riding across the border into the us
We awoke late after we were awoken early from a freight train barreling past our window. The room being under $20 a night suddenly made sense. I don't recall showering at any point after our ride. And I am fairly certain I put on the same kit I had worn the day before. I had packed only two sets of clothes, so we needed to stretch them out for several days.
Our host greeted us in the morning, offering plenty of bottled water and breakfast. But, we hoped to have a 70 mile day, and needed to get going. I happily left without breakfast. I needed some time on the bike, that's all I was focused on. Sitting to breakfast just would have made me antsy.
We rode to the border, stopping at a gas station along the way. I had tuna salad and crackers, while Cody had donuts and coffee. We sat and looked at each other. Was this okay? I thought. Was he fine stopping for shit food and staying dirty? There are all sort of travelers out there, and I wasn't sure what type was joining me for this particular trip. But, I was assured by how happy he was. Anything goes while you're riding. Being covered in grime just adds to the beauty of it.
We filled our mugs, and headed for the border. Just as our arrival went un-celebrated, our departure hardly made a sound.
Vermont began with a dirt road, and at that moment, the sun broke through the clouds. As Americans, we nodded in the beauty that is the states. We had left a city, and were surrounded by farm country.
The trees were changing and we listened to the sound of our tires crunching over the gravel. It was just a taste of what Vermont had to offer. We made our first stop in North Hero. I remember it well. Cody is a much stronger rider than I am. He can go faster and further, when we both start off with fresh legs.
If you have forgotten, this bike trip can be counted as our fourth date. Also, it is my first time riding long distances with anyone. I remember North Hero as the beginning of a very difficult lesson. We had so far ridden 40 miles that day. Cody rode out in front, and held a solid pace. I spent many moments watching his rear tire slowly creeping out ahead, as I struggled to keep up. It started to breed resentment in my heart. That is a hard thing to feel towards someone you love.
Put hunger and fatigue on top of that, and my mind would wildly begin thinking that he was purposely trying to make me feel weak. We have ridden thousands of miles together after this moment, and although we are more familiar with each other, I still have moments in which the ride is hard and I get weird. I am competitive, and have not successfully found a way to manage how emotional I get when I push myself.
Sometimes you have to take breaks, even if everything in you wished you didn't.
Such is life. He is my best riding partner, and thankfully is incredibly patient with my antics.
After that brief respite, we pedaled South.
We were very far from any kind of rhythm on this day, but we chugged along stopping for food and beers whenever we saw a place. We did not have any plans regarding where we were going to sleep, and as we sipped our afternoon beers, we gave the map a look and found a cheap Airbnb in Burlington. Some travelers like plans, others like spontaneity. I love the feeling of not having to worry about reaching a certain destination - how often in life can you just relax and see how the day unfolds? Each day was allowed to play out exactly as we decided. Hours of riding later, we arrived at our destination in the dark and were welcomed in like family. Showered and hungry, we walked the couple of miles to downtown to see what Burlington had to offer.
As we walked, I remember feeling strong. We had ridden 68 some miles, loaded with gear, and walked into town that evening. I had never been that strong. My legs were a bit wiped out, and I worried a bit about tomorrow's miles, but as I had a few beers, my legs perked up. Tomorrow was going to be a strong ride.