Friday, August 3 Albany, NY to Brattleboro, VT 81 miles 5,180 feet of climb
Does it get any better than this? What a spectacular day. What a way to see this awesome area – by bicycle. We climbed a total of 5,180 feet during today’s ride.
I left the Clarion Inn at 6:15 this morning and headed east. After crossing over the Hudson River, the climbing began. Beautiful rural country roads that rolled up and down. At mile 32.3 was the crossing into the State of Vermont and of course another time to record the moment with a photo. I didn’t stop long because I was surrounded by a thick swarm of little black gnats. It was cloudy and cool but a very humid day and my sweaty body must have been a draw for them. But, I said goodbye New York State. The roads here in upstate NY were some of the very best of the trip – smooth, clean surfaces and ample shoulders to ride on. Now here is the good news for all snake hating cyclists: Come to New York. I declare the roads of NY snake free! Road kill today was more birds, including one big owl.
As soon as we entered Vermont the hilly roads never ended. But what fantastic scenery. It is lush green and the farms were post card picturesque. The first quaint town we rolled through was Bennington. I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful large church. It was still early when passing through. Mike K. was riding with me and we went into a Stewards Store and had a cold drink and split a Mallow candy treat. It was to help us get psyched up & energized for the 10 mile climb that started just outside of town. Mike Munk last night at route rap said this 10 mile climb was only 3% grade. We thought that wouldn’t be so bad. Just gear down and take it steady and easy and soon the ten miles would be all behind us and then the steep 2 mile descent would be the reward on the other side. Well, Mike M’s 3% was a big lie. As we grunted and grunted our way up, we swore we would let him know that he better be more accurate and tell it like it really is: 6% our legs told us.
It was down hill past mountain lakes and people with canoes and Kayaks on their roof tops heading out for the weekend hideaways in these beautiful Vermont hills. We came right on down into Wilmington. The streets were just two cars wide, the shops so close together and everywhere was early American history to behold. I was getting a taste of New England’s beauty and flavors. Passed some of our group sitting outdoor street side at small cafes eating lunch. Mike, Christine, Phil and I ended up at a darling restaurant where we sat outdoors on the front porch. I had the most scrumptious piece of fresh made just picked red raspberry pie. The filling was at least 3” thick. It definitely was the best pie I have ever had! The man that makes the pies for this café just brought the pies over to the café an hour before we arrived. It was still warm from the oven. That along with a bowl of French onion soup and I was ready for last 30 miles.
Just as we got back on our bikes it started to sprinkle lightly. It wasn’t raining hard enough that I wanted to bring out the rain jacket. I just went along enjoying myself in the gentle rain that lasted about 15 minutes. The roads (Rte 9 ) through and leading out of Wilmington was very, very busy with traffic. In some places the road was so narrow that there wasn’t any shoulder to ride on. The hilly in the woods terrain never ended. The Friday afternoon beginning of a summer weekend traffic was getting heavier by the hour. On our cue sheets there was a note that said we could take an optional route by turning off Rte 9 on to Ames Hill Road and it would parallel Rte. 9. Mike K. & I were riding along half way looking for this road. At mile 70 we pulled off and went into a country store. I wanted to get some postcards and buy a bottle of genuine Vermont Maple Syrup. ( I didn’t get any because my bike bag was loaded already – I didn’t have room to carry anything else). We asked the clerk where Ames Hill Road was. Seems we passed it, but there was several ways to get to it. All sounded way too complicated and when she said that is a dirt toad – we said “FORGET THAT!” No way did we want to ride a dirt road with our road bikes. Can’t figure out why this optional route was on our cue sheets if what she said was correct. She asked where we were going to and when we said Brattleboro she told us we didn’t want to ride there. So many cars. When we said we had already biked over 3,000 miles in every traffic situation out there, she was pretty impressed that we were going to tackle Brattleboro. We continued our down hill descent for another ten miles. I loved the one long section ( about 2 miles ) of fresh new road with a great wide shoulder. I ripped down at 36.3 mph. I could have gone faster but I held back and feathered my brakes being unfamiliar with what lay ahead around every bend and curve of the road.
But what an awesome ride into Brattleboro. I was fascinated with how interesting the store fronts were and how old this Vermont town is. I would have loved to spend hours (days) just looking through the museums, reading the history plaques and visiting the old, old cemeteries. I know many of my ancestors on my mother’s side are buried in the New England area, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
I stopped to take pictures of the downtown and also a covered bridge that is still there since 1747. I was later told this bridge was in some movie, but can’t remember the name.
I rolled into the motel with a sigh of thanksgiving and excitement saying, “Only 2 more days!!”. Doug was back and he again took over as leader and led the route rap. He said there will be even more climbing tomorrow and a lot steeper grades. This terrain has made my butt really smart and my legs are talking to me tonight asking for some Advil. Today was a great day. America the Beautiful should be our National Anthem.