Monday, August 3, 2015

Radar Mountain

A little breather half way up

Nancy and Adam coming down the back side of Victory Mountain

Our pal Adam joined us for a re-ride of Pamela and John's Victory Mtn. Loop, which leaves from East Burke and travels into the heart of the Northeast Kingdom over into the next valley with a healthy amount of climbing--in keeping with anything John and Pamela come up with. After the first climb out of town we were passed by maybe 5-7 vehicles for the next 6 hours.

Taking a food break at the bottom of the East Mountain climb

A Waxwing Bag Co. convention

The loop is great, but the coup de grace of this ride is the spur up Radar Road to the top of East Mountain, the site of a cold-war era radar installation. Becoming outdated even before it was finished, the USAF outpost once housed 150 servicemen complete with bowling alley, theatre, commissary, etc.. The facility was closed in the early '60's and has suffered slow but steady decay and dismemberment ever since. What remains is a post-apocalyptic corrugated monolithic mountaintop temple. Getting there requires miles of logging roads and a significant climb that is unusual in that it is paved and the pavement is in good shape despite decades of disuse.

Cresting the plateau on the way up to the radar station

Making her way up the paved section

Its great to be in the company of fat-tired randonneuring bikes. Nancy on her Matchak, me on my Stag and Adam on his Polyvalent. Much of this route is washed out or loose gravel back roads, so skinny tires would be really tough in this terrain. We all had lights too, and numerous times throughout the day I was glad to see the bright glow of a light behind me or the zing of a red taillight ahead of me. Built in lights are awesome!

Getting to the radar station is actually kind of counterintuitive; the closer you get, the better the roads are. Once there, the station is spooky. Its a no-mans land; aside from a spectacular location, there is only broken glass, graffiti, metal sheet, and rusting structure to welcome you.

Looking out from the 7th story of the largest building on the top of the mountain

Industrial debris on a remote mountain top


Adam went up the ladder to the roof!

We took it easy through out the day, with a few stops for food and water and taking pictures. It was really hot when we started but moderated a bit as the day wore on. Having left in the early afternoon, the 43 miles of the ride took a healthy 6.5 hours with the climbing, exploring the radar station, and resting along the way.

I love chasing this gal around

Some folks avoid hills when they ride their bike. Me, I find the climbing is what puts the real fun into the experience. Its hard, and can be dreadful at times, but there is a feeling of having accomplished something and having worked that I really enjoy. Flat riding is fine, but some climbing is satisfying. Throw in some amazing scenery, some good company, and a little bit of creepy mountaintop and you have the ingredients for a great day out on two wheels.

Mmmn... back in Burke for some food and drink


Fear rothar said...

A very evocative write-up and photos, Dave. Seems like you had a lovely day for it!

Dave Cain said...

It was fun all around John. Thanks for introducing us to this great loop!