• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Day 30

Since hitting the road on October 6, Mary Anderson has logged 244 Vermont towns and 1,586 miles on her ebike. On day 30 she pedaled through nine towns, with stops for hot chocolate in Ludlow and chocolate croissants at King Arthur Baking in Norwich.

Day 30

Ludlow, Cavendish, Weathersfield, Reading, West Windsor, Windsor, Hartland, Hartford, and Norwich

Miles: 55


By Mary Anderson


Last night I stayed with Brooke (“B”) Decker, who is the state's bee inspector. We shared a lovely evening talking about hiking, biking, and bees. She had seen me weeks ago when I passed through Troy, and even though she knew nothing about me, she offered me a place in her home when I reached Andover. I really have been blessed with such a great array of places to stay.


My ride this morning started out cold. There was a heavy frost on the ground, and I had to be careful of ice on the roads. I again had some really steep climbs on newly graded roads. At least the loose dirt broke up the icy patches!


Temps were in the low thirties, and I felt I was in a winter wonderland as the snow-covered trees glistened in the morning sun. Singing snowy songs helped me forget about my cold toes. But as I started downhill, attaining speeds over 30 mph, I could no longer ignore the cold. When I reached a sign telling me I was in for a descent with a 12 percent grade I pulled over and put some hand warmers into my socks. I told myself to be glad it was not raining. That helped until ice pellets began falling from the sky. I made one hot-chocolate stop in Ludlow. By the time I finished it, the hand warmers were doing their job in my socks, and I was able to ride quite happily for the rest of the day. It is amazing what a difference being warm makes.

As I rode along, I thought about how close I was to the end of this adventure. It seemed so long ago that I had only 16 towns completed, and as of this morning that was all I had left to do. I remembered those warm early days, when trees were crowned in glorious fall colors. I thought of the difficult rainy days, which were not as bad as I thought they would be. I reminisced about all of the kind, generous, interesting people I have met who fed me and gave me a place to bed down for the night. And as I neared my home turf and the King Arthur Baking Company’s store in Norwich, my thoughts turned to chocolate croissants.

I made it to the store with ten minutes to spare. But when I entered, the bakery area was closed. Disappointed, I turned to leave. One of the workers asked me if she could help, and I explained what I had come in for. She pointed to some baked goods packed up before the bakery closed. It didn't take me long to decide that though I had only wanted one croissant, I could manage the box of four. I couldn't resist munching on one as I walked to the cash register. One of the women recognized me from an article that had been posted at Happy Vermont and then reposted in a newsletter called Daybreak. A second woman asked me if I wanted a sandwich on the house. When I had trouble deciding between turkey and arugula pesto or marinated artichoke and feta cheese, she gave me one of each. It was yet another reminder of how blessed I have been. I am determined to hold onto these memories in the future, especially when times feel rough.

My close call of the day came from an owl that flew right in front of me as dusk was descending. It landed to my right and sat watching me from a tree. We stared at each other for a while before I moved on. My body was feeling chilly again, and I was eager to make it to my friends' home just across the Vermont border in New Hampshire. Just thinking of these longtime friends, who are in their eighties and mid nineties, warmed my heart, and I finished my last few miles content with my day and at peace with the wintery world.

 

Day 30 in Pictures

Photos by Mary Anderson. Scroll down for some useful links and way, way down to leave a comment.







Links:

Vermont Beekeepers Association. Learn about beekeeping . . . make a donation . . . become a mentor . . .

King Arthur Baking Company Info on the employee-owned company's flagship campus in Norwich, Vermont. Baking classes, café, bakery, and store . . .

HappyVermont.com: Newsletter about exploring Vermont, edited by Erica Houskeeper, former director of communications for Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Daybreak. “The weekday newsletter for people who live in and care about the Upper Valley.” (For an NHPR interview with Rob Gurwitt, Daybreak's creator, click here.)

Little Free Library (Shown below)


 

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.




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