Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 13
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 118 towns and cities and 720 miles.
Johnson, Waterville, Belvedere, Montgomery, Enosburg, Richford, and Berkshire
Today was the first day I have had to ride completely in the rain. It was the kind of day that I thought would be a nightmare when I was planning this trip. The temperature ranged from a high of 49 for about a half hour to a low of 33. Most of the day was around 39 degrees F. with a wicked headwind. Still, I completed my goal of 45 miles and added seven towns. Only about eight miles were on dirt roads, though today they were really on mud. I now have a total of 118 of the 251 cities and towns complete. I also passed through Avery Gore today, a small section of land not included in any town.
After a lovely visit and breakfast with my friend Tamara at Two Sisters Mill in Cambridge, during which time I was reminded of how much I do love to weave and want to get back to it, I set out in a fine drizzle that soon turned to an all-out rain. I was determined not to hate the ride. I found humor in the fact that when I crossed into Waterville the sign was dripping with rain. I thought about the promised hot meal that Russ, my host for the night, told me he was preparing. Despite the fact that for much of the day my feet were pretty numb with cold, I focused on how the rain felt as it hit me in the face. Sometimes it was like a gentle tickling. On the downhills it downright hurt. At one point I got smacked in the face with a wet oak leaf. Boy did that ever sting!
I did not stop much for pictures today, as I knew I had to keep creating body heat or risk getting hypothermia. I worked to find a balance between using the bike battery in a higher gear to get me out of the rain faster, and pushing without it to create more body heat. I managed to do the whole ride on the one battery. I did stop once just over three hours into my ride in Montgomery to call my hosts for the night and give them an ETA. I was given renewed vigor when Charen, another of my night's hosts, informed me that I could take a hot bath in a clawfoot tub when I arrived. I stomped my feet in the foyer of the grocery store, trying to get some feeling back. I also treated myself to a bowl of hot soup from the store's deli. When I set off again I had to readjust to the cold, but having put some calories into my body helped me feel like I could make it the last 15 miles.
I am so blessed to meet people like my current hosts, whom I met through the post of yet another person whom I have never met in person. I feel there is an amazing web that is being spun around me to help me on this journey. Thank you, one and all.
Overall, I viewed today as a new kind of challenge. Except for my feet, I actually stayed warm enough to be mostly comfortable—if one is really comfortable when going downhill at over 25 miles per hour in 33-degree rain. When I started this trip I thought I would sit out days like today, but once it arrived I felt I could dive in. I'm glad I did. Completing the 45 miles in today's weather feels like a real success, especially because I really didn't hate any given minute of it.
Photos by Mary Anderson
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.