Killington to Stratton

The last day of our four day tour of the Green Mountains was planned to take us back to our starting point, a bit of a round about route from Killington back to Stratton. We had started to enjoy life in the mountains, in nice condos, eating big dinners, drinking beer ad-lib from local breweries and having desert each night. The stars at night in the mountains are spectacular. The milky way shines through, and myriad stars one never sees fill in the sky among the more common constellations one can see in the backyard back home. We all slept well in our Trail Creek condo, even Keith, who had suffered the hard fall the day before and had to abandon the tour. Yes, he let out some odd groans whenever he turned in his sleep, but he managed to sleep through the night. For breakfast, we had bought the fast food favorite, sausage and cheese on english muffins, bagels, and coffee from the hotel convenience store next door the night before. Keith, who would be getting a ride directly to Stratton, had arranged for our bags to be brought back up to the hotel, where they would be picked up and brought to Stratton, too. The movement of luggage to each person’s hotel or condo each day cannot have been a simple task, and I commend the organizers for carrying this out flawlessly during the tour.

With the luggage taken care of, and Keith’s transport arranged, we got our bikes out and headed down the Killington access road to start our last day’s ride. Dan B. and I let gravity have it’s way as we sped down the hill we struggled up the night before. Dan T., not having the same lust for a fast downhill, laid on the brakes and took it more slowly. Dan B. and I arrived at the junction of route 4 well ahead of Dan T., and we crossed the highway to where the director of the tour, John Sohikian, was waiting with his van and tire pumps. We chatted with John, telling him how much we had enjoyed this four-day tour, and how well it was organized, as we topped off our tires for the last leg. Meanwhile, Dan T., having arrived at the bottom of the access road, missing the fact that we were waiting for him across the street, took off in a mad rush to catch us who were behind him. He spent the rest of the morning chasing us down, skipping the Magic Mountain rest stop, and beat us back to the finish line by a good margin. Dan B. and I, meanwhile, came back up to the intersection and realized that the other Dan had taken off solo. We headed out down route 100, enjoying the incredibly beautiful scenery, but also keeping a pretty fast pace as we headed towards Ludlow. Dan B. makes quite an engine. I was just barely able to hang in his slipstream as he paced me over the rolling route. Our first rest stop was at the Clocktower Center in Ludlow, where there once was a very comfortable and funky coffee shop called “A State of Bean”. It is now a snowboard shop, alas. The next segment of the ride took us to a rest stop at Magic Mountain. This is a smaller resort than the others we visited, and it was closed due to bankruptcy in the 1990’s. Apparently, it is now open again, but will still face the challenge of being surrounded by larger and more familiar resorts. It was at this point we could have opted for a bus ride back up to Stratton, avoiding the climb up the Stratton Mountain road. Many of the other riders were doing this, perhaps to get back earlier and start their drive home. But Dan B. and I, and we were certain, Dan T. as well, were not going to skip the last big climb of the trip. We mounted back up for the last leg of the day’s ride, down route 100, up route 30, and finally, all the way up the Stratton Mountain road to the base lodge. As it turned out, though a bit of a challenge compared to what we had already done, that last climb was not so bad, “only” reaching grades of around 10-12 %. As we rode up the last bit, our cell phones were going off, and we knew it was Dan T. wanting to know where we were. It turns out, he had missed the turn for the Magic Mountain rest stop and skipped it all together, just continuing on to the finish. Our ride that day was about 65 miles, and seemed short, done by noon.

We saw that our luggage was delivered and waiting for us. We went for lunch under a large tent set up in the area next to the gondola. Summer visitors were taking the gondola up to the top of Stratton to get in some hiking. John Sohikian was making rounds at all the tables, asking how we liked the tour, and gathering mental notes for next year. Keith had already been dropped off and he left us a note on our car, saying he would be up for another trip next summer. We changed out of our cycling clothes for the ride back home and got the bags and bikes back into and onto Dan B.’s hybrid SUV. We then drove off, leaving behind the beautiful Green Mountains, and heading back to our workaday lives.

This was an exciting and challenging tour. It had classic elements of man vs. man, man vs. nature, and even man vs. dog. It was at times sublimely relaxing, drinking beer with our feet up on the Lay-Z-Boy sectional sofa telling jokes, and at others, harrowing, requiring keen attention as we shot downhill, around mountain curves, avoiding road fissures and gravel while logging trucks and other vehicles passed us. Whether this will hurt my marathon training for October 7, I don’t know. I would say I kept up with the cardiac training, and my legs got an impressive workout, just not with the same action as running. Now to get back to the roadwork. We’ll be getting in more miles and longer runs in the next few weeks, as my training partners Steve, Brian and Tony did last Sunday, with their twenty miler. Good going, guys!

As a post-script, I heard from Keith that he got checked when he got home regarding his injuries. It turns out he cracked two ribs, had an A-C separation (acromio-clavicular), and a small pneumothorax. Tough guy, that Keith.

Frank

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5 Comments

  1. Michele S.

     /  August 21, 2012

    Congrats on completing the whole tour. I’m really impressed you could do those rides, day after day. I hope you can now enjoy a few days off before picking back up on the marathon training. Keith sure does sound pretty tough, walking around with those injuries for a couple of days!!

    Reply
  2. Const-

     /  August 22, 2012

    Thanks for the account, and All the Best on October 7th!

    Reply
  3. walterplods2012

     /  August 22, 2012

    what a fun adventure and a fun read too. I think we should pass the hat to send you on more adventures. Maybe next time to Alaska!! Or maybe deep into Mexico…well maybe not.

    Reply

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