Vermont: One if by Land. Two if by Sea. Three if by KLR.

Text: John M. Flores • Photography: John M. Flores

Water is entering the top of my Alpinestars Alpha Touring boot as the entire left side of my body is being introduced to the cool refreshing waters of Pond Brook. The trusty Kawasaki KLR is getting a much needed (yet unexpected) rinse—the victim 
of an underwater obstacle and an unsure pilot. Quick, where’s the kill switch?

A s long distance riders, we revel in exploring the nooks and crannies and thinly settled corners of the planet. But at some time or another, many of us have reached the literal end of the road, a place where the tarmac turns to dirt. With our street bikes and tires we are forced to execute clumsy U-turns. I’ve often wondered what lies beyond.

Enter MotoVermont with a fistful of knobby tired Kawasaki KLRs in their shop in Burlington. Head honcho Eric Milano has offered to show Manuel and me the backroads of his adopted state. Manuel has some experience, but I’m more or less a newbie. That’s OK—there was once a time, many moons ago, when I was a motorcycle novice. And that turned out all right.

The venue for this dual sport excursion is Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom (NEK). According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, 74 percent of its thoroughfares are rated as poor to very poor condition. In other words, dirt or worse. Or in “other” other words, perfect for a dual sport getaway. Our base of operations is Jay Peak, about 50 miles away from Burlington as the crow flies, but we’re going to take all day to get there.

One if by Land

We start off with threateningly cloudy skies, but they’ve got more bark than bite. We weave our way out of Burlington along a collection of local avenues and then turn off the asphalt and hit the trail.

A short while later we get to our first water crossing, a 50-yard section where the trail and stream are one. What lurks beneath the turbulent surface? Rocks the size of baby heads? Creatures from the deep? Davy Jones’ locker? “No fear,” I think to myself. And then I look again at the water rushing past and reassess. Maybe some fear is OK; I’ve got plenty of water-phobic digital gear on me, but there’s no turning back and no way around. So I take a deep breath and jump in. I dab once or twice (putting my foot down for support) but otherwise get through unscathed. Manuel and Eric take a couple more passes for photos—and because it’s fun.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the January/February 2014 back issue.