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.
Motorcycle & Gear
2013 Kawasaki KLR
Jacket/Pants: Aerostich Roadcrafter, Alpinestars Durban Gore-Tex
Gloves: Aerostich Deerskin, Alpinestars Arctic Drystar
Boots: Alpinestars Alpha Touring, TXC Pro 2
Helmet: HJC CL-Max II, Icon Variant
Cameras: Panasonic GH2, Nikon V1, Pentax Q
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.