On Friday mornings I teach a swim lesson at the YMCA that begins at 8:30 AM. I like to get to the Y early so I don’t have to rush. I live in Winooski and if I am going into Burlington I calculate that it will take me about an hour to get ready to go and then ride to my destination. On Friday August 1st I started getting ready at 7:15 AM so I could be at the Y at 8:15 AM. Getting ready means dressing, packing a change of clothes for after my shower at the Y, gathering my bathing suit and teaching shirt and choosing which bike shoes, hat, gloves and buff to wear for the day. I also put lights on my bike, helmet and hip pack. In late August and early September the days are warm but the mornings are cool. I wear a light jacket when I leave my house in the morning. In the event I got to the Y at 8 so I decided to go to City Market before going to the Y. I noticed that almond butter was on sale so I got some. Usually I just eat peanut butter.
Before class I talked with one of the lifeguards. I taught my class and before leaving saw a few more friends. The Y is always a social place for me, especially in the morning. In contrast my long bike rides are often solitary. I like spending time with people but I also enjoy being alone.
I rode home and before I started getting ready for my ride around South Hero and Grande Isle I had a banana and some of the almond butter I had just bought. I like to have something in my stomach before I start a long ride. I had the rest of the day free, so I did not have to rush. Preparing for a long ride takes more time than preparing for a ride into Burlington from Winooski. I try to eat about every hour during a ride. I have done the island ride many times so I know where and how many times I will stop along the way. I bring dried fruit because it is lightweight, easy to digest and gives me quick energy. For this ride I brought dried mango, figs and dates. I also packed a hard boiled egg and a mixture of peanuts and raisins. I brought along some salt for the hard boiled egg. At home I drink a mixture of citrus water and herb tea. I make herb tea in a teapot most days and any I don’t drink goes into the citrus water mixture. I have a bottle of lemon juice in my fridge but I also buy reduced price lemons, oranges and grapefruit and juice them myself for the citrus water mixture. I put the tea/lemon water in my water bottle. I planned to ride a slightly different route than usual, so I took a screen shot the new route. I wore a red short sleeved bike shirt under an orange long sleeved one. I also donned my yellow bike shoes which I got a few weeks ago in the consignment area of Outdoor Gear Exchange. When I first bought them they had grease stains and someone from the Winooski Bike Gang suggested I clean the shoes with a magic erase sponge and it really worked! I am always learning things from my bike friends.
I left my house at about 10. It was a beautiful cool sunny day without too much wind.
I rode into Burlington on the Riverside Avenue bike path and then took the 127 bike path to the New North End. I went to the end of North Street and then onto the bike path. I was soon passed by two young women in matching white tops and black bike shorts. They were joined by two other women in the same outfit. I could hear them talking and it took me a few minutes to figure out that they were French Canadian. I stopped at Airport Park for some water and to use the facilities, then took the causeway to the bike ferry. My right knee was a little tender, but I also felt confident about the ride.
When I got to the bike ferry I saw the four young women again. Someone was taking a photo of them with their bikes, then they got onto the ferry. I heard them say that they were headed for Alburgh.
As another woman got onto the ferry, her phone, which had been in her rear pannier, fell into the lake between the ferry and the dock. I felt sorry for the woman, I would be devastated if I lost my phone that way. A member of the ferry crew suggested a diving company that could go down and get the phone. I would have offered but I did not have any goggles with me and without goggles it would have been impossible to locate the phone.
After the ferry ride I rode to White’s Beach. The breeze off the lake was a little cool so I found a picnic bench in the sun. I put on my earbuds and listened to ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace while I had my snack. I had raisins and peanuts and then some mango. I looked out over the lake. I like to listen to a recorded book or a podcast when I take my breaks. I don’t listen while I am riding or when I take walks.
From White’s Beach I rode up West Shore Road. West Shore Road used to be partly dirt but recently all of it was paved. That is why I was riding my road bike. There were no dirt roads on my route and although the causeway is not paved, the gravel is very smooth and easy to ride on a road bike. On a weekday I do not encounter much traffic on an island ride except near the ferry to New York State and on Route 2. I rode through Eagle Camp where earlier in the summer I saw lots of families. On September 1st most of the families were gone. I feel sad that summer is almost over but I know that I will still have many good days for riding before the real cold sets in. For me the first sign of fall is the blooming of the Purple Asters. I did not see any on this ride. I did see one the next day on a ride to Colchester Pond.
My next stop was the West Shore Boat Access. By this time it was warm enough for me to sit in the shade. I had another snack and looked out over the water. A couple rode up on a yellow motorcycle and sat by the water having lunch. They shared a sub and a bag of chips. That kind of eating is possible on a motorcycle but I need to have many small snacks rather than a big meal. It is uncomfortable to ride after eating a big meal. I admired the color of the motorcycle, it was a very bright yellow. I was wearing yellow shoes and yellow bike gloves, and along the way I noticed the yellow goldenrod and yellow Black Eyed Susans.
I took Moccasin Avenue and Griswold Road to Route 2. On Moccasin Avenue I saw some puffball mushrooms by the side of the road. Puffballs are the only wild mushroom that I can identify with any certainty. I picked one and put it in my handlebar bag. Every Thursday I do a story hour at the Family Room Garden at the Ethan Allen Homestead. While I am doing the story hour two women arrive with lots of vegetables to give away. At the beginning of the summer I took some cilantro and made pesto and brought a sample to the women who give away the vegetables. They seemed to enjoy the pesto so from then on I brought them samples of the food I made with their vegetables. On the Thursday before the ride I got tomatoes and basil. I planned to make tomato basil curry with but now I had a mushroom I could add to the mix. The mushroom was a gift from nature and it started me thinking about how many gifts I receive and what I am able to give to others. In the biking world I feel really good that I am able to lead a weekly ride for the Winooski Bike Gang. It takes a little time to plan the rides, and leading 30 people on a 20 mile ride can be a challenge, even with the help of other volunteers, but when I hear that participants have enjoyed the ride I feel great! Next I stopped at a place that sells pies and other baked goods. It is run on the honor system, as do most of the farm stands on the islands. They also provide free water, for which I am grateful. I filled my water bottle and headed out onto Route 2. I went North to just before the bridge to North Hero and then took a right onto East Shore North Road. My usual route is to cross Route 2 and take Faywood Road but I wanted to ride a little bit further. The view of Lake Champlain from East Shore Road North is spectacular.
East Shore Road North Loops back to Route 2. A little way south on Route 2 I arrived at Emmons Supermarket. I used the facilities there and had another snack. Throughout the ride I kept track of time because the last bike ferry was at 5 PM and I did not want to miss it. It was around 3 PM so I didn’t feel that I had to rush the rest of the ride.
I rode South on Route 2 until I got to East Shore Road South and again looped around back to Route 2. I had to climb the penultimate long hill of the ride. I felt pretty good, I have been taking long rides for most of the summer and my knee felt OK.
I took Route 2 south to South Street and stopped for a snack and water at the Congregational Church of South Hero.
I cycled on South Street to Martin Street where I turned onto the Island Line Trail. My grandmother’s maiden name was Martin, and that was also the last name of my great uncle Bill. I think about them when I ride Martin Street. I had to ride far over to the right on the Island Line Trail to accommodate a car coming in the opposite direction. The sign says that only anglers are allowed to drive on
the trail but there is no enforcement so anyone with a car can drive there. Given how few places there are for just bikes and pedestrians it seems like a crime that cars are allowed to drive there.
On the way back on the bike ferry I got to pet a very friendly dog. The dog seemed to enjoy all the attention from the ferry passengers. I was lucky that I did not have to wait long for the ferry either going to or coming from South Hero. Sometimes on a nice day it can be very busy.
I went on the causeway to Airport Park for my final snack. I had four dates left. I sat in a partly shaded area and enjoyed the late afternoon sun. I was feeling tired by then but I also had the glow that comes with riding for many hours.
On my way home the bike path was not too crowded. I took a left on Shore Road and went through the New North End until I got to the 127 bike path. At the end of the bike path was the final long hill of the day. Throughout the ride I used a front and rear headlight when I was on the road with cars but turned them off when I was on a bike path. At the top of 127 I turned on my lights and headed home down the path on Riverside Avenue and then through the roundabout in Winooski and up Main Street. Soon I was home again where I took a shower and had my dinner.