• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 23

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 197 towns and 1,270 miles.

Day 23

Dorset, Mount Tabor, Danby, Wallingford, Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Mount Holly, Weston, Londonderry, Landgrove, and Peru

Miles: 53

By Mary Anderson

Today has been a day of variations. It included some real ups and downs, both inside and out. I had some relatively flat riding along a river, but also a hill with a 7 percent grade for a few miles. Like many of my days, it included what felt like spirals. I keep finding myself looping around towns. I see a sign for one town pointing right, indicating it is six miles away. After riding 23 miles I actually pass through that town. Much later in the day, I see yet another sign for it, indicating it is now four miles to my left. I ended up about five miles from where I started today, but I managed to stretch it into a six-hour bike ride of more than 50 miles.

I passed through areas where there has yet to be a frost and the autumn-colored leaves are still clinging to the trees. In other areas, including where I am tonight, it is fully stick season. Temps today ranged from the low 40s to the high 50s, causing me to adjust my clothing layers all day. It was a bluebird day, and I was happy to be riding in it. Yet a muscle in one calf hurt for much of the day and I wanted to be done, feeling myself worn out and on the verge of tears. But then I met Gloria!

There are so many places I can stop each day, and I have to pass by many interesting places or I would never get very far. Vermont is full of quirky farmstands and stores, artist galleries, and breathtaking natural features. Each day I choose a few to dally at. Today it was Gloria's Pantry, a bake shop right on the town line between Shrewsbury and Wallingford. I'm glad I listened to my instincts (or was it my stomach?) and pulled in.

For over 20 years, Gloria has made delicious baked goods (yes, delicious—I know😀) out of her home, which is the house she grew up in. Each of her wonderful pies is made with a full quart of her home-canned filling, made when the berries are in season. Besides eating one third of the raspberry-blackberry pie I bought for only twelve dollars, I was honored to share stories with Gloria. Her life story is harrowing, and her outlook on life attests to what a strong, determined woman she is. I am richer for having met her, and fuller and happier for having eaten pie. I am looking forward to at least one more third of it for breakfast.

I expected to be camping tonight, but instead I am glamping. I am at the Wild Wings ski touring center, happily cocooned in my sleeping bag on a large air mattress that Tracy, one of the owners, put out for me. There is a fire in the woodstove in a corner of this large room, which is also set up for yoga classes and ski waxing! I have access to electricity and an outhouse, and my bike is under cover. Tracy fed me a lovely dinner, and I am looking forward to pie for breakfast. Even though I am still struggling to rid myself of my inner demons, I am in a quiet, warm, cozy place with electricity to charge batteries. It is as close to heaven as I can imagine right now.


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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