• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 20

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 177 towns and 1,160 miles.

Day 20

Rutland City, West Rutland, Proctor, Ira, and Castleton

Miles: 32

By Mary Anderson

My supposed day off netted me 32 miles and 5 towns! In between rainstorms, I squeaked through Rutland City, West Rutland, Proctor, Ira, and Castleton, where I am happily ensconced in the home of a good friend. I now have a total of 1,160 miles and 177 cities and towns.

Today was a day of making do with what came my way. I spent the rainy morning trying to map out the southwestern quadrant, incorporating places where I can stop and recharge. Then I helped Donna, my hostess, spin honey out of the frames from her beehives. It was fascinating for me to learn more about beekeeping. A number of years ago I taught Donna, who is almost 30 years my junior but shares my same birthday, to weave. Having her teach me about bees felt like a circle of passing on life skills.

The weather predicted a break in the rain, and I had only 22 miles to make it to the home of my friends Karen and Bill. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to ride rain-free and set out at about 3:20 p.m. Because I couldn't remember where my paper maps for the day were, I missed a turn and then wasn’t sure where the border for Proctor was. I made do by riding all the way into the center of that town, adding an unnecessary 10 miles to my so-called short day. I discovered this when I stopped to pee. I was on my way back to the main route towards Castleton. I looked up from peeing and discovered a town-line marker for Proctor/Rutland tucked into the weeds!

At least the rain mostly held off, and I made it to my stop on Glen Lake before complete darkness set in. Nevertheless, I had one terrifying moment. I was cruising down a hill at about 25 miles per hour when two deer stepped right out in front of my bike. I gave a hard pull on my brakes and swerved as much as I dared. As the deer passed me I was sure I could feel the air from the swish of their tails. Yipes!

I went though the last of my nine cities today. Even though Bennington and Brattleboro seem like cities by Vermont standards, they are considered towns. There are no Vermont cities south of Rutland. I also passed through marble country today. I found it interesting to note how the common Vermont stone walls were replaced with marble walls in this area. Buildings that would have been built of river stones, brick or wood in other parts of the state were constructed of marble. I reminisced about people in the past making do with what they had. You don't find many adobe houses in Vermont nor marble ones in the New Mexican desert!

I don't want to necessarily settle for what I have, as I think stretching and reaching out to larger horizons can be valuable. But I also believe there is value in accepting what I have without always grasping for more. Finding the balance is key. So rather than a full day off, I rode a shorter one, planning for another short one in tomorrow's rain before a few longer ones in the challenging southwestern quadrant of Vermont. There is a reason why people in Vermont, when asked for directions, sometimes respond, “You cant get there from here!” Towns with populations of three or eight can make do with only one road. My challenge is to make those roads fit into my route without adding too many unnecessary miles.

Above: The marble building is West Rutland High School; the lake is Bomoseen. All 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.

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