The second day of our two-day trip was very eventful!
When we were planning out the trip, Marsha and I discovered that while we found a campsite about halfway through the route, there wasn’t much else there. And while we were planning to carry camping supplies and changes of clothes, we didn’t want to lug around a stove and extra food, so we were planning to eat out for the two days. However, there were not very many eating options to start the second day.
So we came up with a plan: get dinner in the town before our campground (9 miles away) and get extra food to eat the next morning. We stopped at a pizza place, and we each ordered extra slices to have in the morning. Cold pizza makes for a great breakfast!
At around 1:30 in the morning, we awoke to find that a hungry skunk also liked our plan! Lured by the irresistible smell of our leftover pies (after all, who doesn’t like pizza?) he scratched around amongst all of our bags, conveniently located near our bikes, trying to get at the intoxicating smell.
This is something that had never happened to me on my entire cross-country trip last summer, and I wasn’t sure what to do. If I tried to shoo him away, he could easily spray all of our belongings and make for a truly unpleasant ride back to that car. But I clearly couldn’t just let him continue scrounging away through our bags — he might damage them, and it probably wasn’t all that healthy for him to be eating our food anyway.
So I approached him cautiously, waving a flashlight at him. At first, the delicious food was a stronger draw than the light was a deterrent, but eventually he decided that the food could wait until later and he wandered off into the night.
I looked over the bags and saw that they were unharmed, but the leftover pizza was beyond saving. I rounded up what was left and carried it over to the closed trash bins of the camp, and tossed them. So much for our breakfast the next day! Marsha heard the skunk return after we went back to bed, but he quickly discovered there was nothing left for him to eat, and so he shortly left to find something else to eat.
We managed to get back to sleep, but it was a fitful sleep. The weather forecast for the next day called for showers developing in the afternoon and turning to thunderstorms later in the day, so we had planned for an early start. So, despite the lack of sleep, we pulled ourselves from our tent around 5:30 AM, packed up, and hit the road. The sun was up, but it was an overcast day.
Because of the excitement with our overnight visitor, we no longer had breakfast to eat. The nearest town large enough to have food options was 14 miles down the road, or about an hour and a half of biking on an empty stomach. Well, almost empty, as we gobbled down some granola bars and a few handfuls of gorp to tide us over until we could find something more substantial.
Before starting for the day, Marsha’s legs felt good. She was worried she might wake up sore in the morning, but that didn’t seem to happen. However, once we actually started biking, her body was incredulous that she was getting back on the bike. “Didn’t we just do this yesterday?” her early muscles complained.
Because we had such a good outcome from stopping every five miles to stretch and rest, we continued the same practice on day 2. Still, we tried to keep the breaks short, partially to get to breakfast faster, and partially to try and outrace the coming rain.At the pizza place the night before, I was reading a local newspaper and I discovered that Bernie Sanders and his wife had just purchased a summer home in the town where we were hoping to find something to eat for the morning. We joked about possibly seeing him as we biked through the town of North Hero, and we considered grabbing a sandwich recently named for him: “Feel the Bun”. But it was breakfast we wanted and not lunch, so we found a place serving a breakfast buffet and made them sorry that they let hungry cyclists through the door. As the day wore on, it became clear that Marsha’s legs were never quite the same as in day one of our ride, whether from the previous day’s efforts, the hillier-than-expected course, fighting against a stiff headwind that Marsha hadn’t trained for, or the lengthy ride in the morning without real food. Our breaks became more frequent, despite the darkening clouds, and Marsha’s lower back started bothering her in addition to her lethargic legs.
Still, when during a break we were joined by a group of cyclists who told us about a short detour off the main course that offered up a panoramic view of Lake Champlain, Marsha didn’t want to regret missing out, so we followed them up a slight hill to a remarkable vista.We didn’t tarry long, however, because we thought we could feel raindrops, real or imagined, on our faces as we biked. We made our way through Grand Isle, then South Hero, and finally back to the mainland. Marsha was really at her limits by now, and the last few miles back to where we had parked the car were rather hilly. The rain started falling in earnest, although it was still just showers and not an actual storm just yet.
After cresting a hill just a couple of miles from the end point, Marsha leg muscles started contracting, and she just couldn’t bike any more. So we walked our bikes in the rain for awhile, until Marsha’s legs felt better, and we were able to ride the rest of the way back to the car.
It made for a tense day, between the approaching rain and Marsha’s deteriorating condition. But we managed to make it to the end safe and sound, if a little damp. We had anticipated that we would need some pampering after the ride, so we had booked a stay at a charming little B&B in the countryside, that featured, among other things, a hot tub good for soaking achy muscles.
For my part, I collapsed exhausted, and slept for 12 hours that night. Marsha was sore the next day, but between the soak in the hot tub and the opportunity to walk around, was making a quick recovery.
As a first experience for bicycle touring for Marsha, it wasn’t ideal. Day one was really great, but day two was a bit of a slog. However, there were many good things to take away from the experience: despite the weather, more climbing than expected, and riding for the first time with a fully-ladened bicycle, Marsha managed to make it to the end for the farthest distance she had ever biked over two days. While she wasn’t eager to get on the bike immediately, she thought that the entire experience was going to make her a better biker, which was good to hear.