NY Vermont Montreal 2012


John Humphries' Lizard Head Cycling Guides inaugural New York & Vermont to Montreal bike tour (September 9-15, 2012) was a tough, but well organized 6 day tour from Albany, NY through Vermont and then on to Montreal. The highlight was riding the 6 Vermont Green Mountain Gaps covered by the Vermont Six Gaps Ride. Fortunately we rode Brandon, Rochester & Roxbury gaps one day and then Middlebury, Lincoln & Appalachian gaps the next day on our way to Stowe. We covered 440 miles and climbed about 25,000 feet over the 6 days. More detail on each of the gaps is available on the Six Gaps Ride and the Rapha Continental Team sites, but as an example, here's part of what each says about Lincoln Gap, the toughest of the bunch:

  • "If you’ve ever been to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Abe’s memorial dominates you the same way Lincoln Gap will. The approach our traditional route climbs is from the east, or Warren side, descending to the west, or Lincoln side. You will encounter gravel on both sides of the gap. From Rt 100, the initial pitch is steep up Lincoln Gap Rd. As it tapers off, pavement will turn to gravel, riding almost flat or even some down hill. But once the gravel turns back to pavement, you are in for the mother of all grinds. The road is very narrow, just over one lane wide, and nicely paved. Keep your head up for oncoming cyclists (they are very quiet) and cars. The road is cut into the side of the mountain and rises at a fairly persistent 20% grade, some areas exceeding 24%. As it hugs the nooks and crannies, you keep thinking each time you pop out that you’ll see the top. No such luck. Unless you geared your bike very low, like near 1:1, you will cry on this pitch. I’ve seen strong riders give up and walk before reaching the top, cussing along the way. You will also wheelie over if you don’t move forward on the bike." 

  • "The way you hear some cyclists talk, the only thoughts that enter their minds while they're riding are lofty abstractions about the beauty of the mountains, the trees or nature in general. When I was climbing Lincoln Gap, however, I was completely focused on one thing: stupidity. Not mine, mind you. But whoever built that treacherous road that goes over the Gap. What were they thinking? I mean, I've watched countless editions of the grand tours and you rarely see a grade rise over 12 percent, and certainly never a sustained grade over 12 percent. But those guys who built the Lincoln Gap road threw caution to the wind and constructed a mile of road that averages 22 to 24 percent. It's as if switchback technology hadn't made it to the United States yet. Or maybe they were just short on cement, so they had to build the shortest route possible: straight up and over."

My bike computer topped out at about 19%, but that's probably because I was doing the "paperboy routine" back and forth across the road on the steepest sections.I don't mean to dwell on Lincoln Gap or put anyone off of doing the trip, but they are 6 short, steep, very challenging climbs that clearly demonstrate Vermont doesn't have "just some hills". Smugglers Notch outside of Stowe past the ski result was yet another epic climb. 

Although challenging, riding the Gaps made for a wonderful trip and the support van was always close by for anyone who might want it. We had great weather other than a little drizzle going into Montreal, traveled mostly quiet roads as well as some nice bike paths, and stayed in some very nice inns. Lizard Head did not skimp on accommodations or arrangements! The photos below are a combination of those taken by Greg, John & Matt in addition to my own. Profiles and maps are from my Garmin 800 bike computer.

Click on any photo to open a gallery of larger images.

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