The Big K Way | Three Reasons You Should be Riding and Racing Killington This Summer

Cyclists ride The Long Trail Century Ride.
Cyclists ride The Long Trail Century Ride.

That old adage about moving to Vermont for the winters and staying for the summers may especially apply to skiers-turned-cyclists in the Killington area. Having landed at the “Big K” for its moguls and après ski, they’re now happy to stash the sticks for the summer and pull out their road bikes for descents of a different kind.

“Killington is a fantastic place to ride and race because of the beautiful scenery, wide shoulders on major roads, and low traffic on others,” says Gary Kessler, director of the Killington Stage Race, one of three major events on the area’s cycling calendar during the warm-weather months ahead. “There’s a lot of variety—the flats heading east on Route 4 to Woodstock, the modest climbs on 100A from Bridgewater to Plymouth Notch, and the brutal climb up East Mountain Road to the Killington ski area.”

If that description has you reaching for your shifters, here’s a glimpse of what to expect from the Killington Stage Race and two other rides that are redefining life in a ski-resort town in the summer.

Killington Stage Race
May 25 to 27
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as fans of this three-day, three-stage event discovered when it was revived in 2010, after a 10-year cancellation. Saturday’s circuit race sees rides of 37 to 73 miles on an 18-mile lap zipping through Plymouth Notch village, while Sunday’s 61-mile road race that includes a climb up East Mountain Road, AKA The Beast. The time trials, on Monday, mean an 11-mile solo race against the clock. Registration fees for 2012 ranged from $25 to $185, and volunteers are need to judge sprints, drive vans, and more.

The Long Trail Century Ride
June 22
What happens when you bring together a favorite Killington watering hole, a legendary brewery, a ski resort and a good cause? Well, it might look something like The Long Trail Century Ride, which began last year as a collaborative effort among the Lookout Tavern, Long Trail Brewery, Killington Resort and Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports. The one-day event, which is also sponsored by FitWerx and World Cup Supply, features rides of 20, 50, or 100 miles, and rewards riders with not only spectacular scenery, but also an after-ride Long Trail barbecue party and a Killington lift ticket for the 2013-2014 season.

The Vermont Challenge
August 14 to 18
If four days of wheeling through Southern and Central Vermont—including a century ride over a Green Mountain gap—is your idea of summer bliss, then you’re up for the state-supported Vermont Challenge, a 2012-born event designed for intermediate and advanced cyclists who ride at least 30 to 40 miles on a regular basis and can maintain average speeds of more than 13 miles per hour. While organizers provide luggage service, lunches, nightly entertainment, free Otter Creek beer and more, participants can choose their own lodging—from B&B’s to large hotels—and can opt for the one-day “Gap” century and metric century; the three-day weekend challenge; or the four-day grand challenge. All the tours start and end at Killington, where there’s a big party for all riders on Saturday night. And all the tours have a fundraising component, with donations going to areas and organizations still impacted by Irene, including the Stratton Foundation and the town of Bridgewater.

Sarah Tuff

Sarah Tuff writes about outdoor sports, health and fitness from her home in Shelburne; her work has appeared in The New York Times, Runner's World and Skiing, among other publications. She is also the co-author of 101 Best Outdoor Towns (Countryman Press).