Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 15
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 139 towns and cities and 860 miles.
Highgate, Alburg, Isle La Motte, North Hero, Grand Isle, South Hero, Milton, Colchester, Winooski, Burlington and South Burlington.
Today more than made up for the past two days of rain. Even though at 72 miles it was a bit longer than I like, it was a glorious day. Temps ranged from the mid forties to the high sixties. I was peeling clothes off all day. My host from last night works close to where my tonight's hosts live, and so she offered to take my panniers. It was wonderful to once again ride packless. The sky was clear blue and the road flat enough that I made it on one battery with juice to spare. My legs worked hard today, as I pedaled much of the day with no power assist.
I started the day by cleaning the mud off my bike and oiling my chain. Then I set out in the chilly morning air. As the day went on I thought about the wide range of terrain and culture I have passed through in the last few days. I have seen the largest dairy farm in the state, as well as many much smaller farms. I have been in small towns and large cities by Vermont standards, including Burlington, the state's largest city, I climbed some steep hills on muddy roads and cruised along flat, waterfront vacation spots.
Today was a big day for smells. It started out with a strong odor of burnt rubber permeating the air. I passed through the pungent smells of spruce and fir, as well as fermenting apples and decaying leaves. The islands added the smells of water, both fresh and stagnant. Yesterday's rain had a scent as it evaporated off the pavement. A very dead possum had its own smell, though not as pungent as the flattened skunk. Dairy farms and car exhaust added to the array of smells, as did food emanating from various food trucks and restaurants in Burlington. The spray from a spray paint artist was pretty strong. And under all of these was the crisp, clean smell of the autumn air after a good rain.
I dealt with a lot more traffic today as I passed through three of Vermont's larger cities. I found by focusing on the smells instead of the cars I could ride unbothered by the noisy vehicles. In fact, so far on this entire trip I have been surprised that the cars have not bothered me. I really think it is a matter of not hyperfocusing on them. I focus instead on the beauty around me or on my rambling thoughts, and the cars don't phase me at all.
I will make a conscious memory of these last three days, reminding myself that after a period of difficulty, such as riding over 100 miles in 30-something-degree rain, the sun will come out and there can be better times. I just hope I have more days like today and fewer of the wet cold ones!
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.