Day #14 & 15: Onward to Massachusetts

The Connecticut River – Our companion for most of our fourteenth day of riding.


We started this day off with a hotel breakfast. On the one hand, it was good to have all we could eat, and we were both impressed by the seemingly magical pancake machine that would spit out fresh-made pancakes at the press of a button. But I found all of our hotel breakfasts a bit too light on anything but sugar. Still, it was enough to get us on the road. We left a bit later in the day as today’s ride would be relatively short – only a little over 50 km, and our hosts worked during the day so we didn’t want to arrive before they got home.

The ride took us over rolling hills. I found that now that we were on our third day straight of hills our technique was getting a bit better. The hills were getting easier, and I was less disappointed to see another hill. Of course I had also learned by this time that hilly terrain didn’t just mean climbing. As Daegan became prone to sing: “What goes up, must come down…”

Leaving late meant that we actually ended up skipping our second breakfast. But with the short ride ahead we didn’t have a lot to worry about there. Still, we ended up finding a Chinese restaurant at the edge of the river and we stopped to replenish the carbohydrates we burned with white rice and the salt we sweat out with salty food. It was just what the doctor ordered.
Daegan refueled and ready to go
Still, another hour or so later, when we arrived in Putney, Daegan still was happy to have a sub at a local pizza place. We’d also found another source of energy. As I posted to the facebook page when we were on our route, we found that “energy bars” came in different forms in different places. Sure, we had actual energy bars, but when we first left we also had cinnamon raisin bagels – a nice balance between quick to metabolize fruit sugar, and slower to metabolize flour. As we went further east, we found fewer bagels. However at that point we started finding plain donuts. A little sweeter so we would get hungry faster, but they did the job. In Vermont, though, we found another kind of energy source entirely.
Instant energy
After several days in relatively quiet small towns, Brattleboro’s traffic was a bit of a surprise. Lots of cars, relatively busy streets, and stoplights! It was all pretty overwhelming but fortunately our host’s directions were good and we found our way to their beautiful farmhouse where, after we both showered, we were served a delicous barbecue dinner including sausages our hosts had made themselves. Once we were fully stuffed we spent a long time talking everything from food to politics to homeschooling, to what one of our hosts and I loved about growing up in Vermont.

After a lovely day like that it was easy to fall asleep and we both slept extremely well. The next morning we woke up bright and early, packed our things, and after a nice big breakfast (including a good degree of caffeination for me) we headed out. And almost immediately upon leaving Brattleboro we hit something disheartening. An enormous hill. And I know I said just a few paragraphs ago that I was a new man when it came to hills but my positive attitude was definitely tested here. The hill continued for seemingly forever – in reality we probably only trended upward for 60-90 minutes. Still, it was possibly our most challenging hill to date. Finally, though, we crested the hill, and rode along a ridge for a little while before our friends Blood, Sweat, and Tears turned out to be right again and what came up did, indeed, come down. At great speed, for quite a good distance, eventually bringing us in to the city of Greenfield – and just in time for lunch.

South of there we ran parallel with Interstate 91. The traffic wasn’t too bad as most of the southbound traffic was taking the interstate but what did change was the offerings in terms of stops. Instead of village cafes and pizza places we wound up spending our stops at truckstops and convenience stores at the edge of the highway.

Finally, though, we made it to Northampton – a little over 70 km later. And once again we found ourselves hitting another of Sage’s and my old favourites, La Veracruzana for dinner. The burritos were just as delicious as I’d always remembered them.

Sadly this night we would be staying at a hotel instead of couchsurfing. And as we were at the edge of the highway in a college town known for pricey lodging, this would be one of the more expensive hotels we’d stay at as well as one of the worst. Fortunately the long bike ride and big hill made it possible to sleep through just about anything and even the damp carpet smell and highway noise couldn’t keep me awake.