Ranch Camp. If you follow the Stowe scene at all, its probably not news to you that there’s a new shop in town. Located in Stowe at the back entrance to Cady Hill, Ranch Camp offers a unique approach to a bike shop. Not only is it a fully functioning bike shop, but it is also stocked with a tap list that would please any beer enthusiast and delicious, modern and healthy post ride food.
Looking for shop info? Check out http://ranchcampvt.com/
So what’s the idea behind the shop? “The idea behind Ranch Camp was to create an anchor for the local riding community and beyond,” says Ryan Thibault, one of the shop’s co-owners. “We wanted to build a hub where everyone can gather before and after rides for quality bike sales and service, fast-casual healthy food, and great beers.” The shop was founded and is co-owned by three dedicated mountain bikers, with Nate Freund and Evan Chismark rounding out the team. Evan, a champion of local trail stewardship and involved in the riding community of Stowe, is currently leading the charge as General Manager of the shop.
Locals might recognize the name, and for good reason. The name is recycled, coming from a logging camp with the same name at the base of Mt. Mansfield that then evolved into Stowe’s first ski base lodge. Ryan relates, “We figured we’d continue to keep the spirit alive with Stowe’s first MTB base lodge.”
Ranch Camp carries an impressive trifecta of bike brands, including Specialized, Ibis, and Evil. In addition to selling and servicing bikes, Ranch Camp also serves as MTBVT’s new physical headquarters. It will be the first shop where the complete lineup of MTBVT softgoods can be found. Additionally, MTBVT plans to host future events from this new location.
Local George Merril heads up the wrenching for Ranch Camp. Another local rider and part of the community, he functions as the mechanical brains for the shop. Just remember, if you break down in Cady Hill, George is waiting at the trailhead ready to help you get back to pedaling!
Onto the food and drink, perhaps what I was personally most excited to explore post ride. Chef Joe Rock, another local, heads up the food side of the shop. The menu includes something for everyone, with modern and delicious dishes that include many gluten free and vegan options. Above, the Fried ‘Chokes, was a personal favorite. There are presently six options of burritos, all stuffed with high quality ingredients and unique combinations poised to satisfy any post ride hunger. The hot sauce on each table is made in-house with maple syrup. What could be more Vermont?!
To round off the 3 B’s, lets not forget about the beer. Featuring a rotating tap list of 6 beers, Ranch Camp brings it all together. Drawing on local and state beers, the taplist at the time of this writing included some of my favorite breweries: Von Trapp, Foley Brothers, Zero Gravity were all present.
I mean, any bar that has a tap with a bike seat on it and a bike frame right behind it is all right in my book. Andy Hull is another local bike rider and has done local trail building, and now helps head up the restaurant and drink side of Ranch Camp in addition to coworker Erica Cerra. Bikers being in charge leads to small additions that will be appreciated by the bike crowd. Large water carafes are present both in bar and in the seating area if you need water to rehydrate before post ride libations.
Last but not least, lets not forget about the riding. Co-Owner Nate Freund shows us what it’s all about in the photo above. Cady Hill, one of the more popular destinations in Stowe and even Vermont, is easily accessible from the Ranch Camp parking lot. Cady Hill has (presently) 23 trails spanning over 320 acres of land, with trails for those of all ability levels.
Cady Hill offers views of beautiful fern floored forests, and contains a great variety of trail. Rocky and rooty sections are present for the technical riders, Florence provides one of my favorite flow rides in the area, and there are also plenty of smooth open trails for novices.
Built by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers, and situated at a trailhead, Ranch Camp hopes to act as a home and hub for the MTB community. We hope you will consider stopping in and being part of this community, and look forward to seeing you at future MTBVT events!