A Mommy and Avery Adventure story for Mother’s Day.
A bike ride! A bike ride!
It’s summer and Avery and Mommy must have a bike ride.
But to where? Avery usually suggests Cape Cod, and Mommy shivers at the thought of all of those cars on the roads. They’ve already done a trip into Vermont and New Hampshire leaving from home, and last year they rode across Massachusetts with MassBike on the Mass Bike Pike. This year Avery has a new XL bike that simply wants to hit the road!
The stinky Northampton school department stole six days of summer from Avery by starting school before Labor Day, so time was limited. No time for that interesting and adventurous trip from northern Vermont into Canada (nor was Mommy in good enough shape for that). Hey, how about this – let’s find a nice campground in Vermont and do day rides from there using the Best Rides book for Vermont! Yes!
So we left home on Tuesday, August 27, 2009 and drove 2 hours to our campsite at Coolidge State Park in Plymouth, Vermont.
We splurged and got a lean-to. Fancy!
It had been built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, and was still in excellent shape. We got to talk about Mommy’s grandfather, Pop, who had worked in the CCC building camps, and how the government had come up with this program to develop national parks, and give people employment during hard economic times.
Our lean-to did not offer the great views of some of the other lean-tos:
[Here’s a question – why are so many Vermont State Parks at the top of mountains?!! Good thing we were not planning to bike up to this. We learned our lesson from pedaling up the hill to the state park in Brattleboro.]
But we had room for our tent, and shelves to store some of our gear out of the elements.
We got settled in our nice tent and played cribbage, trying to remember the rules, until we got too tired to deal. Good thing, too, as Avery was winning!
We had a great night’s sleep, and it was a beautiful place to wake up in the morning, too.
The next morning we read through the bike ride book trying to pick a ride that did not seem too challenging for our first day out. We decided on Chester-Saxtons River-Grafton, a 26 mile ride listed as easy to moderate.
Oh well, Mommy’s done most of this ride before, and knows which road we should go on. So, let’s get those bikes set up and start off!
It looks awfully sunny in this picture.
I wonder if that sun will last all day?
Places to park, cafes, bookstores, a general store, and, an information booth!
We got going on the correct road, and took Green Mountain Turnpike towards Bartonsville. Green Mountain Turnpike. That’s an awfully high-falutin’ name for a dirt road, isn’t it?
No matter, it took us to our first and only covered bridge of the day.
Unfortunately, there was this strange guy in army fatigues and an orange reflecto vest who had been riding in front of us along this dirt road through the countryside. Every quarter of a mile or so, he would stop and look back, seemingly at us, then when we had almost caught up, he would tear off again.
I was beginning to listen for banjo music…
And all that happened for 2 miles or so along Green Mountain Turnpike, this dirt road going along the farms and undeveloped nothingness outside of Chester, Vermont, until we got to the covered bridge at Bartonsville.
When we got to the bridge at Bartonsville, the man was ahead of us, and disappeared into the bridge pedaling hard. Then from inside the bridge we heard him screech to a halt as we stopped to take photos. He said something about his location into the walkie-talkie he had hooked onto his orange vest and waited. As we started up again, he came out of the bridge toward us and kept going. Fortunately, that was the last we saw of him. But it was also the last bridge for the day as the next two on the route were on dirt roads that only mountain bikes could handle, so no go for us.
Not a problem, down the highway we went, off towards Saxtons River. Now, Mommy had ridden this road before on her trip with Billye Smith about 7 years ago, and described it to Avery as ending in a nice downhill ride once the gentle incline of the first mile or so was over.
Boy, you would not think that Mommy would forget a hill, would you? Well, the ‘gentle incline’ got very sharp at places, and lasted much longer than a mile or so. But it did end in a nice downhill into Saxtons River.
Avery was hungry by that point (!) so we went directly to the general store and bought delicious tuna melts, flavored milk, apples, and a blueberry crumble to share.
Mommy took pity on Avery and let him eat the entire blueberry crumble.
The weather was looking sketchy, and the hour was getting late, so instead of resting and letting our food settle, we headed on down the road towards Grafton, as it was still another fourteen or so miles back to the car.
The road to Grafton was quiet, paved, and mostly heading down. The directions suggested a detour into the town itself before heading onto the last section back to Chester, but the sky looked ominous, so we kept on going, right onto the hardest hill of the day. It was a half-mile heart-stopper. Avery made it up to the top of the toughest part, Mommy only part way. Then there was more hill to climb. And still more hill. Also, additional hill.
Finally, the big payoff came in the form of newly paved road (love that federal stimulus money) and a downhill. About 6 miles of it by the time we got back to Chester green – the real Chester green. When we got back to the car at town hall in Chester Depot, we had done almost 27 miles.
We put the bikes on the car and headed back up the road. We stopped in Ludlow for some groceries and burritos for dinner. We were hoping for burritos that taste as good as the ones we get in Northampton.
The sign suggested these people knew Mexican food. But we should have known when the list of possible ingredients read like the all inclusive list at the salad bar. Black olives in a burrito? Well, Avery said his beef and bean burrito was good. Mommy’s chicken and bean was, um, um, well, it was no yummy tuna melt. Ah, such disappointment.
We had planned to have a nice fire after our showers – do Vermont state parks have the nicest showers or what? But we had missed the hours the rangers sell firewood, so we had to scavenge. We found enough to have a decent fire and had a good relax and talk by the fire.
The next morning we had ch-coffee (instant coffee mixed with hot chocolate), toast, and fruit while we considered the days ride. We decided on a ride around Manchester, about an hour and a half away, over the mountain.
We drove through the village of Weston and stopped for sandwiches at an earthy-crunchy store. Finally we got to Denby where the ride was to begin.
We got the bikes going and yes, went the wrong way again. We got pointed in the right direction and it looked like it was going to be a glorious ride. The sun was shinning, unlike yesterday, we were fed, and we were getting out earlier.
This look like the start of a terrific ride?
About 3 miles later, on a serene country road, Avery’s brakes locked on his front wheel, and he went right over the handlebars into the middle of the road. Mommy was in front and heard the crash. Avery called out for help and Mommy hurried back as quickly as she could. Fortunately, there was little traffic on the road so Avery was not in danger of being hit.
On the way, the told us about his work as a guide with his new business, Awesome Guide Service and the many times he had gotten road rash. He assured Avery that he would feel sore, but that he would be fine. He was very calming to both of us.
We have been lucky on our trips to find people to help us in our time of need. Three years ago we had help from a Mom when Mommy’s bike broke in Walpole, NH. She helped us because she said that she and her husband are always going off on adventures with their daughter and have gotten help from people when trouble arose. Neither of these bike angels would accept anything other than thanks. At least this time we got a picture to remember him by.
After Jamison left, Mommy put the bikes up and tried to get Avery comfortable in the car. The shakiness set in for Mommy as she really got a good look at Avery’s wounds. We had band aids and ice in the car, enough to get to a store for more. Avery was being very brave. He had wounds on his elbow, hip, and shoulder. His helmet did not have any nicks on it, so it seems he did not hit his head. Whew!
We finally got going and stopped in the next town, Manchester. Manchester is a very fancy town, with restaurants, boutiques and designer outlets. We stopped at the grocery store for more ice and snacks, and I called Heidi to tell her about Avery’s accident. We had determined that Avery had not broken anything, but his bike was out of commission, as was he, so more riding was out of the question. We got a pizza for lunch and then found a little park to eat it in before heading back to the campground.
While we did not have the week long adventure we had hoped for, Avery and Mommy still had a fabulous time together riding bikes, reading, and sleeping in our tent. Just the two of us, enjoying each other’s company and exploring. It’s what we do in the summer.
As Avery likes to say, ‘So Mommy, where are we going next?”