• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 12

Mary Anderson is cycling through her home state of Vermont on her ebike. Her goal: to visit all 251 towns in one go. Since hitting the road on October 6, she has logged 111 towns and 675 miles.

Day 12

Bolton, Richmond, Huntington, Hinesburg, Williston, Essex, Jericho, Underhill, Westford and Cambridge

Miles: 48, about one fifth on dirt and the third day in a row with a wicked headwind for most of the ride

I am finding around fifty miles with my gear to be a comfortable day. In fact, today I didn't get going until close to eleven, and even with a number of stops I arrived at my evening destination just before 4 p.m., still on my first battery. Despite the fact that it looked like it would rain at any given moment, I fought the urge to rush it and made some lovely stops along the way. I walked into Huntington Gorge, which is a spectacular natural feature with falls running through a narrow gorge. In Huntington, I stopped in at the Birds of Vermont Museum, which features over 500 lifelike wood carvings displayed in natural-looking vignettes. Almost all of these were carved by Vermont artist Bob Spear.

When I first entered the museum and noted the entrance fee I turned around to leave. I'm a bit short on funds and knew I wouldn't have time to really browse, so I thought I would save it for another day. But then one of the curators came out and informed me that having ridden my bicycle there I was not going to be turned away for lack of funds. She showed me around the delightful place, and I promised to return. They have nature trails, pollinator gardens, and lots more. It is another Vermont gem hidden away on a back road.

And now I am happily ensconced in the back room of the Two Sisters Mill and Mercantile in Jeffersonville. One of the sisters, Tamara, is a friend who has a passion for keeping all of the fiber arts alive. She provides classes at little to no financial gain to herself. These classes provide income to artists, as well as to surrounding businesses of the small village. Her store is a delightfully eclectic mix of Vermont-made fiber arts, including weaving, felting, and spinning. She also carries just about anything one would need to pursue most fiber arts.

Once again, today taught me to fight the urge to just push to get towns done. The weather held out for me, and I am a richer person for having gained the memories of the places I stopped at. This trip is definitely a balancing act in many ways. I don't always feel I want to stop to take pictures of every interesting thing I see, especially when I see it while zooming downhill. Yet I don't want to rue the missed opportunities either. One picture I missed today was of an older cyclist wearing a shirt that said "Member of the old spokes home" on the front.

I try to talk with at least one person in every town I enter and snap at least a few pictures. I ride at least a few miles in each town even though some are out-and-backs, depending upon weather, road conditions, and total mileage I am aiming for that day. And mostly I keep reminding myself I am doing this for enjoyment. If I can't find some beauty everyday, then it is time to quit. I am pleased to report that so far my days have all been filled with immense beauty of many kinds.


About Mary Anderson

When Bethel resident Mary Anderson set out to hike the southern half of the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail in the summer of 2020, nobody thought she would make it. Hikers give themselves trail names, and Mary’s was Old Lady Hiker. A few days into her solo trek, she ran into some younger hikers who decided she needed a new name. From then on, she was known as Mary Badass. In the fall of 2020, Mary began writing her story in a Korongo workshop hosted by Kimball Library in Randolph. After completing her CDT hike in September 2021, she began a new challenge: A bicycle tour of Vermont’s 251 towns. Estimated time: four to six weeks.

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