In 2010, Velo Quebec hosted their Grand Tour through the Lake Champlain Region. This first-class Canadian cycling organization organizes numerous cycling tours. Their top-of-the-line is the Grand Tour, an annual tour consisting of approximately 500-miles held at premier cycling destinations in North America. Each year approximately 2000 cyclists register and participate. Though most participating cyclists are from Canada, participants come from all over the world. Every detail is carefully planned and arranged beginning 1-2 years in advance for this major event. From gourmet catered meals to support equipment, to sites visits and evening entertainment, no detail is ignored. Most cyclists camp along the route at pre-arranged sites, often school or college campuses, though some do opt for local lodging. Serving as a Lake Champlain Region “hostess,” I got involved in the planning, coordination and arrangements for the 2010 Grand Tour in early 2009.
The cyclists began their journey in Lake George and traveled north to Ticonderoga where they spent two overnights in early August of that year. The first day was their arrival and included a catered meal in a huge dining tent and then live entertainment for the evening. The second day cycling participants had the opportunity to take a wide variety of side trips and explore our communities, sites and attractions. I was on site to help inform about everything there was to see and do in our region, and assist individuals and small groups with routes and plans for their personal adventures. I discovered most of these cyclists were very serious about the sport. They craved perpetual motion, and for some, the more challenging the better. Down time was minimal for this group.
Fort Ticonderoga offered them the Mount Defiance Challenge - a short, but steep side trip. The mountain is just under 900 feet, but the road to the top rises rapidly. Those that cycled to the top received a commemorative pin and were rewarded with an incredible view overlooking Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain. Others went off to explore different interests including museums, galleries, other forms of recreation.
It was great fun meeting and talking with so many bicycling enthusiasts and get the perspective from traveling on two, man-powered, wheels. From their exploration of our region, I learned much about what appeals to a serious cyclist. I’m only a casual, short-trip cyclist myself, so this was very helpful and informative.
The opinion of most was that you can’t find better cycling anywhere than in the Lake Champlain Region. Yes, a big hit was our terrain and scenic beauty; the gently rolling hills interspersed with the occasional muscle-burning climbs set against a backdrop of awesome views. They also appreciated our quiet clusters of forested areas along the roads that offered escape from the hot sun and the numerous pull-offs for quick rest stops. Many were thrilled to find public beaches and roadside streams that offered additional cool-off opportunities. They were pleased with the wide variety of sites and attractions to visit and that our welcoming communities were, in their opinion, a perfect distance apart, roughly 10-12 miles. There they could easily find restrooms, fresh water and other amenities. But what really appealed was something I had overlooked and always took for granted.
Dotting along the main routes that connect our villages and hamlets are an abundance of roadside farm markets and stands, orchards selling produce and products, hot dog and fast food establishments and dozens of places offering ice cream! Hard working cyclists need their fuel. Most vowed to return when they had more time to explore, and many have.
Lake Champlain Bikeways
Tour participant reactions came as no surprise to Lake Champlain Bikeways. This top-notch Champlain Valley cycling organization has recognized the superb cycling environment within the Lake Champlain Region for decades. They have charted, mapped and organized approximately 1400 miles of great cycling throughout the valley. LCB’s main feature is the 363-mile loop around Lake Champlain, but in addition to that they have added numerous themed loops ranging from 12 to 40 miles that branch from the feature route and create the entire woven bikeways network.
A treasured collection within this network is referred to as the Adirondack Coast Bikeways: 14 themed loops throughout the Lake Champlain Region and immediate surrounds. One of these loops is a perfect fit for any style of cycling. Most routes are considered intermediate, but some include more challenging stretches. Some travel unpaved back country roads, other routes are paved and directly connect communities, sites, and attractions. All have a story to tell for “mind exercise” as well.
Here are a few of the most popular Adirondack Coast Bikeways loops:
Fort To Fort - Tip: When traveling the Fort to Fort route you will want to allow plenty of time to explore both Crown Point State Historic Site and the Lake Champlain Bridge Heritage Area on the northern end, and Fort Ticonderoga at the southern end.
Surrounded by Water - Tip: Don’t miss the Adsit Cabin directly on this loop, and drop in to the Willsboro Heritage Center Museum, Guilliand Lane, town center, for more in-depth background on Willsboro Point.
Coon Mountain Circuit - Tip: Plan your Coon Mountain Circuit cycling trip to have plenty of time to spend in the picturesque, historic hamlet of Essex. You will want to poke in a shop or gallery, dine by the water or in an historic inn, and relax a bit watching boat traffic on the lake or the Essex to Charlotte, VT ferry come and go. Also along this route is the Coon Mountain Trailhead, a relatively short hike that's well worth the effort.
Invitation to Cyclists
With endorsements from two highly respected bicycling organizations you will want to come and enjoy our first rate cycling destination. Have fun customizing your own “Grand Tour” along the Adirondack Coast. Bicycle-friendly B&Bs and lodging readily await. (News flash: In Moriah, Edgemont B&B, catering specifically to cyclists, is due to open later this month. Stay tuned for details.) Campgrounds are also plentiful if a ceiling of stars is what you prefer. Check out our Playing Here page for things to do to enhance your adventure. Grab some farm fresh produce, a Michigan hot dog, or an ice cream while cycling about. Don’t forget: we’re here to help with your plans! 866-The-Lake.
Riding 'round the Park: