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Dave Levasseur's North Lobe Trip Report

2020 Grand Depart. 260 miles in 3 days + 2 nights
9/24/2020, last minute pack/ prep night


Packed up bike w/ all food and finalized things. Decided to ride my bike across the kitchen at 10:30pm, found out the rear brake was only providing about 5% of my stopping power. Not good. Decided not to do a full brake bleed because I am really slow at that, and needed to sleep if I was going to get up at 4. I opted for the quick pad/ rotor resurface instead, and chucked a new set of pads in my tool kit in case I needed them. I didn’t feel like dragging my fully loaded bike down to my shop and toss it on the repair stand, so I rigged up the bike on my kitchen counter top instead (its ok, they’re plywood for now), and removed the rear wheel. Cleaned the pads and rotor, then resurfaced w/ a drywall screen, cleaned them again, and reassembled the bike, tested again, and only got about 25% out of them. Oh well. At this point it was 11pm, so I called it a night and stuffed the bike in the back of my VW and went off to bed.  What could go wrong?!


9/25/2020, Day 1
Mileage:  86
Vertical feet climbed:  8,442
Montpelier to East Burke


8am Start/ Grand Depart from the Statehouse steps. Met up with Dad, Jon, Emil, and Dan Jordan at 7:30ish, milled about. Somehow managed to break the arm off my knock-off POC glasses. Awesome start so far! Dan informed us that the rental trackers were late in Fedex land somewhere, so he or Danielle or David T would attempt to meet up with us later today or tomorrow to get us our trackers. Masks on due to group size, got our group photo on the State House steps, then got a quick ‘have fun’ spiel from Dan, and we set out! 


First redlight on State/ Main, and we all went our separate ways; Full Super8/ Southern Lobers went right, us Northern Lobers went left. I quickly led the ENTIRE Northern Lobe group astray, as I was too excited to be riding and didn’t even look at my Wahoo, completely missing the right turn onto School street OOPs! At that moment, we all turned a 180, then took a left onto School street. Our start coincided directly with school dropoff time, so we got a lot of curious looks from all the parents and students in the drop off line at the school. Everyone decided to pass me shortly after, I sensed some level of distrust :) haha.oops!


Climbed up and out of town in the fog, then it became apparent I needed to strip off my warmers and vest, so I waited till we got well out of town, out on the top of one of the many backroads. I stripped off the warmers and vest, and waited for dad to come along. By this time, the pack had all passed and went along. Dad caught up and we started rolling off into the fog some more. 


I ended up passing Brittni and Scott again somewhere, then Alex, then passed the two Canadian guys (never chatted with them to catch their names) on the rail trail, then caught up with Jon in Lanesboro, just before the end of the rail trail segment. We stopped on the top of the hill on the trail for a bit to eat, then the Canadian guys passed us. Caught Emil on one of his ‘every 20 mile stretch break’. (I think this is a great idea! ).  Continued climbing up to New Discovery SP, where the ranger waved us through and said not to bother paying the day use fee cause we were just passing through, that’s nice! Really enjoyed rolling along through the old roads here, up through Peacham. The rest is a blur. I do remember slogging up some of the hills though, but really enjoyed the countryside!  Stopped a couple times for snacks/ hill beaks, then stopped for an extended water/ lunch break at Greenbanks Hollow. Really needed to refill the h2o bad, so I did. Alex, Brittni, Scott, and Dad caught up to us here, then we all went along on our separate ways after refills and food. 


Emil started to make a rather long wrong turn in the village of Barnet, it was kinda funny, but he came back on track quickly! 


We got to Danville and absolutely blasted down that rail trail section to ST J. wowo.19-22 mpg avg cruise! Well.. until I sucked a bee into my wide open jersey (I was a wee bit warm),  and it proceeded to get mad and stung me a few times, so I stopped rather quickly and stripped trailside to get it OUT! Emil caught up to me and gave me quite the quizzical look, until I explained what had occurred. 


Just as we turned off the rail trail, I heard a weird TWANG from my rear wheel. Broke a spoke, awesome.. (I’ve only done this 2 other times in my life!)  Decided to just wrap the broken one around the adjacent spoke and keep moving along, with the idea that I could stop at the Hub Trailside in Burke to get a replacement. It was getting warm.. Climbed a lot of ‘hot sun at our backs’ hills up out of St J and into Lyndonville. Rested at the top of one of them just before Lyndon State College for a bit, then decided I needed to keep moving. Passed the Canadian guys again, then kept moving down toward Lyndonville. Nice surprise descent into Lyndonville! Passed Alex by the fairgrounds, then hauled up Darling Hill Rd, then popped in to the shop to get a spoke. $2.12 later I had one in hand!  Decided not to get a cider there even though I was craving one, knowing I would need full concentration to get my freight train through the KT trails.. Especially Ware’s Davis and White School. That was fun. Bumped into Alex again at the start of White School, redirected him onto the trail, as he was headed up Darling Hill Rd in the wrong direction. I headed into the woods and long my merry way, wanting to get to camp before dark and EAT something besides energy stuff. 


Wiggled my way through Ware’s Davis and White School pretty quickly, but carefully nursing that busted rear wheel. Mentally prepared myself for the slog up Pinkham Rd. I’ve done Pinkham rd many times on my mountain bike and gravel bike (mainly for the tail end of the Rasputitsa), but never this heavily laden. Grind away and upwards.. Making switchbacks up the road as I went.. Was very happy to duck into the woods on Candy Barr, and down to the Dashney Nordic center. Climbed up to the Burke access rd, then to the campground/ toll rd and decided I wasn’t going to ride that steep stretch, so I pushed it to the campground. Got to my reserved leanto and promptly texted Ellen (wife) I had made it and needed to eat, so I made dinner and setup camp and tinkered around for a bit. 


Scott rolled in, and asked if he could stay, so I told him yes! Bike party time! Over the course of the next two hours, Emil, then Jon, then Brittni and Alex rolled in, then Dad. We had all made it for the evening. I attempted to thread me new spoke in, but in retrospect I should have had the shop do it because it was a driveside spoke and the cassette needed to come off.  Oops. So I just wrapped the new spoke around an adjacent one and decided to push my luck for the next two days.  Daniel texted us to let us know David T would meet us somewhere out on South America Pond rd/ or in Victory the next morning with our trackers if they come in. Despite our neighbors chatting well into the night, we all slept pretty well.

9/26/2020, Day 2
Mileage:  83
Vertical feet climbed:  6,227
East Burke to Newport/ Derby Line


Packed up camp, ate a leisurely breakfast, and headed up the toll road to the CCC road at around 8-8:30.  Proceeded across mtn on the CCC, bumped into and passed the Canadian guys, and kept climbing and moving along. Passed Scott between the two leantos on the CCC road, then descended into Victory. Phew! Nice descent, steep, sharp waterbars to watch out for though! Made it a good AM wakeup. I was motivated to get to the powerlines in Ferdinand before it got hot, as I knew that section was rather exposed and I don’t do well with heat. That, and was trying to beat David T to South America Pond area to get my tracker. 


Passed Brittani and Alex halfway across the Victory bog, and kept trucking up to Gallup Mills area. Stopped up in the woods about 30 mins later at the first logical spot, a large long landing, propped up my bike and had a snack. Decided it was time to apply some more chamois butter too, and I better do that in the woods, not in the open. Glad I hid! Just as I pulled up my bibs, Brittani and Alex came chugging up the hill! Phew! :)  Chatted gear and biking a bit, then we all took off again, headed up to the powerlines and South America Pond Rd. 


The Powerlines were tough. Nothing to note other than I pushed a lot, it was hot, and dry :)  I actually enjoyed it, some of the descents were spicy. I was happy to get back into the woods on South America Pond rd though. Zipped right along this section! Took the left onto the old road, and cruised along that too, bumped into a couple older gents tailgating in the woods. They were just as surprised to see me out there as I was to see them! Trail kept getting narrower and narrower, until I got to the slanted sketchy bridge. Rode across it with no issues, then into the tall grass and scrag. There was only a few tracks ahead of me who parted the grass, and one lone Super 8 sign, that was helpful! Popped out on the RR tracks, crossed them, then headed West in the heat on Rt 105. 


At this point I only had a couple sips of water left and was kicking myself for not stopping to refill in the nice stream out on South America Pond Rd. grr.. Oops. After running myself out of water in the IRR and Redemption rides a couple years ago, I vowed not to do this to myself again, yet here I was. I found a decent flowing brook roadside about halfway from Wenlock to Island Pond, and got out the pump and refilled. Managed to break the zipper on my trusty frame bag, so fiddled with it for longer than I wanted, but fixed it! Back on the road.. Turned right onto Henshaw rd and began the climb to Avery’s Gore. 


Phew lots of traffic! I swear there were more cars headed to and fro on this road than RT 105! They seemed to all be coming/ going to the Nullagan Stream area though, as soon as I turned past that road, they all disappeared. Pedaled up through and past a fresh logging operation, then stopped at a site where an older couple was staking out a camp. I asked if they were planning on building a home or camp there, and they said possibly rebuilding. Some idiot torched their lovely camp over the winter, they just didn’t know if they were ready to possibly go through that again or now. Rough! They promptly asked me where I was headed, and I said Newport for the night. They laughed and said I was headed the wrong and hard way :) I let them know I knew; then they offered me water. I said I was set, then began climbing again. Up and Up! 


A couple in a yellow Jeep passed me (I stepped aside) about half way up to Unknown Pond, then I went around a truck parked  in the middle of the trail up top. Such a beautiful climb up and totally quiet! I did push up most of this climb though. At this time I was finally starting to think about food (2pm-ish).  I caught up to the couple in the yellow jeep on the bumpy, grassy downhill and stopped and chatted a bit as they let me pass this time. They were just out for a drive, with no plans, out enjoying the day! They too offered me water, which was really nice, I politely refused as I knew I was headed down to water soon. Popped out onto a semi newly cleared road and jumped off one of the larger waterbars and promptly jettisoned my crocs (strapped to my seat bag) oops! I dropped the bike, ran back up hill to retrieve and strapped them on better this time, and added a mini carabiner as a backup. That should do!


Hopped onto Rd 114 and then onto Hurricane Brook Rd. The large beaver pond on this road looked like a fantastic place to get water and take a lunch break (finally) at 3pm! (oops!) So, I pumped some water, sat down, cooled my feet in the pond and laid out a fantastic buffet of peanut butter, tuna, wraps, cheese, gorp, meat sticks, more cheese, syrup, and probably more. I stayed here for a while and absolutely engorged myself with food. While I was pigging out, two other bikepackers came along (opposite direction I was traveling) , from up the road where I was to head to. [Stephen and Dave] were out for a loop over the weekend, they were tickled pink to meet a Super8 rider, I was tickled pink to meet another human on the trail! We chatted for a bit then wished each other well with big smiles, fun to all!


Headed up the road into the Hurricane WMA, noticed a nice driveup campsite, complete with firepit and outhouse in a clearing. Someone was already parked there and had setup camp, but it would make a great spot to camp sometime.  There seemed to be plenty of room here for more tents/ vehicles. Kept along the road, and turned off onto a less traveled two-wheel track, bumped into a couple and an older woman and their dog; I presumed they were the owners of the vehicle in the clearing. The guy stared at me a little, but I didn’t think much of it. (turns out he used to work with dad in Montpelier years ago! So.. he was staring at me because I looked familiar, ha!).  I really enjoyed this section as it wound along, heading NW. 


I turned off the two wheel track and onto a narrower, less traveled snowmobile trail. It was a nice cruise through the forest, climbing slightly and heading North toward Holland. At some point it became a little rough; IE rocks poking up, so made for slow going; bumping along. I was getting tired here too, so that slowed me further. Somewhere out there I bumped into three teens out on a woodsy ride on some mountain bikes. Looks like they were trying to get away from the family for the afternoon. Who knows where they were headed, but they were out exploring, having fun! 


Popped out on the road by Holland Pond, and was very relieved to! I was having a hard time with that section; for unknown reasons really; but I was tired.  Was able to absolutely cruise across the plains and dead standing cornfield lined roads of Holland, utilizing my aero bars as a welcome hand position change; zipping along at 22-26mph in places. Was nice to move! Stopped for a snack and hydration break just before Derby Line; I’d been on this road before; back in 2018 for the Redemption 100 gravel race. I remember that well, as at that point on that race this was at mile 85, it was HOT, and I had run out of water. Not a great place to be. This time I was much better off, well hydrated and fueled; just tired and eager to move westward along the top of VT. 


Onto one last climb to the paved road, then to Derby Line! I was so psyched to be crossing the bridge over 1-91 at the border; although it was a bit surreal. To my right was the Canadian border checkpoint, with zero traffic. To my left was the US border checkpoint, again; with zero traffic. Typically, there would be cars and trucks backed up here, awaiting clearance to enter the US. Odd! 


Continued along, and rounded the corner into town, heading South. Was kinda funny to see the Border patrol agent parked at the corner of Caswell Ave and Main st; just waiting to see who came down Main St from Canada and didn’t pull into the in-town checkpoint. I half thought I might be bothered here, as I took a picture of the checkpoint, then kept pedalling along. I didn’t cross any borders, therefore didn’t need to check-in with them.


Biked through Derby Line, then headed West toward Beebe Plains; another border crossing. This one is more rural, and even more remote and I gotta say, a little odd. Looked like I was in the middle of a town, as there were a clump of houses around this intersection; a Post Office on left side of road, US Border checkpoint on right, then across the street (and 15 feet away over the Jersey barrier); was the Canadian border checkpoint, with some distinct French-Canadian architectural flair. Pretty neat. 


I turned Left and Ouest here (see what I did there?), heading along the border road, Canada a mere 20’ away in places; across the swamps and fields. Popped onto the railtrail and headed South! Enjoyed the sun sentting across Lake Memephremagog, then decided that since I was hot and the lake looked refreshing, it was high time for a bath. I located a stone beach, stripped down to my bibs, and waded in. I was expecting it to get deep off shore, so I waddled my way out, out, out; probably 150’ feet off shore, and it still was barely knee deep. I was on a sandbar, with muscles stuck in the sand! Decided that’s as far out as needed to go, so I laid flat and submerged myself, AHHHH! That was NICE!   Hung out there for 10 minutes or so, then made my way south some more to the trailhead/ intersection with the Memphremagog Trail Association trails at the Bridge, and up the Hill to Emil’s friends parents house. 


I followed my Wahoo’s track up through the maze of singletrack and double track to Emil’s friends parents house at the top of the hill; hmm.. This is becoming a pattern; finishing up a hill at the end of the day.. (although NOWHERE near as steep as the Burke Mtn Access rd thankfully!) 


Got up the hill all the way to the Memphemagog Trails Barn as was greeted by Bob and Ellie. They proceed to offer me a goody basket of chips, snack, wine, and homemade kombucha! YUM. I visited with them and their dinner guests for a few minutes, watched the amazing sunset over the lake off their back deck.WOW. Magical moment! 


I had to politely excuse myself as I wanted to refill water and setup camp/ dinner before dark. I refilled my water bottles out of their garden hose, slipped my Nalgene bota bag over my aero bars and started to bounce my way down their field. I think I hit the third bump and my full nalgene bota bag slipped off the bars and I promptly ran over it, popping it. RATS. ugh. Made my way down the field to the edge of the woods, where there was a picnic table and small solar panel on a tower. Nice and flat, yet private spot. I setup my tent and proceeded to make dinner! 


I hopped online and started tracking Jon and Emil via Jon’s spot, saw they were making their way across Holland. They showed up about an hour later, looking tired, yet relieved.  Dad showed up about an hour after them, after multiple calls since he was getting turned around in the trail system between the rail trail and the field. I ran down into the woods and guided him to camp with shouts and blips from my lights. We all made it to camp for night 2, yah!


Had a nice calm night eating and sharing stories of the day with the guys, all in bed by 10 or so.  Super nice evening, so nice in fact, the inside of my tent was rather warm!

9/27/2020, Day 3
Mileage:  92
Vertical feet climbed:  7,251
Newport/ Derby Line to Montpelier


Woke up at dawn and got breakfast and got packing. I made a couple trips up to the house to refill everyones waters, but then was really eager to get going, as I kept thinking if I keep hammering away, I could get back to Monepelier tonight. I really didn’t want to drag this into 4 days, when there was less than a century distance to go! I knew the terrain was rough (in Loewell/ Albany) ahead, so I knew I might get slowed there, as well as just south of Hardwick on Buffalo Mountain. BUT… I was determined to hit the ground running irregardless. 


Jon, Dad, and I got moving quickish and made our way through the maze of trails that the Memphremagog Trails Association has, and popped out onto the bike path and headed south to Newport. Emli departed later.  Jon was hungry so he and dad stopped for a second breakfast, not 20 minutes into the day :)  Had I known they were going to stop for more food, I probably would have too. I didn’t know this, so I just pressed on and up out of Newport thinking I’d run into them later in the day. As I turned onto and up Logan drive, I looked back just in time to see the Rasputitsa truck go by. Pretty neat. I really enjoyed the views from up on ridge on Lane Road. Pretty nice start to the day so far! 


 The real fun started when heading up Poginy Hill Rd. Up and up it climbed. Perfect!  Just near the end of the road, there was a home under construction and the road after that turned more and more trail-like the further up I climbed. It leveled off a bit and was downright sandy and dusty, and surprised me. Must have been some glacial till pocket leftover from the last ice age. Pretty neat to see up on the hill nonetheless.  


The next section rambled on and up and down dirt roads, all pretty fun and nice VT backroad scenery. I really enjoyed this section and the hillsides! As my dad mentioned in his trip report, there was a sizeable crew of folks out cruising the backroads in their side by sides, super respectful when passing, I really appreciated that! Dusty though, even at low speed. A sign of our really dry summer for sure! Was nice to see so many folks out enjoying the outdoors! 


Turned onto Baily-Hazen rd, and climbed up through the field to the woodline. Rounded the corner and BAM. Rockwall of a washed out roadbed. Cool. Think I’ll walk thanks! Decided to hike-a-bike since this section looked like it was a never ending rockgarden. Oh well! Gave me some more time to think !  Enjoyed the view at an abandoned apple orchard, then kept moving upward. Could hear a slight hum/ whoosh, realized it was the windtowers on Lowell mtn. AH. I knew where I was.  I also knew that it would be rocky/ bumpy on this section. Yahoo! Unbeknownst to me, somewhere in this section my Road ID bracelet decided to unhook itself and jump free. (I didn’t realize I lost it until later in the day near Hardwick. A passerby weeks later found it and mailed it to me!).  This section was busy with a few crews of folks out enjoying the trail on their side by sides too; and again, I was impressed with their courtesy. A few got way out of the way for me, which I really appreciated while making some of those harrowing rocky descents!   


I continued along and up Eden Rd and past a small solar farm. Cool to see the Solar farm on my left, and the windtowers on the ridge right in front of me. I crested the hill and started to round a corner and saw one of the most VT scenes ever. Beat up truck in the yard, old man sitting in his front yard with his lab lying by his side; just watching the day go by. I waved and said hi. The old man responded ‘nice day, whatcha doin’?  So, I stopped and chatted with him for the next 25 minutes or so about the day, the biking, the windfarm, hunting, the town road crew, road conditions, food, his past etc. Was a nice break, and a nice pleasant conversation! He was all excited to see the bikers go by every now and then, as the only traffic up his road was typically 4wd traffic on weekends. 


Onward! I recognized this section from one of the Rogue Ride routes years ago, but I was coming the opposite direction then. More side by side traffic, and just a courteous as before, which was really nice again! Fun rambling along the old road here, across the swamp etc; until the right hand turn onto East Hill rd. That was a thankfully short gut punch of a steep one! Worth it though, as the rest of the road rolled up and down quite a bit down toward Eden. I managed a peek at the computer for a second on one of the descents and saw I was hitting about 45 mph.  Yippee! Better look back on the road I quickly remembered I was on my fully loaded bikepacking rig; gotta keep all brain wattage forward.. 


Dropped down into Eden, did the little loop along the lake front, (that was nice!)  then hopped onto the Main drag. Noticed the TRAIL MAGIC sign pointing to the campground but decided to pass, as I knew if I went, I’d get too comfy and kill an hour eating and resting. Passed the Canadian guys on the paved rd, looked like they were contemplating turning around to get Trail Magic. I kept on trucking up to Cemetary rd, down that, over the washed out bridge, and almost missed the turn oto Cooper Hill Rd. BOOM. That hill is legit. It wound its way up and up; I decided to walk a bunch of it, but was determined to keep moving and stay ahead of the other guys if I could, even though I was getting pretty tired. 


Rolled along this until McKinstry Hill rd, where a friend lives! Decided to stop by and grab some water at her house, as I knew she was gone for the weekend; just refilled from the garden hose (don’t tell mom!) She had also texted me earlier in the day that she was leaving goodies out for us, so I dug around and found them and took a nice long, 45 min break and gorged on chips, gummy worms, apples, and gingerale and helped myself to the hammock. AHHH. Realizing I really needed to get moving, I decided to push on and not wait for Jon and Emil. I texted them to let them know where I was, but I think they were out of service at that point so rather than wait, I pressed on solo. 


Up and down the rolling hills, then downward toward Morrisville, and onto the bike path. Really tempted to stop in at Lost Nation brewery for some food/ bevys, but realized if I did that I’d probably end up sleeping in the woods there that night, so I kept on trucking! Was nice to hit some fast avg speeds on that paved rail trail! Came to the end of it pretty quickly though, and onto what seemed to be marble cobble for the next few miles. 


Bumping along, I knew, and was dreading at some point I’d have to end up banging a left off the railbed and hop onto Rt 15 for a bit, as the rail trail had many portions ahead that crossed the river, but w/o bridges. Looked like the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Association was building a bridge abutment though, so I think that these sections will be bridged and back in play in the next few years; exciting! 


Rolled along Rt 15 in Wolcott without incident (I hate riding on the road), so I was pretty psyched about that.  Snapped a quick pic at the Wolcott PO and headed along the backroad around Wolcott and back onto the railtrail. Hopped onto the rail bridge and didn’t have much time to think, other than “oh snap, this bridge isn’t decked very good!” nothing much to do here but go for it and hold my balance! So.. I did. Crossed under Rt 15 and continued along on more marble cobblestones to Hardwick. At some point along the way, I decided I needed to eat a bit, so grabbed one of the non-descript syrup samples that Untapped had sent with my last order to test. It was the Salted Coccoa Syrup. YUM. that hit the spot, and along with some other fatty snacks in my bag, gave me a nice boost to Hardwick. Note: this section of rail trail was so much fun! Felt rather remote, nice and quiet too! :)


Hopped back onto Rt15 at a sawmill, then hopped back off and onto more marble cobble. This section seemed like it gets little to no traffic at all, and was really nice for that! Popped into Hardwick and across Rt15 for some more rail trail and then back into town, and onward. I made a quick call to the family letting them know where I was, and what my plans were, as at this point, I was full send committed to completing today. I believe it was around 5:30-6:30 when I departed Hardwick and headed up the slog that is Buffalo Mtn Rd.  As much of a hill as it is, I really enjoyed being back in the woods again!


Pushed the bike up the short steep part to where the road/ trail leveled off a bit, and rolled right along. Met a few jeeps and dirt bikes in here, doing their thing. Again, lots of folks out enjoying the day in multiple ways! Buffalo mtn rd eventually led to civilization, just past a few houses really; then into Woodbury Mtn rd,more class 4 fun! :) I loved the solitude and tech aspects of this road, kept my mind occupied as the miles rolled along. Bumped into even more folks out wheelin’. All waved and smiled. (and probably thought, where is this guys motor?!) 


The next section from Woodbury mtn rd to Kents corner really was a blur. Rolling along on the beautiful VT dirt roads is always fun! Stopped for a few minutes at Kents Corner/Tavern to read the placard. I’m still amazed at how people settled out in what must have been really remote places back in the late 1700’s! There was an old brick tavern there, as well as a HUGE beautiful old church.  Again, I am amazed at the hardness these old settlers must have had to build such structures out there. 


Onto Adamant! I’ve only seen Adamant on maps, so I vaguely knew it was there, but wow. It’s a beautiful little village! I really wish I could have stopped and rested a little at the old mill ponds for a bit, but the sun had already dipped below the treetops, and I still had 10 miles to go. TEN MILES TO GO!  YASSSS!!  It was at this point I stopped and turned my blinky rear light on, and called mom and dad.  I knew dad had tapped out in Eden from a text earlier in the day and was headed home to shower.  I let them know I would be in Montpelier around 8.  Mom asked me what she could bring me, and all I could think about was a nasty good pepperoni pizza; better yet, make that 2.. (since I am GF and GF pizzas are on the smaller side).. Oh; and a salad. Oh, and more maybe?!  I’m hungry…..   


I rolled on down and turned onto North st and stopped to turn on my Dynamo lights finally. North st was narrow and dark, and is really just a one lane dirt road in the woods.  As I was going up this road, a car passed me kinda slow, then disappeared from sight. A moment later, it came back down the road slow, and stopped when it got to me.  The driver and passenger wanted to know if I was ok, and if I needed help. I let them know what I was up to, and almost done this loop. They were pretty excited for me! They lived on this road and were going to let me camp in their yard if I needed to. So nice!


I continued on and turned onto Sparrow farm rd and completely took a lady who was walking by surprise. I still cannot believe I manage to startle people when I’m on my bike. My bike clinks and clanks along, and combined with a loud ratcheting freehub and squeaky brakes, makes quite a racket. People must be lost in their little worlds, as I do really try not to scare!  Should have got a bell or something I guess. Next time!


I came to the field where the trail starts and dropped into the green tunnel and onto the boardwalk. I’ve been looking forward to this section, as last time I rode this and the North Branch Park trails was when I lived here in 2000. Phew its been a long time! I recognized less and less of the trail the deeper I went into the woods, as it was flat out dark now. I just followed my Wahoo’s lines, although there were a couple conflicting S8 signs in that trail network that conflicted with the provided route, so that confused me multiple times.I was also feeling my fatigue really setting in, so my head was not working as well either. Kept on going and found the correct path, then down the berm section; super fun even on the bikepack rig; got on the drops and railed the berms as best I could, feeling the heavily laden bike flex on each turn.  Popped out onto Elm st, and headed into town! 


I rounded the corner to State street just as the clock in town started its ringing of 8 o’clock. Wow! I punched it and sprinted down State Street to the capitol building with the hopes I’d beat the ringing, but didn’t. Oh well!  Finished at 8:01pm, to a mostly empty front steps of the capitol building. I coasted around a bit, took a pic of the bike on the steps and sat down and waited for my folks to arrive; which they did, moments later. Called Ellen and the girls while munching on the pizza that mom and dad brought. Hung out there for a bit, then the Canadian guys rolled on through, so Dad and I cheered for them. The other folks on the statehouse lawn were thoroughly confused as to what was happening. Finished all but 2 pieces of the 2 pizzas, said my goodbyes to my folks, and headed back to my friends where I parked the car.


I questioned my wisdom for not parking at the park and ride, as that was a flat roll.. My friend's house is up in the Hill section of town.. Oof… needless to say, I pushed the bike up to his place for a very slow mile. Shoved everything in the car, grabbed some leftover coffee I had been carrying around since breakfast back in Newport and hit the road.  That was fun! Can’t wait to tackle the Southern Lobe in 2021. Thanks Super8 Crew!

Parting thoughts/ reflections:

Kinda kicking myself for not hanging with Jon, Emil, and Dad more. We rode together off and on the first day, but I got into race mode for some silly reason and took off cooking both the Saturday and Sunday mornings. (sorry guys!) Doing this left me hanging out by myself a lot. Would have been more fun to be more social, besides just catching up at night in camp. This year has weighed heavily on me with all it’s isolation. I love isolation, but also crave human interaction. It has changed me a little.


I packed WAY too much food. I was doing this self sufficient (until needing a spoke!) , and I like to eat, especially after/ during a ride, so I packed something like 10,000 calories a day worth of food. It was a little excessive.  What I didn’t count on was not craving/ being hungry, particularity for some of the sweeter Lara bars I packed; even though I knew I needed them.  Oops. My overpacking food was a major disadvantage, as I estimate it was somewhere around 15+ lbs of food. Oops. Note: I didn’t go hungry.


I also packed too many clothes. Silly me. I left most of my cold weather gear in my pack from the week before (as forecast was calling for cooler temps than we had) I must have forgotten about taking those out when the forecast changed.. Again, oops. Too much stuff! I like what Daniel said in one of his texts to me “ you find out what you really need”. I really should have known better, as Dad and I had done a number of lightweight backpacking trips in the past, but somewhere between building a house and a family, I must have forgotten the “go light” mantra we used to use. Next time, lighter and more miles per day :)

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