• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 27

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 217 towns and 1,407 miles.

Day 27

38 miles, all but about 9 on dirt

Marlboro, Whitingham, Halifax, Guilford, Vernon, and Brattleboro

By Mary Anderson

After my wet, cold day I spent a warm night in a quaint inn that my good friend Karen Deets arranged for me. What a relief not to be camping in that weather! Her one caveat was that I take myself to breakfast at a Wilmington restaurant called Dot's.

In the morning I had technical difficulties sending my photos to korongobooks, which caused a major morning delay. I thought about skipping Dot's. But since I had promised Karen and I was pretty hungry, I thought I would compromise and call the restaurant for a takeout sandwich. Am I ever glad I did!

Perhaps working to take on the mantle of worthiness was part of what came my way, but a lot of it had to do with Dot's and the community. As soon as I walked into the diner to pick up my sandwich I knew I was in a special place. After being greeted warmly I answered a few questions about my ride. Barely had I said what I was doing than one local customer, Raime, told the staff that he was picking up my tab. As I hungrily wolfed down my sandwich, he offered me a glass of juice. On top of that, I was given a piece of homemade apple pie on the house, courtesy of Dot's, as well as a hot chocolate with whipped cream. And most of all, I was surrounded by the warmth of these caring people. It was easy to see why after Dot's had been destroyed by tropical storm Irene, the community rallied and raised funds so that it could rebuild and reopen. The story was noteworthy enough to have earned a place in the New York Times. As more customers came in, they joined our conversation. It really felt like an extended family.

As I left, they all thanked me for stopping there. No, I thought, I did nothing to be thanked for. It is you I must thank. But then I tried to step back and remember the worthiness quote. Perhaps I had offered something just by sharing my story with them.

I pondered this as I rode off, thinking how much of my life I have been an odd duck. I never really fit into any crowd and was often ostracized. Ironically, as I was thinking this, a flock of ducks appeared quacking at the side of the road! It was a beautiful assortment of unusual, multi-colored ducks. Okay, I thought, maybe I can accept being an odd duck.

I rode for the rest of the day enjoying being dry. There were a lot of steep up and down hills, on all sorts of dirt roads, and my brakes again seemed funky. Plus, I had a really strong wind that I had to actually lean into in order to keep my bike upright. It was a bit daunting, but overall I took it in stride as my daily challenge. When I arrived in Brattleboro I stopped in at Burrows Specialized Sports, the place where I purchased my ebike a number of years ago. They welcomed me in, and the bike tech took a look at my brakes. He noticed that the bolts holding them on had been reversed, and besides fixing them, he patiently showed me all sorts of ways to keep my brakes in good working order. Not only is he an excellent bike technician, he is also a kind, patient teacher.

I again thought about the abundance that the worthiness quote hinted at when I asked Woody, the owner of Burrows, if he had any triple-A batteries. He handed me two and refused payment for both the batteries and the time the tech had spent with my bike. I arrived at my evening's destination with much better brakes, and an inkling of what life might be like if I accept that there is worth in this world, even for an odd duck like me.


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.

275 views11 comments