Albany, NY to Brattleboro, VT

77.85 miles (with detour)

Well the hills finally got me! I was hoping to ride every foot and inch to Boston but to be honest these last hills were just to much.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME – I didn’t have any problems today other than I would love to have been able to climb a little faster. Nothing was going to stop me now, no hills, no trucks getting too close or no nothing. I am going to Boston on Irma no matter what! Today was a lot of climbing but nothing I haven’t already done. I know I am a slow climber but this is not a race so as long as I don’t give up and continue turning the pedals I will get there. I do make up time on a lot of the group on descents and level ground so I never feel I am so detached that I am not in the group on the road. Today was no different than a lot of days we have had over the past seven weeks. I got behind early on the long 7 mile climb but as we started before the fast guys I wasn’t at the very back at this time. Once we had some descending miles I was back up with the others and happy again.

It seems the further East we travel the worse the drivers get with us. I am not sure why but drivers and now even truckers have no time for cyclists and to be honest put our lives in danger without apparently even caring. Today we were given no room on the roads which was  due to the fact we had no shoulder to ride on. I won’t go on a rant about this but continue to ask myself – Is getting to where your going two minutes faster really worth the life of another?

The climbing was a lot but not anything steep enough to question whether I could make it to the top. Long steady climbs are hot, boring and hard, but nothing you get worried about. It’s just the idea of settling into a rhythm, not looking too far ahead or thinking about what’s ahead. You simply just keep on pedaling and slowly but surely you keep going up until you reach the top. The best part is enjoying the ride down the other side.

Today we set off and before you know it I was messing around at the back of the group for some reason again. The traffic lights got me even more and now I was heading across the Hudson River alone. Time for a few pictures and the off to chase the little red lights further up the road for the day. When I saw a road closed ahead sign I thought my usual – it’s likely that a car cannot pass but we will be able to ride or walk our bikes through most things. Today was a different story. We met Tom in the van who said there was no way we could pass and we needed to turn around and take the diversion. Winner! I went from last in the group to first in a moment as I turned around and headed off on a new route. People one by one passed me as we climbed but at least now I wasn’t hanging off the back which I really never want to do.

The first SAG was at 25 miles quickly followed by the Vermont State line and then a 7 mile climb. We all took the usual state line pictures and then began the long slow climb up the mountain. There were no impossible gradients and instead it was just a long slow slog continuously upwards. At around a gradient of 7-8% it is a case of me putting Irma into the granny gear and knuckling down to an hour of steady pushing. Nothing exciting other than what the Brits lovingly call ‘graft’. Well we made it up with never a doubt in my head. I did laugh as with about a mile and a half to go on the climb I saw a face in an open car window, with baseball cap, sunglasses and impressive X-games beard looking at me, followed by a shout, ‘You got this’. That was all it took, a shout from a youngster full of energy encouraging a stranger up a long hill, to reduce the hill a couple of percent while I pedalled up smiling for then next mile and a half. I knew, like my anonymous new friend, that I had this today. For me the descent always makes up for the climb but is nearly always over way too fast and today was no different.

Later on in the ride we bumped into a couple who were cycling from New York to Montreal. They are taking all their belongings on the bike which is CRAZY! I unintentionally tried to top that by saying we were riding from LA to Boston, but really our journey is no greater an achievement than their journey. What was funny was we met them at a gift store that was covered in moose, cows and even a gorilla. Only in America would someone driving through Vermont think about buying a life sized Gorilla for their shop. More photos and time to move on again.

The final SAG was a quick coffee and energy drink poured into my bottles and off again for another climb over Hog Mountain. Nothing special to report except perhaps that this is where we all found the trucks and cars were at their worst. The shoulder was really bad thus pushing us further onto the edge of the road. The motorists didn’t seem to mind buzzing us really close no matter how dangerous that was every rider. The only good part for me was on a couple of the long descents I looked in my mirror, noticed nobody behind me and so used the road to descend quickly down.

After arriving at the hotel I did the usual – shower, change and nap. I met up with the boys we went out and found a nice restaurant for dinner. Just as we finished, Deirdre had arrived to surprise me one day early. Great surprise and not far to go now.

Tomorrow’s weather does not look good (not that I’m not used to bad weather being British), but nothing is stopping Irma and me now! The fat lady can start to gargle and get ready. She will be able to sing pretty soon!