A Woman on Her Own in Vermont

The Green Mountains of Vermont are a wonderful place for a bike tour. I found a 100-mile loop with campgrounds about 50 miles apart. It is hard to get a campground on the weekends in New England on short notice, so I went midweek instead. The ride traveled along valleys, so it wasn't particularly hilly -- no large mountains to climb.

The four-hour drive from from Boston was beautiful. I arrived at the Camping on The Battenkill campground in the Green Mountain National Forest near the town of Arlington in the early evening.

The next morning I started off on my adventure. I rode past rivers spanned by covered bridges, where fly fishermen worked the surface of the water below. The roads were quiet and smooth. The small towns that I passed through were idyllic -- each with a cute general store where I could stop for snacks and a rest.

After arriving at my overnight destination at Lake St. Catherine State Park, I set up camp and showered. Then I set off for the nearby town of Poultney for dinner. On my way back I passed a golf course with a clubhouse. As it was still early, I stopped in and had a beer and chatted with the locals. Such nice people!

The campground was filled with families soaking up the last bit of summer. Next to me was a family with four young boys, and they were living it up. Every possible thing that could be hit upon was hit, including each other. It made for a very loud evening. After 10 p.m. they all went to bed, and I finally got some peace and quiet while I read a book on my iPhone and then fell asleep. Then, at about 2:30 a.m., the youngest boy (I think) woke up with nightmares of hearing animals outside. The parents yelled at him for what seemed like hours. They threatened him with being put outside with the animals unless he went back to sleep. I don't think this tactic helped! Good thing I'd brought along my good earplugs, which I finally found in my pack. Nighty night!

The second day's ride was a bit hillier than the first, but I just took my time and made it with no problems. After another day of adorable towns and rolling green hills I ended up back at the original campground, where I showered before tucking my Surly Long Haul Trucker back into my van for the drive back to Boston.

Anxiety almost kept me from going on this trip. I wasn't exactly afraid of going alone -- just anxious. What if I had forgotten something important? What if it was too hilly and I couldn't do the mileage? What if I had a mechanical problem that I couldn't fix? But each of these potential problems I could have handled with a cool head, a little cash, and the help of a kind Vermonter. I am so glad that I went, and I've vowed to do it again soon!

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: Every small town has a general store worth stopping in to look around. Towns I visited on my ride included Arlington, Salem, West Rupert, West Pawlet, Wells, Poultney, Middletown Springs, Pawlet, and Manchester (and back to Arlington, closing the loop).

Favorite local bike shop: The one that's closest by when you experience a breakdown!

11 responses so far ↓

joanne r. - Jun 4, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Vermont sounds beautiful and like the ideal place for a nice weekend ride. Makes me want to jump on my bike and take off riding. Excellent article and nice pics.

Polly - Jun 5, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Thanks for sharing this. We need more women out there!

deb - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Way to go!! Unfortunately women have an extra emotional burden to endure as well as the physical/psychological challenges of bicycle touring. Great to hear about other women taking on this challenge. I too am encountering those challenges. We can't sit on the couch...bring on the challenge!!

Kim in FL - Jun 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Hi Deb - Wow! Great adventure!

Lisa - Jun 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Deb, I loved the pictures and your matter-of-fact narrative. Very impressive. Keep it up.

Jane - Jun 17, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Very cool! I'm planning a biking trip from Pittsburg to DC on a trail, so I'm always trying to reach inside someone else's adventure first....Love it! Go you!

Mag - Jun 20, 2012 at 1:54 AM

Thanks, Deb. I'm planning a solo overnight this weekend in NH and was having a few doubts. Your post gave me the confidence I need. Love Vermont!

Justin - Jan 19, 2013 at 7:35 AM

Really enjoyed your story and your willingness to get out there and do it. I feel some anxiety on my solo bike tours but the sense of adventure, sights, sounds and the experience of bike touring always makes it worth it.

MArk - Jun 21, 2013 at 9:32 PM

Where did you leave your car overnight on this tour?

Deb - Jun 22, 2013 at 7:43 AM

I parked my car at the campsite where I stayed the first night called "Camping on the Battenkill". When I made my camping reservation I just cleared it with the staff.

Bert Morris - Sep 4, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Isn't riding in Vermont great?

There is a fabulous, relatively flat (for Vermont) 63 mile loop from Okemo Mountain in Ludlow to Woodstock, Vt and back. You ride along streams, covered bridges and past several general stores before riding down Main Street for a leisurely lunch in Woodstock!

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