feature a new kids’ ride and a few extra miles on the road ride. Boswell expects around 200 riders. The 50-mile ride is a fundraiser for Kevin Pearce’s Love Your Brain Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Kevin Pearce is an expro snowboarder raised in Vermont, who suffered severe brain damage from a half-pipe crash in preparation for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. “We’re trying to keep the Fondo
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Boswell and his wife Gretchen looking seriously sharp for Halloween. Photo courtesy Ian Boswell
community-oriented and very personal,” Boswell said. “Vermont has plenty of really big cycling events, [like] Rasputitsa and Overland. There are these big epic rides, but that’s not our ride. If we can just get more people riding bikes and enjoying a fun event that is not too extreme, that’s our goal.” Boswell and Kaija also emphasized the power of community in making the event possible. “The community of Peacham ran the event,” said Kaija. “The Peacham Fire Department helped out, the Peacham Elementary School hosted a stop, the Peacham Church donated tables and chairs, the Peacham Café offered coffee, the Peacham town hall supplied our power, the library hosted the apple pie stop—It is literally
the community hosting this event.” Boswell did admit that he was unsure about how the town would view the event at first. “I’m not from Vermont, so I guess I was worried whether this was a positive experience for Peacham. After the fondo, someone came up to me and said, ‘So you’re going to do this next year?’” This year, the event is on again for September 21, when Boswell hopes to be back in race form. On July 21, he joined former pro cyclist and Tour de France veteran Ted King in riding in the Farm to Fork Fondo’s Champlain Islands event, a ride put on by yet another Vermont-based former pro, Tyler Wren. Boswell was scheduled to go back to Europe and rejoin the team at the end of July and hopes to ride with Katusha-Alpecin around the
streets of Quebec on September 13 and Montreal on September 15 in the Grand Prix Cyclistes, a UCI World Tour event. “I’ve invited Ilnur and the team to our Fall Fondo ride in Peacham. It’s a perfect opportunity to bring some of the riders from Montreal down to our event,” said Boswell, noting Peacham is only three hours south of the city. “I have all sorts of friends in the World Tour that would love to check out our place.” Boswell’s embrace of communitybased cycling runs right at the heart of what the sport is for so many people. In this way, it seems like there are two sides of Ian Boswell. The first is his professional career, and at a ripe age of 28, Boswell could keep getting better and better for years to come, possibly working his way up to the World Tour leaderboards. On the other hand, Boswell sees beyond his own “notoriety,” as he says, and is searching for a humble life in the Green Mountain state, where he can enjoy his beloved sport with his own community. “As you get older you kind of start to value who you are as a person and not what your accomplishments are,” he said. “People in Vermont in general judge me as a person and how involved I am in my community. This is something I really admire.” Ian Boswell continues to recover from his crash in March and is currently working with Gretchen to host their second annual Peacham Fall Fondo Sept. 21, 2019, presented by Wahoo Fitness. peachamfallfondo.com.
D IT th
N QU T R ÉB É A EC L S CI E T P Y T 15 SE P T 13
B E W S O R T R ID L D E R S
Vermont Huts Association executive director RJ Thompson finds solitude and a great workout during a solo run on The Long Trail. Photo by RJ Thompson
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TRAIL AND MOUNTAIN RUNNING ARE ON THE RISE ACROSS VERMONT. WE ASKED ELITE RUNNERS TO SHARE THEIR INSIDER TIPS ON HOW TO RUN BETTER, FASTER AND LONGER. BY ABAGAEL GILES
s we take off from the parking lot of the Skylight Pond Trail, I have the feeling that I’m running into a green tunnel. It’s July and the Green Mountain National Forest is teeming with life. Moving with one foot in front of the other at a comfortable pace, I fall in step behind Ripton’s Ryan Kerrigan and his yellow lab, Derby for a climb. “One thing I think about as soon as I hit the trail is trying to be light on my feet,” says Kerrigan, lead coach of USA Skyrunning. Kerrigan is one of a handful of elite mountain runners and coaches who are helping to make Vermont an epicenter for trail running. With mountain and trail running races like the Ragnar Trail Run at Mt. Ascutney Aug. 16-17, Lost Cat 50K on Mt. Aeolus in East Dorset Aug. 24, the Race to the Top of Vermont on Aug. 25 and the new Climb the Moose, Oct. 12 in Goshen, Vermont’s summer and fall are packed with dirt races and festivals, with new events popping up every year. “Even a competitive road runner has something to gain from spending time on the trail,” says Kerrigan. “There’s a real freedom I see for the people I coach, when they start to think about how they spend their time running, as opposed to focusing so intently on how many miles they are covering. Trail running, even at the elite level, lets you immerse yourself in a different sort of experience.” For Kerrigan, that’s something all of us could use more of. “To move, breathe and travel cross country on our own combustion is the greatest gift we have and brings us happiness as hunter gatherers. It’s what our bodies—all of us—were built to do.” Whether you’re in it to win it or to build trail miles for fun, there are some key strategies and skills specific to mountain running that will help you meet your goals. “Unfortunately,” says Kerrigan, “they aren’t things that everyone learns at high school crosscountry practice.” We asked a few local experts for their advice about how to train and hone your technique for the next big mountain race or a big recreational day on the trail. 1. DITCH YOUR PACE EXPECTATIONS. One of the biggest mistakes Kerrigan sees when road runners hit the trail is a tendency to focus on running a certain number of miles at a particular pace. “Focus on seeking out terrain that is comparable to what you plan to race or run and get comfortable moving on it by foot,” says Kerrigan. “Don’t skirt or avoid tough trails because you’re focused on getting a workout in that includes a certain number of miles, or because you’re pressuring yourself to run at a certain pace.”
Instead, Kerrigan suggests setting aside a particular amount of time you want to spend running or training and filling it—such as running for an hour, or two. “The mountains don’t care what pace you run at. They serve you a certain amount of vertical gain and loss and that’s that. Your progress will come naturally as you’re able to move farther in less time. At that point, you can start thinking about your pace and setting goals.” 2. CHOOSE YOUR RACES WISELY “When you take on a trail race, you’re taking a leap into the unknown in a way that’s different from a road race,” says Josh Ferenc, an ultrarunner and coach from Bellows Falls. “Do some research and pick a race that will work for you. Don’t be afraid to call race directors and ask them about the terrain and the elevation gain, so that you can prepare yourself with the right training to have a good time. Consider that the gnarliest of gnarly races may not be the best first race experience. Work your way up to the distances and events you want to run.” 3. HONE YOUR SPEEDHIKE “One common mistake is that you need to run every leg of a race or long run,” says Kerrigan. “Sometimes hiking is just faster and more efficient.” However, there’s more to it than just walking uphill. For elite runners like Ferenc, the switch to a speedhike is made by monitoring their heart rate. “When I can hear my heat pounding in my ears, I know it’s time to stop running,” says Ferenc. “For me, it’s a tool to recover while I move until I can run again.” Ferenc offers this advice: “Part of the advantage of hiking over running is that you can lengthen your steps going uphill if you’re walking. Use long, driving strides.” If not using poles, Ferenc suggests placing your hands on your knees. “Keep your back straight and drive your hands down as your upper body powers your lower body to make a cyclical connection with the ground that moves you forward.” To practice, he suggests finding a steep section of trail or hill, something with a 15 percent grade or higher, and practicing doing circuits. “Even in a race, there will be times when you have to stop, and that’s OK too! Practice walking with purpose, keeping your body moving in a straight line, with no side-to-side movement—only forward motion.” 4. VARY YOUR STRIDE Heidi Caldwell, a running coach at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and a winner of this year’s Mt. Washington
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"Trail running, even at the elite level, lets you immerse yourself in a different sort of experience. To move, breathe and travel cross country by our own combustion is the greatest gift we have... It's what our bodies—all of us— were built to do." —Ryan Kerrigan Road Race spends a lot of time working with elite road runners on their stride. On the trail, she says listen to your body and be willing to vary yours. “Do what feels comfortable in navigating rocks and roots and mud on aggressive ups and downs and learn to vary your speed so you can recover throughout the race,” she says. She advises shortening your stride while running uphill, with a focus on driving crisp, efficient repetitions. On the downhill? “If you want to lengthen your stride, let yourself go. But don’t let it get so long that you sacrifice the ability to be light on your feet.” Ferenc adds that in technical, very steep terrain, shortening your stride and driving your arms is a good move. “On the downhills, your stride will depend on the terrain and whether you’re rock hopping. But know that if you’re making your muscles break with each long step down a steep mountain race, that’s going to be a quad killer.” 5. TRAIN FOR THE HILLS When eyeing a race with staggering vertical gain, a lot of runners focus on training for the uphills and neglect the downhills. “If you want to take advantage of those opportunities to recover, you need to prepare for them,” says Caldwell, who suggests that competitive racers integrate on-trail speed workouts on steep sections of trail into their training for distance races. She suggests sprinting the ups and downs. Ferenc likes to integrate hill sprints into shorter runs. “Find a hill with a good incline where you can still run with your normal biomechanical form and sprint up it for five to six seconds without hunching over. Pump your arms, drive your knees and run like a bear is going
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to bite your ass, then turn around and sprint downhill. Do five of these short sprints, waiting for a full minute or until you recover fully between sets. Then finish your run and repeat three times over a ten-day period.” Kerrigan adds, “A common mistake people make running downhill is aiming for the dirt instead of the roots and rocks. Aim for the high points on a technical trail—the rocks and bumps— and focus on being light on your feet.” When working with kids, he has them practice memorizing a short three-to five-foot section of trail and running it with their eyes closed. “Like skiing, you want your head up and looking ahead of where your next step is.” 6. KNOW YOUR BODY AND FUEL ACCORDINGLY Once you’re running for more than an hour, as even the most elite 25K trail racers are, it’s time to start thinking about food. “Skip the processed stuff and don’t rely on race organizers to provide the food that works for your gut during a race,” says Kerrigan, who suggests practicing fueling on recreational runs in preparation for a big adventure or race. In distance events, such as trail races that are 25k or longer, Kerrigan warns against fueling prematurely or under-fueling. “Get to the aid station and survey the table. Listen to your gut. In hot weather, you’ll crave juices and salts. When it’s cold, you’ll likely be drawn to carbohydrates and protein.” His go-to mid-run snack? “Boiled or roasted potatoes with a hint of salt and pepper.” 7. UNDERSTAND THE ART OF POLING Some runners love them, some hate them. “Poles are most helpful for times when you know you’re going to be on your feet for longer than you can physically hold yourself upright to navigate technical terrain,” says Ferenc who has competed on skyrunning courses with steep descents that last for miles in the Tyrolean Alps and Colorado. “Ask yourself this: for how much time will I be using the poles and is it worth carrying them?” He suggests using them for short, steep races. If poling, Kerrigan suggests either double poling while speed hiking or placing them on the ground one at a time in an alternating pattern. “Flip them ahead and channel the same motion you would with your hands on your knees. Keep a short tempo and find a rhythm that matches your stride. On the downhills, you can flip them ahead and sink into them for added stability, but don’t get tempted to lean into them too hard. They should be a tool for balance.”
THE EXPERTS HEIDI CALDWELL
Heidi Caldwell comes from a family of Olympians. She's also Craftsbury Outdoor Center's first full-time Running Director. Photo courtesy Craftsbury Outdoor Center
Caldwell, 27, of Lyme, N.H. is the Running Director at Craftsbury Outdoor Center. On June 15, she tied for first place in the women’s category at the Mt. Washington Road Race. The following weekend, she cleaned up at the Catamount Ultra 25K, setting a new women’s course record of 1:58:28. She’s run all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot peaks and has a marathon personal best of 2:54:00 from the 2018 Boston Marathon, where she finished as the 29th female. It was only her second marathon ever. Caldwell comes from a family of athletes. Her father, Tim Caldwell, competed in four Winter Olympics in Nordic Skiing starting in 1972 and her first cousin is two-time Olympic Nordic skier Sophie Caldwell. Why run trails? “For road runners, trail running is huge for injury prevention. You’re building quad strength and stabilizing muscles around your hips and ankles that get depleted easily.” Best first long distance trail run?: The trails and dirt roads at Craftsbury Outdoor Center.
Josh Ferenc is still crushing big trail races. Photo courtesy Josh Ferenc
A science teacher and the cross country and basketball coach at Bellows Falls Middle School, Josh Ferenc, 37 has traveled the world to compete in skyrunning and mountain races. He first made the U.S.A. Long Distance Mountain Team in 2012 at age 22 and has competed internationally as part of the U.S. Track and Field Team. He was the fastest Vermonter in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Vermont City Marathons and is a sponsored Julbo, UnderArmour and Darn Tough athlete. Why run trails? “We are primal organisms and we are supposed to be outside moving this way. It’s also an opportunity to be wild and adventurous and it makes you tough.” Best first long distance trail run? The trails behind his house, which connect with the 26-mile Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association trail system, the Sports Trails of the Ascutney Basin trail network and Grafton Ponds Trails.
Ryan Kerrigan in one of his favorite places to train: New Hampshire's White Mountains. Photo by Hanni Guinn
Growing up in Duxbury, Ryan Kerrigan was a Nordic ski racer at Green Mountain Valley School. He had a successful career racing Division I at the University of Vermont where he studied physiology, then switched back to competing in trail ultramarathons after college. At 34, he’s now a professional running coach at Frost Mountain Nordic Ski Club and Harwood Union High School. Kerrigan has run the Vermont 100 twice, finished third in the Jay Peak Trail Running Festival 50K and been a regular competitor in the 50K distance at races across the state like the Catamount Ultra. This fall, he’s eyeing the Ultra-Trail Harricana of Canada, a 125K race through Quebec that is often called the East Coast Western States 100. Why run trails? “It’s so simple. Unlike skiing, all you need is a pair of shoes. Trail running, even at the elite level, lets you immerse yourself in a different sort of experience.” Best first long distance trail run? "There are too many great trails in Vermont to choose from! Head to the closest Vermont trail network to your house with a great swimming hole at the bottom and a nearby brew pub."
JULY 2018 | VTSPORTS.COM 7
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RUNNING/HIKING AUGUST 3 | Long Trail Day, Statewide Hike segments of the Long Trail by yourself or with a group to complete the 272-mile trail in one day and raise funds for the Green Mountain Club’s trail and stewardship work. gmc.convio.net 3 | Booster Dash 5K, Springfield Run or walk a fun, flat out-and-back course on the Tonnerville Trail, along the Black River. active.com/springfield-vt 3 | Fairfax Egg Run, Fairfax Run or walk a 5K or run a 10K on an outand-back course past River Berry Farm on asphalt or hard-packed dirt and receive a cooked-to-order post-race omelet. There’s also a 1K kids run for those 13 and under. fairfaxrecreation.com 3 | Rockingham Old Home Days 5K, Bellows Falls Run a 5K from Great Falls Chamber of Commerce at the Waypoint Center on Depot Street as part of Old Home Days. gfrcc.org
10 | Kingdom Run, Irasburg Try a half marathon, 5K or 10K out-and-back race on scenic dirt roads. Race is followed by live music, free lunch and blueberry sundaes. Walkers welcome. kingdomrun.org 10 | Melissa Jenkins Memorial 5K, Danville A fun run/walk on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to raise funds for the Melissa Jenkins Memorial Scholarship Fund. danvillevtchamber.org
10 | Jenkins Mountain Scramble, Paul Smiths, N.Y. Run a half marathon or 10K trail race on the beautiful trails at Paul Smith's College in the Adirondacks. paulsmiths.edu 10 | Sugarhouse Trail Run, Shelburne Run/walk one lap (1.5-miles) or run two laps for a full 5K on the new trail system that Shelburne Sugarworks has developed. Don’t miss the 300-yard fun run for kids. racevermont.com 11 | Get Your Rear in Gear 5K, Colchester Run a 5K race or walk out-and-back from Colchester High School to support Colon Cancer Coalition. coloncancercoalition.org 15 | Berlin Pond 5-Miler, Berlin A 5-mile loop around Berlin Pond on a mix of flat and hilly dirt roads. Part of the Central Vermont Runners ORS Race Series. cvrunners.org
16-17 | 14th Last Mile Ride, Randolph Features a 5K run, one- and 2.5-mile walks and a motorcycle ride. lastmileride.com
18 | Woodchuck Cider Chase 5K, Middlebury Dash from barn to farmhouse and back through the village, followed by live music, food trucks, yard games and family-friendly fun at the ciderhouse. ciderchase.com
16-17 | Ragnar Trail Run Vermont, Ascutney Mountain Sports Trails of the Ascutney Basin hosts this three-day camping and running adventure. Teams of 8 (or 4 ultra-runners) conquer a series of three trails that start and end at “Ragnar Village.” runragnar.com
24 | Lost Cat 50K, East Dorset Choose a 13.1-mile run, a 26.2-mile run or a 50K on this rugged trail race over Dorset’s Mount Aeolus, through forests and past historic marble quarries. netrailruns.com
17 | The 100 on 100 Relay, Stowe Starting at Trapp Family Lodge, this team race covers 100 miles on Route 100 to Ludlow. 100on100relay.com
24 | 2nd Annual Vermont Trail Running Festival, Stowe Head to Trapp Family Lodge with Outdoor Gear Exchange and the Catamount Trail Organization for a day of clinics, nutrition and group runs. catamounttrail.org
17 | 27th Annual GMAA Scholarship Trail Race, South Burlington Run 5K entirely on dirt trails with views of the lake at Red Rocks Park. gmaa.run
24 | 38th Vergennes Day Race, Vergennes Walk or run a 5K or 10K or register for a short kids’ fun run. vergennes.org
17 | Under the Tree 5K and 10K Races, Hartland Tackle a fun run to support the Hartland Christmas Project, a non-profit that helps local families. underthetreerace.org
25 | Zoe's Race, Burlington Support the Howard Center with this 1K fun run, 5K run/walk and 10K run. zoesrace.org
17 | 5K Run for Children, Montpelier An out-and-back race from the State House followed by snacks and beverages. pcavt.org
25 | Delta Dental Race to the Top of Vermont, Stowe Run, bike or hike the 4.3-miles up the Toll Toad on Mt. Mansfield, with 2,564 feet of climbing. rtttovt.com
17 | Pittsford Day 5K & Fun Run, Pittsford A fun road run to benefit the Pittsford Rec. Department and Adaptive Martial Arts Association. pittsfordvermont.com
25 | Dorset Hollow Road Race, Dorset Run 5K or 10K on a scenic loop through Dorset Hollow, with sweeping mountain views and steep trails. netrailruns.com
West Hill Grinder
R U N A G R O U N D T R I AT H L O N
Sunday, Sept. 22nd
Over mountain ridges, Across Vermont pavé, Down hiking trails, or Simply smooth gravel roads.
Sunday, September 15 THROUGH 5 TOWNS IN THE BEAUTIFUL BERKSHIRES Bike • Canoe/Kayak/SUP • Run Triathlon Team & Iron Categories
active.com and trireg.com joshbillings.com
FREE pair of West Hill socks for first 80 PRE-registrants! https://www.bikereg.com/west-hill-grinder 49 Brickyard Lane, Putney Vermont
AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 33
September 15, 2019
25 | Essex Dog Jog, Essex Junction Celebrate the dog days of summer with a two-mile run/walk for dogs and their owners from Maple Street Park. essexhalf.com
Union High School. Race followed by a festival beer, games and kids’ activities. sa manthabrochumemorialfundscholarship. formstack.com
31 | Hops for Hope 5K, West Dover A beginner-friendly multi-terrain walk or run leading up to the 15th Annual Mount Snow Brewers Festival, featuring over 50 breweries and more than 100 beers. mountsnow.com
8 | Pine Street Mile, Burlington Choose from a Challenge Mile, geared for runners aiming for a fast time, a Merry Mile, and a Youth Mile for kids 14 and under. Point-to-point race down Pine Street. runvermont.com
31 | Northfield Savings Bank 5K, Northfield Hosted by the Central Vermont Runners, this race features a 5K for adults and a kids’ one-miler. cvrunners.org Aug. 30- Sept. 1 | 8th Annual Jay Peak Trail Running Festival, Jay Peak Sign up for one of several 5Ks on trails of varying difficulty, an 11-mile race and ultra races on Sunday. jaypeakresort.com
SEPTEMBER 1 | Heels to Paws 5k, Stratton A 5k fun run to benefit the Second Chance Animal Center on the ski area grounds. stratton.com
Gravel road race fundraiser | craftsbury.com/genny-tenny
1| 51st GMAA Archie Post 5-Miler, Burlington Run the bike path and take in sweeping views of the Green Mountains. gmaa.run
© John Lazenby
7 | Maple Leaf Half Marathon and Kotler 5K, Manchester Run through picturesque villages on country roads and back to the finish during fall color. Choose between the marathon and 5K. manchestervtmapleleaf.com 7 | Groton Forest Trail Runs, Groton The Central Vermont Runners host these 26.5-mile and 15-mile runs at the Groton Forest State Park on a combination of hiking and multi-use trails. cvrunners.org 7 | Charlotte Covered Bridge 5K/10K Run & Walk, Charlotte This race begins and ends at Shelburne Beach and follows a scenic gravel road by the orchards and shores of Lake Champlain. racevermont.com 7 | The Endurance Society Sky Run, Mad River Glen Choose between a 5K and a 10K. Both courses take you to the top of General Stark Mountain, offering 2,000 feet of vertical climbing and 3,700 feet of vertical climbing respectively. Descend to the base camp for a post-race party. endurancesociety.org 7 | 3rd Annual Samantha Brochu Memorial Run, Morristown Run on the scenic Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to support the Samantha Brochu Memorial Fund, a scholarship for graduates of Hazen
34 VTSPORTS.COM | AUGUST 2019
14 | 3rd ADK 5K, Lake George, N.Y. Run an out-and-back course that hugs the lake and offers sweeping views of Lake George, followed by live music, food trucks and yard games at the Adirondack Pub and Brewery. adk5k.com 14 | 11th Annual Lt. Mark H. Dooley Race of Remembrance, Wilmington A 5K walk/run and kids' fun run followed by live music, food, a bagpipe performance and awards ceremony. markdooley5K.com 14-15 | 24 Hours of the Northeast Kingdom, East Charleston See how many laps you can complete as an individual or as part of a relay team in this 6-, 12- or 14-hour race on the trails at NorthWoods Stewardship Center. ironwoodsadventureworks.com 15 | L.L. Bean Flannel 5K, Burlington Run from Leddy Park to Battery Park on a point-to-point course on the Burlington Bike Path. flannel5k.net/burlington 15 | The 16th Annual TAM Trek, Middlebury Choose between a 19-mile race, a 10K and a two-mile family fun run on the beautiful and rolling Trail Around Middlebury, which features rolling terrain with lots of single track. Proceeds support maintenance of the TAM. maltvt.org 15 | Pisgah Mountain Trail Races, Chesterfield, N.H. Choose a scenic 23K or 50K race at Pisgah State Park in southwest New Hampshire. pisgahmountaintrailraces.blogspot.com 18 | Sodom Pond 5-Miler, Adamant A scenic dirt road race that joins trails to circumnavigate Sodom Pond. cvrunners.org 21 | Miles for Migraine, South Burlington Run a 10K, 5K or two-mile course to raise awareness about migraine disease and research. milesformigraine.org 21 | The 3rd Annual Vermont Great Run, Rutland Run 8K, 6K, 4K or 2K or an 8K relay to support palliative care at Rutland Regional Hospital. rrmc.org
21 | 8th Annual Sprouty, Sharon A 5K walk/run and 10K run along the White River to support the Farm-to-School program at Sharon Elementary followed by refreshments and music by The Panhandlers. thesprouty.com 21 | Maple 5K, Brattleboro A 5K fun run and walk to support Black Mountain Assisted Family Living. bmafl.org 22 | 6th Annual Island Vines 10K, South Hero Run a scenic 10K through the Champlain Islands and enjoy wines from Snow Farm Vineyard afterwards. runvermont.org 22 | Trapp Cabin 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, Stowe All courses run on the scenic trails at Trapp Family Outdoor Center, with proceeds benefiting Stowe Adaptive Sports. stoweadaptive.org 26-27 | Beebe Farm Classic, Dorset Choose between a 48-hour, a 12-hour, a 6-hour race, a marathon, a 50K or a “quadzilla” all on a 0.87-mile loop at Harold Beebe Farm. Hosted by Nor’East Trails. netrails.com 28 | The Color Run, Burlington A 5K, untimed event. At each kilometer, runners are doused in a different colored powder. The race is followed by a festival with music, dancing, vendor booths and more massive color throws. thecolorrun.com 28 | Vermont Craft Beer Half Marathon, St. Albans Run through historic downtown and on the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail to a festival with food trucks, live music and Vermont craft breweries. 14thstarbrewing.com 28 | Poultney Chilli Cook-Off 5K, Poultney Celebrate the start of fall with a 5K run/walk followed by samples from the chilli cook-off. poultneyareachamber.com 28 | Westmore Mountain Challenge, East Charleston Run or hike 26 miles in one day to climb Moose, Hor, Pisgah, Haystack and Bald mountains. Hosted by the Northwoods Stewardship Center. northwoodscenter.org 29 | Kingdom Games Fly to Pie Kingdom Marathon, West Glover FE Run, bike or hike 26.2, 17 or 13.5 miles or a 10K to an after-party at Parker Pie with Hill Farmstead and other beer and live music by Beg, Steal or Borrow. kingdomgames.co 29 | 27th Vermont 50, West Windsor Head to Mt. Ascutney for this ultramarathon on trails or an epic 50-mile, cross-country mountain bike race to benefit Vermont Adaptive Ski + Sports. There is also a team relay and a kids fun run. Vermont50.com
OCTOBER 5 | New Hampshire Marathon, Bristol, N.H. Run a full marathon, half-marathon, 10K or kids’ race around Newfound Lake in this Boston Marathon qualifier event. nhmarathon.com
WE HAVE THE GEAR FOR YOUR CHILD’S
5 | 5th Annual Front Porches Half Marathon, Rockingham Run a scenic half marathon or 8-mile course through Saxtons River and Bellows Falls. vtfrontporcheshalf.com 5 | Art Tudhope 10K, Shelburne A certified 10K out and back through Charlotte on a fast mix of dirt and paved roads. gmaa.net 6 | 9th Chase Away 5K, Essex Junction Run to raise funds for research into canine cancer. chaseawayk9cancer.org 6 | Leaf Peepers Half Marathon and 5K, Duxbury Run out and back along River Road. leafpeepershalfmarathon.org 6 | Stark Mountain Hillclimb, Fayston A foot race from the base of Mad River Glen to the summit fo General Stark Mountain to benefit the Stark Mountain Foundation. achillclimb.org 12 | Shelburne Farms 5K, Shelburne Race begins and ends at the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn and moves between dirt roads and trails. racevermont.com 13 | GMAA Green Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon, South Hero This is an out-and-back race on the west shore of South Hero and Grand Isle, land of farms, apple orchards and summer cottages. About half dirt roads. gmaa.net
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in the classroom and beyond! 20 LANGDON ST, MONTPELIER VT • ONIONRIVER.COM • 802.225.6736
VERMONT STATE PARKS With 55 state parks, there is always something new to discover
13 | North Face Race to the Summit, Stratton Race from Stratton’s base area up the mountain to the summit to win cash prizes and swag. stratton.com 13 | 7th Annual Harvest Run for Sustainability, Burlington Choose between a 5K and 1-mile fun run on the farm and wooded trails at the Intervale. citymarket.coop 13 | Ripton Ridge Run, Ripton Choose between a 10.4K and 5K run and fun walk. The 10.4K is a loop, mostly on dirt roads. Funds support enrichment programs at the Ripton Elementary School. riptonridgerun.addisoncentralsu.org 13 | 24th Mad Dash, Waitsfield A classic Vermont foot race on mostly dirt roads to benefit the Mad River Path. madriverpath.com
vtstateparks.com AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 35
YOU WON’T BELIVE THESE ULTRA LIGHT WEIGHT BOATS Starting at only 14 lbs
19 | Trapp Mountain Marathon & Half Marathon, Stowe A challenging race through the heart of the Green Mountains at beautiful Trapp Family Lodge during peak fall foliage. trappmountainmarathon.com
3 | Bike M.S. Green Mountain Getaway, South Burlington Ride 30, 60 or 100 miles through the Green Mountains and alongside Lake Champlain to Technology Park for a barbecue. nationalmssociety.org
19 | The Dee Run, Rockingham A challenging 5K race with steep hills, wooded trails and dirt roads. There is also a kids 1K fun run. thedeefoundation.org
4 | Maxxis Eastern States Cup Box Showdown, Killington The best riders in the East head to Killington for a day of downhill mountain bike racing as part of the Eastern States Cup. There will be a kids’ class too. easternstatescup.com
20 | Heady Trotter 4-Miler, Stowe Run a fun road race followed by beer, live music and lawn games at the Alchemist Brewery. thealchemistbeer.com 26 | 7th Annual Glow Run, St. Albans A fun nighttime 5K where costumes are encouraged. Race starts at 6:30 p.m. Prizes for best costume. stalbansvt.myrec.com 26 | Halloween Hustle 5K, Essex Junction A certified 5K costume run. Prizes for age group winners and costumes. essexhalf.com
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26 | Kingdom Challenge, St. Johnsbury Run a 5K or half marathon. The 5K is a loop and the half marathon is a challenging pointto-point course that starts at the Lyndonville Town Offices and features 3,000 feet of elevation change, with 60 percent of the course on dirt roads. thekingdomchallenge.com 27 | Black River Beatdown, Craftsbury Common Ironwood Adventure Works hosts this epic 15-, 30- and 45K solo and relay trail run race at Craftsbury Outdoor Center. ironwoodadventureworks.com 27 | Nor’witch Halloween Half’witch, Full’witch and Ultra’witch, Norwich A 13.1K, full marathon or 50K on mostly dirt roads with rolling terrain on loop courses. Costumes encouraged. netrailruns.com
SLICES • CREATIVE ENTRÉES • GLUTEN-FREE MENU • HEALTHY KIDS MENU CRAFT BEERS • GAME ROOM • DELIVERY
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PIECASSO.COM 36 VTSPORTS.COM | AUGUST 2019
3 | Mt. Ascutney Bicycle Hillclimb, Windsor Held annually from 1999 to 2014, this event is back with a paved 3.7-mile course with an average 12 percent grade. Part of the BUMPS hill climb championship series. facebook. com/bikeupthemountainpointseries 3 | Kearsarge Classic, Warner, N.H. Try a 55-mile, 35-mile or 83-mile route in this gravel grinder through rolling farmland. grvlt.net/kearsarge-klassic 3 | Tour de Slate, Middletown Springs Try a 100K metric century road ride, a 36mile, 23-mile or a 8-mile ride on the Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail. tourdeslate.org
4 | Rooted Vermont, Richmond Ride 85 or 45 miles on gravel at this event organized by former World Tour pro racer and current “King of Gravel” Ted King. rootedvermont.com 9-11 | Adult Downhill Mountain Bike Camp, Killington Learn basic downhill skills or hone your expert-level technique with pro coaches during a weekend of drills and coaching at Killington’s bike park. killington.com 9-11 | The 2019 Vermont Gravel Camp, Stowe Head to the Round Hearth Inn for a weekend of adventure riding on unmaintained historic roads with Cycling Formula coaches and gravel racing legend Mike Barton. thecyclingformula.com 10 | The Point to Point, powered by VSECU, Brownsville Ride 100, 50 or 25 road miles or choose a 20-mile trail bike ride or a 28-mile gravel grinder or a trail half marathon. Catch live music and food trucks at the base of Mt. Ascutney. thepointtopoint.org 10 | Farm to Fork Fondo: Finger Lakes Region, Burdett, N.Y. Choose from the 88-mile Gran Fondo to the 54-mile Medio, to the 37-mile Piccolo to the 7-mile ride at this weekend of food, drink and rides in the Finger Lakes region. farmtoforkfondo.com/finger-lakes 10 | 10th Annual Bike ‘N’ Brew, Burke Catch live music, mountain bike rides, games and beer tastings. skiburke.com 15-18 | The Vermont Challenge, Manchester This classic four-day tour offers three routes of varying distances for each day, with two group leaders for each ride. vtchallenge.com 16-18 | The VT3, Craftsbury Common The VT3 mountain bike race series offers fun courses and fast racing. thevt3.com 17 | Pedal Power to the People VI, Tunbridge A 30-plus-mile gravel grinder that concludes at the 4th Annual NanoFest Beer Festival. wfvrppp.com
17 | The Peak Woodsplitter 6-Hour Mountain Bike Race, Pittsfield See how many times you can complete a 10mile loop within a 6-hour time limit on the Green Mountain Trails. peakraces.com 17 | Tour de Valley, Underhill Do the traditional tour, a 30- to 35-mile mountain bike ride on trails, or the Cross Valley 22-mile, less technical route. followed by swimming, a feast and raffle. brmbc.org 18 | The Race Back to School on Kingdom Trails, Lyndonville Open to walkers, bikers and runners, the race takes place on a loop at Kingdom Trails, with three degrees of difficulty and a relay option. A fundraiser for NEK schools. eventbrite.com/race-back-to-school-onkingdom-trails-tickets 17-18 | Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, Gorham, N.H. With categories ranging from road bike to unicycle, an epic race to the summit of New England’s tallest peak. mwarbh.or 24-25 | The JULBO Eastern Grind: Bubba Trophy Series #6, Williston Catamount Outdoor Family Center hosts two days of mountain bike races in this EFTAcertified event. bubbatrophy.com
SEPTEMBER 2 | 5th Annual Richard Tom Foundation Kids’ Crit, Burlington A free non-competitive cycling event for kids 7-11. Kids ride 2-4 sections of the Green Mountain Stage Race on Labor Day, led by adult riders. richardtomfoundation.com 7 | 14th Annual Kelly Brush Ride, Middlebury Ride 20, 50 or 100 miles on paved roads through the Champlain Valley. Fundraising for this event helps people with spinal cord injuries afford adaptive athletic equipment. kellybrushfoundation.org 7 | Mad River Riders EnduroFest, Warren A day of lift rides at Sugarbush, followed by more than 3,000 feet of descents with a shuttle back for more. madriverriders.com
14 | The Granite Gravelcade, Barre A 45-mile gravel ride for bragging rights from Barre. vermontbicycleshop.com 14 | NO LIMITS Fall Foliage Ride for Bart Adaptive, Manchester Ride 100, 60, 30 or nine miles to support the Bart J. Riggiere Adaptive Sports Center. Hand cyclists ride free. bartadaptive.org
25 | 3rd Clif Enduro Lite, Burke Created by the race pros at MAXXIS Eastern States Cup, this event offers riders an introduction to enduro racing in a stress-free environment. skiburke.com
15 | Woodstock Triple Crown Race, Suicide Six Enduro-style race on 3 mountain bike trail networks: the Aqueduct Trails, Mt Peg and Suicide Six Bike Park. suicide6.com
23-24 | Farm to Fork Fondo: Pennsylvania Dutch, Ronks, Penn. Choose between the 82-mile Gran Fondo, the 45-mile Medio, the 33-mile Piccolo and a 9-mile ride through rolling hills. Enjoy stops with local food. farmtoforkfondo.com
21 | 12th Annual Tour de Farms, Vergennes Ride 10 or 30 miles through scenic Addison County and visit four to eight farms with food and beverage samples at each. acornvt.org
Aug. 30-Sept. 2 | 19th Green Mountain Stage Race, Waitsfield Racing for all levels, from the Mad River Open Road Race to the Men's and Women’s Cat. 3/4/5, with categories from kids and juniors to masters. gmsr.info
100 on Route 100 Team Relay
Outdoor Gear Exchange/ Catamount Trail Association Running Clinic
Chris Ludington Memorial Trail Run, 5k and 10K
Stowe Adaptive Half Marathon
Trapp’s Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon
8 | Cabot Ride the Ridges, Cabot A mostly gravel ride through the hills of Cabot and Peacham. Supported with 10K, 30K, 60K and 100K loops. ridetheridges.net
25 | The Vermont Overland, Reading Challenge yourself to a 44-mile dirt road bicycle race featuring 5,700 feet of climbing, seven sectors of Vermont pave and magnificent scenery. vermontoverland.co
31 | Stratton Mountain Bike Park Grand Opening, Stratton Stratton opens the first phase of its liftserved bike park, featuring 4.6 miles of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails. Clinics, vendor fair and grand opening celebration. stratton.com
“A little Austria... a lot of Vermont.” BE A PART OF THESE COMING EVENTS:
Join us for these events or just explore our diverse trail system and take advantage of the best trailhead in Vermont at the Bierhall at Trapp Family Lodge! For more info, call the Outdoor Center at 802.253.5719 or go to trappfamily.com.
700 Trapp Hill Road | Stowe, Vermont | 800.826.7000
KICK OFF YOUR outd adventure season oor in style
21 | Peacham Fall Fondo, Peacham Enter the 40-mile ride or a 5K fun ride for kids. Hosted by Tour de France cyclist Ian Boswell. peachamfallfondo.com 22 | West Hill Grinder, Putney Ride a 39-mile, 4-gap gravel grinder route, a 34-mile, 2-gap gravel grinder route, a 19.6or 24-mile loop on a mix of pavement and dirt roads. westhillshop.com 28 | Hungry Lion Bike Tour, Whitingham Tackle 75, 50, 35, 32 or 5 mile rides on scenic roads or take on a 26-mile gravel ride. Followed by a BBQ. hungrylionbiketour.com 28 | Tardigrade 50, Bristol More than 55 miles of adventure riding on 4th class roads and trails. tardigrade50.com
Rafting, zipping, kayaking adventures In Southern VT and Western Mass Friendly professional staff, convenient location on the Deerfield River
only half an hour from brattleboro!
800-532-7483 ZOAROUTDOOR.COM VISIT US AT ZOAROUTDOOR.COM 800.532.7483 AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 37
28-29 | Farm to Fork Fondo: The Berkshires, Mass. Choose the 79-mile Gran Fondo, s 48-mile Medio, the 31mile Piccolo or a 10-mile ride through rolling hills. Enjoy stops with local food. farmtoforkfondo.com 29 | Fly to Pie, Coventry Tackle a 26.2-mile or 13.5-mile ride on dirt roads to finish at Parker Pie in West Glover. kingdomgames.co 29 | Just Bike! Justice for Kids, North Bennington This ride exposes kids to longer bike rides, with categories for adults only, walks for small children and their parents and kids-only rides ranging from 5 to 11 miles. bccac.org
OCTOBER 12 | Oktoberfest Weekend, Suicide Six Catch a fun downhill race at the Suicide Six Bike Park on Saturday and an Enduro race on Sunday at the Mt. Peg Network. suicide6.com 12 | Braintree 357 Gravel Enduro, Braintree Race or ride 50, 35 or 18 miles with 8,000, 5,000 and 2,700 feet of elevation gain. Rides follow gravel roads to an afterparty with craft beer and bluegrass music. braintree357.com 19 | VOBA Enduro, Bolton Valley An enduro mountain bike race and family-friendly activities, as well as an outdoor recreation expo that highlights the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance. vermontoutdoorbusinessalliance.com 19 | Green River Rip, Dover A 31-mile supported, guided gravel ride through rolling southern Vermont, near the base of Mount Snow. hitherandyonadventurerides.com 20 | Vermont Forest Fondo, Lincoln A 45-mile ride on 70-perent gravel roads, 20-percent class 4 roads, 5-percent single track and 5-percent paved roads, with 5,000 feet of climbing. vtforestfondo.com
WATER SPORTS/TRIATHLON AUGUST 2-3 | Stand Up for the Lake, Burlington Paddle your SUP in the 6-mile Elite Race, the 3-mile Rec Race or the kids' fun race, all in Burlington Harbor. After party at the Spot on the Dock. standupforthelake.com
Ethan Allen Biathlon Club 2019 Summer Race Series
DATES July 11, 18, 25, August 8,15, 22 TIMES 5:00 pm - Registration 5:30 to 6:00 pm - Zeroing 6:15 pm - Race Start WHERE Ethan Allen Biathlon Club Ethan Allen Rd., Jericho, VT
NEW: See our website for mandatory
Safety Clinic information Info: www.eabiathlon.org
38 VTSPORTS.COM | AUGUST 2019
11 | Vermont Sun and Lake Dunmore Triathlons, Salisbury Head to Branbury State Park and choose between a 600-yard swim, 14-mile bike and 3.1 mile run in the Vermont Sun Triathlon or a 0.9-mile swim, 28-mile bike and 6.2-mile run in the Lake Dunmore Triathlon. vermontsuntriathlonseries.com 10-18 | NEK Swim Week, Barton Swim 47 miles across eight Northeast Kingdom lakes in nine days, or register for individual swim events. BYO accompanying kayaker. kingdomgames.co 16-17 | USMS Sprint and Long Distance Open Water National Championships, Lake Willoughby The sprint race runs Aug. 16, with the 5-mile, long-distance swim on Aug. 17. kingdomgames.co
SEPTEMBER 9 | In Search of Memphre IX, Newport An epic 25-mile swim the length of Lake Memphremagog between Newport, Vt. and Magog, QC. kingdomgames.co 15 | 43rd Josh Billings Triathlon, Stockbridge Run 6 miles around Stockbridge Bowl, paddle 5 miles around Stockbridge Bowl and bike 27 miles from Great Barrington, Mass. to Lenox, Mass. joshbillings.com 28-29 | She Casts—A Women’s Fly-Fishing Weekend, Woodstock Hosted by the Woodstock Inn & Resort, an Orvis Endorsed Lodge, and taught by resident guide Chandra Anderson at Suicide Six and surrounding waters. Learn everything from the basics to advanced tactics and skills. Gear provided. suicide6.com/summer/orvisc-endorsed-fly-fishing
OBSTACLE COURSE RACING/ OTHER AUGUST 2-4 | 3rd Vermont Be True Yoga Festival, Fairlee Milldale Farm Center for Wellness hosts this weekend of diverse yoga classes, meditation, music, kirtan, wellness workshops and mindfulness hikes. vtbyogafest.com 3 | App Gap Challenge Rollerski Race, Fayston Uphill 5K event for women, 7K race for men. New for 2019 is a touring division, where participants ski the gap at their own pace. Pursuit format, with a transition to classic midcourse at Mad River Glen. nensa.net 9-11 | North American Obstacle Course Racing Championships, Stratton Expect a 3K short course championship on Friday, followed by a 15K standard course on Saturday and conclude Sunday with the team relay event. stratton.com 10 | 15th Bitter Pill Adventure Race, Brandon A team adventure featuring hiking, biking and paddling along with continual navigation challenges. gmara.org 18 | Vermont State Waterfowl Calling Contest, Button Bay State Park Food truck vendors and kids activities will be available while waterfowl callers compete for prizes. fpr.vermont.gov
24 | Magic Mountain Disc Golf Biathlon Charity Tournament, Londonderry Presented by Fiddlehead Brewing Company, this event challenges golfers to try a round of ball golf followed by disc golf. magicmtn.com
SEPTEMBER 6-8 | 22nd Outdoor Family Weekend, Groton Join Outdoor Gear Exchange, UVM Extension, the Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont Forest, Parks and Recreation for classes on forestry, orienteering, hiking, camping skills, kayaking, fishing and more. uvm.edu/ extension.outdoorfamily 12-15 | Discraft's Green Mountain Championship Disc Golf Pro Tour, Smugglers' Notch Meet the pros and watch some of the best disc golfers in the world vie for the title of Green Mountain Champion. smuggs.com 13-14 | Fiddlehead Fallfest, Smugglers' Notch Resort Catch live music, beer, food trucks, a pig roast, rock climbing and hiking, disc golf championships and more. smuggs.com 14-15 | 2nd Annual Lake Placid Doubleday and Climb to the Castle, Lake Placid A 3K prologue with an interval start followed by a 1.5K crosscountry sprint. On Sunday, the Climb to the Castle is 5 miles of climbing at an average 8 percent grade to the summit of Whiteface. nensa.net 14-15 | Spartan Race Vermont, Killington Compete in the birthplace of the Spartan Beast. Plus a kids’ obstacle course race. killington.com 20-22 | Vermont Climbing Festival, Richmond An event for new and current climbers to socialize, participate in clinics, see keynotes peakers and gain new skills while camping out. vermontclimbingfestival.com
OCTOBER 12 | Fall Rollerski Classic, Jericho Race series at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site hosted by Mansfield Nordic Club. nensa.net 27 | Walter N. Levy Challenge, Northfield A 6.5-mile combat endurance race. Raises funds and awareness for wounded military veterans. semperfifund.org
ONGOING SERIES July 6-Oct. 13 | Mountaintop Yoga, Stratton FE On Saturdays and Sundays t, enjoy 90 minutes of yoga at the summit yoga deck on Stratton Mountain. Class includes round-trip on the gondola. stratton.com Aug. 15 & Sept. 20 | Intro to Mountain Biking Clinic for Women, Craftsbury Common Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosts a series of free introductory mountain bike clinics. 5:30-7 p.m. craftsbury.com Aug. 18 | North Face Doggie and Me Hikes, Stratton FE Enjoy a private guided hike with your dog on Stratton Mountain. Repeats Sept. 1 and Oct. 12. stratton.com
6 1 23 15 10 26 Burlington 20 11
1184 Williston ALPINE Rd., South SHOP Burlington, VT 802-862-2714 | alpineshopvt.com V
In operation since 1963, we specialize in mountain bikes, hybrid, commuter and E-bikes from Norco, Felt, Devinci & Rossignol. Alpine Shop is a full-service bike shop with ample free parking and riding space. Rental and demo bikes available. Stylish clothing for men and women plus gear, shoes & apparel for tennis. Hours: Mon. – Sat. 10 – 6; Sun. 10 – 5.
2886 Killington Rd., Killington, VT 802-422-3234 | basinski.com Purchasing a bike is a big investment. This investment unlocks the door to adventure. For the thrill seekers, boardwalk cruisers and tarmac chasers we’ve got a little bit of everything for you. Just below Killington Resort, we focus on all-mountain mountain bikes and downhill too. Carrying Specialized, Santa Cruz, Juliana, and Devenci we’ve got the perfect match for just about anyone, plus all the other gear and apparel you need to have fun on the road or trails.
WHY BUY LOCAL?
These local, independent bike shops have become go-to resources for riders. Here are five reasons why: 1) Trust. When you buy from your local bike shop you know that if something goes wrong, they're there to help. 2) Fit. A bike has to fit right to perform well. Your shop will find the bike that fits your riding and your body. 3) Local knowledge. No one knows the local roads and trails like these shops. 4) Weekly group rides. What's more fun than riding with an awesome group? 5) They make it happen. Whether it's helping build trails or volunteering their support on a charity road ride, these shops work hard so you can have fun.
Battenkill Bicycles has been Manchester’s choice for bicycle sales, service and rentals since 1972. We offer the entire line of the latest Trek and Specialized bikes. Come in for a fitting and advice; each new bike includes one free tune up for a year. Our service department will work on all bikes and repair and maintain your bike in tip-top shape for the road and trail. We offer road, mountain and hybrid bikes and our staff enjoys sharing local knowledge about where to ride. Our shop has lots of parking, so please come park for the day while you ride and take advantage of our shower before going out to dinner in Manchester. Check our website, Facebook or join our mailing list to find out about regular group rides. We look forward to serving you and your family for all your cycling needs.
24 Bridge St., Richmond, VT 802-434-4876 | belgencycles.com Belgen Cycles offers custom and stock bicycles supported by 40 years of hands-on experience. Focused on the right bike for you covering the spectrum from road to ‘cross and mountain to fat with bikes 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 20 years. Hours: Mon. – Sat. 10:30 – 6:30.
99 Bonnet St., Manchester Ctr, VT 802-362-2734 | battenkillbicycles.com
AROUND THE REGION
RR 8, 169 Grove St., Adams, MA 413-743-5900 | email@example.com
We are a full-service bike shop at the base of the Mt. Greylock State Reservation. We also border a beautiful 12-mile paved rail trail. We carry Jamis, Rocky Mountain and G.T. We offer sales, repairs and hybrid bike rentals for the rail trail.
Manchester7 Center 3
60 Main Street Jeffersonville, VT 802-644-8370 | bootleggerbikes.com
A full-service shop near Smugglers' Notch. We offer new, used and custom bikes as well as custom wheel builds for mountain, road, gravel, fat bikes, bikepacking and touring. Rentals offered at our Cambridge Junction shop on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Bikes are a passion here.
BRADLEY’S PRO SHOP SKI & SPORT
2012 Depot St. Manchester Center, VT 05255 802-367-3118 | bradleysproski.com Bradley’s Pro Shop Ski & Bike is the premier bike shop in Southern Vermont! We are located in Manchester Center. Always known as your go-to ski shop we are now your go-to bike shop. We have one of the best bike mechanics in Vermont on staff, Dan Rhodes. Many of you know of his reputation as a master bike mechanic. Dan runs all aspects of our bicycle operations. We carry the full lineup of Cannondale and GT bikes—mountain bikes, gravel, e-bikes, BMX and hybrids. We are a full-service operation with sales, service, accessories and rentals including e-bikes. We always offer a great bike tuneup price so be sure to bring your ride in. As always: THINK DIRT!
45 Bridge St. Morrisville, VT 802-888-7642 | chucksbikes802.com Putting smiles on people’s faces for over 35 years. Bikes by Jamis,Transition, Norco, KHS, Surly, Raleigh, Marin and Diamondback. Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9 – 5:30, Sat. 9 – 3, closed Sundays.
12 Plains Rd. Claremont, NH 603.542. BIKE (2453) | claremontcycle.com We are always evolving to stay current with trends to meet our customers needs. With certain change, we always stay true to who and what we are: a true bike shop where customer satisfaction is the top priority and staff is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and friendly. Everyone who walks through our door is welcomed into our diverse bike community. We bring people together from all walks of life and ages that share the same love and passion for cycling. Hours: Mon. 8:30 - 5:30, Tues. - Fri. 10:30 - 5:30, Sat. 10:30 - 4, closed Sunday.
10 COWBELL MOBILE BIKE SHOP
25-mile radius around Burlington and White River Junction 802-373-3411 | cowbellbike.com Cowbell mobile bike shop is Vermont’s first full-service bike shop in a van. No more waiting around for weeks to get your bike tuned up. Just book an appointment and Cowbell shows up and you ride the same day. Todd the owner and operator has 24 years of experience and arrives in the Burlington and Upper Valley areas with a van full of parts and accessories. More than just a rolling bike shop...Cowbell also offers corporate visits, ride support and bike maintenance classes.
14 FIRST STOP
3-Color Option: BOARD BARN
11 EARL’S CYCLERY &
8474 Route 4, Killington, VT 802-422-9050 | firststopboardbarn.com
2069 Williston Rd., South Burlington, VT 802-864-9197 | earlsbikes.com
12 EAST BURKE SPORTS 439 Route 114 East Burke, VT 802-626-3215 | eastburkesports.com 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 fullservice shop awaits you and your repair needs. We have 100 rental bikes with an enormous selection of clothing, parts, and accessories. Hours: 9 - 6 every day.
8749 Rte. 30, Rawsonville, VT 802 297 2847 | equipesport.com With locations on the Stratton and the Mount Snow valleys, Equipe Sport offers a wide range of services including sales, rental and repair. We sell bikes from GT, Santa Cruz and Rocky Mountain and have a rental fleet of Rocky Mountain bikes.
15 FROG HOLLOW
Website 1-Color Options:
Print Fonts: TRADE GOTHIC BOLD Crimson Text Crimson Text Italic
74 Main St., Middlebury, VT 802-388-6666 | froghollow bikes.com
Web Fonts: ROBOTO MEDIUM ROBOTO BOLD Georgia Georgia Italics
Take advantage of the most advanced and courteous service in our region, with quick turn-around time in our service shop downstairs. 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. Hours: Mon. - Sat. 9:30 - 5:30, Sun. 11 – 4.
21 OMER & BOB’S
2733 Main St., Lake Placid, NY 518-523-3764 | highpeaks cyclery.com
20 Hanover St. Lebanon, NH 603-448-3522 | omerandbobs.com
Lake Placid’s source for bicycling and outdoor gear since 1983! Sales, service, rentals and tours. Bikes by Intense, B.M.C., Salsa, Surly, Giant and Scott. Your information headquarters for Lake Placid and the Adirondacks for gravel road, mountain biking and road riding adventures. Free maps. ADK80 and Ironman race info and course conditions. New! Basecamp lodges. Hours: Mon – Fri 9 – 6, Sun 9 – 5.
18 MALLETTS BAY BICYCLE & SKI
Killington’s authorized Cannondale and 2-Color Options: Trek dealer. We also carry: Fox, Giro, Shimano, FiveTen, G-Form, Pearl Izumi, Smith, Spy, Oakley and more. We’ve helped outfit first timers to world class athletes since 1979. We have a Service Center that can fix practically anything and a Rental & Demo Test Center that lets you try equipment before you buy. We have Gear Experts who can help you find the right gear, right now. If you’re not sure where to get started, give us a call or stop by—we’re open 365 days a year.
Earl’s Cyclery has been serving Vermont's cycling and fitness needs for more than 65 years. With over 12,000 square feet at the new location, Earl’s has the largest selection of bikes from Trek, Giant, Scott, Bianchi, Electra, Haro, and more. The service center at Earl’s has professionally trained technicians who are certified to work on all makes and models of bicycles, not just the ones we sell. Whether Logo Typface: you need a flat tire fix or a suspension Tracked +20, UPPERCASE DIN staff Bold is ready to help. rebuild, the service Estimates are always free! Check out the new location at 2069 Williston Rd, South Burlington, or call us.
17 HIGH PEAKS CYCLERY
GREEN MOUNTAIN BIKES
105 N. Main St. Rochester VT 800-767-7882 | greenmountain bikes.com 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! Hours: 7 days a week, 10 – 6.
794 W. Lakeshore 1-Color Options: Dr. Colchester, VT 802-863-2453 | mbbicyle.com
Malletts Bay es�� ����
Bicycle & Ski
Service, rentals and sales. Located on the shores of beautiful Malletts Bay, our shop offers expert repairs, top quality rentals, a fine complement of accessories and new bicycles from KHS, Swix, Intense and Reid. Rent a bike from our Airport Park location and be out on the Colchester Causeway, the ‘Jewel of the Island Line Trail,” in minutes!
Color(s): (Pantone, CMYK, RGB, HTML): Black, White, Orange Orange: Pantone 021 C R: 254 G: 105 B: 0 CMYK: 0 65 100 0 HTML: FE5000
4081 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT 802-253-4531 | mountainopsvt.com
MountainOps offers bike sales and service, fast and friendly, with no attitude. We sell Niner and Scott bikes for all abilities and riding styles. You’ll find tons of clothing and accessories in our converted 1893 barn. Our techs have decades of experience with all types of bikes and our knowledge of local trails is awesome. We are Stowe's MTB Demo Center with more than 60 different mountain bikes for demo. They range anywhere from trail-worthy hardtails to carbon frame full suspension enduro bikes. Sizes and prices to fit everyone!
OLD SPOKES HOME
331 North Winooski Ave., Burlington, VT 802-863-4475 | oldspokeshome.com Old Spokes Home offers Vermont’s best selection of professionally refurbished used bikes and new bikes for touring, bike packing, commuting, fat biking, and simply getting around town. 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 2015, Old Spokes Home uses 100% of its revenue to run programs creating access to bikes in the community. Don’t miss the famous antique bicycle museum! Mon. – Sat. 10 - 6, Sun. 12 - 5.
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’ trade-in, trade-up program. Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9 – 6, Sat. 9 – 5.
22 ONION RIVER OUTDOORS
20 Langdon St. Montpelier, VT 802-225-6736 | onionriver.com
Gear, clothing and expert advice for all your hiking, biking, running, camping, outdoor adventures! Friendly, knowledgeable bicycle and car rack sales and service. Check out onionriver.com to learn about all of our fun events and clinics. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 10 - 6:00; Sat. 9 - 5, Sun. 10 - 4.
23 OUTDOOR GEAR EXCHANGE
37 Church St., Burlington, VT 802-860-0190 | gearx.com
OGE offers Burlington riders a premier bike shop with a knowledgeable, friendly, and honest staff. We have commuters and gravel grinders from Marin and KHS, mountain bikes from Pivot, Transition, Rocky Mountain and Yeti and a wide consignment selection as well as a demo fleet so you can try it before you buy it. Our service department is capable of everything from tuning your vintage road bike to servicing your new mountain bike and offers full Fox shock service. Come on down and see us on Church Street! Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 10 – 8, Fri. – Sat. 10 – 9, Sun. 10 – 6.
35 Portland St. Morrisville, VT 802-888-6557 powerplaysports.com North Central Vermont’s Trek and Giant Dealer. With over 200 new and used bikes, P.P.S. has a bike for everyone. Service and rentals too! Hours: Mon. – Fri. 9 – 6, Sat. 8:30 – 5, Sun. 10 – 4.
25 RANCH CAMP 311 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT 802-253-2753 | ranchcampvt.com Ranch Camp is Stowe’s mountain bike base lodge, and your hub for bikes, gear, and culture! Ranch Camp offers a full-service mountain bike shop, tap room, and fast casual eatery, featuring sales and demo bikes from Ibis Cycles, Yeti, Rocky Mountain, Evil, and Specialized. Looking for top of the line mountain bikes and components? Got ‘em. How about local brews from New England's finest purveyors of craft libations? You bet. And if you need a thoughtfully crafted grab-and-go meal for your ride, or a place to sit down and refuel afterwards, Ranch Camp has you covered. Best of all, Ranch Camp is situated trailside with its very own public access entrance into Stowe’s iconic Cady Hill trail network and beyond.
26 SKIRACK 85 Main St. Burlington, VT 802-6583313 | skirack.com Locally owned since 1969, Skirack provides gear, clothing, expert fitting 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 8 a.m. Mon. - Sat. for bike service, car racks and rentals.
27 STARK MOUNTAIN
9 RTE 17 Waitsfield, VT 802-496-4800 | Find us on Facebook Located at the lowest spot in the Mad River Valley so you can coast in when you break your bike on a ride! 20 years of advise, directions and fixing anything that pedals. You know you want a Yeti. Come try one of ours! Hours: Tues - Fri. 9 – 6*. Sat. 9 - 4, Sun. 9 - 1, closed on Mon. *Closes at 5 on Thursdays for Shop ride.
28 VILLAGE SPORT SHOP
511 Broad St. Lyndonville, VT 802-626-8448| villagesport shop.com
Established in 1978, we are a family-owned, passiondriven sporting goods store serving customers for four seasons of adventure. Strongly focused on bike and ski, we have highly skilled knowledgeable technicians and sales staff to assist in all needs of purchase, rental and service. With two locations, one nestled trailside on the world-renowned Kingdom Trails, and the other in downtown Lyndonville, we’re here to make your adventures happen!
WIN YOUR YETI!
29 WATERBURY SPORTS 46 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT 802-882-8595 | waterburysportsvt.com 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. Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 10 – 6, Fri. - Sat 9 – 7, Sun. 10 – 4.
30 WEST HILL
Go to VMBA.org/raffle to get your chance to win. Support the Vermont Mountain Biking Association and enter our raffle to win a Yeti bike in the model, size and color of your choice. Drawing takes place on September 6th
49 Brickyard Lane, Putney, VT 802-387-5718 | westhillshop.com 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 problemsolving 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. Join us for our Annual West Hill Grinder in September. It’s truly a rural adventure with loops on scenic gravel roads or wily trails. Hours: Mon. to Sat., 10 – 6.
DID YOUR SHOP GET DROPPED? TO JOIN THE BIKE SHOP DIRECTORY, GIVE US A CALL AT 802-388-4944 OR SEND AN EMAIL TO ADS@VTSPORTS.COM
AUGUST 2019 | VTSPORTS.COM 41
OFF BELAY: THE FREE SOLO BACKPACKER THE AUTHOR WAS NEVER A ROCK CLIMBER, UNTIL THE BACKPACK WITH EVERYTHING HE NEEDED FOR SURVIVAL TIPPED OVER A CLIFF. BY LEATH TONINO
The view from the top, in New Zealand.
et’s be clear: I’m a backpacker, not a free soloist, a walker of the lumpy horizontal, not a sender of the slick vertical. A buddy once led me up eight pitches of desert sandstone, and that was a thrill, but the stupid ballerina slippers hurt my delicate tootsies. Better to wear comfy leather boots and keep said boots on solid ground. Heck, better to keep the ground on the ground, i.e. prevent it from tipping sideways. Well, we don’t necessarily get to call the shots in this manky, chossy lifetime of ours, now do we? Always and forever, we are at the mercy of the wild world—and nothing’s wilder and worldlier than gravity. This was made exceedingly clear to me when, during a solitary circumambulation of Stuart Island, an upthrust hunk of earth south of New Zealand’s South Island (next stop Antarctica), that great downwardpulling power took the one thing I simply couldn’t afford to lose. Honor, religious tolerance, meaningful work, the love of a hearty peasant woman— sure, those are nice, assuming you’re dry and well fed. Which, it
42 VTSPORTS.COM | AUGUST 2019
appeared, I wouldn’t be for long. My backpack of clothes, sleeping bag, stove and larder—plus passport and cash—had gone over the edge of a cliff. This particular cliff was a freakin’ monster, not by hard-ass alpinist standards, but by my standards. I had sought out the prominence because the sun was dropping and the panorama included ten billion gorgeous miles of glinting ocean and the day’s hiking was finally finished. Unshouldering my lopsided load, I set it on the crag’s narrow seat-ledge, only to behold, in extreme slow motion, the tippy bastard tip sideways. And plunge. Gulp. Into the yawning salt-spray void. Perfect! Lowering onto all fours, inching nose-first toward the dreaded confirmation of my predicament— stranded on the backside of the island, the backside of the world, the backside of anything with a front—I’ll admit to earnestly wishing for the sticky rubber of ballerina slippers. Then, thinking more clearly, I wished to be somewhere, anywhere, else. But hey, looky looky: The void wasn’t actually a void—it was floored with a toothy spit of whetted and
wetted black rocks. Moreover, my pack clung desperately by its fingertips (a couple thin straps) from a shrubby outgrowth some 100 feet above that dangerous gaping mouth of a beach. Thus, with a double knotting of my beloved leather boots, I the backpacker became I the free soloist. Whether the pitch was 5.6 or 5.0 I have no clue, such designations meaning zilch during a hyperfocused quest for luggage and survival. An improbable jug appeared. An improbable toehold followed. My awareness of the micro—of fissures, flakes, slippery lichen patches— expanded and expanded, nudging from consciousness, displacing entirely, the exposure nipping at my heels. There was just elemental earth, an animal body and the imperative: Do Not Fall. The shrub neared, and with three hooked fingers (superpower strength in addition to superpower glueyness!) I retrieved the awkward load. Ascending was difficult, indeed, but I can report with total honesty that I didn’t carry the added burden of fear. A part of me, a part I’d not previously known to exist, was weightless, graceful, like some
kind of ballerina who doesn’t require slippers, doesn’t require anything but deep breathing and determination. Might this be what Alex Honnold and Spider-Man and actual arachnids experience, this stickto-anything meditative trance? Free soloing is a misnomer. The costs, as too many families and friends have learned the tearful way, are severe. Some years ago, though, I managed to skip out on my bill, and for that experience—not only the experience of acing a wee pitch, but also the experience of needing to ace a wee pitch—I am grateful. However briefly, I glimpsed the power, the glory, the mystery of mind meeting rock, rock meeting mind. That said: I’m a backpacker, a walker of the lumpy horizontal. I don’t plan on paying my debt to the wild world until I’m 88 and have a grandkid bouncing on each knobby, achy, arthritic, 10,000mile knee. Leath Tonino of Ferrisburgh, Vt., is the author of two essay collections, both published by Trinity University Press: The Animal One Thousand Miles Long (2018) and The West Will Swallow You (forthcoming October 2019).
SVMC ORTHOPEDICS Don’t let joint pain or a lingering injury interfere with your daily life. SVMC Orthopedics can help get you back to the activities you love as quickly—and painlessly—as possible.
802-442-6314 Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Appointments
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