Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 19
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 172 towns and 1,128 miles.
Lincoln, Ripton, Goshen, Brandon, Chittenden, Pittsford, Rutland Town, Killington and Mendon
Miles: 57, about three-quarters of them on dirt
I have now visited over two-thirds of Vermont’s 251 towns and cities, and I‘ve toured the northern half of the state. It feels like a milestone. With a deluge predicted for tomorrow and tired legs, I may celebrate by taking a day off. At one point today, my reactions told me I may need a down day. The day started out a bit chilly, with temps barely into the forties. But it promised to be another bluebird day, and I was happily biking down a dirt road when a large group of cyclists coming from the opposite direction started passing me. I was on the right side of the road, and two of the group were coming right toward me. I expected them to move over, but as I neared, I was the one who had to make a quick swerve left, into the center of the road. Then a truck came by that seemed to be connected with the bikers, the rest of whom were now spread out across the narrow road. The driver, who was coming toward me, moved to his left to give those other cyclists plenty of room—but in the process, he forced me off the road. His side mirror was less than an inch from me.
I felt annoyed. I noticed the feeling welling up inside me. Here was this large group, happily together and seemingly only thinking of themselves. I did not like feeling annoyed. I thought of all the blogs I have written about kindness, gratitude, and understanding, and I decided I better put my money where my mouth is. I realized in that moment I could choose to ruminate on my annoyance and let it grow or I could instead focus on all of the kind people I have encountered.
I thought fondly of Nancy Phillips and her husband, Stephen Doherty, my hosts from last night. They offered to come pick me up from the other side of the mountain when I reached Starksboro. They fed and housed me, and this morning they returned me to the same spot, a half-hour drive from their home. I couldn't pass up their offer of kindness and was glad to meet them. It turns out I had seen them a number of times before at sheep-dog trials, but I had never spoken with them. I stayed with them and their charming Border collies, Sam and Dewey. Nancy trains the dogs and competes with them in dog trials around the country. Watching those dogs move was like watching poetry in motion.
I thought of all the people who have helped me out and realized it was a much better way to spend my time than stewing in annoyance. This allowed me to be friendly with other people I met along the way, including Stephen Brooks, a seventh-generation Vermonter who shared with me some of his family’s history in Vermont. I’m glad I was able to shift away from annoyance by recognizing it. Noticing how I feel helps me become more aware of my needs and make decisions about my future. Recognizing how short my fuse was today with those bikers makes me realize I might be ready for a zero-mile day.
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.