It was hard to say goodbye to our friend Laurey this morning. She is off to Burlington today, and then will go home to NC tomorrow. I’m sending her tailwinds.
I am afraid that if I keep saying that every day’s ride was the best yet I’ll lose credibility. But I am going to take the risk. I feel vindicated by the fact that Michelle (our guide) said at dinner that today’s ride was one of her top ten rides of all time. It certainly is on my top ten list.
We had been a little nervous about Middlebury Gap. (for those of you not familiar with the Vermont vernacular, “gap” doesn’t actually mean “gap” as in riding in a valley between two mountains. It actually means riding up over the mountains.
Anyway, you get to the gap immediately upon leaving Middlebury, and basically climb for the better part of the next 16 miles. Some of it is quite steep, most of it is more gradual. There are even some flats and downhill sections thrown in for motivation. The road (SR 125) is breathtakingly beautiful.
On the climb we passed the Robert Frost nature walk, part of the Green Mountain State Forest.
We rode past the bucolic Breadloaf campus, where published writers and aspiring ones get together and make stories in an inspiring environment.
SR 125 bisects the Long Trail. Eleven years ago I hiked that trail, and crossed this same road on foot.
Middlebury College has its own ski area. Unfortunately, it is not at the top of the climb. In fact, the road gets really steep right after the bowl.
I was loving the climb, and remarkably, was the first rider to the summit. (Polka dot jersey!) The good road ended exactly at the top, and the steep, two mile descent was on pavement studded with tire eating parallel groves. I might have worn out a set of brake pads going down, and was passed by Karina, who is hands down the strongest rider in our group. And braver than I am.
The hardest climbing of the day was over by the mile 20 SAG stop. I celebrated by adding a library picture to my collection .
Then we preceded to the picturesque town of Rochester, and i waited for Peggy while drinking a latte on the porch of a charming cafe.
For most of the rest of the ride we followed the White River. We passed perfect farms.
And were treated to gorgeous views.
In the town of West Hartford we stopped for another library picture.
Tonight we are staying in White River Junction, in a rather uninspiring Super 8 which is undergoing rapid renovation. Much of the exterior has been removed along one side, and an industrious crew was still working after we finished our dinner. Michelle said that one of the men came into her room and took down her curtain rod and replaced it with a new one. They must be on a deadline.
Peggy doesn’t live too far from her, and her husband Jim came for dinner and brought her dog for a visit. Scotty is adorable, and got a little over stimulated from all of the attention lavished upon him by pet-starved women. Jim was a good sport as the only man in our circle of plastic chairs in the parking lot. This picture is from a dinner in Middlebury, but it gives you a sense of what our dinners look like.
We are on to NH tomorrow, our penultimate state!