kingdomexperiences

The Nuances of Bike Travel

By: Quinn Campbell

I squeezed my truck between the trees. Peering past a rain streaked windshield and frantic wiper blades, I looked up at the canopy of evergreen bows which I hoped would shelter my home on wheels from the steadily falling rain. Shifting into park with a sigh, I listed to raindrops, undeterred by the trees above, plopping heavily on the roof. Opening the driver’s door and stepping outside, I surveyed my campsite for the evening. My breath plumed thickly, and the rain, falling ever harder, created a constant backdrop of noise in the otherwise still woods. I spread grime coated riding gear throughout the cab of my Chevrolet Silverado, in a half hearted attempt to dry things out, and worked on accepting the fact that it was going to be a soggy couple days. I chained my bikes to the roofrack, out of habit more than necessity, and grimaced at their perpetual exposure to the elements. Deciding to forgo dinner and avoid the cramped hassle of cooking inside my 78 x 65 inch home, I crawled into the bed of the truck, and called it a night. I lay perfectly still in my sleeping bag. The whine of a few massive British Columbia mosquitos broke through the otherwise continual drone of pounding rain. Wandering in the abyss of thoughts that comes just before sleep, I could hear my dad saying, “Life is all about compromise.” A phrase I’d heard from him on more than one occasion. With that in mind I fell asleep, managing to ignore the mosquitoes and the driving rain and the all-consuming dampness and focus on how good the dirt would be tomorrow afternoon.

A month and a half earlier, I’d left my home of Marshfield, Vermont to embark on a summer long bike trip across the United States and up to Whistler, BC. Like most words of wisdom that are imparted upon us by our parents when we’re young, I’d always taken that phrase with a nod of the head and passed it out my 2nd ear. But nothing gives you more time to reflect than traveling solo across the continent. Miles of solitude, 4,407 of them, to be be exact, gave me plenty of hours to think about the place I call home and the people who’ve given me advice along the way. And at some point in my time behind the steering wheel, I realized that for the most part, if not all the time, our parents really know what they’re talking about. I’m not sure what embodies compromise, and my father’s saying, more than a life on the road in search of pristine singletrack and word class riding destinations.

Mid day snack break.                                                            Whistler, BC.

About a year and a half ago I decided I had to spend a summer in Whistler. But I shortly realized that the only way I could afford to live in Whistler was if I worked essentially every hour of my stay. So I compromised. I gave something up –a house, and the security and comfort that comes with four walls, a roof, and indoor plumbing–  in order to get what I really wanted, the opportunity to rip bikes all day, every day.

For the last three months, and the next two, I’ve lived out of the back of my pickup truck. My bed is 30 inches wide, and not quite long enough for me to stretch out fully on. My clothes live in a bag on the floor and get washed when I notice that people don’t want to ride in the gondola with me. My kitchen is a small cooler, that perpetually smells like beans, a 6 gallon water jug, and a two burner stove that I can almost never find a level spot to use. My shower, the rivers of glacial melt, which are as close to ice as you can actually get without becoming a solid. And Regardless of my craftyness with a silicone gun, it’s always wet inside when it rains.

Life in the woods.

The lack of an actual house trickles down in compromising affect. My bikes live outside, constantly exposed to the elements and in danger of being relieved by a passerby. And I’ll guiltily admit that they don’t receive the same level of kindness as they do at home. Extreme frugality being a side effect of multiple months on the road. When I run out of chain lube, or my suspension wheaps for new seals, I juggle my options and decide that I’d rather have chicken every night. However, I’ve decided that being a little cramped, a lot stinky, and having occasionally clapped-out bikes are all compromises I’m happy to make, because what I get in return is more than worth the hassle.

Tailgate/ table/ work bench.

My days start in the woods. I usually wake up to the sound of morning birds, hidden in the tall British Columbia evergreens. Crawling from my sleeping bag and dropping the tailgate I get to examine the early morning scene. The last month and a half I’ve been watching BC fog lift from the valleys and hover delicately around snow capped peaks. But when I was traveling across the states, my morning view was often a high desert sunrise. The open tailgate and back window framing a masterpiece of watercolor skies and rocky outcroppings still in shadow. And then, while cracking a few eggs into my cast iron pan, I get to decide exactly what I want to do with my day. What trails do I want to ride? What peaks and rivers do I want to explore? Where do I want to drive to? I’m constantly exposed to the new and exciting.

Early morning in the Colorado high desert.  

Each time I park at a trailhead my body fills with the jitters of a kid on Christmas morning. Every new trail a present, full of turns and descents completely different from those in states before. And with every new riding location, I get the opportunity to meet the people who call those trails home. Whether it’s home for a night or two, like me, or where they’ve learned to ride and cultivate an addiction for two wheels and a path of dirt. If I’m lucky, I get to spend an evening around a campfire with people I met hours before. We lounge on tailgates and camp chairs, telling stories of how we got here. Whatever food we’ve found in our funky smelling coolers is mashed together and used to refuel spent legs. When the firewood runs out, or I’m too whooped to fight my drooping eyelids, I’ll crawl into the truck bed and fall asleep, with excitement for the next days adventures. That routine, in my opinion, makes abandoning normalcy and the comforts of home, well worth it.

You never know who you’ll meet. There are rippers everywhere!  

Though I’d highly recommend it, it’s important to note that your bike travel doesn’t need to be a multi month voyage across the continent and into a different country in search of the best trails. Just take a chance, make the compromises required, and give yourself the opportunity to explore something fresh. Put yourself in a situation to make new friends, discover new trails and have a campfire with some strangers. Even if that means letting go of a bed for a few nights, or a house all together.   

                

KT 50/100K – A good times trail ride!

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Have you ever wanted to hop on your bike in the morning and ride all day on some of the best most beautiful trails in North America? Ever wanted to do that also have food stations with local and authentic maple donuts, coffee, sandwiches and brownies to fuel you along the way? Well this is the event for you bringing you the second annual KT 50/100K. Last year a hearty group of riders departed on a 62 mile trail ride that was 99% single-track finishing at the iconic Heavens Bench for delicious and well earned food and post ride libations. This year we have added a 50K (31 mile) option that will be for those who want to have a stepping block to the 100K or who just want to spend the day on some of the best trails in the world. This is a guided ride and is not a competition, this is a good times trails ride and a great excuse to go out and enjoy MOST of the single-track that Kingdom Trails has to offer!

FAST FACTS
– Most abilities welcome from Intermediate to Intermediate/Advanced riders
– Great for most ages (18+)
– Perfect for you IF: You get on you love riding your bike a lot and are looking for a challenge!

Includes:
– Kingdom Trails Pass (1)
– Morning pastries and Coffee
– Aid station food/beverages
– Lunch
– Apres drink voucher (1) and food

2018 KT Retrospective and planning for the 2nd Annual KT 100K & 50K

There are not many places in North America where you can link up 75 miles of nearly continuous, pristinely made and maintained singletrack, but Kingdom Trails is one of them. Situated in the bucolic countryside of northern Vermont, Kingdom Trails was created out of passion but sustained and grown by necessity to balance a dying agriculture industry in Northern VT.

In 2017,  Kingdom Cycling & Experiences, a locally owned and operated mountain bike instruction and tour company, had their first annual KT 100K (62 miles) Guided Trail Challenge. There were 20 hearty riders who embarked on the challenge, but only 13 who finished the full 100K. Groups departed from KC&E trailside headquarters around 8 am and finished between 4 – 7pm. Along the route, the riders were supported mechanically and nutritionally with 3 aid stations packed with maple glazed donuts, homemade brownies, maple syrup, coffee and a fully catered lunch. The ride began with amazing pastries and coffee from local pastry purveyor, Aunt Dee Dee’s Bakery, and finished with freshly made pizzas from Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn and ice cold beers at the Hub Trailside Beer and Espresso bar.

Riders face many challenges on the ride, both physically and mentally, in order to get through 62 miles and 8000 ft of climbing on 99% singletrack. The challenge is set up to be exactly that: a challenge built around a group mentality to finish the feat and help one another reach their goal. Since this is a guided trail challenge this will not turn into a race, as groups are divided by the average pace of the group.

Moving into 2019, KC&E will be adding a 50K option as well to make the ride more accessible to riders and have a step for people to build up to the 100K. Beyond adding the 50K option, KC&E’s Certified Skills Instructors will be providing free skills clinics on the day before to prepare riders technically for the challenges that await them the following day.

To sign up for this year KT100K and be apart of an amazing and unique trail riding experience click here! If you have any questions about the event please either email info@kingdomexperiences.com or call/text 802.427.3154.

Happy Trails,

Caitlin, Collin & Taco the Trail Dog

Conquer the Kingdom – Skill Clinic

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Take your riding to the next level with a skills building weekend for both men and women of most ages and ability levels. Our experienced, certified instructors will ensure you equipped you are taught proper techniques to improve your skills while having a great time in small groups.This weekend will be perfect for those interested in skills building with individual attention and small group sizes, ample riding time, time to enjoy other authentic parts of mountain biking in the Kingdom, and, of course, FUN!

FAST FACTS
– All abilities welcome from absolute beginners to intermediate/advanced riders
– Great for most ages (16+)
– perfect for you IF: You love riding your bike, meeting new people and want to become a better more confident rider!

Includes:
– Meet & Greet with drink voucher
– Kingdom Trails Pass (2)
– All guiding and instruction
– Lunches (2)

Quick Trip Outline:

Friday Evening:
– Meet and Greet and Orientation

Saturday:

  • Morning Drills and On-Trail Skills Instruction
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Skill instruction and applicational ride

Sunday:

  • Morning On-Trail Skills Instruction
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Ride!

Gravel and Gastronomy Vermont – With guest rider Tim Johnson

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Vermont Gravel & Gastronomy w/ Tim Johnson
June 1st – 3rd

Gravel & Gastronomy is a beautiful dirt road journey through the bucolic Vermont countryside. Beyond the serene dirt roads and beautiful landscapes you will be enjoying in you will also be immersed in the unique and authentic gastronomic scene of northern Vermont. Coming along with us for the adventure is Tim Johnson; Cannondale Cycling Pro, 6X Cyclocross National Champion, Red Bull athlete and all around great guy to ride with!

Trip at Glance

Friday
Ride of the Day: Kirby, Burke, Victory Circumnavigation – 36 mi ↑3.8k ft
Vermont Cheese, Charcuterie & Local Libation Tasting at The Spoke Easy Lounge
Dinner at Junipers Restaurant on the beautiful Darling Hill Ridge

Saturday
Delicious and Healthy Breakfast at Junipers Restaurant
Ride of the Day: Tour to the world renowned Hill Farmstead Brewery – 28 mi ↑3.5k ft
Picnic with Hill Farmstead & Jasper Hill Farm
Dinner at on the deck at The View Pub overlooking the dramatic Willoughby Gap

Sunday
Delicious and Healthy Breakfast at Junipers Restaurant
Ride of the Day: Beautiful Lake Willoughby – 28 miles ↑3k ft
Apres ride bites and libations at Lake Willoughby
Farm-to-Table dinner at the beautiful and iconic Heaven’s Bench with 360 degree views

All lodging provided by The Wildflower Inn

Best Breakfast in the Kingdom – Travel Guide Vol. 1

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

By: Caitlin Daulong

Our first travel guide seeks to answer a question that we get all the time. Where is the best spot for breakfast? Below we have outlined several of our favorite options for a variety of tastes and preferences.

The whole shebang

Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn

2059 Darling Hill Road, Lyndonville, VT

Looking for a spot that has it all? Well, Juniper’s is for you! From the delicious, local coffee that is poured steaming hot the minute you sit down, to the stunning views from the porch and deck, to the divine breakfast options, you can’t go wrong. A few not-to-be-missed dishes: their pancakes! They are so fluffy and heavenly, you will be hard pressed to find a better pancake anywhere. Topped with maple syrup from just down the road, the pancakes are a sublime Vermont experience. For the more health conscious eater, their Paleo option (veggies topped with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, bacon, and sweet potato spirals), and the fruit and yogurt parfait are a sure bet. If you have young kids, ask for the kitty eggs (summer) or snowman pancakes (winter)!

 

Pastries so good, you might as well be in Paris

Auntie DeeDee’s Homemade Baked Goods

185 Mountain Road, East Burke, VT

Auntie DeeDee’s is quite possibly the most delightful small bakery you can find outside of Paris. Anything you order will be exceptional, but our favorites are the almond croissants (genuinely out of this world) and the Belty Bun (a delicious pastry packed with veggies , eggs, and/or meat). Be warned: this place gets crazy busy on weekends, so plan accordingly.

 

Local, Organic Goodies & organic food shop

The Freighthouse

1000 Broad St, Lyndonville, VT

The Freighhouse is a fantastic spot for healthy, locally sourced, organic food, beverages and baked goods. Some of our absolute favorites are their avocado toast, vegan chocolate chip cookie dough bites, and affogato during the sticky summer months (affogato is a shot of espresso over a scoop of gelato – if you haven’t experienced this phenomenon yet, TRY IT and thank us later!)

Authentic Espresso & more

Cafe Lotti

603 VT – 114, East Burke, VT

The coffee is so good here, even if they offered nothing else at all people would still flock to them. Luckily for us, their breakfast and lunch options are a delicious and added benefit to their exceptional coffee. If you are a coffee snob (and even if you’re not), Cafe Lotti is going to be your new favorite spot.

Trailside treasures

The Hub Brew Counter and Feed the Pour

2099 Darling Hill Rd. Lyndonville, VT

Looking for a fun trailside vibe ready to fuel you with delicious coffee beverages and quick breakfast food? This is the place! Beyond their breakfast and energizing drinks they have a full array of apres ride libations to reward yourself with.

A unique Vermont experience

Bread & Butter

139 Eastern Ave, St. Johnsbury, VT

Where else in the Northeast Kingdom can you order shakshouka or banh mi, with a side of chaga tea? Bread & Butter is utterly charming and completely inviting, and even though it’s slightly farther from the trails (a roughly 15 minute drive), it is well worth the drive!

 

Pedro’s Mechanical Clinic # 3 – Trailside Repairs

Ever find yourself with a flat on the trail and waving down other riders to help change the flat? Or you break a chain on the trail and find yourself having a really expensive push bike? Then this clinic is for you! We will cover common trailside issues and how to fix them so you will have the knowledge to ride out of the woods every time!

Pedro’s Mechanical Clinic #2 – Fine Tuning

Have you ever looked at your derailleur or brakes and wonder not only how they work but how you could adjust them yourself? We we have just the clinic for you!

Our fine tuning clinic will go through basic shifting and brake adjustments (disc brake only).

Pedro’s Mechanical Clinic # 1 – Basic Bike Care

Your bikes can provide endless amounts of joy so isn’t time to take care of them?!

Taking care of your bike will not only keep it running better for longer but it will also save you money in the long run because you are maintaining it versus having to replace it!

This clinic will cover basic bike care such as:

  • Lubrication – What are the different lubricants and how do I choose one?
  • Cleaning  – How should I be cleaning my bike and how often?
  • Service Schedule – How often should I have the bike shop work on my bike?
  • Basic Bike Set Up

Please email or call with any questions about the clinic! We look forward to seeing you there!

3 ways to better prepare for your next gravel (dirt road) ride:

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

By: Collin Daulong

Recently road biking has seen fewer and fewer riders participating, and for valid reasons. Roads are getting more congested and drivers are becoming increasingly distracted by the accessibility of technology. In light of these two facts, many road riders are seeking quieter roads for a safer, more enjoyable ride. Gravel (riding on dirt roads) has recently taken off in popularity because it offers the solitude and safety that riders are looking for, and generally good routes are closer than you think.

Below are 3 ways to better prepare for your next gravel (dirt road) ride:

Be prepared:

When dirt road riding you will usually find yourself amongst riders who are simply interested in the enjoyment of the beautiful natural surroundings. While escaping the concrete jungle you will often find that services along your ride will be more sparse and you may even run out of cell phone reception, so it is important to be prepared in the event of a flat tire, getting lost and the dreaded bonk (getting very very tired). In previous years, I have been a minimalist when it comes to being prepared but recently I have fully embraced being ready for whatever my adventure brings me. I wear a Thule Hydration pack, their smallest model, and carry essentials like a Pedro’s multi-tool, extra high-energy food, plenty of water, a few extra layers, a fully charged cell phone and some cash for the mid-ride market stop for a home baked cookie! It is way cooler to be over prepared than underprepared when it comes to adventuring out on dirt roads.

Have a plan but let it evolve:

I love both having a plan and not having a plan, as a tour owner and operator it is important to have a plan at all times but you also need to be able to evolve due of the energy of the group, weather and many other considerations. When setting out for your adventure do the same, generate a plan that you will want to stick to but do not be afraid to let it evolve or find yourself exploring a new dirt road you may not have seen before. When heading out on these rides it can be a great way to experience the local culture of an area so add in some local coffee and pastry shops to fuel up mid-ride (and use their facilities if you need too). Also, let a friend or loved one know where you are going and when you will be starting and finishing just to be safe!

Soak it in:

Cycling can be an amazingly cathartic experience, it allows you a physical and emotional release from the twitter, facebook, instagram, instant gratification culture we live in. Finding dirt roads near you means that you are experiencing an area that many do not (hence the roads not being paved) and there can be a lot of hidden and not-so-hidden beauty there, so soak it all in and enjoy the view. I can nearly guarantee that if you go and find yourself on an adventure via dirt roads you well come back to the craziness that regular life can bring with more clarity and a better sense of presence.

I think Ernest Hemingway probably said it best “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” If you are a cyclist or non-cyclist we strongly encourage you to give riding on those quiet dusty roads a try for your health, happiness and general well-being!

Looking for a great way to try out dirt road riding or an adventure for the seasoned gravel rider? Check out Gravel & Gastronomy on June 2nd!