Friday, August 16, 2013

Following the Dirt


I enjoy mapping out cycling routes using then following the route I created. I stayed overnight in Brattleboro and wanted to ride in Vermont, even if it really was New Hampshire, before making the three hour drive to North Conway.

Twin Bridges in Hwy 9. The Bridge on the Left is for Bikes. Or People.

The Connecticut River divides Vermont and New Hampshire and any good ride needed a river crossing, thus the reason I would be riding mostly in New Hampshire. 

Brattleboro, Vermont

I started out in Vermont then crossed the river. After turning off Highway 9 I turned onto a dirt road. I hadn't even thought about being on dirt and briefly thought about turning back and just following pavement. But this dirt was great. It was so hard packed that it was almost as good as being on pavement and was better than some asphalt I have ridden on.

As the road went deeper into the forest the only sounds were from the water running next to the road and the whirl of a lumber mill somewhere through the woods. It was perfect.

Railroad Bridge in Brattleboro

But perfect would come to an end. At a turn on Merrifield Road, the road became rough. There was a washboard quality to it with gravel. And when I crested a hill and had to descend I was very nervous.

Dirt so perfect

I was trusting my route when the dirt ran out and I was back on asphalt. After a half mile a cyclist came from the other direction. He was on a mountain bike and I did a quick U-turn to follow him. We had a great chat as we rode.

It turned out that following the advice found in Mother Earth magazine, he ended up relocating to Bedford, Pa. where he owned a cafe for seven years. We talked about Bedford, Altoona, and Somerset.

Barn on Merrifield Road

He also told me that we were riding through a very poor area in New Hampshire but that Brattleboro was a "hippie town." He said they call it the "nuts and granola" town and warned me that it legal to walk around naked and that I might see some folks in the nude. I didn't.

This car matches my bike

I would not take a road bike on the Merrifield Road portion of this ride again but thoroughly enjoyed the discovery of a new area. Back at the hotel, I took my morning shower at 11:30 a.m. and checked out which was in great contrast to my usual 6:30 - 7:30 a.m. checkout. It was nice being last.

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