• Mary Anderson

Mary’s Cycling Challenge: Days 25–26

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 211 towns and 1,369 miles.

Day 25–26

Woodford, Searsburg, Readsboro, Stamford, Somerset and Wilmington. (Only 40 towns to go!)

Miles: 52 (5 on Saturday and 47 on Sunday).

By Mary Anderson

I spent last night in an apartment in an art gallery in North Bennington! It is a renovated old mill building that reminds me of a NYC loft apartment, with its tall ceilings and large windows. The space made me want to dance or do Tai Chi. The people I stayed with are as lovely as the space.

Marcus Jones has spent his life in the construction trades and is about to do something really brave. He is leaving his established job to follow his dream of starting his own business dedicated to building homes that are both sustainable and beautiful. His company, Living Buildings, will strive to find the balance between efficiency and abundance. He envisions a community of rammed-earth homes that get passed around as people’s needs change during the course of their lives. His goal is beautiful, efficient homes that contribute to the well-being of both the planet and the people who live in them.

His mother, Maya, who recently moved to Vermont from Arizona, has had a lifetime goal of making the planet a better place. She had a quote about worthiness posted in their bathroom. I've been pondering that quote for much of the day.

I would have pondered it all day, but I had to really focus on the road. Today was NOT a bluebird day! Temps hovered around 44 for much of the day as rain poured down. At times I was riding in a few inches of water, unable to discern what the road was like under the torrents coming at me from down the mountains I was climbing. The gradient was at least 8 percent for a number of miles, and going down in that wet was both frigid and daunting, especially when trucks went by and kicked up enough spray to blind me. Sometimes the force of the spray kicked my whole bike sideways.

Rather than hating being so wet, I focused on the sounds of the water. For much of the day I rode past a rushing river. Sometimes the rain pattered softly on my helmet. Other times it sounded like I was being hammered on my head. My wet rain pants made a swishing sound until they became plastered to my legs. The wheels made noises ranging from some circular sucking sounds to big sloshing splashes, depending upon the depth of the water. A variation of utterances could also be heard emanating from my mouth.

When I wasn't focused on the road or the sounds the water made, I thought about that worthiness quote. "What would happen,"I wondered,"if I could embrace worthiness?" I've spent so much of my life believing what I was told as a child: that I was the problem to be gotten rid of. When I was eight my mother pointed her finger at me and said to my father, "Either she goes or I go." My oldest brother, out of fear and self-preservation, spent years trying to annihilate me. The list goes on. But then I thought of all the people who say I am amazing. I know I am not any more amazing than anyone else. Nor am I really doing amazing things. But what if I could believe that I was at least AS amazing as everyone else? Could I shake off the heavy, wet coat of “useless” and take on the warm mantle of “worthy”? I doubt it will be as easy as getting out of my wet clothes has been, but I'm game to give it a try.

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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