We had another steep climb coming out of Newcomb this morning followed by a wicked descent into North Hudson. I have no problem admitting that I’m usually a wimp when it comes to descents and tend to pump the breaks and sit up tall if I start to get above 30 mph. On this hill, however, there were no cars, no blind turns, and no potholes. I decided to go down into the drops and got well above 40 mph.
When we got to Ticonderoga after 50 miles, we went to the post office to pick up some packages that we had ordered to be delivered there. Evan got a new cycling kit after wearing holes in his old one. I had ordered a new set of brake hoods after my right brake started giving me some trouble. I opened the box to find one left-handed brake hood, not the expected set of two. I guess I’ll have to keep using my semi-functional set.
At the shore of Lake Champlain, we boarded a ferry that took us across the border and into Vermont. On the boats, we chatted with some local cyclists and they took our picture when we got to the Vermont sign.
Just past that sign, we got our first taste of the Green Mountains. The final 20 miles into Middlebury had 1,200 gross vertical feet of climbing (feel free to interpret “gross” however you want) and almost no shade. There were record-setting high temperatures and a suffocating humidity.
I’ve been told by several seasoned bike tourers that the Green Mountains section of the Northern Tier has the most difficult riding of the entire route. From the little portion that we rode today, I can believe it. It can also believe that the Green Mountains offer some of the most beautiful landscape of the Northern Tier. The road into Middlebury passed through picturesque apple orchards and maple farms. As Evan put it, “everywhere in Vermont looks like it could be a wedding venue.”
We got to Middlebury drenched in sweat and completely out of water. Fortunately, we had found a place to stay through Warm Showers where we could take some not so warm showers and wash our clothes. Dave and Patty, our gracious hosts prepared a delicious dinner for us and we sat around the table for hours enjoying conversation.
Tomorrow looks like it is going to be even hotter than today, and we have not one, but three steep mountain passes to climb. We decided to set our alarms for 4:30am to try and beat the worst of the heat so it’s looking like an 8pm bedtime tonight.