“All good stories deserve embellishment,” Gandalf whispered to Bilbo.
Today was overflowing and to think how many stories today created is almost overwhelming. Nevertheless, I promise the stories are worth it.
Today began in Ticonderoga, NY, the site of battles from the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. After a couple of miles, we came to the Champlain River. We signaled the ferry by pulling a cord and raising a red paddle and after about 20 minutes, boarded the New York to Vermont ferry. It felt right. Passing through history on a historical means of travel.
Vermont brought us diving hills and grinding climbs. Joelle’s biking legs are coming in nicely and she’s outperforming me on some of the longer hills. A short stop in downtown Middleburg, VT brought us lattes and weather update. Storms.
We’re learning that rain comes in and out of the mountains like rompers go in and out of style. Today’s route took us up our first major mountain pass through Bread Load mountain (yes, that is the actual name of the mountain) and the forecast said heavy thunderstorms by early afternoon. I chugged my latte and we set off to begin the seven-mile climb up Bread Loaf.
Bread Loaf is a 1500 foot climb that you probably wouldn’t make much note of in a car. It’s beautiful and rolling and tough on the thighs. But with the threat of thunderstorms pushing us on, we climbed. Until about 1300 ft. Then we hit construction. The entire road at the top of Bread Loaf was being redone and therefore down to one lane which meant we had to bike in the oncoming traffic lane. We’ve gotten use to semi trucks passing us but now they were coming at us. We hopped into the ditch and let them pass. No sense getting into a collision with a semi rolling down a mountain.
We finished the peak of the route and bombed down Bread Loaf, taking full advantage of the 12% grade angle. Which, if you’ve never biked something this steep, it really is a rush. Joelle described it like a roller coaster, and it was nothing short of it.
We rolled through the town of Hancock and onto Rochester, Vermont. There we stopped at the local bike shop, a renovated house where they have a drawbridge to enter in the shop. It was coolest bike shop we’ve seen so far. A lunch at the local diner and a break to digest the burger and Panini and then we on to the 30-mile push to the finish.
The next 19 miles rolled on easily enough but it was the last 11 miles that things started to fall apart. I’ve prided myself on nailing the timing thus far. We’ve outrun rain or planned a stop during a passing storm. But today, my luck ran out.
On the final 11 miles we were racing a storm, and we came in the second. Three miles from town a thunderstorm rolled over us and pummeled us. Rain flew sideways and we pushed on, looking for shelter. A ways down the road, we came to a very high overpass where we took shelter and watched lightning strike around us. It was terrifying and wonderful and beautiful.
The storm blew through and we pedaled forward. And then, two miles before our destination tonight, we hit another 1000 foot climb. I had anticipated this hill as the first segment of our ride tomorrow but misjudged our destination tonight. So, with 2.5 miles to go and soaking wet, we dropped all our gears and biked/hiked up a monster of a hill. Again, Joelle biked while I had to walk a few sections. I’d blame the extra weight I’m carrying but I actually think she’s just a better climber than I am.
And tonight we’re staying at someone’s house we’ve never met. I saw their information on the internet and called him yesterday. He’s out of town today but left the door unlocked for us so we get to stat for free.
“Some of the best stories are true,” Micah said to Gandalf.
Left: Ticonderoga, NY, 7:15 am
Sleeping in: a Warm Showers host in 8:00 pm
Total mileage: 77 miles
High Speed: 36.5 mph
Avg. Speed: 9 mph
Overall weather conditions: sunny, cloudy, stormy then sun
Elevation Gain: 4,577 ft
Elevation Loss: 3,839 ft
Total Trip mileage: 1,213.5 miles