June 25th – East Barnard Gravel 100k Populaire

Start/Finish: East Barnard Community Club, 5324 Broad Brook Rd. East Barnard, VT, 05068.

Start Time:  9:00AM

Time Limit:  7h45m (RUSA Gravel Time Formula)

RUSA-approved and preridden GPS and cue: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39164730 

Registration opens on May 2nd at Midnight: http://www.bikereg.com/nervtebdirt100km
The ride has 5,800 feet of climbing and over 60% gravel, along with a few long descents on pavement. Most of the roads are very quiet and the scenery is classic Vermont!
Camping Pre Ride
Camping will be available on Friday night prior to the ride and some refreshment afterwards.  The campsite is at the ride organizer’s home.  The exact address will be sent to registered riders, but here’s a description from him on the setup:

Grassy tent sites and a tree area for hammocks are available, along with a pond for swimming if it is hot. The start is about 1/4 of a mile away.

There will be a grill available Friday night, along with water and ice. Pancakes and coffee will be served to anyone camping prior to the ride on Saturday. We recommend bringing any other food and beverages needed since the nearest store is 6 miles away.

Parking will be available across from the East Barnard Church on Allen Hill Road, rights at the corner of Allen HIll Road and Broad Brook Road. Additional parking will be available nearby on Broad Brook Road if needed.  There are no stores at the start/finish, so plan on having whatever you need pre and post ride in your car.
Pre-ride report from Scott Cone and Callista Phillips:
The pre-ride was done on June 18 in cool, blustery and windy conditions. With a course full of climbing and descents, the winds generally didn’t hamper or help other than to make the temps in the 40’s and low 50’s seem even cooler!

This populaire has much of the climbing in the early to mid parts of the ride, with over 2,000′ of climbing in the first 14 miles. The ride starts with a climb up Allen Hill, gaining over 600′ in the first 2.5 miles. After rolling along the ridge on Skyline Road, there is more ridgeline riding at the top of Wild Apple Road. Some of this is Class 4 road, but it is maintained in the summer and not too bad. Watch for loose gravel and some minor ledge rock. The descent of Wild Apple once you leave the Class 4 section has great views down the valleys. You’ll encounter the first stretch of pavement at the bottom on Stage road, starting the mix of surfaces for the rest of the day.
Barnard General Store probably comes too early for services, but it is worth a short stop on the shores of Silver Lake. There is a bathroom in the store.
As you descend Prosper Road into Woodstock, watch out for potholes on the steep downhill section. At the bottom of this section, there is a good option for food, drinks and bathrooms at the Woodstock Farmers Market (just across the road and slightly left). Porta-johns are to the right of the building, next to the annex where they do their cooking. We stopped here for coffee and fresh donuts!
On June 25th, there will be a BookStock event going on in Woodstock, so be careful of pedestrian and car traffic going around the green in town.
After Woodstock, there is a freshly graded and rocky surface on High Pastures road until you reach the Pomfret town line.
At the end of Sessions Meadows, the Class 4 road is fairly dry and completely rideable by some folks. We walked a bit. It comes after some steep gravel road, so catch your breath before heading up the trail.
Howe Hill Road is the one significant climb on pavement for the day and it is a narrow road. Watch for cars on the ascents and control your speed on the descents. There is a one-way railroad underpass at the bottom.
Just past Howe Hill, you cross the White River and reach Sharon VT. About 300 yards to the right on Route 14 is the Sharon Trading post, which is now converted into a Maplefields convenience store. We had lunch here and it is probably the best timed services stop on the route with a variety of food and drinks.
Leaving Sharon, you slowly climb up into Strafford and Tunbridge, enjoying great farms and backcountry valleys. You eventually drop back into Tunbridge onto Rt 110. Enjoy the descent along the first branch of the White River and make up some time for the finish.
The last 5 miles are up along Broad Brook Road to the finish, slowly climbing another 500′.
Calista and I rode the course at a consistent pace with only two significant food stops and still only had 15 minutes in the bank when we finished. It’s a scenic route with plenty to enjoy!
Route Description:
The East Barnard Gravel Populaire will take in some of the best gravel roads in the towns of Barnard, Pomfret, Woodstock, Sharon, Tunbridge and Royalton. Starting in the quiet village of East Barnard, the route climbs up Allen Hill Road on the way to Wild Apple Road. The first class 4 road is a section of Wild Apple with some rock ledge that is easily rideable along a ridge, followed by a fantastic scenic descent on a smoother gravel section. After climbing up Stage Road to Barnard, you reach the first services at the Barnard General Store. Take a break by Silver Lake before heading down a long paved descent into Woodstock. More services are available in Woodstock at mile 23, including the iconic Gillinham’s and the Village Butcher. The next services are at mile 55, so make sure you have plenty of food and water.
Leaving Woodstock, you slowly climb up gravel roads to the very end of High Pastures Road, where the second section of class 4 road looks more like a trail into the woods. The track climbs to the ridge about a mile south of where the Appalachian Trail crosses the same ridge, then smooths out for a descent to Cloudland Road. This section contains some larger ledge and rocks, but is rideable so be cautious. Cloudland Road takes you back up into Pomfret and then another long paved descent to Howe Hill Road. Look for the Highland Cattle on Howe Hill Road, then descend all the way to the White River in Sharon.
Fay Brook Road leads into more miles of gravel roads, old farms and even a round barn as you slowly climb into Tunbridge. A paved descent along the First Branch of the White River takes you to South Royalton, where there are several stores and the First Branch Coffee Shop. You probably won’t have time to stop at the iconic Worthy Burger in town before you continue along a paved road down along the White River. After a few miles, you go through a narrow bridge under the train and head up Broad Brook Road and ust over five miles of gravel up this road leads you back to East Barnard and the finish.