Having pushed through Ontario, our reward was having short driving days for the remainder of our trip to the East coast and time to do a few bike rides. After all, it's not enough that we are heading out to start a 2,000 mile bike trip. We still want to cycle through some of the scenic areas along the way.
Our first stop was the Lake Champlain Islands. A string of islands at the top of the long narrow lake, they are joined by causeways and crisscrossed by bike routes. We pitched our tiny tent in the Grand Isle State Park Campground and set off to explore the island by bike. It was a hot, sunny afternoon but most of the cycling roads clung to the lakeshore, and just looking out at the deep blue water was refreshing.
The affluence of the area was unmistakable, with quaint homes immaculately landscaped and picturesque little villages full of artsy shops and restaurants. Yet in the interior, i was surprised to see that there were also working farms, busily making hay as we passed. I can never resist a Farmers' Market, and we stopped at one with everything from ethnic foods to iced cider to homespun wool. Oh yes, and a few vegetables and local blueberries as well.
Today brought us to Dartmouth College, Rich's alma matter. Naturally, our first stop had to be the boathouse, where young crew members were going out for their morning training. As a former oarsman, it was tough for Rich to drag himself away from the rowing to begin our bike ride.
Our route took us up the Connecticut River on the Vermont side, hugging the river's edge and cycling through pretty little towns. We had another picture perfect day, and naturally couldn't resist stopping for ice cream at the far point of our ride. Those were the biggest “small” cones we'd ever seen! But we didn't complain. We returned via the New Hampshire side of the river, encountering some major climbs and descents on that route. Good training for our upcoming trip, I kept reminding myself. I especially enjoyed going through Lyme NH, which Rich and I visited when we were just dating, oh so many years ago.
It's a good thing we didn't do a longer ride, or get larger ice cream cones. We barely had our bikes back on the car when the afternoon's threatening rain materialized in a heavy downpour. Whew, timing is everything! We can only hope to continue that luck on our Grand Gaspé Tour.