Our layover day in Royalton was filled with good food and relaxation. In the morning I made fried bananas as an appetizer followed by eggs with garlic, onions, carrots, and kale. Delicious! Later I made granola bites from the Bike Camp Cook book I brought along. After walking around town and chatting with the bike shop guys, Doon and PJ, we were feeling lazy and sore so enjoyed a nice afternoon nap. What a life, right? We also discovered an amazing trick. Even though our sleeping bag zippers are different sizes, they still zip nicely together into a cozy comforter! Perfect for the hostel.
The next morning, after more fried bananas, we rolled out of town about a mile only to realize my rear derailleur was stuck in high gears and my bar end shifter was loose! We tried for a while to fix it but couldn’t figure it out so headed back to the bike shop to see if Doon could give it a quick look. Luckily, he was able to fix it within a few minutes. Apparently all the jarring on the way down Middlebury Gap had loosened the shifter and a metal ring had come out of places inside that needed adjusted. By this time it was noon so we ate a quick sandwich before heading up Rochester Gap, another 2,000ft climb. This was a surprise to us, a re-route on our maps that we had overlooked. After that climb, it was pretty much all downhill. On the way down we came across a local swimming hole and of course took a dip. It was SO hot out and the swimming hole was a God send.
Once in Royalton we stopped at a convenience store to fill up water and a man named Frank told us about Worthy Burger just around the corner with great craft brew and grass fed beef burgers. Of course we had to stop! We definitely earned it.
Afterwards, we decided on trying to stealth camp along the river. Not long out of town we came across Hurricane Flats Organic Farm. There was a farmer out in the field so we decided to stop and ask if he would mind if we camped on his property by the river. Geo, the farmer, was super friendly and told us where the best camping and swimming spot was. He also gave us a ripe yellow watermelon that we devoured entirely. We told him we’d help with morning farm chores as a thank you, but he insisted on paying us if we worked. The next morning we enjoyed picking green beans and pulling radishes for a few hours surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Vermont. In return, he gave us a cantaloupe, peppers, carrots, and $20. It’s not every day you get paid to camp! Geo advised us only to pick about 95% of the crop, the other 5% wasn’t worth the time and isn’t cost efficient. He was full of useful information about farming and even went to Miami Univeristy in Oxford, about 40 minutes from Richmond! My favorite quote from him- everything is compost until it’s eaten.
After breakfast, we climbed Stafford Hill in the muggy heat. Thankfully we came across a spot to jump in the river to cool off and lighten our moods and decided to eat the entire cantaloupe. Yum! We continued on and climbed Thetford Hill, another hot and sweaty climb. In East Thetford we stopped at a grocery store and briefly met a cyclist. On the way down River Road we saw the cyclist, Mark, again and he asked where we were going. We told him we were basically riding until we came across a spot with free camping. He responded by offering his boat house on Lake Morey for the evening. We didn’t need much convincing and followed him to the local ice cream shop and then to his place. The boat house opened up directly to the water and we enjoyed another refreshing swim.
We started making another round of soup and invited Mark to join us for the evening. After wonderful conversation and a nice storm that cooled things off, we set up the tent inside so we could be bug free and slept with the doors open. It was so peaceful in the morning, watching the fog over the lake and listening to the loons. It was hard to leave, especially thinking about the day of climbing ahead of us. Mark road us around the other side of the lake in the morning and we enjoyed coffee before rejoining our route. We crossed into New Hampshire quickly and road by many beautiful old farms.
we stopped at another organic farm to pick up eggs before climbing into Haverhill. We filled up water at a convenience store and sat outside eating lunch in the shade. The heat was brutal. Just before reaching the summit we stopped at a gas station to refill our fuel bottle (a whopping $0.41), refill water, and eat snacks. A man that drove up told us two years ago today it was 30 degrees out. What a change! We came to the town of North Woodstock around 4pm and stopped at a brewery to chop down on popcorn and drink some good beer. We continued to Lincoln and stopped at an outdoor store to resole my poor chacos again. There, I realized something went very wrong and I had developed saddle sores that even the best chamois butter couldn’t solve. It burned! We wanted to see how far we could get climbing Kancamangus that evening but it was getting dark, I was in pain, and the clouds were rolling in. We pulled off at a nice spot by the river and set up camp just in time before the rain started. We are sandwiches in the tent, thankful we weren’t on a course having to cook in the storm, and slept early in anticipation for the 12 miles climb the next day.
The next morning we woke up reluctantly and Alvin started on breakfast while I packed things up. We have excellent unspoken teamwork. We finally made it out of camp before 10am and started the climb. My legs took a few miles to warm up but I turned on some music and only stopped to take pictures at beautiful overlooks. The scenery was so incredibly beautiful and the day was cool and cloudy, perfect for climbing. I had a blast!! This mountain I was scared of was one of my favorite riding days by far! I jammed out, singing and smiling… The cars must have thought I was nuts. Loving life!
We had just came up that from that way! I will never be afraid of hills again! How liberating! On the way down before stopping for lunch, I can across an unopened blueberry cliff bar in the middle of the shoulder.
Thank you, road Gods!