XNHAT + NWM Loop Bikepacking Overnight

Live Free or Die

A low rumble sounded. I’m pedaling up Old Cherry Mountain Road into White Mountain National Forest, enjoying the stunning forest gently hugging the dirt road, squarely centered on being fully present in this moment. My friends are out of sight behind me, but not worried … we’ll all regroup at the top.

That’s interesting, I didn’t realize there was a logging operation nearby.

A short distance later, the low rumble sounds again.

That’s not logging operations. That’s a thunderstorm. We need to set up camp NOW.


A few years back my friend Karen sent me a website for the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail (XNHAT). At the time, there wasn’t a lot of information other than a Map My Ride link and a few pages with trail conditions, including that ATVs had chewed up a section of the rail trail pretty badly. We put this in our back pockets for a future adventure when more information was available – but it was appealing because of the gentle rail trail grades, lots of dirt, and biking across New Hampshire.

Earlier this year I saw the Northern White Mountains Overnight Loop (NWM Loop) on Bikepacking.com and immediately wanted to do the ride for the scenery. But with a 6 hour drive to the start, I needed a bit more to make it worth the drive.

Karen, our friend Ashley, and I originally planned to ride the Brattleboro Loop from bikepacking.com but as the year progressed and the weather was persistently rainy, we decided to find something more in line with a Type I fun trip.

Enter the mashup of the XNHAT and NWM Loop: start from Woodsville, NH (a mere 4 hours from my house) and ride to Maine and back with the scenic NWM Loop hooked in on the eastbound ride over 3 days (2 nights). My friend Jean also joined us.


Day One Highlights

  • The Ammonoosuc Rail Trail isn’t your typical rail train in that it allows OHRV/ATVs. The gravel can get deep and chunky at times as well as significant washboarding. Wider tires help, but our hands were continually going numb from the vibrations.
  • The bridges and trestles are wide and well maintained, offering stunning views along the river
  • Seeing a buck running through the river. We watched for a bit to make sure a bear wasn’t chasing it before continuing on.
  • Covered Bridge at Bath
  • Old Train station in Lisbon
  • Lunch at Littleton Diner
  • Getting caught in a pop up rain storm leaving Littleton
  • 11 miles of exposed pavement (Route 116) from Littleton to Whitefield is by far the least enjoyable part of the journey.
    • The shoulder is wide, but it’s a busy road with lots of logging trucks and virtually no shade or opportunities for shelter when weather changes
  • Deciding to pick up extra water in Whitefield since we intended to dispersed camp in White Mountain National Forest
  • Getting caught in another pop-up rainstorm as we leave Whitefield. This has got to be a record year for rainfall in the Northeast.
  • Back on quiet backroads and the start of actual climbing, not the gentle rail trail grades we’ve been enjoying so far
  • Old Cherry Mountain Rd is a fantastic climb into White Mountain National Forest
  • Thunder!
  • checking dispersed campsite after campsite and finding them all occupied. Feeling disheartened, but also that we need to get set up quickly because a thunderstorm is approaching.
  • Recalling there is a campground at the bottom of the descent … and going up to the front door of the house to see if we can get a site …. quickly
  • Spending the next hour on their covered front porch while thunderstorms form, merge, and then move south … while another forms in its place and dumping lots and lots of rain.
  • Fortunately the campground had hot showers for the coldest among us … and the owners brought us firewood so we could have a fire
  • Setting up camp, enjoying dinner and laughter by the fire
  • Helinox chairs are worth the weight when it’s been raining!
  • Finishing the day at 50 miles

Day Two Highlights

  • Everything is somehow still wet from overnight – but the temps are rapidly rising and drying things off
  • checking the weather forecast and realizing Sunday is 95% chance of .5″ of rain and by heading westbound, we won’t see any tapering off. Sunday is our longest day, an expected 65 miles on the Presidential Rail Trail, Route 116, and Ammonoosuc Rail Trails.
  • Making the decision to finish the NWM Loop portion of the route and then head back to the cars for a total of 57 miles for the day.
  • It’s hot. We take frequent breaks in the shade
  • Turning left onto Jefferson Notch Rd and feeling relieved to see it’s a gorgeous shaded dirt road
  • Everyone taking the climb at their own pace
  • SO HOT at the summit!! Photos, food, quick break in the shade, then 6 miles downhill
  • Learning the Presidential Rail Trail is significantly more rustic than the Ammonoosuc Rail Trail. But the views!!
  • Sled dog kennel!!
  • The heat is starting to get to some in the group so we start taking frequent breaks in whatever shade we can find
  • Whitefield Market for food and time in the A/C
  • lunch in the shady grass at the center common park was peak bike adventure happiness
  • Back on Route 116, which is still really exposed but now really hot as well
  • Arriving in Littleton and deciding to head to the river and put our feet in
    • GAME CHANGER! The river was so refreshing and cool.
  • It’s all downhill from here, with gravity gently pulling our bikes a little faster
  • Arriving back at our cars tired, dirty, sweaty, and happy for the overnight adventure with girl friends

Pro Tips & Takeaways

  • Align expectations prior to the start. Want to stop for photos and ice cream? Prefer to heads-down hammer between resupply stops? Be open and honest about this. Not everyone knew each other on this trip and talking over dinner about what we hoped to get from this trip put us all in the same mindset so we could have an amazing time together.
  • Be sure to “train” and acclimate. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know “training” generally means finding something similar to what you’re about to do and doing that a few times before the trip. If you prefer a training plan, knock yourself out.
    • This includes in all kinds of conditions – hot, cold, rain, exposure, shade. Know how your body reacts and how to adjust on the ride. And if the situation goes sideways, always prioritize health over schedules or expectations. Do not put yourself in a dangerous place for whatever perceived “glory” you’ll get from the trip.
  • Planning is essential for any adventure – know options and have back up plans.
    • We expected to camp at the dispersed campsites but they were already claimed with no one around to ask if we could share the site. Thankfully we had scoped a campground on the planning map that had room for us for the night.
    • Also changing our plans due to weather. Much easier to consider because we knew where the route option points were and distance between towns/resupply.
  • Prioritize packing for health and safety on the trip. Literally putting out legs in the ice cold river helped relieve the heat of the day and provided a nice respite.
  • Creature Comforts are important too!
    • Box Wine was worth the weight while around the campfire the first night
    • As were the Helinox and Z-chairs. The deluge had made everything at the campsite completely soaked – having a dry place to sit and warm ourselves by the fire was amazing
  • Rail Trail grades are appealing – but know the energy consumption increases as the surface gets progressively more rustic. Long stretches at a 1-2% incline can also sap energy reserves! Fuel appropriately and consider tire choice before heading out.
  • Not every adventure has to be EXTREME. Be safe, have fun, pick two.

Packing List

total gear+supplies weight estimated at 24 pounds
bike weight estimated at 25 pounds

The Bike & The Packs

Salsa Cutthroat GRX600, size 52
modifications: 11-40 cassette
Teravail Rutland 42mm <– very pleased at the low rolling resistance and good traction in the chunk
Salsa bolt-on framebag
Revelate Designs Pronghorn Harness w/small drybag <–no impediment to shifters and minimized overpacking
Revelate Designs Egress Pocket
Revelate Designs Nano Panniers
Revelate Designs Gas Can
Topeak Explore MTB rack
Sea to Summit eVent waterproof compression sack, Medium (14L)
26oz water bottles, mounted to fork
17oz collapsible Platypus bottle for extra water on Day 2

Attire On the Bike
Off-Bike Clothing
  • Showers Pass Syncline CC jacket in leaf green
  • Pactimo thermal arm and knee warmers
  • Pactimo 2019 Brand Ambassador wind vest
  • Extra Pactimo Bibs and wool socks
  • Title Nine Swelter Shelter dress
  • sleep bra & underwear
  • wool sleep set (leggings, long sleeve, socks)
  • fleece hat and gloves
  • 850-fill puffy jacket
Camp Gear
  • Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL1 tent and footprint
  • Sea to Summit Trail 50* sleeping quilt
  • Sea to Summit Reactor liner
  • Thermarest NeoAir XLite Women’s sleep pad
  • Exped Mega inflatable pillow
  • toiletries (travel size toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, tweezers)
  • Wilderness Wipes
  • Chamois Butt’r travel packets
  • medications sorted into plastic jewelry bags (morning, afternoon, evening)
  • day hike first aid kit
  • camp toilet paper and titanium trowel
  • Emergency mylar blanket
  • wallet pouch with laminated photocopies of my ID, insurance card, and covid-19 vaccination card, cash, and a credit card
Camp Kitchen
Mechanical & Tools
  • pocket knife and lighter
  • extra velcro and voile straps
  • multi-tool, tire levers, CO2 for MTB tires
  • spare tube
  • spare brake pads
  • spare shifter cable
  • travel size chain lube and shop towels
On-bike Nutrition
  • 2 Pack It Gourmet dehydrated dinners
  • 2 baggies of Quick oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts mixed in
  • instant coffee and baggie of powdered creamer
  • ClifBars, assorted
  • Skratch Labs gummies (sour cherry is my fave)
  • Nuun Sport + Caffeine Mango Orange
  • Skratch Labs hydration, individual packets
  • Skratch Labs Recovery Beverage, horchata flavor
  • Lunch in towns during resupply

Bikepacking Overnights are Adventure Snacks

bite-sized adventure for busy people

This past weekend my friend Anna and I put together a last-minute bikepacking trip to a local county park … for one night. I booked the campsite, threw together a quick route, about 25 miles each way with different roads, and scrambled to get my bike packed up the night before.

Isn’t that a lot of effort for not a lot of payoff?

Sure. And because it’s only (basically) 24 hours or less, one can experiment with minimalism and going as light as possible. Do I need this for the next 24 hours? No? Awesome – not being packed.

Adventure Bike is back!

For this overnight, I wanted to try out a few things:

Things that Worked

  1. Narrower Tires. For this trip, we had mostly pavement and smooth hardpack with the only chunky gravel in the county park. The narrower tires kept things light and quick, especially when the road started tilting upward. The narrower set up was squirrely in the chunky gravel so if this had been a longer trip, I may have switched to the 2″ tires for the added plushness and stability.
  2. Compression Sack for front harness. I was able to cram my tent, sleeping attire, rain jacket, and a few other items into the compression sack and then smoosh it down to fit between my bars. Being able to thread the front harness straps through the compression straps felt more secure than my usual dry bag.
  3. Inflatable sleep pad. I have only used the self-inflating kind so this was new. The Thermarest was extremely comfortable and warmth-retaining despite packing down well and being very light. However it does fit exactly under you so I had to figure out how to place my arms so they wouldn’t be laying on the ground (and cold). It crinkles when you roll over, which wasn’t awful but I was worried about waking up my friend every time I moved.
  4. Ultralight, ultra-packable sleep system. The 50*F quilt, liner, and sleeping pad all pack down super small, making it easy to just toss in the seatpost bag.
  5. Prepaying for firewood to be left at the site by the ranger. Once the sun went down, having a fire to hang out around was super nice. Not having to schlep it by bike was even better.
  6. Water Drop. I was able to bribe my kid with gas money to drop off a few gallons of water for us at the campsite since there is no water available in the park.

ThinGs That Didn’t Work So Well

  1. Summer-weight sleep quilt with spring overnight lows. I didn’t pay attention to the “comfort” limit being 57* for my 50* bag. So even with all my layers plus puffy plus thermal liner, I was chilly all night and slept superficially (low was 43*F) . Going to need to figure out how to bring my down 20* sleeping bag in the future for spring and fall bikepacking.
  2. Forgetting to take my digestive enzymes with dinner. While my digestion has stabilized pretty well over the last 10 months, I still have issues with fats and sugars, especially at the levels most backpacking meals contain. The PackIt Gourmet Chili was delicious – but my guts were gurgling unhappily all night.
  3. Shoes. This was a mix – they were very comfortable around the campsite but after a dozen miles or so or riding, I was getting uncomfortable under the balls of my feet. Likely because the shoes need to straddle being stiff enough for riding without being too stiff for walking around after. Seeing as these are a 2013 model that I bought for bike commuting but then never wore, I’m sure technology has changed and may be able to find something that straddles this divide better.
  4. Somewhere to sit that’s not The Ground. Because we had the fire going, I rolled over a tree stump to use as chair. Anna brought a lightweight backpacking chair. Exploring the idea of getting a lightweight backpacking chair to bring for the good times spent hanging out around the campsite with friends. Need to weigh the weight to need return – but sometimes creature comforts make or break a trip.

Conclusion

Bikepacking overnights are a great way to satisfy the need to get away for a bit and try new things in a low-risk way. It also just feels cool to be riding around on familiar roads with everything you need for a day or a weekend while everyone else is just out for their weekend ride. The gear signals Adventure Is Happening and hopefully sparks others to explore their proverbial backyards too.


Pack List

On Me and my Salsa Cutthroat (52) (I’m a Pactimo and Nuun brand ambassador!)

Seatpost bag (12L)

Framebag (4L)

Handlebar Compression Sack (14L, compressed to fit between bars)

Handlebar Pouch (2.8L)

  • camp permit
  • recharger and phone cord
  • travel packet of baby wipes
  • travel packet of chamois cream
  • bandana
  • compostable toilet paper
  • travel size bug repellent
  • travel size sunscreen
  • extra straps
  • medications (pre-portioned into Morning and Night)
  • Tube of nuun sport in grape flavor
  • multi function knife
  • Long-handled titanium spork
  • lighter
  • firestarter
  • Gallon ziplock for trash

Top Tube Gas Can (1.2L)

  • quick energy snacks (2 Clif Bars Peanut Butter Banana, 1 ClifBloks Salted Watermelon, 1 UNtappd maple syrup packet)
  • “medicine cabinet” (bandaids, Advil, throat lozenges, antacids, anti-itch spray)
  • Afternoon medications

See you out there!

Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder 2019

Nothing hurts and I can’t wait to sign up for next year.

Last year’s FDGG was a test of strength, stamina, grit, and tenacity. The ride is still pretty beastly but this year, the weather gods smiled upon us and gifted us with flawless conditions.

Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder (FDGG) is a 65 mile gravel ride featuring 6,500′ of climbing and 6 off-road segments to keep things spicy. The ride is limited to 400 intrepid people and is not something to sign up for on a whim. The course features back-to-back rollers with grades ticking up into the high-teens.

This year I rode with Gail (her inaugural year) and Matt (round 2 with me). At the start I also saw my friends Curt, Kyle, Reba, Melissa, and a few others that I didn’t get to see but knew were there. We also ran into a woman from an online bike ride group I belong to and ended up yo-yo’ing with her for the last half of the ride.

photo courtesy of my friend Melissa

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I joined a cycling team this year – Splunk. This should be interesting because I don’t race and my idea of training is just to ride my bike more. But the kit is pretty nice looking. I recently learned that I can get the kit from Pactimo instead of the other provider. So I’m re-ordering my kit because Pactimo is high quality and super comfortable. And they are based in Colorado. JUST LIKE MY HEART.

ANYWAY … over the course of the day we passed many riders who ultimately took shortcuts or SAG’d back to the start. Pro Tip: do not underestimate the Farmer’s Daughter.

At one point we had been climbing for a while and I was feeling particularly spunky rolling up on a bearded guy. We started chatting about the ride, how he was tired already, but I encouraged him to keep going. After a few minutes he asks me if I was also at Cross Mountain Crusher (I was). Apparently we spoke at that ride too!

I guess find me at a ride and I will encourage you up any hill. ha!

I have my own philosophy about how gravel grinders don’t need to be super hard or have sections that select few can actually ride while the rest of us mere mortals have to walk, but that’s a blog post for another day. If you are local to the NYC area and looking for a rad gravel ride closer to home, check out my gravel ride in October, The Dirty Apple.

So what was different from last year?

Significantly less mud. My bike was fresh off a tune-up and upgrades to my bottom bracket, handlebars (everyone needs more cowbell in their life), and seatpost. It had never been so clean …

Weather. The day started with gray skies that threatened to rain but ended up with brilliant blue skies and a healthy dose of muggy humidity.

Conditions. The roads were in great shape from rain earlier in the week and dried out enough to be fast-rolling. The off-road segments remained an absolute mud fest, just significantly less so. We ended up walking several sections of mud with standing water that threatened to pull off our shoes when we walked through it.

Photo Ops. Because we didn’t need to spend our energy *just* *moving* *forward*, we were able to take a look around and enjoy the stunning scenery that Columbia County offers.

And let’s not forget the incredible volunteers who check you in, keep you on course, feed you at the rest stops, and cook up plenty of food so that even the stragglers are well fed before cleaning up and going home.

FDGG is getting more popular every year and it’s no wonder why – Columbia County has a bounty of stunning views and wide network of dirt roads to explore. FDGG and the organizers’ other ride, Farmer’s Fatty, are fantastically well organized and run events. If you are in the New York/New England area, put these events on your calendar for next year.

See you out there!

Cross Mountain Crusher 2019

I had spun myself into a pretty impressive anxiety spiral. So much so that just looking at the French toast in front of me, made from buttery croissants and paired with fresh local maple syrup and bright red raspberries, was causing my stomach to flip. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t figure out why my anxiety was like a tea kettle on the stove, whistling that it was ready.


The Cross Mountain Crusher is a 55-mile, 5,000’+ of climbing gravel ride in the Catskills of New York featuring five monstrous climbs. The namesake ride up Cross Mountain features grades that pitch up to and a touch over 20%. Billed as a training ride for Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder in May, this ride is meant to test your strength, stamina, and endurance.

This spring’s weather has been all over the place – torrential downpours and bright sunny days juxtaposing themselves in a way where it’s hard to find any time to mountain bike because if the trails aren’t mud, they are not quite dry yet. Rinse and repeat.

The 10-day forecast called for low-60s and sunshine for this year’s Crusher. The reality that was slowly eating my sanity was I had signed up for a grueling ride and the forecast was looking … well, not low-60s and sunny.

Actual forecast: 35*, snow, wind on tap for this year’s event

I booked myself a room at the Meadowood Inn, about a half-mile from the start location to maximize my sleeping in time, but the weather forecast had my brain running wildly.

Let’s talk about the weather for a minute. The temps did indeed sit at about 35* all day. The winds were formidable, but gravel roads tend to be in wooded areas so this really only impacted us when we popped out into open fields between climbs.

It ended up snowing all day with periods of sleet. Somehow the sleet squalls coincided with descents, which made visibility a challenge but also, exfoliated my face pretty sufficiently. On the last downhill, the winds picked up so not only were we being pelted by thousands of tiny knife-like ice pellets, but also being pushed across the road by the wind. GOOD TIMES.


The ride itself was amazing and will only be better under warmer spring temps and a little more sunshine. The dirt roads are quiet and scenic – had I not started freezing anytime I stopped moving, I may have had some beautiful photos to share. You’ll just have to go look at the website and trust me. The climbs truly separate the racers from the people looking to enjoy the day. Nothing is unmanageable but one would do well to ride some ridiculous rides with obscene levels of climbing to prep.

The descents on dirt were washed out in places and some had large rocks littering the way way so it wasn’t possible for me to really let go and enjoy the descents. But again, nothing unmanageable for anyone with adequate mountain biking or cyclocross skills.

Quite possibly the worst part of the ride is the last 15 miles, which are 2 miles of downhill followed by 13 miles of flat-to-gently-rolling pavement. After so many back to back big climbs, my legs were D O N E and I just wanted to be back at the start for some well-deserved lunch. Peeling off multiple soaked-through layers of clothing was painful, although putting on warm, dry clothing and a down puffy jacket was delicious.

Rides like this are best completed with friends. My friend Kyle rode with me for this event and I am so thankful he did. We saw our friends Curt and Ralph at the start but they quickly disappeared with the lead pack. We found our other friend Matt on the first climb and fortunately we kept finding each other along the way. When the weather is this challenging, it’s nice to have someone to talk to and make the miles tick by faster.


THREE THINGS I DID RIGHT:

  • My bike choice. I rode my Salsa Colossal Ti with 26mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs. Despite the rain all day prior to the ride, the dirt was flawlessly tacky for the event. I had brought up my hardtail mountain bike in case conditions were deeply muddy, but I’m glad I didn’t ride it.
  • Not driving up the morning of. Staying overnight locally meant I wasn’t too stiff from sitting in the car for 2 hours right before a ride.
  • It’s a ride, not a race. I’m not the fastest gravel rider because my philosophy is one should always have enough in the tank to get back home. The first two climbs were really tough but saving some legs for later was key. You can see my stats here.

THREE THINGS I DID NOT DO RIGHT:

  • Overpacking. I was terrified that I would be too cold on such a long ride and Girl Scout Mode kicked in. I had a few different options stuffed into my backpack – insulated gloves, neck gaiter, wind vest, windbreaker, and a ton of food. In the end I wore a windbreaker over my jersey after shoving my winter bike jacket into the pack. The thing probably added a good 5 pounds to my effort. DO NOT DO THIS ON A CLIMBY RIDE.
  • Using a hydration bladder instead of bottles. Again, lighten up, lady! 1.5 litres of water was nice but unnecessary on a SUPPORTED RIDE. But this was the result of thinking I would be on my mountain bike, which only has one bottle cage. Had I been on my mountain bike (horrible choice), this would have been an excellent decision.
  • Getting stuck in my own head. There really wasn’t any reason to be so anxious. The Cross Mountain Crusher is a well supported, great event in a beautiful part of New York, put on by an awesome group of people.

See you at the Cross Mountain Crusher next year!

Muddy Onion Spring Classic 2018

Last year I did my first gravel grinder, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Dirt and gravel roads are some of the quietest, most scenic ways to see an area by bicycle. And yes, they often have hills that challenge your mind and body to just. Get. To. The. Top. one pedal stroke at a time.

When Onion River Sports closed last year, the fate of the event was in limbo – but fortunately, a group of former employees decided the show must go on! If you’ve ever doubted what a small band of committed people can accomplish, look no further than this year’s Muddy Onion.

The route was revamped. The rest stops streamlined. The hospitality still off the charts.

Whereas last year we had perfect sunny, dry conditions – this year was almost the total opposite. Winter didn’t start relinquishing control until just a few weeks before the ride. It has been raining more than it’s been dry and sunny, and the roads and trails are in a nearly perpetual state of mud. Lots of people opted for mountain bikes and fat bikes this year over gravel or cross bikes.

Tire Selection

Let’s take a moment to talk about what everyone seemed to be talking about leading up to the event: tire choice.

20180412_144242
Mud2 clearance is “tight”

Last year I threw on 30mm Michelin Mud2s, which are excellent mud tires but sadly do not provide enough clearance on my Salsa Colossal to be used in truly muddy conditions.

After extensive online research (because apparently, no one makes mud tires narrower than 32mm generally), I asked my local shop to order Panaracer GravelKing SK 26s for me.

This was a flawless choice for this year’s conditions, ranging from wet sand to wet hardpack to full-on mud-pits conveniently located at the bottom of every really nice descent. The tires tracked beautifully in suboptimal conditions and were fast-rolling on paved sections.

 

20180428_135928
26mm tires and traction for days

To be sure though – no tire will save you if you can’t handle your bike when it’s sliding in a few different directions. Pro tip: mountain biking on a hardtail will give you the skills needed to improve handling on the road too.

The Ride

Vermont is blessed with an abundance of dirt roads and beautiful scenery – and the Muddy Onion gives you an opportunity to experience both. The first 5 miles still trend up, and by the rest stop at mile 10, we had climbed over 1,300′ while passing family farms, open fields, and taking in views of the Green Mountains.

20180428_101938
the better conditions encountered

The middle 17 miles looped us up to Mirror Lake and the tiny towns that dot Vermont. Screaming downhill to flat lake-side roads that provide an air conditioning effect – not much needed when it’s barely 60*F out! I had pulled off my arm warmers sometime in the first 10 miles, and I certainly wished I had them on as we passed the lake. We passed through beautifully dense pine forest, the scent of pine filling the air. Coming into the final rest stop with around 3,000′ of climbing under our legs.

20180428_103905
Class 4 means Quality

The final 10 miles feature that last few hundred feet of climbing and the last 4 miles trending DOWN and the welcome sight of getting back to Montpelier after 37 miles, 3,650′ of climbing, and a whole lot of dirty fun.

20180428_122624
at the rest stop

Racked the bikes and enjoyed the post-ride BBQ and beverages before getting cleaned up and heading back into town for a coffee at Capitol Grounds Cafe/802 Coffee and purchases at the state store. Sadly, no one at the store knew the whereabouts of Richard. Richard was our superlative Southern Gentleman/MOT clerk last year, and we were hoping to see him again this year.

(I’d love to know how much the Muddy Onion, a smaller gravel event, brings Montpelier in tourism dollars: in accommodations, food, and other purchases. I drive 5 hours each way and purchase gas, stay in a hotel, eat at local restaurants, and make purchases while visiting. Bikes Mean Business!)

Conclusion

The Muddy Onion has once again proven gravel grinders don’t have to be gratuitous sufferfests or hike-a-bike. With an enjoyable route that features stunning scenery and quiet backroads, none of the hills were insurmountable despite providing a truly meaningful challenge (although let’s be real, this year’s peanut butter-like conditions made the steepest of hills that much more challenging).

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this. all. day.

MO18 Elevation

Thank you Onion River Outdoors for another spectacular event. See you next year!!

20180428_110130
See you on the muddy roads!