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Two Wheels, Two Planks

Photo Essay: Pedal-powered skiing is a springtime pleasure


Published March 16, 2011 at 7:43 a.m.

Photos by Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson.

It’s rare that our trips to the ski hill or trailhead don’t involve a few errands, a visit with friends or family, or a longer drive to a not-so-local spot. These busy schedules, combined with such realities as snowy roads, frigid weather and limited daylight, make it challenging to use our bicycles to go skiing. However, come March, when Old Man Winter begins to relax his grip, a bike-supported skiing adventure is hard to resist. It’s a simple, beautiful concept: We enjoy our first good bike ride of the season, we spend the day skiing, and we leave the car at home.

Our inaugural trip each season has become a welcome rite of passage to spring. It starts with little more than a bit of fair weather … and a mighty breakfast. Our favorite: homemade waffles with loads of berries from our freezer stash, plenty of bacon and fresh maple syrup from across the road. With bellies full, we prep our bikes, load our gear — strapping skis, boots and packs to a one-wheeled bike trailer manufactured by BOB — check on the woodstove and pedal away.

When there is still snow this time of year at low elevations, we can find various options for Nordic and backcountry skiing just a short bike ride from our home. Even a neighborhood farm lures us on occasion — a great option when we’ve only got a couple of hours to spare. It’s hard to beat rolling down the hill on our bikes, dropping off our empty milk bottles at the cow barn and skiing a few runs with our backcountry gear in the scenic and sloping pastures.

If we’ve got a full day free, we head for the big mountains. Both Mad River Glen and Sugarbush ski areas are just over an hour’s bike ride from home. Several Nordic ski centers and backcountry trailheads are also reachable in that time frame. Mid-summer, when we’re in cycling shape, this ride is like a walk in the park. In March — and when we’re towing 30 pounds — it requires a bit more effort. Still, so long as we pace ourselves, we can enjoy a day of skiing with friends and still have both time and energy for the trip home.

Allowing for a couple of hours of daylight post-skiing, we have time to savor the afternoon sun and a leisurely ride. We might stop for a bite to eat at the Mad Taco in Waitsfield, or keep it rolling to catch the sunset from home — where the comforts of a warm fire, a hot bath and a tasty bowl of soup await. m

Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson live in Moretown and can be contacted through