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A Re-Awakening

As I cast my eye at the date of my last Blog post, I see 7th July 2019. I was in France, in the Alps, and exploring the cheese, terroir and terrain. What a beautiful country and culture.

Much has changed since that time. The retail chaos that is Thanksgiving and Christmas, which btw, in retail you stat planning for in July (yes, July) is now over. The imported cheese tariffs from the 45th POTUS's administration arrived in October (we had pre-bought so dodged them until the end of the year). The global pandemic caused 100,000s of deaths, and untold misery, and exposed the gashes and cracks in our global society, which we knew were there all along, but were papered over, closed with duct tape and painted over. And perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back - the murder of George Floyd, by a Minneapolis policeman, on camera. Saved for all the students of future generations to see. The entire demonstration of the progress of human development from the first half of 2020 - is so pathetic, it is nauseating - we have a long way to go before we even reach the bottom, from where we can start to climb again. Let's hope November 2020 will be a new beginning.

This summer, the summer of 2020, I had planned on taking a break after the total commitment I gave to the shop, and traveling in the best way I know possible, by bicycle. The initial plan was to start in Italy and ride to Switzerland, stopping in at cheesemakers, and towns, and immersing myself in the cultures of the different areas. COVID-19 nixed that.

Only now are states around MA even opening up to out-of-staters, and so right now, I'm jumping at the opportunity while it still exists.

Over the next 6 days, starting on Sunday 12th July, I'm riding my bicycle to and through Vermont, stopping in at cheesemakers along the way.

I've only ever been tangentially to VT, so this will be an experience.

The aim is to ride 723 km over these days with 7,800 m of climbing and 7,630 m descent (the fun part).

The whole route is shown in the map here.

The daily breakdown is at the bottom of this blog entry. In total I hope to hit 11 cheesemakers, and if I run across any cheese shops, then of course, I will stop in and indeed, dive in.

I agree it looks bonkers, but there you go. I ride over 300 km on a bicycle every week, so I should be fit enough. If you're interested, my trusty steed is a Kona Sutra, which has 2 front 2 back panniers loaded up, 700c x 37 tubeless tyres (no punctures!), and a triple ring up the front so I can spin up the Green Mountain Passes. My Wahoo Element is my trusty guide for the routes, and has never let me down.

For the nights I'll be camping, I have my trusty Big Agnes SL1 tent, MSR Whisperlite stove & gravity water purifier, and Thermarest. These have got me through National Park wilderness camping.

I'll be writing about these travels - just as I did a year ago from France - and posting them here. Maybe with a video or two as well. I hope you'll find them interesting and stimulating, and will light a fire in your heart to make you go out and explore, and learn, and then pass it on.

If you want to follow the cycling routes, then you can find me on Strava:

Day One: Boston to Brattleboro, VT.

166 km; 1,520 m ascent; 1,420 m descent.

Lunch @ Crossroads Pizza, 117 km.

Sleep @ EconoLodge Brattleboro, VT

Cheese stop: Grafton Village Store @ 163 km.

Day Two: Brattleboro to Weathersfield

80.3 km; 1,080 m ascent; 1,110 m descent.

Lunch @ Saxton River Market, 39 km.

Sleep @ Wilgus State Park

Cheese Stop:

Vermont Shepherd @ 27 km

Vermont Country Store, 47 km

Farm on Will Dean Lane, Springfield, 58 km

Day Three: Weathersfield to Salisbury

128 km; 1,660 m ascent; 1,550 m descent

Breakfast in WEathersfield.

Sleep @ Branbury State Park

Cheese stops:

Springbrook Farm 23 km

Vermont Farmstead, 32 km

Lunch in Woodstock, 38 km or Flannels 77 km

Coffee @ 82 km

Hannafords @ 111 km

Day Four: Salisbury to Waterbury

145 km; 1,100 m ascent; 1,080 m descent

Sleep at Little River State Park

Cheese Stops:

Blue Ledge Farm, 15 km

Shelburne Farms, 80 km

Lunch at Hannafords, Burlington 89 km

Dinner in Waterbury, 137 km.

Day Five: Waterbury to Marshfield

79.1 km; 860 km ascent; 690 m descent.

Sleep at Molly’s Falls Pond Native Sites

Cheese Stops:

Rogers Farmstead, 34 km

Cabot Centre, 73 km

Day Six: Marshfield, VT to Conway, NH.

138 km; 1,520 m ascent; 1,720 m descent

Sleep in North Conway.

Lunch in Littleton, 64 km.

Cheese stop:

Crooked Mile Cheese, 48 km.

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