Day 2: Shelburne, Vermont (66.18 mi/106.51km)

I didn’t have any trouble sleeping last night. I was out. So quickly, in fact, that I missed the end of the Red Sox game and didn’t even know they’d mounted a come-from-behind victory until Jim Whalen (thanks, Jim!) texted me about it this morning.

I got up, packed, breakfasted, and rolled out. In the parking lot was the tour group full of Russians, a couple of whom I’d met at dinner the night before. I stopped and wished the couple a good trip. They wished me счастливого пути schastlivovo puti (“Bon voyage”) and I was off.

There was a pretty good incline heading out of Rutland but beyond that the terrain was rolling hills with a few long flat stretches that allowed me to get up to a cruising speed of 20 miles an hour or so.

One of the advantages of today’s trip was that there were no road changes at all. Just a straight shot up US-7. That makes it a lot easier when you’re not having to look for side roads to turn down or remember which fork to take. The downside was that in large stretches, the road was a wide two-lane highway, which means that tree coverage is not as complete, and as the day wore on and the heat increased, this would have a definite effect.

Four years ago, after my last long-distance ride, I remember asking my mother what those white, doily-looking flowers were that ran alongside the highway. “Queen Anne’s Lace,” she told me. Now, while lilacs are my hands-down favorite, there’s something about the Queen Anne’s Lace that I like a lot. It’s a kind of simple beauty, I guess. And I have even tried to grow some myself without any luck. And so, on this ride, it has been really nice to see them lining the road constantly. Sometimes in big, open fields intermingled with bright blue flowers and clover. Whenever I see them alongside the road, it makes me smile a bit and I almost feel like they’re cheering me on.

The route I’ve been taking since Bennington yesterday is basically up the central valley of Vermont, which, although it has had its share of climbs, has nevertheless avoided the steeper, higher mountains. Instead, the mountains flank me as I ride, offering some spectacular views:

If there’s one thing that I’ve realized on this trip, it’s that I’m definitely better at this than I used to be. I’m not sure whether it’s a function of my weight or whether I’m stronger than I used to be, but a 66 mile day like today is far easier than it used to be. In fact, given that I did 66 miles yesterday before lunch, today felt like it might be a little too easy.

Ferrisburgh Bake Shop

Nevertheless, I have decided that my lunch breaks will take place at the 2/3 mark (after lunch, the loss of momentum catches up with you and the day is one of constant diminishing returns). And so, around 49 miles, I stopped in the town of Ferrisburgh at the Ferrisburgh Bake Shop & Deli. I’d actually biked past it thinking, oh, that looks good, but it was on the other side of the road and I assumed that there would be something else up ahead. There wasn’t. So after biking another .6 miles, I doubled back and went to the Bake Shop.

After a delicious lunch in which I charged my phone and rested up nearly an hour, I got back on the road. As I went back outside, I felt like the heat just walloped me. I hadn’t remembered it being that hot an hour before. In fact, every time I checked the weather, it kept saying 91 degrees, which is hot, but I’ve biked in hotter weather. Today, however, began to feel like it was really roasting.

The miles from here on out were tough. The heat combined with some fairly significant inclines was sapping my strength. And with every mile I thought, shouldn’t I be able to see the lake now? Finally, I crested a hill and there to my left was Lake Champlain. I pressed on and finally got to the outskirts of Shelburne, Vermont, where I’d made reservations for the night.

Lake Champlain
First view of Lake Champlain at at distance

At first, I thought I might switch those reservations to somewhere closer to downtown, but the lack of availability and the heat made me realize that my current option was pretty good. (As if to make the point clearly, as I stood there checking my phone for reservation options, sweat just kept dripping from my face.)

The route, best I can figure, of my 1981 summer bike camp trip

Now, when I was a kid, I participated in a bike camp through my United Methodist summer camp at Skye Farm. Until 2010, those trips—one around Lake Champlain and one along Cape Cod—were the longest bike trips I’d ever taken. As I came into Shelburne this afternoon, I approached a big stone church on my right that looked so familiar. As I rode past, I noted that it was the Shelburne United Methodist Church and I started to laugh: I’d slept on the floor of that church as a kid. I would not be sleeping on a church floor tonight.

I got to my hotel around 2:45, feeling like I’d arrived early, but also glad to be out of the heat. I checked in, showered, and then took a soak in the whirlpool and then a swim in the nice, cool waters of the hotel pool.

Back in the room, I reviewed my route to Montreal tomorrow and researched how to get downtown. Fortunately, there is a bus line that runs right down Rte 7 and so I hopped on that and made my way to downtown Burlington and the waterfront.

Lake Champlain up close

I had dinner at a place right on the waterfront and had a nice conversation with some folks seated with me at the bar. After dinner I headed back up to the bus depot to catch the 8:30 bus back to Shelburne and noted that while the temperatures had gone down, the humidity had skyrocketed. Suddenly, it was as soupy as a D.C. August. Um, hello, Vermont, if I’d wanted soupy humidity, I’d have stayed in Washington. Alas.

Tomorrow’s a big day—over 100 miles to Montreal. I’m going to check over my route again—it should be nice, right along the lake and even across it via causeway—and try to figure out what’s wrong with my GoPro camera. It can’t seem to hold a charge and is good for about 5–10 minutes of action, which is no good.

Even though today was only 2/3 the length of yesterday, I can feel the fatigue coming on. I’ll probably call it a night soon and rest as long as I can. Tomorrow is a long day and I need the rest. It’s hard to deal with customs agents and/or speak French when you’re tired!

163.97 total miles
263.89 total kilometers
8,530 total feet climbed
11,000 total calories burned

View the complete workout here: