Note, click on pictures to see full size image
From Eastern Mass, there is pretty much one way to get there, find your way to Route 119 and stay on it, then 202N. Once in Townsend Mass, you have the option of taking Rt 124 North. I stuck with Rt 119 since it has more services (water, restrooms) when compared to 124. Route 124 is shaded and slightly shorter, but lack of services could be an issue. Both routes are quite pretty.
Day 1 of 4:
Left home around 9:00am, the plan was to ride to Willard Brook State Park, and stay the night. But since it was suppose to rain the next day, decided to ride the full 50+ miles to Monadnock. The trip was planned as a leisurely "Shake Down" ride for the LHT.
Above is a picture of the loaded bike by a farm in Dunstable Mass, continued on to Pepperell Mass where I stopped at the "Pepperell Spa" for Breakfast (quite good). There I talked to an older gentleman about "Bike Touring" and he was telling me about his friend who lives in Alaska. He tours with a trailer, taking Nature Photos throughout AK and the Yukon while riding, selling them to National Geographic, Atlantic and other magazines.
Above is Rt 119 in West Townsend Mass. in the distance you can see the hills I am heading for. Reached Willard Brook State Park, where the rangers let me use the restroom and refill my water bottles in the main office (thanks!). I believe I left my cycling gloves there, not a big deal since I only used them rarely and at times they bothered me a bit.
Here we have the road through the park, and free parking for me :). Notice the trash bag. In Pepperell it started to rain lightly, but it was a short shower. Up to now it has been humid but cloudy and cool, but soon the weather changed to sunny and around 85 F.
It has been a quick ride up to this point, continued on 119 to Ashby Mass. where I took lunch at the Ashby Market (above). Talked to the owner and a customer about my trip, they said it will be difficult from this point on, they were not kidding!
So, headed out on Rt 119, as you can see from above, the road goes slightly up, and at points it got a slightly steeper, but nothing that indicates how hard this part of the ride would be. I did not notice it at the time, but I was in the middle of "hill hell", it is a stretch of 10+ miles that took me three hours to ride. Until this point I was looking at reaching Monadnock State Park sometime around 3:00.
But as you can see from the Elevation Chart, it is a real rough section of road. Took a break in Rindge NH talked to a guy about hiking and touring, he gave me pointers on a little shortcut that bypasses the busy intersection of Rt 119 and Rt 202. This is where you branch off of Rt 119 and head North on Rt 202, from there you link up with Route 124 and head to Monadnock State Park. The shortcut "cuts the corner" and you end up on Rt 202 North.
When I stopped in Rindge I was maybe 10 miles from camp. From the Mass/NH border, it is 17 miles to Monadnock State Park, but a hard 17 miles. At least I was near the end of "Hill Hell", when I reached Jaffrey NH it seemed I was on a kind of plateau, was a bit hilly but not bad. So I continued on and reached camp around 5:30.
I set up Camp, heated up some food I carried and relaxed and "went into a coma", as a bike riding buddy (Carl) would say. I took site A4, it was close to the bathrooms and showers (above).
Rode 53 miles from home to camp.
Day 2 of 4:
Woke up feeling sore from yesterday, but OK. Last night and early morning there was quite a thunderstorm, I think it ended around 8:00am. Hard rain and wind, but everything survived.
I rode into Jaffrey to pick up supplies, the day was turning into a nice day. Spent a little time exploring before heading back to camp. Stopped at a French cafe and had this as a reward for yesterday's ride.
Above is is the road out of Jaffrey towards camp, on the way you pass by the Church in the town center built in 1780.
If you are riding to the camp from Jaffrey, you can take a right on "First Tavern Road" to save a climb and is a bit shorter, it will join with Dulin Road. Also above are some pictures of Mt Monadnock on the way to camp (Dublin Road)
For the rest of the day I read a book I brought along. It was recommended to me by my Doctor and relaxed for the evening.
Day 3 of 4:
Last night was very cool but nice in the tent. There was also a very bad wind storm last night, if the tent had been empty it would have blown away. When I got up I used some rope I brought along to further secure the tent. You may be able see what I did on the right side of the tent:
I tied one corner to the table, and extended right side rain cover so I could stake it in better ground.
Today was cool and cloudy, doubt it reached 60 F during the day. But I had brought enough clothes to be comfortable. Explored around a bit, but did not hike any long trails because of the threat of rain. One of the things I always bring along is a bicycle cover:
this protected the bike from the rain and the mud blown up by the strong winds last night. I noticed there were only two other people in the whole park. The "Host" (Site A1), a ranger who lives on site and someone in the "Section B".
Section B is a bit better for tents, but it was down at the bottom of a hill and a distance from the showers. Spread out through the campground are a few "organic" toilets, but you could only shower and wash dishes at the building near my site:
There are 3 sections, A, B and R. Section R is for "remote sites", you can only get to these sites by hiking, below is a picture of Site R2 (Remote 2), the chimney is the remains of an old cabin.
There are suppose to be around 6 remote sites, the ranger I asked was not to sure how many there were, but thinks 5 or 6. For the rest of the day I relaxed and continued reading.
During the day, there were a few rangers cleaning up the campground, I thought it was clean, but realized since it was Thursday they were getting it ready for the weekend.
Day 4 of 4:
Last night was even more windy and the coldest night, but I was warm in the tent. The ropes helped out a lot, kept the tent sturdy during the strong winds. Unfortunately, this is the day I have to head home, so I packed and headed out.
When I checked out, it was with the "host". We talked a bit and he said I was so quiet he was going to swing by and check in on me, but figured I was out hiking. I asked him about the campground, he said they just closed the old camp and this is the new camping area. He mentioned some people like it better, others do not. I thought is was nice, but I suspect people do not like it because it is a little further from the Mountain.
While packing, I noticed a lot of people pulling in, seems it will be a busy weekend. So I guess it is just as well I am leaving.
On the way out of the campground I took the above pictures of the mountain with the packed bike and some turkeys wandering around. This is the river in Jaffrey NH showing how dry it has been:
Took the same way back, based upon this it will be a very easy ride home.
Ate breakfast in Jaffrey, wish I found that place two days ago. They had a very good egg/beacon/cheese sandwich. Two days ago I only knew of a fast food place, then explored around and found the French Cafe a while later where I had tea and cake.
The ride home was uneventful, I took it easy so I would not get home too early, wanted to enjoy the day. Taking it easy was tough, all I had to do was sit up straight and let the wind and hills take me home.
As you can see from the pictures, almost all downhill! Reached home at 3:00pm. All in all it was a very fun trip and showed me the LHT is a top notch loaded bicycle.
I really should get into the habit of using sunscreen, on Day 1 I got a minor sunburn on my face.
With that said, I should replace the "1 Long Sleeve Shirt" with a "Light Weight Long Sleeve Shirt", maybe wool.
For me, "Bicycle Shorts" are not what you think they are. These look like regular black shorts but contain a small pad sewed into the liner. So, they do "double duty".
For food, I should have picked it up in Jaffrey instead of carrying it from home, but I always want to carry a bit of food with me "just in case".
Only one very minor mechanical issue. The front derailleur bar end shifter loosened up. That is an on going issue with it. But, that bar end came from the XO-2, used on the 750 then installed on the LHT, thus it is quite old. I just had to tighten it and continue on. Someday I should replace it, but been saying that for years.
The LHT handled very well (great actually), no shimmy at all and except for the extra weight I did not notice anything. It handled better than the Old Bike, but that frame was not a touring frame, it started out as a hybrid bike and was changed using parts from the Bridgestone.
One thing I wish the campgrounds would change. When I use to camp with my parents a very long time ago, each camp site would have a buried ice box. You could then buy blocks of ice, and any food you need to keep cold would be stored it in the box. The box would have a loose wood floor, so it was no issue if the ice melt, the water would drain into the ground. This way, as a bicycle rider, I could pick up food which needs to be kept cool and have a place to keep it. As it stands, when camping, my options are to eat out or buy non-perishables.
Last year (2009) my old Trek 750 bicycle gave out after a very hard 34,000 miles. The frame cracked.
I noticed the 750 frame had a lifetime warranty. So, I talked to the bicycle shop about it. They doubted I would receive frame as a replacement, I would have liked to receive a 520 Frame Set. But the shop owner and mechanics thought I would, at most, receive a gift certificate or maybe an Aluminum Frame Set. At the time, I agreed with them and doubted I would get a suitable replacement (re: touring) from Trek. This is due to the age and the fact I had an obsolete model. So I so I picked up a Surly LHT Frame Set.
After eight months after riding and enjoying the LHT, Trek sent me a brand new 520 Frame Set. This was a surprise to me, I would have built up the "free" 520 if it did not take so long to get it. So for now I plan on keeping the 520 frame for future use. I admire Trek for honoring the warranty, too bad it took so long.
As it turns out, the Surly LHT is a very good frame and I am quite happy with it. It reminds me of and rides like the Bridgestone XO-2 I use to own. The Bridgestone was destroyed many years ago in a car accident. The 750 was a replacement for the Bridgestone.
On my last camping trip, I rode up to Bear Brook State Park and camped for memorial day weekend.
More to come.
Between 1996 and 2001, I did 6 Boston --> New York AIDS Rides and one Montreal to Portland AIDS Vaccine Ride. My cousin Paul also crewed those rides plus many other AIDS Rides I was not involved in.
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