Day #12: Home Again

Capitol of Vermont

Montpelier – the capitol of Vermont still with a forest in its back yard.

Not long after we arrived at our host, Lynn’s house, she suggested we might want to spend a rest day in Montpelier. And though we had just had a rest a few days before in Montreal and had another rest day planned after our next stop, after our long hot ride, it seemed like a good idea.

And good idea it was for a number of reasons. The first reason made itself evident in the wee hours of the morning when I woke with a splitting headache. After a few years of noticing that I seemed to get headaches after pizza or macaroni and cheese, there was nothing like the morning after a day filled with eating tons of ice cream, and drinking coffee with cream to make the connection clear. I appear to have something of a dairy allergy. I spent the better half of the day feeling tired and headachy, recovering. Like an alcoholic after a bender I vowed to lay off dairy. (Note: It’s been over two months and aside from some dairy that might have been added to some baked goods, I’ve had two slices of pizza in as many months. I’ve felt tons better since and also really felt the effects of the pizza).

The second good reason for having a break day was something I had noticed the previous day: our rear tire was rubbing a bit against the brake a bit. It was a good day to take the bike in for a look. Coincidentally I ended up taking the bike down the street to Onion River Sports, which was where as a kid I got my first “real” bike: a “Vista Clodhopper” BMX bike. It would be the first bike I’d ride to school and also one I’d take through the woods to explore logging roads nearby my home. My love of bikes started, in effect, at this store. And here I was over 30 years later. A quick look at the bike revealed that we had a broken spoke – doubtless from the large bump we hit on the Cross Vermont Trail the day before. While they fixed the bike, Dae and I wandered around the town eventually finding some lunch.

The final good reason for resting that day revealed itself later in the afternoon as the skies opened up with a bit of welcome rain. Well, it was welcome from where we sat on the covered front porch. Not so much from the open road, I suspect.

That night the three of us went out for dinner. I managed to have a delicious Italian meal with minimal dairy at Sarducci’s along with loads of salad and even a taste of Dae’s dessert.

Lynn and I spent the evening chatting about our lives and my time living in Vermont while Daegan relaxed in the other room catching up with his friends via chat. Eventually the hour got late and as we needed to get on the road the next morning, it was time for bed.


We were slow in getting ready the next morning. I had stayed up too late chatting and it seems that a rest day makes one want to stay and relax that much more. But after a bit of coffee and breakfast the time had come. And today was going to be special for a few reasons. The first was that this day would have our greatest ascent: over to 900 metres (0.6 miles) spread out over the course of only a little over 50 kilometres. The second would be that we would be heading to the town where I grew up: S. Royalton, Vermont – a place Dae had never seen before.

Elevation Profile

Viewed from the “side” this is what our hilliest ride thus far looked like.

Our ride started right off with a climb. And this was no small one, either. The village of Montpelier is in a valley right next to a river and we had to get up on to a ridge. Almost half of our ascent would be in the first 12 kilometres of the ride. But we had had a big breakfast and ate and drank well on the hill. About half way up the hill we stopped at a grocery store and refueled further.

“just keep pedaling…just keep pedaling…”

Near the top of the hill we passed Berlin Pond, and things started to level off a bit. And as it leveled off we left the main roads and ended up on a dirt road that wound its way through the woods. Though most of North America was in the middle of a severe drought, the forest smelled delicious and green.

Berlin Pond

When we hit the dirt road, the traffic really thinned out, most of the cars opting for Interstate 89, just out of sight running relatively parallel to us. It seemed a good time for a game. And so Daegan and I fired up Zombies, Run! a game originally designed to help runners motivate themselves to run with an immersive audio environment. The principle is that the zombie apocalypse has come and we’re out in the world exploring and trying to gather supplies (and hopefully eventually a cure). During normal running (or cycling), we go at our normal pace, picking up clues and objects. However every once in a while zombies will see you and start to chase you. In that case, music from your iPhone starts and you go as fast as you can to try to outrun them while a voiceover tells of your progress. It was very fun and we made excellent time trying to stay ahead of the zombies.

After a number of ups and downs we found ourselves in Brookfield. As I had looked at our route I had hoped we would get to pass by the Floating Bridge, a bridge installed on pontoons instead of pilings due to the depth of the pond it was spanning. And as luck would have it, our route went right by it. As a kid I remember going there and riding over it in my parents car while the water rose over the tires. Though we knew it was safe, it was still pretty exciting. Often if the season was right we’d also see fishermen. It has since been closed to traffic though just after we took this picture a man roared up in a pickup truck jumped out and dove in for a swim.

Daegan in Brookfield


While the route itself was really pretty, one huge disadvantage of a route such as this is that services are few and far between. We were nearly to my hometown and the end of the ride and we still hadn’t found a place to eat. Once again our water bottles were getting a bit low as well. (Future Todd will promptly write June-Todd to ask him to bring 7-8 bottles or a couple of Camelbaks instead) The time had come for a stop. And fortunately our opportunity presented itself in the form of Floyd’s store. We bought a few soft drinks, a couple of sandwiches, a couple bags of chips, and a pint of potato salad and settled down in a pair of rocking chairs to have our late lunch.

Daegan at Floyd’s


A few minutes into our lunch, I was surprised by a friend of mine who went to school with me. She’d seen my check-in on Facebook and as she worked down the street she came by to say hello. It was a delightful surprise and the first of a few folks I would see whom I grew up with.

After feeding ourselves and refilling all of our water bottles we hit the road again. And now it was time to head down the other side of the hill we’d come up in the morning. With very little effort we maintained 40-50 km/hr up until a few kilometres from our destination.

We arrived a little bit early and as I thought my friend Michaeline wasn’t home (a few messages got crossed), Dae and I sat in the town green where they were setting up for Old Home Days, a small carnival with a few rides, some live music, and quite often people coming back to town after years living away. Sadly we would be out of town before it got going.

I spent many hours in this bandstand in the summers of my teenage years.

We sat near the bandstand where I had played saxophone in many concerts with Michaeline in the town band starting when I was about Daegan’s age. Like a good New England Town Band, we played all sorts of Sousa marches while folks would sit on the lawn or in their cars (and honk their applause). Like a not so good New England Town Band we’d often also play this:

But mostly Michaeline and I, good Monty Python fans that we were, would sit and hope that whomever was directing that night would ask us to play this:

Eventually we found that I was totally out to lunch and Michaeline had been watching our posting on Facebook about where we were and texted to see why we hadn’t come over. So we biked on over and settled in for another rest day.

After showers and snacks we headed out in the car to show Dae a few of the places from our childhood, including an old abandoned house we’d explored as teenagers and were certain at the time was haunted. On this day, though, we had no luck finding it and even exploring the bushes failed to turn up even a foundation. Maybe it disappeared completely like the house did at the end of Poltergeist.

And so instead of being able to visit our old friend the haunted house, we headed further down the road to Joseph Smith’s birthplace where Daegan and I offered prayers that we’d be able to get tickets to see The Book of Mormon on Broadway. (Spoiler: Heavenly Father saw through our insincerity and we didn’t see it)

Praying for tickets doesn’t work. *laughing*


Day #11: Crossing Vermont

Crossing Vermont
Our 11th day on the road, and 14th day away from home started after a lovely night’s sleep. While I fell asleep very early, Dae stayed up and enjoyed the decadence that is cable television (we have never owned a television since well before he was born). Breakfast today was all of the carbohydrates we could grab at the hotel breakfast: pancakes, bagels, toast, and also some yogurt, juice and lots of coffee.

We got on the road and found that once we had lower temperatures to deal with the directions provided by the Cross Vermont Trail Association made much more sense. We left Williston, Vermont and slowly headed southeast, stopping at the first grocery store we could find to stock up on energy bars and other snacks. We also were lucky enough to find powdered Gatorade which was great as up until then we had been just buying liquid and diluting it. Having the powder meant we could be sure to always have electrolyte-replenishing drinks without carrying tons of weight.

The Cross-Vermont trail was relatively nice. It consisted of mostly lesser-traveled roads including a few dirt roads. The roads took us through picturesque New England towns and down back roads past dairy farms. Unfortunately it also took us down one pretty narrow path through an insect-plagued swamp with a bridge that had a surprise drop-off at the end causing a very jarring drop (but not fall, very surprisingly!).

Round Church - Richmond, Vermont
Our first long stop was Richmond, VT, home to this lovely round church (This photo and interior photo courtesy of Jared C. Benedict). While we were there we talked to the volunteer there who told us about how at one time this was the only church in town and was shared by several denominations until the population got to be large enough to support more than one church. The building hasn’t been used for worship services for some time now, and was used up until recently for town meetings. Other than that, it was still used a lot for weddings – I can see why as it is really gorgeous inside.

Round Church Interior

As we left Richmond it began to get noticeably warmer and the hills got a bit larger. The chorus of “What goes up…must come down…” started up but with the heat being what it was, we ended up stopping part way up one of the hills to have a shade break and a bit of water. While we stopped, an older gentleman (he later told us he was 77 years old) pulled alongside us on his bicycle. He was also out for a ride – “only about 20 miles round trip – not long like your ride” (if I’m doing 20 mile rides on hot and humid days like that when I’m 77 I’m going to be very pleased with myself). Just before we continued on, he told us that about 10 kilometres ahead there was an excellent swimming hole. We needed only to watch for the sighs for Camel’s Hump State Park and stop at the turnout across the road from there. We thanked him and headed on.

True to his word, there was Camel’s Hump, and there was a turnout. We parked the bike and headed into the bushes to change into bathing suits and a few steps away was the Winooski river. We made our way down and cooled off, spending over an hour basking in the water, snacking on energy bars and being snacked on by minnows. Not long after we got there the man who recommended the stop to us showed up and seemed a bit surprised that we’d stopped. “I’m glad you came! Not many people take my advice!” They definitely missed out for sure. We had a lovely oasis to ourselves for most of the time – our friend even left after a little while – but not before telling us about his own bike tours including a hill that was impossible to even push a bike up in Australia and his encounter with a stinging tree in Tasmania.

An oasis to ourselves.

We could have spent the entire day there but still had a ways to go and so we headed out. The route took us down a dusty dirt road through a relatively unpopulated area. And once again we found ourselves getting hungry and low on water. Fortunately for us, all was not lost as at least in the northeastern part of the US, you’re never far from a town. And in this case not only were we not far from a town, we were not far from Waterbury, a town with a fantastic Thai Restaurant. Not only did they feed us delicious food, they gave us water by the pitcher, Thai iced coffee for me, and filled our water bottles up with ice as well!
Thai Coffee
Chicken with basil

After lunch we compared the map to our cue sheet for the Cross Vermont Trail. It looked as if the trail was going to take us on a bit of a circuitous route that would eventually bring us back to the road we were on right then. And so we made a decision then that since the traffic was light and there was often a decent shoulder on the road we would skip the trail and take the road itself. And so we continued down Route 2 bound for Montpelier.

At this point though we were following a river, we began to realize we were in the Green Mountain State as the terrain had lots more ups and downs. The temperature continued to rise but we pushed through it. And for that we were rewarded, this time by a lovely farm stand where we were able to get not only fresh berries but Jalapeno-Raspberry Popsicles.
Jalapeno-Raspberry Popsicle.

Now you know it’s a hot day when you have a stop for a popsicle like that and then go just a few miles and are ready to stop at a dairy bar only a few kilometres from our destination. We each had creemees (I had forgotten that that’s what they called soft-serve ice cream where I grew up – how weird to forget something like that).

After more frozen treats we found our way to our host’s house. And I don’t know if it’s just my luck or if it’s just bad planning but it seems that I often end up having a large hill at the very end of my rides – the most memorable being this time in Quebec. This time the hill was shorter than in Bromont, but in fact was a bit steeper. We had to gear down to our lowest gear and still push hard to get to the house.

We were rewarded for our efforts, though, with ice water, good conversation, and food cooked out on the grill by our host, Lynn. And after dinner, because on a day like this one you can’t get enough frozen treats, we headed out for one of my favourite treats: gelato.