The day dawned overcast, but cleared quickly. I had to stop on the way out of the park to put on sunglasses and sunscreen. After riding through downtown Brattleboro along Route 5, I reached the commercial strip north of downtown and stopped at the Howard Johnson's for breakfast. By the time breakfast was finished and I emerged from the restaurant, it was getting quite hot and muggy outside. As I rode out of Brattleboro, I passed a dead deer on the side of the road that had obviously been hit just this morning. Blood was still flowing onto the road.
Reaching the town of Putney, a stop at the local food co-op provided me with some fresh fruit, a box of Fig Newtons (NOT the low-fat kind, either!), and two water bottles full of fresh spring water. Turning off Route 5, I took the Westminster West Road northwest into the hills. Soon, more deer were spotted along the side of the road. These, however, were very much alive, and they darted off into the woods as I passed.
The ride through Westminster West, and on to the town of Saxton's River, was wonderful. Traffic was almost non-existent, the scenery was great, and the people were friendly. Everyone I passed offered a smile and a wave. I arrived in Saxton's River around noon. I think this is what most people picture when they think of Vermont. White steepled church across the street from the General Store, which has benches out front occupied by kids drinking cokes and laughing and kidding each other. The clerk inside seemed to know everyone by name.
I had been having trouble making myself drink all morning. Thinking that I may just be low on salt, I bought a small can of salted peanuts to snack on while I sat outside. I've been drinking as much as I can stand, but haven't peed all day.
From here, I headed west to Grafton, then turned north on Route 35. Route 35 climbs out of Grafton on a very steep hill. The road here was gone, replaced with metal culverts, lots of dirt and gravel, and heavy construction equipment. I suddenly remembered a news item from several weeks past. This area had been hit with torrential rains, and many roads had been destroyed. This was obviously one of them. I pushed my bike through the construction, and on to the top of the hill. It was then a continuous series of ups and downs until I descended into Chester and intersected Route 103. After a stop in Chester for a couple bottles of 'All-Sport' and a candy bar, I started up Route 103 towards Proctorsville. The road here is sans shoulders. I heard a tractor-trailer coming up behind me, just as another truck was approaching from the front. Uh-oh. Then, I heard the truck behind slow and gear way down. He very patiently crawled along behind me until the approaching truck was past, then pulled out and around me. As he passed, I gave a big wave, which I hope he saw. If only all drivers were so considerate.
I very much like traveling alone, as it gives me time to think, or not think, as the mood takes me. Actually, thinking is probably much too active a verb to describe what I mean. While the body is working away, the mind is free to wander. I know from past solo backpacking trips that after a couple of days, I start talking and singing to myself. I can now attest that the same phenomenon occurs when I bicycle tour. While spinning along this afternoon, I passed a sign that read 'LOW SHOULDER' . "Okay", I said aloud, and lowered first my right shoulder, and then my left. Laughing hysterically at my private joke, I came around the corner and was confronted with several kids in the front yard of their house. They were looking at me rather quizzically, obviously having heard me. I just waved and continued on my way.
Route 103 climbed steeply through Proctorsville Gulf, then turned due west towards Ludlow. There were very strong winds coming directly out of the west, and I found myself riding the last few flat miles into Ludlow in my 24x28 granny gear. Six mph on the flats! Ugh! The campground I was planning to stay at turned out to be populated with mobile homes. I checked my maps and campground book, but there was nothing else in the area. Finally, I decided to look for alternatives, and ended up taking a room at a motel.
After showering and washing all my dirty clothes in the bathtub, I walked into Ludlow and back to get a pizza for supper. The woman at the desk had told me it was about 1/4 mile up the road. It certainly seemed much more than that when I was walking it. The next morning, I checked the distance on my cycle-computer, and it turned out to be just over a mile. Never trust a driver's sense of distance.
The days statistics:
- 51.5 miles
- 4:32:09 riding time
- 11.3 mph average speed (headwinds!)
Distance from home:
Day 2: Westhampton MA to Brattleboro VT
Day 4: Ludlow VT to Brandon VT