The full meaning of Vermont’s slogan became apparent to me while riding up Rt. 100, up the middle of a valley, brilliant lush mountains on both sides, doing 50-55 on a road that would be posted at 35 back home. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The trip started by heading west, past the Wachusett Reservoir. Then I turned north and followed Rt. 140 to its northern terminus in Winchendon, MA. I have more than a few memories here, as my ex-wife and I had a house here for a few years before we split. So I didn’t need the GPS to get here, or up to Keene, NH. Usually I avoid cities on my bike trips, but it was worth the side trip to visit an old friend. He invited me to join him for his weekly company lunch – he owns and operates an auto shop – which I took him up on. Today was a relatively low mileage day, so I had time to spare. Plus it was great to catch up.
From there, I hopped Rt. 9 out of town and over to Brattleboro, VT. My friend had suggested a shortcut down a fun back road, and my GPS agreed with it, so I had half of a fun trip down East West Road.
This is where I learned something about Vermont. The roads are awesome, and the limits posted much higher than equivalent roads back home. A road that would be 35 mph at home, for instance, is often 50 here, so I feel like a total hooligan without actually breaking the law. I would’ve taken a picture to demonstrate, but there was nowhere safe to pull over, and a photo can’t capture the awesomeness of being surrounded by the bright green mountains.
Unfortunately, drivers from out of state will still drive these roads at the speeds they’re used to. And to make matters worse, there is nowhere to pass in the entire state. But when you’re clear of traffic, it’s a dream to ride here.
After a quick stop in Jamaica, VT for a drink and cold snack, I turned onto Rt. 100 north, where I would stay for the next two hours. Here, like on the Mohawk Trail, I saw many signs of the destruction and reconstruction from Hurricane Irene. There is a great deal of fresh pavement along the portions of the road near the river. There is also a lot of grey stone that doesn’t match the local brown hues forming new riverbanks. Though the roads are repaired, almost a year later there are still a number of houses, destroyed by flooding, still barely standing yet not demolished. This was the only blemish on an otherwise beautiful landscape.
Rt. 100 winds up the middle of a valley. APRS isn’t getting out, and at Hostel Tevere I don’t even have a cell signal. They do have wifi, though, which is how I’m typing this on my iPhone. The hostel is quite nice. There are many rooms to relax, as well as the usual bunk rooms. They also have a restaurant and bar. This means after a day’s ride, I don’t have to go anywhere to eat. I’m typing this from the bar with a Switchback in front of me, a locally brewed unfiltered beer. There’s no air conditioning, but for the five or so days a year that it’s this hot, there’s no point.
So far, so good. Tomorrow I’ve planned a loop through Lake Champlain, east to the mountains along the Canadian border, then meandering back to the hostel, where I’ll spend tomorrow night as well. I’m looking forward to it. But for now, I’m relaxing and enjoying a beer in a nice environment. This place is so cool that we were watching The Empire Strikes Back until we were overwhelmed with requests for the Red Sox / Yankees game.