a few statistics
- 287 miles traveled by bike
- 13 days riding (plus 2 rest days)
- 22 miles per day on average
- 41.8 miles on our longest day
- 23,648 feet of elevation gain
- 8 nights camping
- 4 nights in hotels
- 273 photos taken
- 5 showers
- 3 freshwater swims
- 191 salamanders spotted (in one day)
It’s surprising to me how the physical struggle of climbing hills and trying to keep the pedals spinning can push everything else from my mind. I remember sitting down at a bar at the end of day 2 and staring at the TV above the bar tender’s head. It might have been one minute or twenty before I realized that I wasn’t absorbing anything I was seeing. There were absolutely no thoughts in my head.
When the riding is easy my mind is buzzing with thoughts. The noise of the bikes and the road is often too loud to carry on conversation, so mostly I listen to my own thoughts. Sometimes the same looping soundtrack of doubts and worry, occasionally I replay old grudges and slights. But I also come up with all sorts of great ideas (almost all forgotten as soon as I get off the bike) and I relive memories I haven’t returned to in years.
All this exercise and time outside my normal life is changing my brain. I still worry, but about different sorts of things. I have two outfits and zero cosmetics, so I worry a lot less about how I look. But I worry a lot more about the next time I’ll be able to wash those few clothes and how bad I must smell. There’s no house to keep clean, but the tent has to be dried out every few days.
You’ll notice on the travel map that we’re very close to the Canadian border now. The trip isn’t exactly the route we had planned, but it’s been liberating to be able to change our plans whenever we want to. (Originally we planned to link the xVT to the Green Mountain Gravel Growler.) From here we’re heading south through the islands in Lake Champlain, then to Burlington where we’ll rent a U-Haul to get back to our car back on the Massachusetts-Vermont state line. We have 11 days to get back to Pennsylvania and organize all the logistics before we fly to Kampala.