Stowe, VT to Littleton, NH

We headed out of Stowe fairly casually, those of us who had climbed Smuggler’s Notch expecting to be paying for it in our legs today. Breakfast was at a restaurant about 12 miles into the route. I was riding with Bruce, Colleen, and Karina. After breakfast, I was feeling a lot better than I expected, so I got into one of those moods again where I just felt like hammering on, not talking or sightseeing too much. Karina tucked in behind me, so I pulled her along the whole way. I knew we were going fast when we passed Jim Ryan; we would have stayed ahead of him if we had not stopped to take our vests off. The terrain was more steep ups and downs, some of them a mile or more. Lunch was at mile 42 in the town of Danville.

There was a farmer’s market and craft fair in the area near our lunch setup. David Butler suggested that we get something for Colin, since today is his 60th birthday. There was a stand selling tie-dyed t-shirts; I thought that would be appropriate. One day last week, a few of us were talking to Colin during dinner, and he was telling us that he lived in London during the 1960’s, while he was in his teens and 20’s. We said that it must have been fun; he wouldn’t give us any details, but just said, with a big grin, “Yes, it was.”

Leaving lunch, Karina and I continued on together. At this point, the last day-and-a-half of hard riding finally caught up to me. I don’t think I have felt this drained of energy since the day going into Spokane. The hills continued, even steeper than this morning. As we crossed the state line into New Hampshire at mile 60, it felt like we should have been home free, but we still had another 16 miles of hills. At mile 69, we took a short break at a welcome center, where I scarfed down the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had brought from lunch. Finally, I drafted Karina as she towed me in the last seven miles to Littleton. When we got to town, there was what some called “adding insult to injury,” a turn off of the main street went directly up a very steep hill for the final quarter-mile leading to Littleton High School. Karina went up right away, but I stopped at the public library at the base of the street to try to check my e-mail. Their computers were down due to a virus, however, so I made that final push up that hill just a minute or two later.

As soon as I got my stuff set up in the gym, and got showered, I grabbed my laundry and walked to the laundromat in town. While my clothes were drying, I walked up the block to get a cup of coffee at a shop that was also a florist. Molly and Colleen were there, too, and they finished their clothes a little before me. They said they were going to head back through town and stop for a drink on their way to the school, probably at the local microbrewery. After I got my stuff dried and folded, I headed out to try to find them. Before I got to the brewery, I heard my name being called; it was Robert and Bruce across the street, from the third-floor balcony of the hotel where Robert decided to get a room for the night. So I went up and joined them, and had a glass of wine. We were joined a few minutes later by Brian and Meg. Bruce and I walked back to the school so I could drop off my laundry, then we joined a few other people and walked the mile and a half to another hotel on the edge of town, where dinner was. I presented the tie-dyed t-shirt to Colin, and he seemed to be really touched by the gesture, as he put the shirt on right away right there in the restaurant. It was also Mary’s birthday, so we sang to them both, and cakes were brought out for both of them.

Robert, Brian, and Meg never showed up for dinner, so we figured they went to a place on their own, so Bruce and I tried to find them. We walked back to Robert’s hotel, and checked the brewery, but they weren’t there, then we walked back almost to where we had dinner and checked a couple restaurants along the way, all with no luck. So, back into town, we stopped at the brewery and found a few others from our group there. Robert, Brian, and Meg showed up a little later; we had just missed them at Robert’s hotel by a couple of minutes earlier. The brewery was a bit of a hassle; the people we joined had already had a table on the outside patio. We moved a couple of tables together, but just as we got settled in, the waitress came out and told us that since it was getting dark, they had to close the patio. So, we went through the whole process of getting seated again inside (the group had grown to about 15 by now), and then finally ordered some drinks. A little while later, John Piser showed up. He needed to order dinner on his own, as he had just finished his ride for the day. It turned out that when he left Stowe, he took a wrong turn up the road towards Smuggler’s Notch. He realized his mistake soon enough, but just figured “What the heck?” and did the climb, then proceeded on to today’s normal route. John is in his 60’s, and was giddy over having accomplished his extended ride today, and we were all proud of him as well.

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