Monday, October 20, 2008

Fort Worth columnist tours Vermont via bicycle

Catherine Mallette, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote an article in the Star abour her recent trip to Vermont with her husband and friends. The couple and their friends booked a 3-day bicycle tour of Vermont to witness first hand the beautiful New England foliage. Sounds like a dream come true for most of us who enjoy riding and especially the splendor of Vermont which just so happens to be gorgeous year-round. I have enjoyed many trips to that part of the country. However, for Ms. Mallette, she's not your average cyclist so the fact that she opted to take a bicycle tour is surprising. In the article, she outlines each day's route, the beauty, the challenges, and the lessons she learned along the way. Hopefully her article will inspire others to do the same and to take a chance. You don't have to be a die hard cyclist or athlete to enjoy a spin around the countryside. Enjoy!

Two for the road: Vermont reveals its wonders to a Texas couple, one hill at a time

"I can do this," I murmured to myself. "This" was the hill before me. Funny, but just the day before, from the seat of a car, I might not have even noticed this rise in the land. From the saddle of a bicycle, hills take on a completely different perspective.

It was a late September afternoon, the first full day of a three-day Bike Vermont tour. Back in July, I’d thought to myself, "Wouldn’t it be fun to see New England fall foliage on a bicycle?" I’d grown up in Massachusetts but had spent the past two decades in North Texas, where autumn’s most outstanding characteristic is minor relief from the oppressive heat of summer. I missed the crisp temperatures and the leaves’ brilliant displays of color. My husband, David, who grew up in Texas, agreed that a foliage tour sounded fun, and so here we were. He was already near the top of the hill, with me behind. I downshifted gears and began the climb. "I can do this," I said again. My legs began to ache. I downshifted again, but within about five seconds, my muscles started to burn. I downshifted again. I was now in the lowest possible gear, and yet, I started to breathe hard, and my throat became dry. I was still a long way from the top of the hill. "I can’t do this," I said, and I dismounted the bike and began walking.

We went 40 miles on that first day, which was, unfortunately, equal to the total mileage I’d put in training for the trip over the course of a month. That night, in our room at Middlebury’s Swift House Inn, my legs ached, and my husband was equally sore. Without putting too fine a point on it, he’d had some saddle-comfort issues. "Well, really, you know this was kind of your idea," I said, prompting him to ask, "In what possible way?" "You once said your two favorite vacations were wine-country and exercise vacations," I said. He looked at me for a few seconds and then replied, "I must have been drunk."

Lessons, not leaves. We’d come in search of fall leaves, but we were early. At best, the foliage was "spotty." In fact, pretty much every expectation I had for this vacation turned out to be misplaced. I expected leisurely rides through the countryside, chatting with my husband under canopies of color. I expected stopping along the way at little towns, ducking into shops. I expected that I’d happily quit before the end of each day’s ride, opting to come back in Bike Vermont’s support van. Yes, I’d come in search of leaves, but what I discovered instead (sometimes painfully) in Vermont were some interesting life lessons. Here, what I learned on my autumn vacation. Read more..