Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day #46: The Northeastern Beauty Contest

Today's Route: Ticonderoga, NY to South Strafford, VT (82 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2605

Sorry folks, but I have nothing to report from last night's stealth camping experience. Except that it went perfectly smoothly.

Aptly labeled dugout - my stealth "home" last night.

Yesterday I mentioned that my left hand was swollen from a fly bite. The swelling began about 12 hours after the bite and then lasted for a day or two. The swelling is now gone in my left hand but is now present in my right hand (which was bit the day after my left hand).

While I recognize that most of you are not familiar with how my hands typically look, trust me that the below swollen hand looks nothing like my hand. You can't even see my veins!

Very swollen.

It was a few short miles to the ferry this morning. On the way there, I ran into Conor, who had just taken the ferry from the east. He's headed west to Seattle. I told him to look me up when he hits the west coast; I will happily provide a warm shower.


Waiting for the ferry.

This morning's ferry transported me across Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga, NY to Shoreham, VT.

Shirley & I were the only passengers for this crossing.

And then, all of the sudden, I find myself in Vermont.

Sorry to say it New York, but you have now moved into second place in the Northeastern Beauty Contest. Ms. Vermont has shown her stuff, and she is absolutely stunning. She now stands in first place.

As much as I loved riding through New York, I'm loving my ride through Vermont even more.

Why, you ask? Well, for one, there are the people.

As soon as I got off the ferry, I rode by an older woman who was walking her dog. She asked where I was headed. I said, "Portland, Maine," to which she responded, "Ah, you must have started in Portland, Oregon." No kidding! Friendly. And smart, too!

A few miles into Vermont, my map gave me two options. Either I could ride through the beautiful colonial town of Middlebury or I could continue riding through the country and ride through a covered bridge. I opted for the latter.

My map showed that 1.3 miles of Swamp Road (the road on which the covered bridge resides) was hard-packed dirt, but my map addenda (which shows updates to the map), indicated that the road was paved last fall. Sweet!

After turning onto Swamp Road and riding a short distance, I noticed a blue pick-up truck stopped in the middle of the road. This is the same pick-up that had passed me just a little ways back. I looked just beyond the truck to see why it was stopped. I saw that the road was flooded.

Swamp Road is indeed swampy!

The door of the blue truck opened and out walked (adorably cute) Adam. He had waited for me to arrive. He asked if I wanted a lift through the floods.

The flood water didn't appear to be too deep, but I had just lubed my chain that morning, and I figured Shirley would rather not get her drivetrain all mucked up with swampy water. So, I accepted.

Adam picked up my super-duper heavy bike (loaded with panniers), as if it weighed nothing, and put it in the bed of his truck. I climbed in the front, and off we waded through the flood waters.

What an awesome display of Vermont-people-coolness! Thank you, Adam, for your kindness.

Adam gives me a lift.

Aforementioned covered bridge, just on the other side of the floodwaters.

Shortly after passing through the covered bridge, I hung a left at the next road. In the house off to my left was a shirtless man shoveling gravel from his pickup onto the driveway. He was gorgeous. He had an amazing tan and a nicely sculpted back. And chest. And arms. Oh la la! I nearly fainted. It crossed my mind that I should stop and take a photo. But then it crossed my mind that I should probably exhibit some manners.

So, yeah, not only are Vermonters amazingly kind, but they are also really good looking. Hearty. Healthy. Wholesome. Bearded (well, just the men). Very mountain-like and organic. Yum!

I also love Vermont because it is friggin' gorgeous! Lots of perfectly lucious greenness. Beautiful wildflower-lined roads. And very rolling.

If you were to take a 15-foot long 2x4 and attach a level to the board, I don't think you could lay that board down anywhere in the state of Vermont and get a level reading. But that's okay, because Vermont and its green mountains are so pretty! Everything not-so-great about Vermont (such as the lack of shoulders and the poor road quality) is forgiven!

Oh, and also, everything seems so chill in Vermont. There's not a care in the world! I totally dig that.

Double-oh, and when I stopped in small town Bethel (whose population is less than 2,000, including the surrounding villages) for a chocolate milk break, I was astonished to see that the town offered free wifi. How cool is that! If a small Podunk in Vermont can offer free wifi, why can't the rest of us? You go, Vermont!

Triple-oh, what's not to love about a state that takes just about one day to bike across!

Shirley waits for me while I make use of the land by stopping for a pop-a-squat.

While I can't say that New York was mountainous, I can say that Vermont is mountainous.

I had a couple of good climbs today. Whereas the mountain climbs out west tend to be limited to a 6% grade, many of the climbs around here are a whopping 9 to 12% grade. Even Shirley's granny gear felt a bit tough to pedal at times. Fortunately, the mountains out here aren't nearly as high as they are out west.


While 12% grades aren't exactly a cup of tea to climb, they are typically fun to descend. Though, I did a lot of brake riding on the way down to avoid all the pot holes and cracks in the pavement. I think the wear on my brake pads today exceeded the wear from all the other days of my trip - combined. Again: Vermont, you are forgiven.

In North Haverton, I saw two guys ride into town on touring bikes while I was parked at the grocery store. I ran over to them at the restaurant next door. Sam (from Lincoln, England) and Scott (from Bristol, England) recently started their tour, which will meander around the perimeter of the states. They are hoping to do their ride in 200 days. Their site can be found here: New York to New York Cycling Challenge.

Sam & Scott.

It seems that I've been seeing more cycle tourists the last few days. Yeah! I still have yet to come across any other single female riders, though. Where are you, ladies?

You may recall Hurricane Irene, which battered the Carribean and the east coast back in August 2011. I had no idea that Irene had such an impact on Vermont. I came across many signs that served as testaments to the flooding.

The high water mark from Irene is indicated on the side of this house.

Another testament of Irene's flooding.

Tonight I am staying with Warm Showers hosts, Barbara and Wally, in South Stratford. Their house sits at the top of a steep climb. I would have preferred not to begin a steep climb 78 miles into my ride. But, sometimes you just gotta make do.

After my long day, I was looking forward to kicking up my feet, relaxing, and catching some early shut eye. But Barbara successfully talked me into attending a film called "The Forgotten Kingdom." Set in Lesotho, the film tells the story of a man, named Atang, who goes on a journey to bury his father. Here's the trailer for the film:

The film was being shown in Hanover, NH, on the campus of Dartmouth College. The director, Andrew Mudge, is a local, and this was his opportunity to share the film with his community. After the film, there was an interesting Q&A session with Andrew and Jeff Ruoff, a profesor of Film & Media Studies at Dartmouth.

Q&A with Andrew Mudge (the film's director) & Jeff Ruoff.

I had been to Darmouth once before. On the girl's trip out east when I was 16 (mentioned in Day #40), my Mom and I stopped by the campus. I was totally gung-ho on attending an Ivy League school, and so I wanted to see what it was like. My mom and I ate lunch at a popular restaurant on campus, and we both hated the experience. The other folks (presumably mostly faculty and students) seemed so pompous and stuffy. I wouldn't fit it with that crowd. It was a great "turn-off experience." Given my present thoughts on education, I'm so glad I didn't go to Dartmouth!

The long mileage, the mountainous ride, and the late night film made for a very long day. I'm curious to see if my leg muscles will be sore tomorrow from today's climbing. I'm also curious if my smile muscles will be sore, as I spent the whole day exercising them, too.

Vermont, you are absolutely gorgeous!


  1. Hi Sarah! I love reading your blog! My internet connection has been slow in Germany so I am just catching up on some of your posts. It's so interesting. I had never heard of Warm Showers hosts. How do you write your blog? Do you do it all from your smartphone?

    Hope you keep enjoying your bike tour, and stay safe!

    Kelly :)

    1. Hi Kelly! I noticed that someone was following my blog from Germany - ah, it's you! So glad to hear that you are enjoying the blog. I am writing my blog from an iPad mini. Love seeing your photos on Facebook. I hope you and the family are enjoying your time overseas! ~S


I would love to hear your comments on this post!