• Mary Anderson

Pedaling and Perspective

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

Mary Anderson is cycling through her home state of Vermont on her ebike. Her goal: to visit all 251 towns in one go. Since heading out on October 6, she has logged 92 towns and 570 miles.

Farm near Troy.

Photos and text by Mary Anderson

I'm on my bike going downhill. At least, I think I’m going downhill. The road looks like it’s going downhill, and yet I have to pedal hard. Somehow my perspective of the road is off. My bike and gravity don't lie.

When the wind is blowing in my face, 15 miles per hour seems like a lot, but at other times, it feels like I’m barely moving. What’s happening around me changes my perspective on things.

I've always thought of certain towns in Vermont as kind of flat. But this year, rather than driving through them along the river, I pedaled up the western edge. While the river’s edge might be flat, the towns in general are nothing of the sort. I have a new perspective on them, based on the place I viewed them from.

Newport, one of Vermont's nine cities.

When I ask for directions, drivers often tell me something is just around the bend, five minutes away. An hour later I arrive. The perception of distance is very different on a bike than in a car.

Of course, this has me thinking a lot about perspective. For example, I have made a number of wrong turns on this trip. I could have gotten frustrated. But one led me to a beautiful downhill ride. Another had me stopped at an intersection right when a truck driver pulled over to ask if I needed anything. He gave me a lead on what turned out to be a fantastic place to camp and recharge my battery for the night. If I stay in the moment and let whatever happens be okay, I can reap the rewards that come my way without stressing out. It's all a matter of perspective.

Lake Memphramagog.

I was really tested on the night my friend failed to pick me up along the road as I was slack-biking (biking without my gear to weigh me down). Stranded by the road without any of my gear—cold, hungry, and very tired—I could have gotten really frustrated and angry. I did find myself starting to cry a few times. But then I asked myself what I really needed. Since sleep was the answer, I curled into a tight ball and tried to nap. When that didn't work, I found a place to ask for a blanket. I did not get the blanket, but I did get a warm house to wait in and a sandwich and ginger ale. I also met a kind man and have more to write about in the future. Honestly, I never once felt angry or frustrated at my friend, who had driven for miles in the wrong direction and then locked her keys in her car when going to ask for directions. It was all because of the perspective I took.

Someone told me “We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are.” I think that’s true. I am trying to be aware of what’s going on for me as I form my opinions, and I’m trying to understand how others can see things so differently. We may not agree, but understanding where each perspective comes from is important.

Lake Memphramagog.

Lake Willoughby.


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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