Day 9 – Saint Johnsbury, VT to Montpelier, VT – 38 miles
It was a gorgeous day with clear blue skies. As soon as we pulled out of the motel parking lot we were in our granny gear. SJ really is a beautiful town – beautiful setting & beautiful architecture. When we came into town the previous day, we noticed a beautiful church steeple with a second smaller steeple and as we were leaving town we saw that it was just a block over from our route, so went for a closer look. We turned onto the very aptly named Church street! I think I counted at least 5 churches and each one was so uniquely beautiful!
We knew the first 8-9 miles would be tough. Saint Johnsbury has an elevation of 614 feet and the next town, Danville has an elevation of 1,591 feet. As we climbed up the hill on Vermont a Route 2B, we hear lots of fast water, as streams rushed down waterfalls in the woods around us. It was beautiful! And challenging! That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right? Pretty soon, we didn’t hear rushing water & the climb wasn’t quite so steep. Then our route joined up with US-2 and we climbed some more! There was an incredibly beautiful scenic viewpoint, so we pulled over to take pics & marvel at the countryside we’ve ridden through & over. Then we had a huge, fast downhill before one more challenging climb into the little village of Danville.
The tough thing about starting out the day like this is, once we get to Danville, you can’t help but wonder what comes next? I mean we had 9 miles done and there are still the lion’s share of the day’s planned miles still ahead of us! We stopped at Bentley’s Bakery (a fantastic place, by the way) for coffee and a snack and talked to the woman in there about the road ahead. She mentioned a few more “bumps” and said after that it would be mostly downhill. And she was right. We had a couple more granny gear climbs – although none as long as “Dole Hill” coming into Danville. And pretty soon we were racing down a long 7% downhill, followed by an 8% long downhill grade at 45+ mph. Now we were getting some miles behind us!
Pretty soon we found that we were following the Winooski River as it flows downstream toward Lake Champlain. The hills were more gently rolling now and of course, overall dropping in elevation so these miles went by quickly, thru the valley with gorgeous green hillsides on either side of us. Beautiful riding today!
We met up with our WS hosts, Ray & Jess at their apartment & left the bike in their Montpelier apt. Then they drove us out to their newly purchased (they just moved in less than a week ago!) home in Northfield, about 20 min south of Montpelier.
Ray and Jess were so nice to us! Ray has been hosting WS riders for a long time, and worried that moving away from Montpelier (15 minute drive) might cost he and Jess some visitors. But their willingness to meet up in town and drive us to their home in Northfield made it so easy!
Dinner was fantastic! London broil – marinated & grilled to perfection! Ray is an incredible cook! They also made grilled corn on the cob, broccoli, grilled potatoes, & Jess made an amazing fresh homemade bread! An incredible meal, great conversation & beautiful, comfortable accommodations made for a memorable evening!
We can’t talk about Ray and Jess without mentioning their pet dog, Texas. Ray found Texas on the side of the road in…(can you guess??) TEXAS! Ray was riding his bike from New Orleans to San Fransisco. Texas was a weak and malnourished pup – 40 pounds then and 60 pounds now. Ray went to the humane society and asked if they could hold the dog one month while he rode back to New Orleans and drove back to rescue Texas. They told him he had 2 weeks, after that, Texas would be euthanized. Ray needed a backup plan, so he bought a laundry basket, bunge’ed it to the rack on his bike, and he and Texas pedaled back to New Orleans. More so than any other dog I have seen, Texas sees Ray as a true savior, and rarely leaves his side. What a nice dog! The other cool thing about Texas is that he only eats laying down. He gently takes each morsel of food into his mouth, like it is gift to be appreciated and treated with respect. Without getting too headsy, it’s kind of like this trip for Shawn and I – we need to just relax and enjoy every minute this trip brings, because it truly is a wonderful gift!!
Ray & Jess said the ride to Burlington (tomorrow) is just about as flat as Vermont gets – which may not be saying much for us flat landers but we’ll take it!
Our WS hosts, Jess & Ray with dog, Texas