The Legend of the Magic Coke Machine

Submitted by blogger Eric Adsit

Tucked away not-so-deep in the woods where the Adirondack Mountains meet the shores of Lake Champlain is something magical, a glowing beacon of refreshment for the weary, a device as mysterious as it is unexpected. A Coca-Cola machine.

But this isn’t just any aluminum can kicking, soda slinging, hunk of metal abandoned in the woods. This one works, it's free, and it usually has beer. Some say it was left by aliens, others believe it’s a government mind control experiment, or that it’s been there since the beginning of time. More likely it was put there by landowner Jeff Allott, who has spent decades returning the once defunct ski hill to its glory days with music festivals, a rope tow, and some incredible mountain bike trails. 

I was first introduced to Otis when friends invited me to come to Dirt Church, a weekly Sunday gathering heavy on the dirt and in no traditional way resembling church. Really, it’s a group ride through the many twists and turns on trails with names like Widowmaker, Wookie Loop, and Waterfall. The trails get tougher the higher up you go, but the views are worth every drop of sweat. Motivated riders can climb over 500 feet, and rocky outcroppings overlook the valley below. Many of the trails here originated as test-loops for motorized trial bikes, the technical type of dirt biking that likely inspired Danny McAskill, and it shows. Steep climbs, sudden drops, and tight turns are the name of the game. 

For all the technical features and elevation gain, the trails are surprisingly climbable. Even riding one of the system’s toughest trails, Upper Currey, backwards, I only remember having to walk my bike a handful of times. And there were plenty of people who didn’t have to dismount at all. After a quick break at the California overlook, a breathtaking prominence that peers out over the valley, we traversed along GBX and hooked into GBH, passing by a huge heron rookery along the way. The rest of the trails were a blur of rock gardens, optional drops, fast and flowy(ish) downhills, and hairpin turns.

And the magic coke machine. Providing a carbonated kick in the pants for climbers or a bubbly beverage for blurring downhills, it is the essence of Otis. Quirky, strange even, but certain to bring a smile to your face.

I rolled to a stop in the red glow and gentle hum of electricity, looking over my shoulder at the rest of the group for encouragement. 

“Go ahead, press a button,” one of them said. 

I reached out and pushed the one second from the top. I waited. And waited. Finally, a clunk and a whir, and a can rolled out into the dispenser tray. Beer! And not a cheap one, either. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes, but I could definitely believe my tastebuds. Aliens, mind control, or just plain magic…the magic coke machine is a must-visit destination made even better by the trails surrounding it.


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