A Bethel Writer Bikes Across Vermont’s 251 Cities and Towns
October 26, 2021
Visiting the state’s 251 cities and towns is a popular pursuit for anyone who loves Vermont. But Mary Anderson of Bethel is taking her 251 adventure a step further by traveling across Vermont on her electric bicycle.
On October 6, Anderson set out on her e-bike to ride to every community in Vermont. So far, she has visited 172 towns and traveled 1,128 miles, pedaling everywhere from Brighton and Isle La Motte to Bristol and Rochester.
“I’m sort of a driven person, and I love physical exercise and a challenge,” says Anderson, 64, who has hiked the Long Trail, Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.
Anderson strives to bike between 50 to 60 miles per day on a mix of Vermont’s paved and dirt roads. When she wraps up her trip in November, she will have traveled close to 2,000 miles.
Even though Anderson is an experienced outdoor adventurer, she admits that biking around Vermont is different than hiking long distances. “I feel OK,” she says. “But I’m surprised how biking uses different muscles than hiking.”
Some of the challenges for Anderson include mapping out her route, figuring out where she will sleep at night, and finding an outlet to charge her bike battery. Her overnights are a mix of camping and staying with friends or friends of friends.
On her trip, Anderson has stopped to visit places like the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, and the Lincoln General Store in Lincoln.
“Once I arrive at a town, I try to ride a mile or two in to look around. I don’t get into the center of every town, but I try to talk to at least one person in each town, maybe ask for directions even if I don’t need them,” she says. “I try to get a sense of the town and take a few pictures along the way.”
Biking Vermont and Documenting Her Travels
Along with carrying a tent, clothing, a portable stove, and a spare battery on her bike, Anderson travels with an iPad to document her journey on Korongobooks.com.
“I do these little blog posts every night. I think about what I’m going to write as I’m biking. I also carry a tape recorder, and I’ll put my ideas on there for things to write,” she says.
Anderson, who occasionally writes about the grief and pain she has experienced in her life, says that biking and exploring the outdoors is healing for her mind and body.
“When I have good experiences, it’s a way for me to trust the future,” she says. “I’m following my heart and doing what feels right.”
While her trip has experienced challenges—biking in the rain, lack of sleep some nights, or asking strangers for help in the dark—it’s mostly been a joyful ride.
“My favorite parts are riding on a nice road, downhill, with no cars. There’s such incredible nature—I’ve had to hit my brakes fast when a bear crossed the road,” she says. “I love seeing quirky places like the Museum of Everyday Life or stopping by farm stands. Or having this feeling like I’m sailing on my bike. I’m meeting people and feeling the different flavors of each town. There’s a lot to love about this trip.”
You can follow Mary Anderson’s biking travels on Korongobooks.com.
-Photos courtesy of Mary Anderson