Monday, June 27, 2011

First ride of the summer season with friends

Mike has several friends he rides with, but yesterday was the first time the two of us rode with friends. We invited Chris and Sharon for a ride on some of our favorite roads - plus a couple of new ones.

They met us at the Double Hex in Manchester, and we set off up over Bromley Mountain, through Londonderry and over Terrible Mountain into Ludlow.  I've driven up Terrible Mountain a number of times, and even was part of a 200-mile running relay that ran OVER the thing, but this was the first time I'd ridden it on the BMW. Great views and a screaming descent into Ludlow.

Our route:

We turned off Route 100 onto Route 103, heading through Proctorsville and Cavendish. Along the way we went past the old Cerniglia Winery, which is now a snowmobile touring center. Mike and I moved to Vermont in 1991 to open a retail winery location in Bennington for Cerniglia wines, and have great memories of their apple wines.

Route 103 is everything you want on a bike:  twists, turns,, mountain views, a rocky stream to the side and quaint towns with little to no traffic. We turned onto Route 5 in Ascutney, heading south through Bellows Falls into - you guessed it - Putney. Sharon is from North Carolina, and told us she loves southern BBQ with a lot of vinegar. Lunch at Curtis' BBQ was just as good as the week before. Not only did the BBQ meet Sharon's high expectations, she also pronounced the coleslaw perfect.

Well-fed and happy, we headed south on Route 5 along the Connecticut River into Brattleboro and picked up Route 9 west toward Bennington. Route 9 between Brattleboro and Bennington is called the Molly Stark Trail, following the route General John Stark took east back to New Hampshire after the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington in 1777. It's great fun on the BMW, but I can't imagine riding a horse, or in a horse-drawn wagon up and over the mountains. At the top of Hogback Mountain you can see three states:  Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

After leaving Chris and Sharon in Bennington, we turned north onto 7A through Shaftsbury and Arlington back to Manchester. We drove over some of the most breathtaking scenery in Vermont during our ride, yet I still find the familiar roads and views of Bennington County are some of my favorites. Maybe that's because the views are colored by 20 years' worth of memories of our time in this part of New England. Or maybe because it really is one of the most gorgeous places on Earth. Ride it yourself, and let us know.

Video of today's ride:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Southwestern Vermont Green Mountains to Mass' Mohawk Trail

We picked a hot and sunny day to plot a ride south from Manchester, VT to Bennington where we picked up Route 9, a scenic, mountainous, and fun ride east. We wanted to see the windmills on Searsburg Mountain,  just off Route 8. We've always loved windmills and find them awe-inspiring. Route 8 south is a little-traveled road that Mike loves to ride:  no cars, lots of steep grades, and smooth pavement.

Cross into Massachusetts and pick up Route 2, the Mohawk Trail heading east. This was our first time on the bike on Route 2, and we loved every mile. There are several places to pull over and gaze out over the mountains to the south. One advertised a 69-mile view! The Mohawk Trail opened in 1914, but it's a lot more fun riding it on a BMW than it must have been in a Ford Model-T.

We took the Mohawk Trail to Route 5 north, heading back into Vermont and winding our way through Brattleboro. There's lots to see and do in Brattleboro and it has one of our favorite downtown areas. Don't miss the Food Co-op for lunch or a snack.

Our only real destination today was Curtis' BBQ in Putney, VT. Curtis has been in the same outdoor location for over 39 years, perfecting his vinegary BBQ sauce that drenches ribs or chicken. You'll find lots of friendly motorcycle folks along with local families and visitors all sharing space at picnic tables. Licking your fingers is definitely encouraged!

After lunch, we kept heading north on Route 5 through Westminster, VT until we intersected with Route 103 and turned west toward home. One last stop for ice cream (Curtis doesn't make dessert) at the intersection of routes 11 and 30 just past Bromley Ski Area, and then we zoomed down the last mountain back to Manchester.

Check out the route here:,-72.994366&spn=0.050825,0.1684