Normally I’d bail on an afternoon ride at the end of October if I knew I had to be back in time to shower and dress in order to make the three o’clock shuttle. That’s too much pressure. In Vermont, however, a few weeks past peak foliage is still a feast for the eyes. My girlfriend and I were in Burlington for a friend’s wedding, and brought bikes on the off chance we could squeeze in a leaf peeping jaunt prior to the festivities. Midday Saturday presented us with about two hours of down time, so we decided to take advantage even if we had to hurry.
We suited up and shoved off, traveling south towards Mt. Philo. A few miles out of town and the hills began to roll. Red and yellow may have been lacking but orange made up for their departure in grand form, blanketing everything that wasn’t Lake Champlain with the rusty colors of autumn. With each up we’d get a postcard worthy view, albeit brief, before careening back down. Over and over again. The higher we climbed, the better the view. By the time we reached the base of the mountain, it seemed like we could see the entire valley. We weren’t craving any more climbing, so when the park ranger explained that the road to the top was closed for a car race, we decided to ride around it instead. The extended loop meant I might not have time to iron my shirt, but I had a sweater I could wear over it, so we carried on. A few farms, hundreds of cows, and a covered bridge later, we were on the way back to the hotel.
A powerful tail wind helped our time crunch and had us back in just enough time to swap Lycra for dress clothes. I’m writing this down to serve as a lesson for me, and any of you who also opt to sit out short rides, because in just two hours we had a ride I’ll remember for a lifetime.