Around Lake Champlain - self contained

Preface - Around Lake Champlain

06/28/2004 05:33:57 by Administrator

The Champlain Bikeway, a 350+ mile route around the entire Lake and along the Richelieu River in Quebec suggests mostly paved rural roads; however, there are some sections where unpaved roads are used to access superb scenery and services or to avoid heavily traveled paved roads. Within a 50 mile radius of WhiteHall, New York there are many hills. Once you get beyond that radius, the rest of the trip is mostly flat.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 1

06/29/2004 05:36:59 by Administrator

From: WhiteHall, NY
To: West Addison, Vermont
Mileage: 54.8

Mary and I left Milford in the rain about 7:00 am and made it to Whitehall under clear blue skies. I emailed the Chamber of Commerce of Whitehall early in the week, and they recommended parking at the Amtrak station, it is about a city block north of the Skeneborough Museum. This is the "starting point" of the Lake Champlain bicycle loop if you follow the instruction on The small museum houses information about Whitehall (formally known as Skeneborough) and the beginnings of the United States Navy.

After unpacking and getting B.O.B. and Clyde ready, we took off to find the police station. Arriving at the police station, it was locked but it had a non-emergency number to call. We got the Chief in the middle of a court case (I could hear the Judge in the back ground). The Chief of police for Whitehall was extremely nice, so if you see him offer him a cup of coffee! After leaving our names and the cars whereabouts, we pedaled back to the Museum. Next to the Museum is the Chamber of Commerce, which is brand new, and located on the canal. It has showers and rest rooms for the public. You can take your boat from New York City up the Hudson River, through the canal systems and Lake Champlain to Montreal and the St Lawrence Seaway!

The bicycling journey began shortly after 11:00. I had two sets of directions, one going through New York to Quebec and then back down through Vermont. The other set was just the opposite. I handed Mary (I thought) the New York to Quebec route. We started across the bridge, and the canal and I asked Mary if she was reading the directions right. She said she was so we were off. About 7 miles into the trip I saw a farm that offered real Vermont made maple syrup for sale. I asked Mary for the direction and noticing my error, we had a good chuckle. The first really big hill was around the 5-mile mark; the day was a very hilly ride. Clyde was towing B.O.B. and he weighed in at 57 pounds fully loaded. The scenery was legendary Vermont, beautiful rolling hills, Green mountains, wild turkeys, blue herons, red-tailed hawks, many common eastern birds, and tons of farms, views went on and on. We stopped in Orwell Vermont at Buxton General Store. Purchased bananas, drinks, and freshly made chicken salad sandwiches and had a picnic in the park across the street.

After lunch, we headed out again. About 35 miles into this first day, the extra weight of the B.O.B., the Vermont hills, and the lack of excise the previous week; caught up with me and I developed leg cramps in my thighs. As I sit here at D.A.R. state park I can honestly say that everything feels GREAT, but I am concerned about tomorrow. Mary was very patient with me. We walked some hills that normally we would have no problem with. We arrived here around 5:30. We are staying in a lean-to because it looks like it might rain tonight. We enjoyed pizza and salad at the West Addison General Store. I even had a beer, well only about 2/3 of it before I decided that I have lost my taste for beer.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 2

06/30/2004 05:38:18 by Administrator

From: West Addison, Vermont
To: South Hero, Vermont
Mileage: 74.3

Last night we donated some blood to the Vermont mosquitoes red cross. It wasn't that bad, but they were pests. Because there was a chance of thunderstorms we brought everything into the lean-to. We have self-inflating sleeping pads that work excellent. Mary's hinny was sore today, but I did not get cramps today. All in all, we feel pretty good. We left camp about 8:30. Saw deer, osprey and more farmland during the morning. There were also some pretty expensive homes in the "middle of no where" with the lake as a back yard. Had breakfast at Eat Good Food on the main street of Vergennes Vermont. The name fit perfectly. The owner was interested in Clyde, and asked me all kinds of questions about our experiences. After breakfast we rode into Shelburne and South Burlington. In South Burlington we lost the route depicted on Most of the route has been marked with Lake Champlain bike signs, but now there are more routes (and more signs). We just stopped reading the directions, and used the Gazetteer maps we took with us. In North Burlington we met an older couple out for their afternoon bike ride. They lead us down a bike path, and we go going the correct direction. After wiggling our way back and forth, we made it to the causeway and the islands. We did ride most of the bike paths in Burlington; the people of that city are very blessed with some very great places to ride without traffic. The hills of Vermont also disappear in this area. I am writing this part sitting in our room at the Sand Bar Inn, South Hero around 4:00 pm. There is a campground next door so you could choose either. We have a beautiful view the lake. There are about 20 units here, and I think Mary and I are the only ones for tonight.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 3

07/01/2004 05:39:30 by Administrator

From: South Hero, Vermont
To: Chambly, Quebec
Mileage: 77.8

Last night we had dinner at the Sand Bar Inn, which was packed! The food was pretty good, and we understand why it was packed. Well rested, we got on the road at 7:00. During the morning packing, we watch the local news (only got 3 channels on the TV) and they were forecasting severe thunderstorms for the afternoon, with wind gust of over 25 miles an hour. We don't like rushing, but thought we could make it to St Jean sur Richelieu by the time it hit. After following the instruction on until North Hero, we decide to stay on Route 2 in search of breakfast. We found another excellent restaurant, named Shore Acres, with a beautiful view of Lake Champlain under blue skies. We were met by the real owner of the place, a gentle aged chocolate lab named Cooper. Mary ordered 1 egg, side of bacon, and 1 pancake which came to 9 dollars. If she just ordered the Champlain breakfast (2 eggs. 2 pancakes, toast, bacon or sausage) we would have paid 4.95. The view of the lake, atmosphere, and Cooper made it all worth paying the extra few dollars. After breakfast we continued on route 2 until we joined 225 and the Border. Prior to the border is a little information/welcome center that we stopped at. The young lady was full of energy, and treat us nicely. We continued up to the customs and were welcomed to Canada by the very friendly boarder guard. Since it was Independence Day in Canada, we got Canadian flag pins and Canadian flag refrigerator magnets. He logged us in as two U.S. citizens and one bike. He thought the people reading the log would ask him about the entry. I think we were one of the few people he saw that day. On the 18 miles we rode on route 225, only 7 cars passed us and they all had Quebec plates. If you have been in the Midwest of the US or Canada, where there are no hills and miles and miles of farmland; then you know what this section of Quebec looks like. It was flat flat flat, and we had a tail wind. We cruised at 18 mph without thinking about it. We stopped at a small cafe at the intersection of route 133 and 225. Had great lunch for fewer than 9 dollars, Canadian. After lunch, we stepped out and looked up. There were very nasty looking clouds in the southwestern skies, and they were heading our way! As we rode the back streets of St Jean sur Richelieu, it started to sprinkle, but soon stopped. We found the entrance of the canal bikeway and began to ride with our eyes looking for a hotel. Exactly 3 pedal strokes from passing under a bridge, the heavens opened up, and it rained extremely hard. We sat under the bridge, at a picnic table, dry, next to the canal and lake, for about 1/2 hour as rain came pouring down. When it finished, we continued up the bikeway looking for a hotel, we knew we were in between downpours. Clyde, B.O.B. and Mary were covered with mud. We couldn't find a hotel in our view of the path, so we kept going. About 2 miles outside of Chambly we got a flat on our rear tire. I used the canal water to locate the leak. It was located on the stem seam, which is not the ideal place to use a patch. I debated on just replacing it, or using the patch. Decided to use the patch. We were under a bridge, again, when we fixed the tire. Again, the skies opened up, and rain. By the time I was finished, the rain again stopped. About a mile up the bikeway, we asked for directions to a hotel from the owner of the cafe that was located next to the bikeway. He did not speak English, but a young couple on bikes helped translate that he knew of one in Chambly, not quite sure where. So we rode on. At the end of the bikeway, in front the lock, we were stopped waiting for boats to go through the locks; the same young couple rode up to us, and asked a fellow biker for directions to the hotel for us. We meet so many great fellow bikers!!! With many thanks to all, we turned around and headed for the Motel which was only a block away from the canal. As we were putting Clyde in the garage for the night it started to really rain again. As I sit in the hotel room, I can't help to reflect back on the great ride we had today, even with a flat.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 4

07/02/2004 05:40:59 by Administrator

From: Chambly, Quebec
To: Plattsburgh, New York
Mileage: 63.4

Last night we put raincoats on and walked the town of Chambly. Found a bike store, and had some GREAT pizza at Marvis. Watched some of the boats go in and out of the locks. Got wet, but had a fun time. Some shops were closed, some were opened which was pretty normal for Quebec (so we were told). We had a semi good night sleep at the Mote Mon Repos hotel in Chambly. The Canadians were celebrating their Independence Day in the room next door until 2:00 am. Sounded like they were bowling and watching a bull fight at the same time. I watched a French movie dubbed in English at the bottom of the screen for us Americans. It was about a girl (woman of 28) who loved her bike and loved to ride. She kept her bike inside at night, in the bathtub. It was a great movie if you're a biking fan. Woke up around 8:00 and took Clyde out of the garage. He probably saw the movie also because he showed his displeasure of being in a cold garage with a flat rear tire. When I patched it yesterday, I knew it wouldn't last. I replaced the tube and at 9:00 went to the bike store, Velo Chambly, which is located near the canal. Had them fill the rear with air, purchased another spare tube and a couple of CO2 cartridges. They were very nice people (their prices were a tad high even in Canadian), but they are handy. I think the saying is "location, location, location". We asked them if many bikers come in the shop on their journey around the lake. They said that we were the first that they heard off. After we got our stuff, we put Clyde back together, apologized again for keeping him in the garage, and gave him a bath and some fresh chain lube. We were off, but after .2 miles we stopped and had a 45-minute leisurely breakfast. Our riding day began at 11:00 by going back down the canal bikeway. There was a crosswind today, all day. Sometimes it became a head wind, but the path was dry and the skies were blue. If you follow the instruction on page it tells you to pass through a Propriete Privee signs on the canal bikeway. There are none, so don't worry about them. We love the trail, and stopped and boat watched. Many people on the bike/canal trail. Half of Quebec took yesterday off for Independence Day, the other took today off. After the bikeway we traveled on route 223. This is both route 225 and 223 and they are not in the best of shapes. We took a couple of "hinny breaks". The difference between yesterday's rte 225 and today's 223 is there was a lot more traffic today, and 223 has very little shoulder. We stopped by a little cafe for a 'hinny break' and a cool drink. Mary ordered a cup of coffee to go, the waitress spoke little English, and the next thing we knew we were BOTH served with to mugs of regular coffee. So much for that cool drink. We didn't want to appear rude, so we drank the mugs and she did fill our water bottles up "to go". Traveled through the rest of Quebec with the same Midwest feel of yesterday. We pulled up to the border and were 15th in line to cross. It took a while, and when it was finally our turn; we were professionally grilled by a very serious lady guard. We didn't get our little USA pin or refrigerator magnet. The lady was so down to business that we didn't want to show her what the Canadians gave us the previous day. The rest of the ride to Plattsburgh was also flat. When we had the crosswind, we averaged about 15 miles an hour. With the head wind, we pushed about 10. This part of the ride (after the border crossing) brought us many views of the lake and freshly paved, hinny friendly, roads. We had a choice of camping at Champlain Bay State Park, or a semi-new Motel 8. I am sitting here at 5:00 after a nice shower in a big hotel room. Of coarse Clyde is right next to me. We might go swimming in the pool tonight.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 5

07/03/2004 05:42:07 by Administrator

From: Plattsburgh, New York
To: Port Henry, New York
Mileage: 54.10

Clyde, B.O.B., Mary, and I slept like rocks! I don't even think we made it to 8:30 pm last night. We had dinner down the road a bit, and came back and read and forgot about the pool. We were up early and out the doors at 7:00 am. We rode through Plattsburgh following route 9. It was under construction and really torn up while it passed the "old" Plattsburgh Air Force Base. Saw many beautiful houses. Outside of Plattsburgh was our first climb that brought us to the Ausable Chasm. We took a break and enjoyed the chasm and waterfalls. That hill was a sign of things to come. No more flat ground riding. With the hills, however, came more beauty. We stopped at McLeans in Keeseville for breakfast. The small parking lot was packed because they serve good food, hot, fast, and at a very good price. I saw peanut butter pie on the menu, and had a piece after my omelet. Both Mary and I were STUFFED! From Keeseville, we followed route 22 for the rest of the day. On the Vermont side, there were plenty of signs for Champlain bike route. However, in Quebec we used the webpage for guidance. In New York we just did what we felt like. We went through an eight-mile stretch that passed us through Lynch, Rattlesnake, and Sugarloaf mountains. On a long down hill Mary allowed Clyde and me to go free. We hit a top speed of over 41 mph. WHeeeeeeeee!!!! We had lunch at Westport at Ernie's (a little grocery store). We both had Italian cold cut wraps and shared half of a cookie; again, we were stuffed. It seems we have been eating very well on this trip. We decide to go beyond Westport to the next town of Port Henry. Port Henry has a wicked hill on both sides of the town, but the one on north side is a bear. We stopped at Bulwagga Bay Camground (I think they misspelled the name on the receipt). Called home and found out that our daughter Katelyn was sick. Sounded like strep throat. Dustin was going to take her to the walk in clinic. The private campground is located next to a waste treatment plant, but we are far away from it. As I sit here at the picnic table, I can see the lake. We plan on walking in to town for dinner, and waiting for phone calls with news. The campground is full, and it has no rhyme or reason to its layout. We are not fans of the campground, but we don't know how far the next stay might be so we are staying put.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 6

07/04/2004 05:43:30 by Administrator

From: Port Henry, New York
To: Whitehall, New York
Mileage: 44.10

Dustin called, and Kate does have strep. We got the news after coming back from Emil's for dinner. Emil's is an ice cream stand and we had the first really "unhealthy" meal of the trip. I had the Biggy Ziggy cheeseburger and Mary had the Michigan which is a combo of Sloppy Joe and hotdog. We shared curly fries and had milk shakes also! Broke camp early around 6:00 and was greeted to another pretty day. We knew we had a lot of hills left, but we also have a lot of beauty. Stayed on Route 22 most of the day, with only one ventures off to try route 2 and go through Putnam New York. Had breakfast at Jakes in Crown Point (there was a nice private campground there also). Mary had the lumberjack special. I had her ham and pancakes. Saw plenty of wildflowers, a large flock of wild turkeys with youngsters, heron, osprey, and other birds. Stopped for a Gatorade in Putnam at Wilbur's Grocery Store. As I sat in the rocking chair in front of the store, Mary asked me if I was "dogging it". I didn't answer her because the truth was "a little". The last day of a ride is always bitter sweet. We finished the last 17 miles back into Whitehall with hills and conversation.