It's still dark when I get up.
We have 5500 feet of climb today and I'd better get started.
The question is - should I take a bump up?
Then I could relax and take photos and not worry about that 10 mile climb.
Yeah, but the big climb is in the middle of today's ride.
A bump-up at the beginning wouldn't help.
So I take off early hoping to get to the big hill in time to take pictures of the other bikers on the climb.
We have a steep hill right out of Latham...
...complicated by construction.
I pause and look back in amazement that I climbed this steepness with relative ease.
Maybe I have gotten stronger.
Or maybe it's the adrenaline.
Lovely views up this climb...
It looks like a painting.
Historic old towns...
The weathervane points my way east...
...to the Atlantic!
I'm doing well on these climbs.
My legs feel strong.
I'm cooking along when...
My chain and derailleur suddenly grind into a knotted mess!
I can't pedal an inch!
Little Margo, also out early, tries to help but it's beyond our ken.
Call to the Gold Van for help...
Mike Bike Leader finds I have a twisted chain.
...and in two seconds I'm on my way!
This is what we pay for!
That - and more hills....
I stop and talk to Nick...
He's out this early morning building picnic tables...
With his tracheostomy and wrist splint he has a sad tale to tell...
A shyster contractor has taken all his money and left his house in shambles.
Nick is now working around the clock to try to save the house for him and his wife...
Anyone want to buy a custom built crib?
Now we enter our 8th state.
Vermont - small state with big hills...
...and an untold passion for mooses.
It's beautiful here.
Vermont is rightly named Verte Montagne - Green Mountain.
I spin past wind sculptures...
...and the Vermont version of Stonehenge.
Entering the historic town of Bennington....
....the other bikers begin to catch up with me.
Including my favorite biker, Alex.
We're right at the base of The Big Hill...
... so we need energy!
Under the watchful eye of Benny, the chocolate moose, Al dutifully bites into her required energy snack.
I don't know what this is, but it certainly looks sinful!
Now it's time to face the mountain!
I follow Al - marveling at the skills she has gained in these past two months.
She pedals up this mountain like a pro!
I'm not doing badly, but I do have to stop to take pictures of the other bikers struggling up the slope.
We've had flat ground for most of the last two weeks.
Now's the time to test those muscles!
I find Al waiting for me halfway up the mountain.
She does her cool biker pose for this shot in front of her favorite sign.
And she takes a moment to befriend an owl...
(Al has always been afraid of birds; when she was a child I would have to call out her window "Go away Owl" before she could go to sleep.)
But moose don't scare her!
Don seems more than happy to take a break and look for moose.
And Dan helps out with his best moose impression.
Near the crest of the hill I actually do stop to scan this habitat for large brown beasts...
...at which time I'm startled by a wild herd of bikers of the noisy persuasion.
Here's my favorite sign of the trip.
When they are warning about runaway trucks I know my aching climb is coming to an end.
Here's the downhill we deserve!
I go 44 mph; Al hits 43.
Her fast buddies all flirt with the big 5-0, but I think they all top out at 49 mph.
We see Dereka near the bottom.
She is ebullient!
We made it!
They said that hill was hard!
That wasn't as hard as the Tetons!
We bump into Ian...
Yeah - at least here you could breathe, he says.
Up in the Rockies there was no air.
I'm just glad to have made it so far...
But - Oh, no!
Look at the map!
We have another hill yet to climb!
Alex leads the way!
We make it to the top together!
(Well, she got there a little ahead of me).
Now's the time for a tough decision...
Al goes for a twist.
And I even decide to indulge!
We browse the shop looking at local Vermont wares...
Mmmm. Sharp Vermont cheese to have for breakfast.
Beats the powdered scrambled eggs we usually get.
There's the red-tail shirt I want!
|Photo by Gerard|
One last long coast down to Brattleboro.
I'm too tired to take pics so I had to borrow these from Gerard.
|Photo by Gerard|
Brattleboro is a cute town.
Al and Todd stop at a music festival.
I head to the hotel for my recovery routine - feet up, PB crackers and chocolate milk.
At route rap tonight things are not as serious.
Mark looks more relaxed...
Rick even naps through rap.
And Allison looks...
Well, I don't know how to describe that look.
And tomorrow - we go to New Hampshire!
I can smell the ocean now!