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.....and Millstone....July 16th-19th .

There is nothing like riding your bike in a new location with a pack of friendly locals guiding you along. How about the chance to ride 3 or 4 new areas all in one weekend? Well that is what we did. Three of us left Mtn Top , PA at about 6pm after a full work day to head to Vermont for the weekend. The 3rd annual Vermont Mtn Bike Festival was happening and we thought what better way to find some new trails for later visits and enjoy the weekend. We settled into the 6 + hour drive and arrived in Burlington before we knew it. Up early Friday morning we made plans to ride at a new favorite only ridden for the first time in early June, MillStone Quarry. We arranged to meet 2 former Mtn Top locals(Joan & Al) who have since moved to Lake Sunapee New Hampshire at 10 am.

Getting to know Millstone by just using the map is quite a challenge......this being our second time made it 100% more fun cause we stopped at less of the intersections to see where we were headed. We did almost all the "advanced" routes that were marked on the map including the signature Fellowship of the Ring area, Capitol Loops, Rollercoaster, Whetmore Heights, Holy Ghost, and Switchback. We were about a mile from finishing the Fellowship of the Ring area when we encountered a lone rider on the trail who had fallen behind his group due to a broken chain. We fixed his chain and just as we finished the sky let loose with a torrential downpour that lasted a good 25 minutes. We were thouroughly soaked when the rain stopped. Amazingly the trails did not get slippery, even the rocks offered great traction during and after the rain.....well the roots did get slippery. We finished up our day by riding back toward the lodge where there was a hose to wash off our bikes before we headed back to our lodging in Burlington.

Once back at the hotel we cleaned up ourselves and organized a trip over to Magic Hat brewery for the last tour of the day. We actually ended up meeting one of the original founders Alan Newman while on the tour. Next on the agenda was exploring Church Street and the waterfront of Burlington. Had a great meal at a outdoor cafe on Church street, checked out the gear exchange store, and walked over to see how the BrewFest was going on the Burlington Waterfront. Last stop was a ride over to Hinesburg to check out where one of the VMBF rides was going to be....well we never found the trailhead but we did find Nic's Ice Cream shop to cap the day. All in all a really great day in Vermont!

We got up early to drive over to Waterbury Vermont and the site of the Vermont Mountain Bike Festival. We arrived what we thought was early at about 8:30am but there were plenty of people there already. Vendors were setting up in the field and we checked out all the tents and picked up our registration goody bag(some nice stuff in there including a classic Mtn Bike Vermont T shirt). The site was set up exceptionally well with one end anchored by a giant Indoor Ice Rink and the vendor tents circling the rest of the site. Our crew consisted of a early 40's guy, and early 50's guy, and an early 60's guy. We split up with the "hammer"(40 something guy) Jon signing up for the Stowe Advance ride and myself and 60's guy signing up for the Stowe Intermediate ride. Riders were organized and vehicle arrangements were made just before we took off for the short drive to Stowe at 9:30. Alison a Sugarbush local rode up to Stowe with Denis and I. Her husband was leading one of the Sugarbush rides but she had never checked out the Stowe riding before so she was exploring. Just before we left the lot EWR founder and rider and DIrt Rag Contributor Jay De Jesus pulled up next to us. He was setting up to run clinics all day at the site.

Turns out there were approx. 70 of us who were doing the Stowe Intermediate ride. We split that group in two and headed up Stowe Mountain along a series of trails. Now 35 sounds like alot of riders in a group but it turned out really well with the group stringing out for about a 1/3 of a mile. Early in the ride we passed into a fee trail system run by the Von Trapp Lodge Group(the ones from the Sound of Music'''''''the hills are alive with the sound of music""""). One of our guides for the ride was head of operations for the Von Trapp Ride Center and the other was Stowe Local Dave(this might be the 2nd most popular name in Vermont as I met 2 other Stowe Locals named Dave!!). Both were excellent ride leaders and a wealth of information about the local area. The ride started at 10am and we basically climbed a good part of the Mountain up to a cabin where we took a break and then bombed the rest of the day down the mountain.....including a stop at a brew pub on the Von Trapp property. The trails were amazingly well built including layout and built for the longhaul(think lots of armoring and drainage work). We finished up around 2pm with a short drive back to the Waterbury festival site.

Once back at the site it was time to ride the Waterbury trails on the demos. I tried out 2 bikes(Sir 9 & MCR) from the Niner tent, each was set up very well and in top running condition. The Niner rep even went to the extent of trying to match your cockpit set up by measuring your bike and then making adjustments to the demo. Took them out on the Yellow route which turned out to be about an hour loop. The route reminded me of Old Webs at Kingdom trails.....pine forest with a super high canopy and soft single track....really nice. Once finished riding utilized the Ice Rink team room showers to clean up from the day. Next dinner was on for those that had returned for the day.

As we walked the dinner line we met MTBR.com riders BigGearSS(Dave) and VMBA(Patrick K.) working the barbeque grills. Great dinner with seconds or thirds for anyone that wanted more and it was topped off with Ben & Jerry's ice cream. We ate under the huge tent with the band playing nearby. We realized at this point there were an amazing amount of kids around riding their bikes in the main field, hopefully it is the next generation of Mtn Bikers. At about 6:15pm we spied "Jon-the Hammer" walking across the field.....he looked completely played out....tenatively shuffling across the the field shirtless and shoeless......he had left the site at 9:30am and was just getting back.....he was one of select few that actually finished the entire Advanced Stowe ride. While eating and hanging at the tent we met 2 canadian couples and Nic and Sheila from Allentown PA as well as many others. Onion River Sports out of Montpelier had a keg of Harpoon IPA going throughout the early evening. Last stop for the day was the Resevoir Tap Room in Waturbury for more micro brews, more food(the Hammer ate a second meal), music, and the festival raffle. What a day....we left the hotel at 8 am and returned at 11 pm.

Sunday our last day...we got to the Festival site early again...arriving at about 8Am. Our plan was to ride together as we had on Friday at Millstone and given that the youngsters on the advanced Stowe ride pushed our "hammer" to the limit we new we would be able to keep up with him. We Enjoyed some fresh baked muffins and bagels with Vermont Peanut Butter while hangin' out with others. Next we signed out 2 more demo's, a Niner Jet 9 from the Niner crew and a Specialized StumpJumper FSR 29 Elite(long bike name) from the Onion River Sports team in Montpelier . We all ride Crank Bros. pedals so we each got a chance to try the bikes. We headed up to the Green Loop which I think was Burning Spear...either way we ended up going all the way to the top of the mountain....really great techie terrain up top.....plenty of rock faces to ride up or down and roots galore.....we ended up catching the yellow loop for an extra few miles. Once again, we used the Ice Rinks Team Room showers and headed back to PA at about 12:30pm.

The festival was well planned, organized, and executed. I hope it does not grow to large with the accompanying problems....I heard this year it was about 210 riders.....but never felt crowded or had long lines for demos or at the tents. MillStone, Stowe, and Waterbury are must do Vermont rides in my opinion. There sure is plenty to do up in the area for non rider friends and family. The locals are friendly and can really ride. They have developed a top notch network of trails and the Vermont Mountain Bike Festival is worth the long ride....we'll be back. Here are a few very short vids to give you an idea what it was like....




"there are two paths you can go by but in the long run there still time to change the road your on"
 

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