Elements of Bike Riding 57

Street Find Disappointment 

On February 10th I set off for my dentist’s office in South Burlington. It was a sloppy day, with slush everywhere. I took Mill Street and noticed a balaclava on the ground.  I did not stop because I wanted to get to my appointment on time.  I made a mental note to go back later in the day and pick up the balaclava.  After my dentist appointment I rode into Burlington, went to the Y, had lunch with a friend and then went to City Market.  I took Riverside Avenue back to Winooski and crossed over Colchester Avenue and onto Mill Street.  The balaclava was in the road so I parked my bike and waited for a break in the traffic.  The balaclava was soaking wet and when I picked it up I saw it was so torn up that it would not be usable so I did not take it home.  This happens from time to time when I spot something on the road.  Often an item is so damaged and I cannot use it.  I see lots of things that I don’t bother to stop for.  Because I have a scavenger’s mentality, I notice discarded items but they are not always worth stopping for.  

Karen and Bob posing in front of a green wall with their tandem bike

On March 9th I attended a storytelling event at Old Spokes Home. 

This is the story I told -

Karen and Bob live in Portland but they ride their tandem bike all over the country.  I met them last summer in the wilds of Colchester.  Theywere looking at a map and seemed a little lost.  They were headed for Saint Albans and planned to take Route 7.  I said, “I know a better way, follow me.”  They did and I led them up Route 7 to Chimney Corners and then we took back roads through Milton and Georgia.  I showed them some of my favorite sights along the way: The waterstriders on the Lamoille River under a bridge, a house built right into a hillside with cows grazing on the roof and a houseboat abandoned in the woods.  As I showed them my Vermont I saw the countryside with fresh eyes.  I remembered why I love riding here.  I got to know Bob and Karen. Karen is a high school math teacher and Bob is a Presbyterian pastor whose ministry includes making soup and baking bread.  I also learned about riding a tandem bike.  Karen said that couples that get a tandem either grow closer or break up.  It takes a lot of cooperation to ride a tandem. We stopped at a recreation area in Georgia for a break.  We used the bathroom, had a snack and snapped photos of each other.  They called me their native guide.  I explained that I was neither Native American or a native Vermonter, but I was happy to accept the title of guide.  When we got to Saint Albans they bought me a ham and cheese croissant in gratitude for my help.  When it was time to go our separate ways we did not exchange email address or even last names.  It was one of those fleeting friendships that blossom when you get out on the road.  I appreciate  bike connections, whether they are conversations at the bike rack in front of City Market or exchanges of information at a bike shop.  I have also made some great friends through biking.  Glenn Eames, founder of Old Spokes Home sold me a bike almost forty years ago when he worked at Ski Rack. We have been friends ever since. This year I  have made some wonderful new friends through the Winooski Bike Gang which ride every Wednesday.  Bikes connect us while cars separate us.

a view of the snowy City Market parking lot with one bike parked by the entrance and one car in the parking lot


On March 1st about 6 inches of snow fell overnight.  I decided to ride into work, but I left early because I thought I might have to walk my bike part of the way.  I was not sure if the sidewalk plows had cleared the bike path on Riverside Avenue.  As it happened I only had to walk my bike briefly.  I got into town half an hour early so I headed over to City Market to pick up a few things.  For one shinning moment there were the same number of cars and bikes in the City Market parking lot — one bike, one car. A true utopia would be having many bikes and no cars at all!


Spring Ride

snow on the boardwalk looking out over the lake

On March 20th I took an afternoon ride down the Burlington Bike Path.  On the way back I stopped at the swings on the waterfront boardwalk. 

 I swung back and forth for a while, in the sunshine.  As I breathed in I sensed Spring in the air.  The air was not especially warm, but there was a freshness to it that only comes with the changing of the season. There was wet snow on the boardwalk and the combination of snow and wet wood was very slippery.  Almost everyone that walked by stumbled but  did not fall.  I felt that I should warn everyone but most people were plugged into ear buds and would not have heard me.