There were 8 of us (each cycling varying number of days) totaling 25 riding days.
Team JSTS arrived at Stratton Mountain for check-in in the late afternoon. The Kick-Off dinner (included in your registration) was in the loft area of the day lodge. This was a fairly intimate affair as there were only 60 registrants for day 1 of the challenge.
It was a cool 60° when Team JSTS convened, with 55 other riders, just before 8am at the Stratton Welcome Center. The tour began with a 4 mile descent, at speeds exceeding 35mph. We were all feeling pretty good – until you realized that your car was up at the start, and you’d be climbing up that same hill to end the ride on Day 4!
We wound our way through the Green Mountains and along the Battenkill River, stopping for homemade ice cream along the way. The ice cream stop was a 3 mile detour off the main route, but well worth the trip.
Although some of us took the “long” route, and others took the “short” route, we reconvened at the lunch stop in Manchester. After lunch, it was just another couple of miles through town to our motel – a very quaint Vermont lodging experience.
As it was still early in the day after check-in, some of us took naps, others went for a ride through town. We agreed to meet at 5:30 for the walk into town for dinner. There were 10 of us for sidewalk dining at Gringo Jack’s (we adopted some riders J).
After dinner, most of us headed over to the evening entertainment, a local “classic rock” band, outdoors adjacent to the town recreation area.
Day 1 Stats: 283 miles; 15456 ft of climbing
The motel provided breakfast in their gazebo, starting at 6am. There we meet Team Member #6, and 2 “recruits” (Monmouth County residents who were not yet club members).
Team JSTS was on the road by 7:45am (despite agreeing to “wheels down” at 7:30 the night before) for the short ride over to the start. Today’s route started off with a 3.8 mile prologue through Manchester Center to Town Hall. Once on the road, we had a choice of 2 routes to Okemo. Those that opted for the “short” route missed the bakery stop option, but did manage to include the 10 mile climb coming out of the rest stop. Surprisingly, all members of Team JSTS made it to the lunch stop within the serving time window. We were treated to sandwiches, pasta salad and beer… it was only another 1.5 miles to the hotel.
The afternoon was meant for kicking back, enjoying the Okemo Jackson Gore Base Area and napping. Team JSTS (and adopted members) planned to meet for dinner (included with registration), in the courtyard behind the inn around 6pm. The rain started at 5:55. After relocating to the “roundhouse”, we enjoyed BBQ Ribs, chicken, burgers and fixings, and another local band. The remaining 2 Team members joined us for dinner, after registering for their one-day event that would begin the following morning.
Before heading up to our rooms, we agreed to meet for the team photo at 6:45am, as the ride the next morning was to have a 7am start!
Day 2 Stats: 400 miles; 21972 ft of climbing
Photos at 6:45am… Almost everybody made it!
Admittedly, due to the 7am start time for the “long” routes, and the 8am start time for the “short” routes, there was some confusion, and unnecessarily early awakening to get everyone in the same place at the same time!
It was a beautiful 63° when half of us headed out at 7am for the century ride over the Sherburne Pass and back over the Brandon Gap, before climbing the Killington Access Road. The other half got the 8am start, for a shorter ride with a stop at the Long Trail Brewery.
The century route included another bakery stop in Brandon, for our daily off-route food stop. Several of us were riding with adopted team members who had never before done a century, so the added carbs were appreciated. Speaking of which, for one of our core team, this was his first century… congrats Jose – not only was it a century, it was a harder than average century!!
So, a little about the Brandon Gap…. It’s a 5 mile climb accumulating over 1500 ft, with the steepest section as you approach the crest… Then, of course, there’s the 10 mile descent into Rochester, at speeds exceeding 35mph – well worth the climb J.
At the rest stop in Rochester, the organizer agreed to keep the lunch stop open for us. Lunch would be 2.5 miles up the Killington Access Road – yet another climb. Some of us decided to pull into the hotel parking lot only a mile up the access road and call it a day after 102 miles, before reaching the lunch stop – after all, it wouldn’t be too long til dinner! Dinner was on our own tonight.. those sociable team members joined our “recruits” and adoptees at a restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. Dinner tasted great!
Day 3 Stats: 634 miles; 41630 ft of climbing
We knew we were in the mountains when we awoke in the morning to temps in the 40’s. Breakfast again was provided by the hotel. It took a little longer to get ready this morning, as everyone was looking for additional layers, but most of us got to the start for the 7am start (those that didn’t played catch-up til the first rest stop). At mile 35, some of us couldn’t pass up the (off-route) bakery stop, which set us back another 20 minutes.
There had been some discussion at breakfast about which routes everyone was doing… the choice was to ride only 48, or so, miles to Magic Mountain (yes, up the access road) and then get bussed back to the start, avoiding the 4 mile climb that we descended on Day 1, or continuing after the Magic Mountain rest stop to complete the loop with 62 miles AND the 4 mile climb. I recall hearing some excuse about needing to get on the road early. But I’m proud to say that 3 of us completed the loop, and still made it to lunch at the finish!
Day 4 Stats: 332 miles; 18618 ft of climbing
Total Team JSTS Vermont Challenge Stats:
1649 miles; 97676 ft of climbing; 25 rider days
It was truly a Vermont Challenge…. Hope you’ll join us next year!