• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 14

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 128 towns and cities and 788 miles.

By Mary Anderson

Day 14

Cities: Saint Albans

Towns: Franklin, Sheldon, Fairfield, Bakersfield, Fletcher, Fairfax, Georgia, Saint Albans (yes, it is both a city and town), and Swanton

Miles: 68

Two weeks out and over half the towns completed! I ended the night about ten miles from where I started on this wet, chilly morning, but I rode a really winding route in order to hit a bunch of towns. After yesterday's cold rain I was loathe to start out again in similar weather. Temps were in the high thirties, and water was raining down, until it turned to hail or some other frozen thing. There was snow on the mountaintops that was not there a few days ago. I had to dig deep inside myself to relax into the day. Even though it did not rain for all of the 68 miles, it took a lot of fortitude for me to continue with a positive mindset.

There was a wicked headwind when I started out. I told myself it would blow the storm away, which it did to some extent but not until it first blew a new storm in. When I turned a corner, the headwind became a crosswind strong enough to blow me halfway across the road. I had to ride at a bit of a diagonal and felt I was fighting it for a long while. I noticed how hard I was gripping my handlebars and made conscious decisions to loosen my grip, thinking about all the things in life I try to grasp onto too tightly. Learning to let go and relax is an important lesson for me, especially in letting go of any sense of being in control. Nature keeps reminding me she is top dog and I am but a pup at her mercy.

Once I relaxed into the day I felt much better. I stopped being worried about not making my goal for the day, which I really had to make, as my last night’s host offered to carry my panniers to my evening stop. Not having my camping gear with me committed me to finishing the day's ride.

Around mile 28 I found a covered bridge and took refuge under it. I looked at my maps and got a sense of the rest of the day. I drank hot tea from my thermos and ate the chunk of homemade peacan pie given me by last night’s host. It was much warmer under that bridge, out of the wind and rain, and when I started out again I had to readjust to the cold. But the calories and tea gladdened my soul, and I set out from there feeling I could complete my day. Surprisingly to me, another 40 miles did not feel too far! I told myself I would stop again in another 20 miles, which I did when my battery needed changing. I threw down some bread, peanuts, and more tea. By then the temperature had risen to 44, and it felt balmy. I had survived the muddy-road part of the day, and I cruised the final 20 miles, arriving at my new hosts' home about 5 p.m. Since I didn't start out this morning until 10 a.m., I was quite pleased with my arrival time—especially since, with the clouds, it was already getting pretty dark.

For the second night in a row I have had a hot bath to thaw out my cold, numb toes. I have to do something to keep my feet warmer. The rest of me so far is fine. I've been well fed and will fall asleep as soon as I finish writing. I have an even bigger day planned for tomorrow.

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.

Photo: Heading out in raingear at Two Sisters Mill & Mercantile, a fiber-arts supply store in Jeffersonville.

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