Northern Tier 2010

September 3, 2010

Don’t Tread on Me

Filed under: Section 11, Vermont — Henry Scott @ 11:00 am

I slept so well at Dan and Judy’s place that it was harder than usual to get up; I watched daylight slowly spread across the Champlain Valley through the window while still lying in bed. Once I made my way downstairs, I was treated to melon freshly picked from their garden and more time to talk about bikes, gear and touring.

Judy followed through on her offer to escort me up the first major Vermont climb, The Middlebury Gap, and even recruited her friend Molly to join us as well. She made plans for the three of us to meet at Steve’s Park Diner so I’d have time to tour the village of Middlebury and the campus, most notably le Chateau, where my mother spent two summers in the 1950’s immersed in French as a participant in their famous language program.

The breakfast was good and very fun — Molly is incredibly inquisitive and knew enough about Earth’s interior to ask excellent questions. By the time we started riding to the climb, I felt like I had known these two for years. The camaraderie was quite welcome because, as expected, the grades were steep — reaching 15% in some sections according to Judy’s cyclocomputer. We stopped for drinks at the Ripton Country Store and quickly befriended two more cyclists who stopped as well.

We reached the Bread Loaf writing retreat and ultimately the gap before I knew it. At the top we crossed paths with a hiker on the Vermont Long Trail, on his way to the Canadian border, as a “break” from the Appalachian Trail. His A.T. companion, his father, had to stop due to an infection in his foot, and the two will pick it up again next year.

From the summit, it was time for Judy and Molly to turn back, and for me to continue on. After descending the steep grade down the other side, I stopped in Rochester for lunch and realized my plan of covering another 45 miles was unrealistic: it was almost 3:00, and I would have yet another steep climb for the day. I figured I could make it, but I’d be racing the sun, and I decided to instead go for a relaxing afternoon and a long night’s sleep — it is only 7:00 as I write this, and I’m about to turn in.

Although I didn’t need anything, I made my way to the Green Mountain Bicycle Shop just to check it out. From the outside it just looks like an old house with some bicycle paraphernalia along the side, but inside it is packed with bikes and parts in a way that conveys a deep commitment to providing excellent customer service — this is not a “showroom shop.”

I brought my map in with me and asked, somewhat pessimistically, if anyone could recommend places to camp closer than where I had originally planned. The employee with whom I spoke was knowledgeable, friendly and very helpful. He knew about the one official campground on the route, pointed out places along the White River where I could safely, and legally, camp, and then proceeded to tell me about places where I could stay for free right in town and gave a rundown of the best local meals.

I decided to continue a little further to camp by the river, although it was very tempting to stay in town. After continuing for another ten miles or so I found a trail leading away from the road toward the river and devoid of no-trespassing signs. It led me to a perfect place to camp: close enough to hear the river, rather the road, but back enough from the banks to be under forest cover.

At the end of the day I’ve only covered 40 miles, but it was a great ride thanks to Judy, Dan and Molly. The beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains certainly didn’t hurt, either.


1 Comment »

  1. It was nice having you at our house in Cornwall, and great fun cycling up the Middlebury gap with you too! Glad you found lunch in Rochester, and a nice place to camp along the river. Hope you are enjoying the stiff west winds today! Safe travels – Judy

    Comment by Judy — September 4, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: